Here’s how you described the tech industry’s 2022 in a headline

As readers know, we have fun with headlines on this site. But clearly, so do all of you. As part of our end of the year coverage, the Equity podcast team asked listeners to write a headline that represents 2022 in tech. Listeners showed up, with the brutal, the real and the holy-moly-yes-that-happened-this-year-how-could-you-forget.

Our recap episode of this wonky, 12-month-long roller coaster is now live wherever you find podcasts. We feature a ton of your answers in the episode, but some were so good that we feel like they deserve to be in a story of their own. So, buckle up and read on if you’re just in the mood for some tweet-sized recaps after a saga of a news cycle:

Natasha’s favorites:

Alex’s favorites:

Mary Ann’s favorites:

Here’s how you described the tech industry’s 2022 in a headline by Natasha Mascarenhas originally published on TechCrunch

This year in tech felt like a simulation

This year in tech, too much happened and very little of it made sense. It was like we were being controlled by a random number generator that would dictate the whims of the tech industry, leading to multiple “biggest news stories of the year” happening over the course of a month, all completely disconnected from one another.

I can’t stop thinking about a very good tweet I saw last month, which encapsulated the absurdity of the year — it was something along the lines of, “Meta laid off 11,000 people and it’s only the third biggest tech story of the week.” Normally, a social media giant laying off 13% of its workforce would easily be the week’s top story, but this was the moment when FTX went bankrupt and everyone was impersonating corporations on Twitter because somehow Elon Musk didn’t think through how things would go horribly wrong if anyone could buy a blue check. Oh, good times.

When I say it feels like we’re living in a simulation, what I mean is that sometimes, I hear about the latest tech news and feel like someone threw some words in a hat, picked a few, and tried to connect the dots. Of course, that’s not what’s really happening. But in January, would you have believed me if I told you that Twitter owner Elon Musk polled users to decide that he would unban Donald Trump?

These absurd events in tech have consequences. Crypto collapses like FTX’s bankruptcy and the UST scandal have harmed actual people who invested significant sums of money into something that they believed to be a good investment. It’s funny to think about how you’d react ten years ago if someone told you that Meta (oh yeah, that’s what Facebook is called now) is losing billions of dollars every quarter to build virtual reality technology that no one seems to want. But those management decisions are not a joke for the employees who lost their jobs because of those choices.

Where does this leave us? We’re in a moment in tech history where nothing is too absurd to be possible. That’s both inspiring and horrifying. It’s possible for a team of Amazon fulfillment center workers in Staten Island to win a union election, successfully advocating for themselves in the face of tremendous adversity. It’s also possible for Elon Musk to buy Twitter for $44 billion.

AI technology like Stable Diffusion and ChatGPT encapsulate this fragile balance between innovation and horror. You can make beautiful artworks in seconds, and you can also endanger the livelihoods of working artists. You can ask an AI chatbot to teach you about history, but there’s no way to know if its response is factually accurate (unless you do further research, in which case, you could’ve just done your own research to begin with).

But perhaps part of the reason why AI generators have garnered such mainstream appeal is that they almost feel natural to us. This year’s tech news feels so bizarre that they might as well have been generated by ChatGPT.

Or maybe reality is actually stranger than anything an AI could come up with. I asked ChatGPT to write some headlines about tech news for me, and it came up with these snoozers (in addition to some factually inaccurate headlines, which I omitted for the sake of journalism):

  • “Apple’s iOS 15 update brings major improvements to iPhones and iPads”
  • “Amazon’s new line of autonomous delivery robots causes controversy”
  • “Intel announces new line of processors with advanced security features”

Pretty boring! Here are some actual real things that happened in tech this year:

  • Tony the Tiger made his debut as a VTuber.
  • Someone claimed to be a laid off Twitter employee named Rahul Ligma, and a herd of reporters did not get the joke, inadvertently meaning that I had to explain the “ligma” joke on like four different tech podcasts.
  • Three people got arrested for operating a Club Penguin clone.
  • One of the Department of Justice’s main suspects in a $3.6 billion crypto money laundering scheme is an entrepreneur-slash-rapper named Razzlekhan.
  • The new Pokémon game has a line of dialogue with the word “cheugy.”
  • Donald Trump dropped an NFT collection.
  • A bad Twitter feature update impacted the stock of a pharmaceutical company.
  • Elon Musk’s greatest rival is a University of Central Florida sophomore.
  • FTC chair Lina Khan said that Taylor Swift did more to educate Gen Z about antitrust law than she ever could.
  • Meta is selling a $1,499 VR headset to be used for remote work.
  • The UK Treasury made a Discord account to share public announcements but was immediately spammed with people using emoji reactions to make dirty jokes (and speaking of the UK, there have been three different Prime Ministers since September.)

These are strange times. If the rules are made up and the points don’t matter, let’s at least hope that if the absurdity continues into 2023, the tech news is more amusing than harmful. I want more Chris Pratt voicing live action Mario, and fewer tech CEOs being sentenced for fraud. Is that too much to ask?

This year in tech felt like a simulation by Amanda Silberling originally published on TechCrunch

3 views: How wrong were our 2022 startup predictions?

What a decade this year has been. While prediction pieces always come with a large asterisk because no one knows literally anything about what may play out in the future — such as massive shocks to large startup sectors — our perspectives about 2022 have aged … interestingly.

Last year, Natasha Mascarenhas, Alex Wilhelm, and Anna Heim spotlighted three different startup theses that may define the coming 12 months. Now, we’re fact-checking how accurate those predictions were, plus what we’d change about our perspectives. We know. Humble.

For an light holiday riff, we’re talking about what happened with the M&A space, open source, and usage-based pricing. Let’s have some fun!

Natasha: Let’s talk about acquisitions

Last year, I predicted that M&A would evolve to include a riskier type of ambition. I cited Twitter’s hunger for a Slack competitor and Nike’s infatuation with NFT collectibles. I even reminded founders that startups need to “stay disciplined even amid a cash-rich environment” instead of “spinning up lukewarm climate and web3 strategies because that’s what they think their cap table wants to hear.” (And that culture and technology are hard to integrate at the same time).

3 views: How wrong were our 2022 startup predictions? by Natasha Mascarenhas originally published on TechCrunch

This is not (just) another roundup of tech layoffs

After a month that saw nearly 16,000 tech workers lose their jobs, June is off to a similar tumultuous start. Startups across all sectors, from healthcare to enterprise SaaS to crypto, are laying off portions of staff and citing, seemingly, from the same notes: it’s a tough market, a time of uncertainty, and a correction toward sustainability is needed.

This week, we’ll continue our round-up of layoffs in tech, but we’re not stopping there; we extracted a few common themes from the workforce reductions, especially focusing on nuances that may be lost from headlines. To start, here are the companies leveraging layoffs this week:

  • Carbon Health laid off 8% of staff, or 250 people. Per our own Christine Hall, “the startup’s most recent funding round was a $350 million Series D round in July 2021, led by Blackstone Group, that reportedly put the company at a $3.3 billion valuation. We covered its $100 million Series C round in November 2020. In his letter to employees, Bali outlined two reasons for the decision to let go of staff — despite its continued and fast growth over the years. The first was winding down some of its business lines related to COVID. In 2020, Carbon Health developed both pop-up clinics and at-home test kits.”
  • Loom, an enterprise video tool backed by Andreessen Horowitz, laid off 14% of staff. The company’s most recent round valued the company at $1.53 billion, making it hit unicorn status for the first time. Kleiner Perkins, Sequoia, Coatue and General Catalyst are also investors in the company. Similar to Hopin, Loom benefited from a surge of people working from home in response to the COVID-19 pandemic; the product was positioned to help remote workers find better ways to connect with colleagues in a virtual-first world, and help hybrid workforces find a lightweight way to skip some meetings. Then, again similar to Hopin, the startup conducted layoffs to help it build in what it describes as a more sustainable way moving forward.
  • Coinbase will extend its hiring freeze and revoke accepted offers from some candidates who haven’t started their roles yet (…and inform them of their status via email). This news comes after Coinbase’s brutal Q1 results, which reported a $430 million loss.
  • The crypto platform Gemini, led by co-founders and twin brothers Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss, laid off 10% of its staff due to “turbulent market conditions that are likely to persist for some time.” Despite reacting to the market changes, Gemini’s co-founders also addressed that there’s a somewhat expected volatility in what they called the “crypto revolution.”
  • Social app IRL lays off 25% of team, says it has enough cash to last well into 2024. The cut comes around a year after the startup landed a $170 million SoftBank-led Series C and hit coveted unicorn status. Regarding the decision to cut staff, CEO Abraham Shafi wrote in a memo to staff that IRL has “more than enough cash to last well into 2024.” Over the last year, the startup increased its head count by 3.5 times, but Shafi noted that WhatsApp was able to grow to 450 million users with a team of 55. This suggests that the workforce reduction was less about trying to reduce runway and more about right-sizing the team after a period of overhiring.
  • Insurtech Policygenius cuts 25% of staff, less than 3 months after raising $125M. As Mary Ann Azevedo reports, “since its 2014 inception, Policygenius has raised over $250 million from investors such as KKR, Norwest Venture Partners and Revolution Ventures as well as strategic backers such as Brighthouse Financial, Global Atlantic Financial Group, iA Financial Group, Lincoln Financial and Pacific Life. While we can’t speak specifically to Policygenius, it’s been widely reported how poorly insurtech companies have fared in the public markets over the past year with Lemonade, Root and Hippo all trading significantly lower than their opening prices.”
  • Amsterdam-based TomTom let go of 500 employees, or 10% of its workforce. TomTom used to be known for car GPS navigation before we all had iPhones, but over the last few years, the company has attempted to pivot to mapping for self-driving cars. The jobs affected are in the maps department, where the company is pursuing more automation.
  • A digital mental health company backed by Softbank, Cerebral plans to conduct layoffs in July (which shouldn’t be anxiety-inducing at all for staff as they wait to learn their fate). The telehealth company also recently replaced its founding CEO amid a government investigation into its potential violations of the Controlled Substances Act – Cerebral has been critiqued for over-prescribing ADHD drugs.
  • Tesla CEO and guy-who-needs-to-stop-tweeting, Elon Musk ordered a hiring freeze and job cuts, which would affect 10% of salaried employees. Currently, Tesla employs almost 100,000 people. Strangely, President Joe Biden weighed in, saying, “So, lots of luck on his trip to the moon, I don’t know.”

Nuance of note

No one wants to be in the unicorn club

Despite cuts happening across all stages, many of the recent layoffs have come from companies that, just one year ago, hit unicorn status. The list includes Cameo, IRL and Loom, and there’s a couple reasons as to why that may be.

First, one year is a long time. And it feels even longer in a market that can’t make up its mind. Nonetheless, Startups that were hitting growth last year may no longer be on the same trajectory, making growth into their current valuation a significant stretch. As a result, the one year mark could be showing up as a reminder to reflect, and unfortunately for employees, scale down to a more realistic spot.

Second, being a unicorn is hard — even in a bull market. Richly-valued startups do need to eventually deliver on hopeful value, some would believe, and capital doesn’t necessarily ensure success. When you’re a late-stage company, there are specific growing pains that come with the title, such as integration with acquisitions, handling a remote workforce, and learning how to iterate when the business is no longer as nimble as it was when it was just two people in a dorm room. In the past, layoffs may have been put off by another round of funding, but now that follow-on funding isn’t a given, layoffs are becoming more common.

Third, many of the pandemic-born unicorns are actually just piñatas filled with expired candy. Hard stop.

Layoffs should be treated as a worst case scenario, not a precaution

Companies like Coinbase, Tesla and IRL have enough runway to keep their staff employed during a tumultuous economic time and ongoing pandemic. But they cut costs anyway by letting go of their staff.

“Courage is a decision, and we will choose courage,” IRL CEO Abraham Shafi wrote in a company memo after laying off 25% of his staff. “Whatever we are facing today can’t be any worse than the uncertainty we met at the beginning of the COVID 19 pandemic.”

Unfortunately, workers can’t control getting laid off when their employer has enough money to retain them. And for those of us subject to the endlessly frustrating American healthcare system, losing your job also means medical instability for both you and your family. Let’s stop pretending that COBRA isn’t exorbitantly expensive.

Meanwhile, Coinbase rescinded already-accepted offers from a number of employees. According to a LinkedIn search, many of the rescinded employees were students who were soon to graduate with PhDs and bachelor’s degrees alike. In those cases, a new hire may accept a job months before their start date, since they’ll need to graduate before filling the role.

Many soon-to-be graduates who accepted jobs at Coinbase turned down several other offers to work at the major crypto exchange, but now, they’re stuck scrambling to find employment. This situation is even more dire for international students, who risk deportation if they can’t find an employer to sponsor their visas.

Layoffs are sadly an inevitable part of corporate life, especially in startups. But so often, it seems like they’re caused by bad management choices that make it more difficult to keep paying staff. People make mistakes, but those mistakes can put innocent workers in situations of financial precarity, potential deportation and limited access to healthcare. So when layoffs are made as a precaution, or a correction to mitigate past mistakes and over-hiring, it’s personal.

Sequoia is the latest VC firm telling you to take the downturn seriously

Sequoia takes things seriously. The storied venture firm is known to react to macroeconomic events with grand memos aimed at portfolio companies and sometimes the entrepreneurship scene at large.

Most recently, Sequoia created a 52-slide deck, first reported by The Information, titled “Adapting to Endure.” The document reads like a follow-up course to its infamously ill-timed “Coronavirus: The Black Swan of 2020” memo of March 2020.

The firm is not always right in its prognostications — maybe why it stuck to internal musings instead of a Medium post this time — but it does do a service in providing a snapshot of how one of the most weathered, and successful, VC firms of all time thinks about a looming downturn.

TechCrunch+ is having a Memorial Day sale. You can save 50% on annual subscriptions for a limited time.

“Our intention in gathering today is not to be a beacon of gloom,” the deck reads. “But we also believe that winning in the years ahead is going to depend on making hard, decisive choices confronting uncomfortable challenges that may have been masked during the exuberance and distortions of free capital over the past two years.”

Sequoia’s advice largely followed the same script that other venture firms have been using: extend runway, focus on sustainable growth and recognize that an economic recovery may be a ways away. There were, however, some tidbits that stood out, such as a subtweet that I’m guessing is meant for Tiger Global and a precise explanation of how founders should define fluff these days.

The capital provider blames capital itself — capitalism, huh?

One of the clearest subtweets within the deck is Sequoia’s commentary on cross-over funds. The firm says that “cheap capital is not coming to the rescue” at this moment:

A ping-pong match between bulls and bears

Hello and welcome back to Equity, a podcast about the business of startups, where we unpack the numbers and nuance behind the headlines.

Happily we were once again at full strength this week, with Alex Wilhelm, Natasha Mascarenhas and Mary Ann Azevedo chatting, and Grace handling production.

You can tell from the topic list today that we are in an odd time. There are myriad signals that the startup market is slowing down. And there are some counter-narrative data points that paint a more complex picture. Where do you stand in your own viewpoint? Well, read on for some data to consider:

  • Natasha gave us a brief update on All Raise’s annual VC summit, but she’ll get into more on an upcoming Wednesday show (stay tuned!)
  • Monte Carlo just raised a unicorn round, worth $135 million at a $1.6 billion valuation. On the other hand, Bolt is laying off staff amidst a correction in the larger startup market, and perhaps its own space.
  • If startup news is pointing in two directions, so too are data from the venture capital world. While Sequoia is warning founders about a downturn, a16z just raised a king’s ransom to pour into the web3 market. Parse that as you will.
  • There were other bits of news to consider as we work to understand where the startup world truly is today, including news from Zip and Nowports — two newly-minted unicorns that Mary Ann recently profiled.
  • And we closed on, what else, drama in fintech. As Stripe and Plaid gear up to battle, Finix is either in the fray, or about to jump in, depending on your perspective. What’s clear is that increasingly overlapping fintech giants are going to rub up against one another. You can read more about that in The Interchange, out on Sunday.

Hugs from us to you, and we will talk to you next week!

Equity drops every Monday at 7 a.m. PDT and Wednesday and Friday at 6 a.m. PDT, so subscribe to us on Apple Podcasts, Overcast, Spotify and all the casts.

Tech employees face another tough week of cross-stage layoffs

Unfortunately, there’s more where last week came from. Following last week’s slew of layoffs in tech, this week had another dose of staff cuts across tech companies. Impact was felt across industries ranging from education to security, as well as stages from a post-Series A startup to a recently-SPAC’d business.

Below, we’ve listed the latest companies that have laid off talent in response to the reset happening across startup land. Big shout out to, a tracker that aggregates tips, spreadsheets of impacted employees, and other layoff details in one spot.


Section4, an up-skilling startup launched by prominent NYU professor Scott Galloway, has laid off a quarter of staff sources say. The layoffs, which occurred last week, affected employees across all levels of seniority and teams, but specifically targeted a majority of the product team. The startup first splashed onto the scene in 2019 with a goal to scale business school-quality courses in a more affordable, and entirely virtual, way.

CEO Greg Shove confirmed layoff details to TechCrunch over e-mail and said that 32 people were impacted. The executive declined to disclose specifics on what impacted employees were offered, but said that the severance package was “at market or better.” Shove added that there is no hiring freeze and that the company will continue to employ folks in engineering and enterprise. Part of that hiring focus, he adds, is that the startup is moving faster in serving the enterprise than individual consumers, so hiring will reflect that.

Layoffs are a dramatic way to change strategies, but also signal that the company needs to play defense before it can entirely pivot. As we’ve been covering for months, consumer edtech has been flirting with selling to enterprises as to avoid revenue volatility (and land stickier contracts).


Carvana, used-car retailer that went public in 2017, laid off 2,500 staff as part of the company’s “previously announced plans to better align staffing and expense levels with sales volumes,” it claims in a filing. Per the same filing, reports Alex Wilhelm, the company is offering those laid off four weeks of pay plus an additional week for every year that they’ve been at the company. The company claims that the executive team is forgoing their salaries for the remainder of the year to contribute to severance pay.

The mobility mets e-commerce startup surged on Thursday, after earlier hitting a two year low. I guess that’s how the market responds to people losing jobs? A Short squeeze?


Latch, an enterprise SaaS company that makes keyless-entry systems, has been struggling for the past few months – from experiencing a difficult SPAC debut to parting ways with its CFO, Garth Mitchell. Well, it looks like the business volatility has now trickled down to employees with the public company reportedly cutting 30 people, or 6% of its total staff, per an e-mail obtained by TechCrunch.


In 2019, DataRobot had just raised a $206 million Series E round from Sapphire Ventures, Tiger Global Management, and a number of other firms. Then, just weeks after COVID-19 arrived in the U.S., the Boston-based machine learning company conducted layoffs due to “uncertainty.” Fast-forward to the present, DataRobot laid off another 7% of its workforce this week. With about 1,000 employees, these layoffs are estimated to affect around 70 people. In an email to staff obtained by The Information, CEO Dan Wright said that the layoffs were a response to changing market conditions after aggressive hiring last year (a trend we saw across layoffs last week).

“That level of investment is no longer sustainable for our business, particularly in the context of broader changes in the market, with investors now taking a harder look at efficiency and spending,” he said in the email.

Meta, Twitter and Uber hiring freezes

But wait, there’s more… On the heels of iffy Q1 earnings reports, some big tech companies are in trouble.

Let’s start with Meta née Facebook. Mark Zuckerberg is all-in on building the metaverse, having just opened its first brick-and-mortar store. He also just demoed what’s to come on the company’s next headset, dubbed “Project Cambria,” which will incorporate mixed reality into the headset. But in Q1 alone, Meta’s Reality Labs — its VR and AR team — operated at a loss of $2.96 billion, and last year, Reality Labs lost over $10 billion. Meanwhile, Facebook’s user growth has become relatively stagnant.

Last week, Insider reported that Facebook CFO David Wehner wrote in an internal memo that hiring will be paused across most engineering teams for the rest of the year, citing an “industry-wide downturn.” Then, this week, Reuters reported that Meta is preparing cutbacks in Reality Labs, a bad omen for its… burgeoning metaverse business. Some candidates for jobs at Meta have had their offers rescinded, per a viral LinkedIn post.

Twitter employees are also facing a moment of uncertainty as they await Elon Musk’s impending takeover. Yesterday, CEO Parag Agrawal — who is expected to be replaced after Musk’s acquisition clears — asked two key executives to leave. The company is also undergoing a hiring freeze, which isn’t uncommon following M&A deals.

“Effective this week, we are pausing most hiring and backfills, except for business-critical roles. We are also pulling back on non-labor costs to ensure we are being responsible and efficient,” a Twitter spokesperson told TechCrunch.

And then that brings us to Uber, which is valued lower now than it was in mid-2019.

“It’s clear that the market is experiencing a seismic shift and we need to react accordingly,” CEO Dara Khosrowshahi wrote. He added, “We will treat hiring as a privilege and be deliberate about when and where we add headcount. We will be even more hardcore about costs across the board.”

It’s not easy to navigate the pandemic as a company that requires drivers and passengers to sit together in a car. But, Khosrowshahi’s note highlighted investors’ interest in products like Uber Eats, which set their service apart from competitors like Lyft. Still, food delivery isn’t the most profitable business either.

Unfortunately, it’s usually the workers who get the short end of the stick in these situations, whether they’re tech staff or contracted gig workers.

Khosrowshahi ended his note with an attempt at optimism (?) in a turbulent time.

“GO GET IT!” he said.

Scott Galloway’s edtech startup, Section4, lays off a quarter of staff

Section4, an up-skilling startup launched by prominent NYU professor Scott Galloway, has laid off a quarter of staff sources say. The layoffs, which occurred last week, affected employees across all levels of seniority and teams, but specifically targeted a majority of the product team. The startup first splashed onto the scene in 2019 with a goal to scale business school-quality courses in a more affordable, and entirely virtual, way.

CEO Greg Shove confirmed layoff details to TechCrunch over e-mail and said that 32 people were impacted. The executive declined to disclose specifics on what impacted employees were offered, but said that the severance package was “at market or better.” Shove added that there is no hiring freeze and that the company will continue to employ folks in engineering and enterprise. Part of that hiring focus, he adds, is that the startup is moving faster in serving the enterprise than individual consumers, so hiring will reflect that.

Sources back it up. They say that Section4 is having a full re-organization as a company because it is not hitting consumer growth numbers. In March 2022, Section 4 hinted at potential underlying tensions with monetization: the company started offering unlimited courses for a single membership price, rather than selling each course for $995. The startup last raised a $30 million Series A in March 2021.

Per Shove, Section4 is aiming to serve 15,000 students and 200 enterprise customers by end of year.

The company’s reasoning for the layoffs, per sources, largely came from financial mismanagement, not yet having product market fit, and hiring too much. Per LinkedIn, Section4 has 142 employees tat work there. Sources say that leadership also pointed out that its main product — two- to three-long week courses taught by prominent professors from top schools — was too costly to produce.

Put differently, the startup’s initial goal was to create a more affordable way (think $700 per course versus $7,000) for managers to up-skill themselves — and that is not working as planned. As of March 2021, the startup was hitting 70% completion rates and had taught 10,000 students.

“Graduate education was transformative in my life, and I enjoy teaching, and we thought there was an opportunity — because of the pandemic and changing behaviors — to start an online ed concept that tried to deliver 50% to 70% of the value of an elite MBA elective at 10% of the cost and 1% of the friction,” Galloway previously told TechCrunch.

Market shifts have rippled across tech in the past few weeks, as layoffs rocked unicorns and early-stage startups alike. Edtech, more specifically, enjoyed a capital injection during the early innings of pandemic — and now, as consumer habits change, there’s a correction starting to play out.

Last month, per the Economic Times, richly-valued Indian edtech Unacademy laid off 1,000 employees as part of a cost-cutting measure. The same outlet reports that Vedantu, another edtech unicorn, cut 200 employees. Public edtech companies have also seen stock values slashed: Duolingo is currently trading at $65.58, down sharply from a 52-week high of $205, Coursera is trading at $13.89, also remarkably down from a high of $46.99.

These cuts, along with Section4’s layoffs, all signal that edtech isn’t an exception when it comes to the Great Reset in tech.

Tech layoffs don’t happen to companies, they happen to people

Hello and welcome back to Equity, a podcast about the business of startups, where we unpack the numbers and nuance behind the headlines.

This is our Wednesday show, where we niche down to a single topic, think about a question and unpack the rest. This week, Natasha and Alex asked: What does the most recent wave of layoffs mean for tech workers?

The question comes after Natasha’s recent Startups Weekly column, “The Great Resignation, meet the Great Reset.” In the piece, which included a round up of recent tech layoffs, she explored the idea of employee whiplash, and why this moment in pullback is different than what we saw in March 2020.

The goal of the episode was to humanize the tech layoffs we’ve seen ripple across the startup ecosystem, from buzzy, big names like Cameo, On Deck and Robinhood, to B2B platforms like Workrise and Thrasio. As our piece last week notes, the common thread between most of these layoffs, according to founders, is that there’s been a shift in the market and a serious pivot in business is required. A pivot, that is, that hurts the employees that built your product up after high demand.

Let us know how we did?

If you or a friend has recently been laid off, tip Natasha Mascarenhas or Alex Wilhelm on Twitter @nmasc_ and @alex. 

Equity drops every Monday at 7 a.m. PT and Wednesday and Friday at 6 a.m. PT, so subscribe to us on Apple Podcasts, Overcast, Spotify and all the casts.

If the earliest investors keep going earlier, what will happen?

There’s a clash happening in the early-stage market.

In one world, late-stage investors are reacting to tech stonk corrections by clamoring toward the early-stage investment world, forcing seed investors to go even earlier to defend ownership and potential returns. This trend was underscored by firms like Andreessen Horowitz launching a pre-seed program months after launching a $400 million seed fund. Even more, Techstars, an accelerator literally launched to help startups get off the ground, debuted a fund to back companies that are too early for its traditional programming.

While all that is going on, early-stage investors are enduring a valuation correction and portfolio markdowns. Some are admitting that they’re telling portfolio companies to refocus on cash conservation, profitability and discipline, not just growth.

Let’s pretend these two vastly different worlds are in the same universe: Early-stage investors are getting more disciplined and cash rich, but at the same time, the earliest investors are going earlier. Investors are pushing founders to be lean but also green, but at the same time, offering them $10,000 to take PTO for a week and try their hand at entrepreneurship. Growth, gross margin and burn are the new top priorities for CEOs, but at the same time, venture capitalists are clamoring to offer more funds, earlier, in newly invented subcategories of early-stage investment.

The tension between these two worlds looks different depending on if you’re a Stanford founder starting a SaaS company, or if you’re a bootstrapped, first-time entrepreneur trying to disrupt agtech. Regardless, the growing spotlight, and discipline, on the early stage just makes me wonder one broad thing: What’s left for early-stage investors to focus on?