The layoffs will continue until (investor) morale improves

Since the start of 2023, more than 150,000 people have been laid off at tech companies, large and small. That’s a staggering number of people who have been put out of work.

When you think about how Meta, Amazon and Salesforce have handled these layoffs, the situation becomes even more grim.

Salesforce announced in January that it was laying off 10% of its approximately 80,000 employee workforce. Since then, it has been letting people go in dribs and drabs. Amazon also announced in January that it was laying off 18,000 employees, then announced another 9,000 this week. Meta laid off 11,000 in November and let another 10,000 people go in a second round this week. In addition, the company shut down another 5,000 open recs.

This, some would say, cruel, rolling approach to layoffs leaves employees anxious and uncertain about their own positions, while grieving about the loss of valued colleagues who have been let go.

Investors, on the other hand, seem to like layoffs as a way to move companies toward greater operating efficiency. CEOs typically are less concerned about the well being of their employees as they are in keeping investors happy.

An argument could be made, of course, that these companies overhired during the recent tech boom, and now it’s time to right size to better fit a changing market. That argument would carry more weight if the companies in question weren’t profitable. However, large American tech companies are very often both profitable and incredibly wealthy, even if their market cap has fallen from record highs.

While there is some truth to the idea that companies grew too quickly in recent years and need to reset, layoffs feel like the worst kind of short-term thinking: sacrificing employees to please investors. Are companies at least getting what they want from investors out of this devil’s bargain?

Investor response

If companies are looking to impress investors with their cost-cutting measures, we can rate how effective their layoffs are by how investors have reacted to them.

The layoffs will continue until (investor) morale improves by Ron Miller originally published on TechCrunch

Creating remote work rituals that stick

Remote work lends people a certain amount of freedom in how they go about doing their jobs, so it’s not surprising that an asynchronous style of working would be one of the side effects of not working from a centralized location.

But it’s not always good for employees. In this arrangement, people often end up working more, and meeting culture takes over because people can no longer see their colleagues in an office setting, which is a natural habitat for collaboration and communication.

And when you’re talking to people online, understanding each other is usually more difficult because you’re less in tune with what’s happening in their lives at that moment. Jumping on a call with someone also doesn’t come naturally to everyone.

Ultimately, to reduce the number of meetings so people can focus on other tasks, employees need to find new ways to foster a culture of open communication and collaboration, and individuals and teams need to introduce boundaries and rituals into their workday.

The routines people create are negotiated over time, but it’s something we’ve come to take for granted. Any organization hoping to scale can create rituals that engage people in their work and inspire them to be their best selves.

Structure work routines around people

Ultimately, asynchronous work only serves you when you compartmentalize phases of work with your team.

With remote work come hours of video conferencing calls and employees who’ll show up and not contribute a single word. People will often refrain from unmuting their mics and many won’t turn their cameras on, leaving the speaker with only a dark screen to talk to.

Making matters worse, on a call with a lot of attendees, important information can be left undiscussed. Even setting up a quick five-minute clarifying call can be tough to negotiate sometimes.

To trigger active listening and get people invested in a meeting, try a Socratic dialogue structure. In this approach, a moderator will ask participants to summarize what the previous speaker said and encourage them to build on top of the full conversation.

Conversations like this involve examples, definitions, sub-questions and assumptions, and help people look for arguments that prove a point instead of validating their opinions. It’s a proven way to kick-start constructive dialogue and get multiple perspectives on a topic so that you can arrive at a shared viewpoint. It also shows employees that every perspective is valuable, which fosters an environment of trust.

If there is an elephant in the room, bring it to people’s attention and put their minds at ease before it becomes a larger issue. It’s key to remain open and proceed with sensitivity and accept that others may not agree with your opinions. Leaders should be the role models here and should ask questions and encourage team members to speak up and take initiative.

Creating remote work rituals that stick by Ram Iyer originally published on TechCrunch

Pitch Deck Teardown: Gable’s $12M Series A deck

It seems like only yesterday that I wrote about Gable’s $12 million Series A, but it was, in fact, two days ago. The company is building an interesting product in the world of remote work, and I was curious how the founders were able to convince investors to part with a big pile of dough.

Gable takes all the administrative work out of finding and booking nearby workspaces, both for employees and employers. It operates in 26 different countries, and the company says that more than 5,000 employees are using the platform.

Slides in this deck

At 21 slides, Gable’s deck is longer than average. Here’s what it included:

  1. Cover slide
  2. Team slide
  3. Market context slide (“The revolution of remote work”)
  4. Problem slide No. 1 (“Going remote-first is hard”)
  5. How people solve it now (“How it’s done today”)
  6. Problem slide No. 2 (“Main Issues”)
  7. Solution slide
  8. Traction slide (“Where we are”)
  9. Product slide No.1 (“Employee view”)
  10.  Product slide No. 2 (“Management and insights”)
  11.  Product slide No. 3 (“Host view”)
  12.  Traction slide (“Partnership with over 800 spaces”)
  13.  Value proposition slide (“Why they choose Gable”)
  14.  Case study slide No. 1
  15.  Case study slide No. 2
  16.  Business model slide
  17.  Market-size slide (“TAM”)
  18.  Go-to-market slide (“Scalable process”)
  19.  Marketing slide (“Massive channel opportunity)
  20.  Product road map slide
  21.  Thank you slide

Three things to love

Making the business of shared workspaces easier for startups certainly has its challenges, but it’s also a large and growing market. Gable weaves its story together with ease.

Pitch Deck Teardown: Gable’s $12M Series A deck by Haje Jan Kamps originally published on TechCrunch

Mapping out the future of AR, ThirdEye is taking on Google and Microsoft in real-life scenarios

It takes a particular kind of chutzpah go up against the behemoths, especially when it comes to AR glasses. We already have Microsoft’s Hololens and Google Glass is being marketed as an enterprise device. But ThirdEye thinks its up for the challenge.

ThirdEye is a spin-off of a project for the Department of Defense. Stealthily, it has been making steady in-roads into the AR smart glasses and the accompanying AI software space.

The ThirdEye glasses may look like safety goggles — and they are, to some degree — but they do much more. The company’s second-gen X2 MR lets people access documents or schematics hands-free while working on a project. Live digital information can be projected onto the user’s field of view; it can also relay live images to a tablet or phone, allowing colleagues to provide guidance or oversee an activity. There’s also a low-resolution thermal sensor built into the glasses. And they’re lightweight.

The company quickly found a customer in the military, which is making use of the tech for classified things. But, ThirdEye CEO Nick Cherukuri told TechCrunch that the glasses could be used for more mundane applications, as well, like helping technicians make repairs in remote settings.  

A combat medic gets instructions via the ThirdEye glasses. Image Credits: ThirdEye

And that’s just the beginning. ThirdEye’s technology became especially important during the pandemic; the glasses allowed for clearer treatment options and diagnoses without too many people having to come into contact with each other. ThirdEye saw its opportunity and developed HIPAA-compliant telehealth AR software to go with it. 

In August 2022, the U.K.’s National Health Service launched a trial where community nurses wore the goggles when making home visits. By transcribing a patient’s visit record directly to their notes (with their consent), the company says its glasses could reduce the amount of time nurses spent focusing on paperwork rather than with their patients.

The glasses could also help to reduce the need for doctors’ appointments or even hospital admissions by allowing health care professionals to share live footage with colleagues, giving patients an opportunity to get second opinions or more detailed diagnoses. The thermal imaging sensor can be used to assess wound healing, too.

Mapping out the future of AR, ThirdEye is taking on Google and Microsoft in real-life scenarios by Haje Jan Kamps originally published on TechCrunch

Tech layoffs are creating a new era of scrappy (and humbled) founders

The onramps into Silicon Valley often include access: to a smart mentor, a well-connected venture capitalist, or even a rocket ship of a startup.

But an emerging class of founders is reminding the ecosystem how collapse can be an activator, as well. Laid-off talent is flocking to build startups within all sectors, from climate to crypto to the creator economy. And they’re hoping to course-correct where their alma maters — both Big Tech companies and small upstarts alike — went wrong.

New data from Day One Ventures, a venture firm backing seed-stage founders, shows how the seedlings are starting to bloom. Founder and GP Masha Bucher, who left her former life in Russia as a politician and TV reporter to become a venture capitalist, spun up a program to help potential founders in the wake of Stripe and Twitter’s recent layoffs.

She said she’s confident that at least 0.1% to 1% of the thousands of tech employees who were laid off this year could become incredible founders.

Tech layoffs are creating a new era of scrappy (and humbled) founders by Natasha Mascarenhas originally published on TechCrunch

The tech jobs market might not be as shaky as it feels

When you lose 100,000 jobs in one month, as happened in tech in January, it’s easy to think that the bottom is falling out of the tech jobs market. The torrent of big company layoffs has been swift and brutal, with Microsoft, Alphabet, Amazon and Salesforce, among others, laying off thousands each.

But as with everything else in this economic downturn, nothing is as it seems, or certainly not as clear cut as it was in 2008 or after the dot-com bubble burst in 2000 when the economy crashed hard, and it was a long rough ride back to stability.

The justification for these layoffs is cutting operations costs and increasing profits, perhaps reducing payroll that swelled during the height of the pandemic. It’s a savage business, but a careful look at the jobs data suggests that maybe it isn’t quite as bad as it appears at first blush.

The conventional wisdom suggests that these job cuts have to eventually catch up with us, but so far, tech workers — especially those with specialized skills like engineering, data science, AI and cybersecurity — continue to be in demand as supply lags behind the number of open jobs.

The people let go by Big Tech just may not be going to other tech companies.

The tech jobs market might not be as shaky as it feels by Ron Miller originally published on TechCrunch

Data hints at the value of startup offices

Toward the end of 2022, a number of entrepreneurs — some citing Elon Musk — told me they planned to bring back in-person work culture in the following year to help promote productivity and, in some cases, loyalty. One founder even told me over drinks that they weren’t worried about losing talent — claiming that those who leave just because there’s an in-person mandate weren’t truly mission-driven to begin with.

While some founders are clearly set on a return, others are confused. There’s the argument — sometimes coming from venture capitalists desperate to see portfolio companies succeed — that being in-person will help grow productivity and, eventually, the bottom line. And there’s also the counterargument that remote work allows for more inclusive and expansive hiring, which could also help, well, the bottom line.

And if 2023 isn’t the year for the bottom line, I don’t know what else it could be. Kruze Consulting, an accounting firm for startups, mined through over 750 companies’ finances — which includes upward of $300 million in quarterly revenue and over $750 million in quarterly spend. I spoke to Healy Jones, who runs financial planning and analysis for Kruze, about his findings. The results, he thinks, offer some balance to the debate.

Data hints at the value of startup offices by Natasha Mascarenhas originally published on TechCrunch

Laid off from your crypto job? Here’s what founders are looking for in new talent

Layoffs continue to spread across the crypto job market amid macroeconomic volatility and bearish market sentiments, but there are still plenty of startups looking to hire fresh talent.

Crypto firms like Coinbase and have cut employees in recent weeks, which has increased the talent pool and been “instrumental” for startups looking to build talent war chests, Jeff Feng, co-founder of layer-1 blockchain Sei, said to TechCrunch.

The layoffs aren’t specific to crypto; Big Tech has also seen a number of cuts in recent months. But layoffs within crypto and adjacent industries present an opportunity for startups to bring in experienced talent across the sector, Nate Holiday, co-founder, president and CEO at Space and Time, shared with TechCrunch.

The pace of hiring slowed after the summer of 2022 and continued for the remainder of the year, Aleksi Loytynoja, co-founder and CEO of “proof-of-talent” hiring platform Kleoverse, said to TechCrunch. “The final weeks of 2022, after the FTX collapse, were very quiet. Now, after the New Year, it seems that there’s more hiring happening again.”

Yes, most companies are looking to conserve their burn rate and extend their runway as much as possible, but many are still hiring for “highly intentional and critical roles,” Nabin Banskota, co-founder of, said to TechCrunch. “Layoffs are increasing the talent pool for startups to find really great talent with overall less competition.”

Founder advice

While recruiters and talent heads alike shared their advice on how to navigate the current hiring environment, we also spoke with a handful of founders about what they’re looking for in applicants.

The first piece of advice? “Be obsessed with web3,” Holiday said. “If you don’t eat, sleep and breathe web3, this is probably not the industry for you.”

Laid off from your crypto job? Here’s what founders are looking for in new talent by Jacquelyn Melinek originally published on TechCrunch

Startups should expect more scrutiny from VCs on their hiring plans

Startups went on a hiring spree in 2021 as VC cash flowed and the job market was hot. But many overindulged in the talent pool and then had to make large cuts and layoffs in 2022. The worst for startups is likely still to come.

This isn’t a pattern that companies are going to want to fall into again when the market recovers and subsequently ramps up. And maybe they won’t this time around, because VCs are likely going to start paying a lot more attention to how companies are spending their money on hiring.

While many of the huge layoff numbers of the past year come from public names like Amazon and Microsoft, startups have also made notable cuts. Some, including, Bolt and Vimeo, have conducted multiple rounds of layoffs in the past year. Many expect layoffs among startups won’t slow down this year.

But there’s hope we won’t see this again. Angela Lee, a professor at Columbia Business School, angel investor and venture partner, said founders generally state their hiring plans on a slide at the back of their pitch deck that breaks down how they plan to spend the money they raise. Traditionally, she said, that was a throwaway slide that didn’t get much thought from VCs. But it won’t be anymore.

“It is not to say, ‘do not hire’ — it is just that we need to see the double click now on why,” Lee said. “You need X number of million of dollars for what? Why do you need a chief data scientist and architect?”

Startups should expect more scrutiny from VCs on their hiring plans by Rebecca Szkutak originally published on TechCrunch

The #MyTechBestfriend fallout continues

The bad blood between tech boot camp MyTechBestfriend and many of its former students is anything but finished, according to nearly a dozen people who spoke to TechCrunch.

In November, TechCrunch detailed the fallout between Mary Awodele, the founder of the Texas-based MTBF, and her students. Students accused Awodele of bullying and harassment while alleging that the MTBF program, which cost up to $6,000, consisted of plagiarized courses that could be found online for a more affordable price. At the time, Awodele told TechCrunch she couldn’t comment on those allegations “due to ongoing legal proceedings.”

Since then, those who spoke up against Awodele and the program said they are struggling to obtain refunds and facing continued harassment.

Awodele, meanwhile, posted online in an Instagram story screenshot seen by TechCrunch that she plans to rebrand the company in the new year. She also hired a Texas-based lawyer, Kim Daily, and brought on Curt Bender, a Florida attorney who is consulting for MTBF. Neither Awodele nor Daily directly responded to TechCrunch’s requests for comment, but Bender replied to a set of questions sent to Awodele. Bender said MTBF has no imminent plans to rebrand.

To request refunds, students said they began contacting Stripe, which was, per receipts seen by TechCrunch, one of MTBF’s payment processors. MTBF then posted an Instagram story saying that the new program it hopes to launch would be for those who are an “Affirm, Klarna, or Afterpay kinda person.” MTBF also said it wanted to venture into career services and would vet prospective students to ensure the new program had a more “mature crowd.”

The #MyTechFallout continues

A major point of contention between Awodele and her students remains the fees paid to participate in MTBF’s courses. Awodele told students she would grant refunds to those who wished to drop out after the fallout in late November, even though the course contract students signed said MTBF would not process any refunds. Students told TechCrunch that the refund process has been inconsistent with Awodele’s promises.

A November 18 email forwarded to TechCrunch shows an MTBF employee agreeing to refund Shay, a former student who requested to go by their nickname, within 10 days. After 10 days passed, Shay followed up, but MTBF responded: “Hi. Call your bank, and please do not email us again. Thank you.”

Allegations about the program’s deceit also continued to spread. Some students sent TechCrunch their receipts from MTBF, showing that their transactions were processed as gifts rather than services, which can be a tactic to avoid paying a tax on generated revenue. If these purchases were indeed processed as gifts, it would be a revenue misclassification that impacts the way MTBF is taxed and could land Awodele in serious trouble with the law, including jail time, two financial experts and attorney David Reischer of Reischer & Reischer told TechCrunch.

Bender said that MTBF “was not aware that transactions regarding scholarships were being processed as gifts, and it is correcting and remedying the situation.”

According to correspondence seen by TechCrunch, Awodele also threatened to report multiple students to credit bureaus in instances where she lost bank disputes. Bender, however, said MTBF “never sent anyone to a credit bureau” but “engaged with Fidelity Information Corporation in two instances.”

Victoria, a former student, using a pseudonym for fear of retribution from Awodele, successfully disputed MTBF’s tuition with her bank. Then she received, according to documents seen by TechCrunch, what appears to be a letter from Fidelity Information Corporation, a debt collector. The letter, an attempt to retrieve tuition money on behalf of MTBF, said to mail payments directly to MTBF and listed an address associated with an apartment building in Houston, not FIC, which is based in Los Angeles. (Bender said this is due to FIC’s engagement terms. FIC could not be reached for comment.

Many students have continued reporting MTBF to the Texas Workforce Commission (TWC), the FBI and the IRS, all of which, according to some students, have reached out to students regarding the allegations against MTBF. (The IRS declined to comment, while the FBI and TWC did not immediately respond to a request for comment.) Bender said “MTBF is in the process of meeting [TWC] regulatory demands” and is aware that “at least one former student saying the FBI and FTC reached out to them.”

Students who initially spoke out about allegations against MTBF say they continue to face harassment. On December 15, Charlie, a former student, awoke to text messages, one reading that her name was in a pot somewhere in Haiti.

“Make sure you pray for the wickedness that’s in your heart. When a stream of bad luck starts to come your way. Just know it’s us. What’s done is done. So let it be. Ashe,” the text message read, followed by a photo of what appears to be an object used for voodoo.

Bender told TechCrunch that “the founder of MTBF is a Christian and Nigerian and neither practice[s] nor participate[s] in voodoo.” He added that MTBF does, however, employ “hippie-esque practices with students, including lighting candles and manifestation for personal success.

“But never anything against enemies,” he noted.

Charlie, whose last name is being withheld, believes Awodele gave her number out to people for them to harass her. TechCrunch previously reported that Awodele had a group called #MTBFSPECIALFORCES, which she sent out to pester people who spoke up against her or the company. Two hours after TechCrunch reached out to Awodele and her lawyer for comment, Charlie received a message from Bender, who wrote that MTBF “nor its affiliates” were involved with the alleged threats — which was the question TechCrunch posed to them just hours before.

“Please report those threats to law enforcement, and MTBF will assist with any investigations,” Bender wrote in the email seen by TechCrunch. Charlie responded, “There is nothing else to be said other than I’ll see you in court.”

The voodoo incident has scared many people, adding to the fear that is keeping most students enrolled in the program, one current student, who asked to remain anonymous for fear of retaliation from Awodele, told TechCrunch. Though MTBF is back in session, it’s unclear how many students have dropped out — and how many remain.

“She’s a narcissist with a God complex who believes she’s untouchable and needs to be shut down,” Amber, a former student using a pseudonym for fear of retribution from Awodele, said of the founder. “We won’t stop until she’s unable to do this to anyone else.”



The #MyTechBestfriend fallout continues by Dominic-Madori Davis originally published on TechCrunch