This week Spotify, a company that has burnt many billions of dollars since its founding in 2006, laid off 17% of its people. Based on what I have heard, cuts were quite uniform across all functions, meaning that one out of six employees is now gone. This is a lot. Given that a typical team has between five and eight people, think of either one person per team gone, and a few managers on top, or every sixth team disappearing.
It is not surprising that there are still huge layoffs in tech. This entire sector has accumulated so much bloat over the last few years that it is hard to believe. For several years in a row, companies had been falling over themselves to hire boatloads of women and minorities just for the sake of it. These people, instead of laying low and enjoying their six-figure sinecures, turned to TikTok to brag about their days consisting of company-paid breakfast, lunch, dinner, endless coffee breaks, red wine on tap, office massages, office yoga, and all the other shenanigans. They believed that “vibing” with their zoomer colleagues was work and justified their sky-high salaries.
I think Elon Musk watched one too many of those “day in the life” videos when he was thinking about buying Twitter, and once he did, the business world was watching. In the meantime, he has laid off 80% of employees, and Twitter is still running great, if not better than before. Sure, you can now say that this company is struggling to survive, but this is due to the ADL strong-arming advertisers into not spending money on it. The bloat in tech is beyond belief, and after Elon Musk had demonstrated that you really may not need thousands of engineers and HR ditzes to run an organization, plenty of other companies have been following suit, some with drastic layoffs, others with more underhanded methods such as putting people on a “performance improvement plan” and managing them out.
When there are layoffs, companies normally try to get rid of the coasters. Sure, some coasters are well-connected, and there may also be productive people who end up getting laid off because others had been taking credit for their work or due to a lack of visibility. By and large, though, the age of people doing make-believe work for half an hour a day at best and pulling six figures is over. Let me hazard a guess: predominantly women and “underrepresented minorities” are affected from such layoffs. This is obviously not to say that there are no really competent women in tech or that you won’t find male slackers. However, it is the case that the hiring bar for diversity candidates tends to be a lot lower and they also normally get held to much lower standards on the job as well. Companies will not admit this publicly, but if you know a few people in this industry, you will hear a lot of stories about this.
I think the particular obnoxiousness displayed by some women in recent years was due to all the easy money they got. If Stacey makes $180k at Meta for some low-effort marketing gig, or Becky gets $300k as a Software Engineer at Google even though her background consists of only a nine-week-long “bootcamp” — these scams have been imploding fast — she thinks that basically any man is beneath her. Now she only would only consider a VP of Engineering with the looks of the hottest guy who ever banged her once in college, eight years ago.
The difference between pulling six-figures for basically no work and making $14.88/h (not a typo!) at Starbucks is staggering. Indeed.com tells me that this is what baristas make, but once the ADL learns about it, they will probably lower the average to $14.87 in order to not accidentally offend anyone’s sensibilities.
I am probably going out on a limb here, but I could imagine that if Becky goes from $300k/year to $14.88/h, she may end up being a bit less picky about men than she used to. However, a woman’s standards often only rise as she ages, as counterintuitive as this may be. Thus, any woman who is affected by a layoff will not or only very slowly adjust her preferences. In contrast, though, I would expect other women who see their older supposed “sisters” getting crushed by reality make different choices in response to that. We also observe this with the current “tradwife” fad where women fantasize about staying at home all day and taking care of their kids instead of pursuing a career as a PowerPoint pusher and having her eggs dry up as they try to climb the corporate ladder.