The self-fulfilling prophecy of Big Tech layoffs

Originally published at: The self-fulfilling prophecy of Big Tech layoffs | Boing Boing


This has been shared before but this Stanford PhD has pretty much nailed it with describing the current Silicon Valley layoffs as a ‘contagion’ infecting tech companies right now.

We’ve been through this many times before all the way back before the original dot com crash but this time seems different with respect to how fast the ground has shifted. Just 6-9 months ago it was “Hire, Hire, Hire!” at all costs. Now it’s “Fire, Fire, Fire!”. Never have I experienced such a sudden 180 degree shift across the industry (ETA: without a corresponding triggering event or other obvious external economic crash that is.).


And was an equal proportion of the C-suite guys cut, or at least their salary/bonuses?

Didn’t think so.


Sounds exactly like what zazlav is doing to warner. I got laid off from Cartoon Network at the end of august and there are virtually no jobs in Los Angeles. Almost no one is making new animation. I’ve had to resort to other sorts of lower paying freelance gigs to get by.


Just this month, HBR had a longer analysis of how financial accounting “screws up” hiring, training, and benefits. Basically, letting the bean counters determine the value of employees destroys value. They point out that the likely outcome here is that these people (or other people like them) are brought back in as consultants! They’ll still be paying for these services, probably at a higher rate, but the cost won’t show up as headcount or as salary, but as other operating costs.

“Screwed up” is right.


I wonder if companies like Google and Microsoft consider hiring people a “loss” or a “gain,” considering the cost involved in vetting, training, monitoring new employees? You would think it would be cheaper, in a sense, to simply re-assign already vetted and trained workers to positions where they would be better utilized.


Layoffs are one of the reasons I went to seminary. Toxic workplaces are another. The two often go hand-in-hand and are thoroughly soul-crushing. On top of how soul-sucking working for a corporation can be.


Gotta keep those billionaires happy. We’d all be pretty sad if the billionaires weren’t happy. Though TBH it’s unclear why that’s true. Must be true though.


repost from google layoff thread:


Oh how I miss the wide eyed optimism we had in the 90s and early aughts that these companies would be different than the others and that the internet would foster a new age of communication and understanding but lo, here we are.


For a bunch of supposedly original thinkers who command high salaries for their unique skills, these executives are very susceptible to a herd mentality.


That’s so dumb. A company that brings in $10 Million a year with 10 employees isn’t making more money for its investors than a company that brings in $100 Million a year with 120 employees, diminishing returns or no.


The fucking bean counters should only be allowed to count beans! It’s the only GD thing they know how to do!


Meme stocks showed us that the stock market is basically a popularity contest crossed with gambling. The Global Financial Crisis showed us that certain gamblers get protected from losing too hard at this game.


In 2015 and 2016, Toshiba reduced its global workforce by about 14,000 workers. But they only did that because they were about 5 Billion USD in the red that fiscal year. And they used a by-choice early retirement system for around 4,000 of that figure. And another thousand of that figure comes from a business division that was sold off.

Food for thought.

Nobody wins when shareholders are just nakedly greedy.


Having worked at Microsoft there is zero internal support to move around inside the company or reassign people, and I think it’s a huge misstep on their part (and said as much when I left).

I had to leave because I wanted to switch tracks to software development (a few years ago, pre-layoffs), but basically nobody was willing to give me a chance; ended up with an offer from both Oracle and Amazon in pretty short order and I’m sure if I applied now I’d get the normal treatment.


This is a really good article.
My favorite part below. Though I’m not holding my breath…

Most of my recent research is focused on the effect of the workplace on human health and how economic insecurity is bad for people. This is on the heels of the COVID pandemic and the social isolation resulting from that, which was also bad for people.

We ought to place a higher priority on human life.

In the early aughts, I was working for a medical device company and right after a large round of layoffs, the CEO showed up to the office with a $200K Porsche…
Not a good look, as they say. Not that he gave a shit.
I missed that round, but got caught up in a different one in 2009 when our director (I found out later) offered up my entire team *(edit - though the layoffs were company-wide). I was out of work for almost a full year. As is talked about in the article above, that couldn’t have ACTUALLY saved the company money because the initial terms were that we all stayed on the payroll for 60 days with benefits, then got like 4 weeks per year of service in severance. I was laid off in March and got severance checks through Sept. While I also collected UI. Being able to double dip like that saved us from trouble financially.
But it’s still soul crushing to be out of work during a recession and spending every day trying to get back into the workforce. I had it better than a lot of people, though, and I was thankful for that.

  • Alphabet has been making a massive investment in buybacks for the last few quarters.
  • In the trailing twelve months, Alphabet has spent close to $60 billion on buybacks which is the second-highest amount after Apple.
  • If Alphabet’s free cash flow continues to grow at a steady pace, we could see total buybacks of close to a trillion dollars in this decade.

Google’s stock is going fantastic! Of course, some of their business projects are now going to turn to shit, but who cares about that?


Certainly not excusing anyone in the C-suite but what’s going on right now is mostly coming from their respective Boards and/or VC investors. Most of these people sit on multiple company boards and pretty much dictate how CEOs should run their companies - either by influence and intimidation or outright threats of withholding funding.

There is growing evidence that the driving force behind many of the layoffs is simply a backlash against the massive wage growth and union organizing that employees made during the pandemic. Makes a lot of sense when you think about it.

The concrete gains won by organizing tech workers so far may be relatively small, but the rising salaries and growing organizing capacity threaten the tech giants’ bottom line and the brand of executive sovereignty that’s prized in Silicon Valley. Elon Musk’s mass firings at Twitter last year, and his public demand that only “hardcore” coders dedicated to his program remain at the company, are instructive here, not least because other tech executives have said his approach was an inspiration when culling jobs at their own companies.

Workers in an industry that had long been famously union-agnostic at best had been forming bonds, organizing and developing solidarity. Layoffs of this scale and suddenness can be a blow to that process.