What goes up, must come down.
“It’s not just Twitter,” the San Francisco Business Times reported glumly on November 4, 2022. “10 other Bay Area startups and recently public companies cut jobs this week.”
“Silicon Valley tech companies lay off workers fearing economic uncertainty,” confirmed FOX KTVU later that day.
“Meta will reportedly announce ‘large-scale’ layoffs next week,” added Engadget on November 6, 2022. “The announcement could affect ‘many thousands’ of employees.”
“Facebook parent Meta planning massive layoffs this week,” agreed FOX Business later. “Twitter, Snap, Microsoft, and other tech companies have trimmed their workforces in recent months.”
“Widening tech, biotech job cuts could jolt broader Bay Area economy,” announced Silicon Valley Technology on November 7. “Plans have emerged for thousands of Bay Area job cuts, thousands more could be in the works.”
It’s expected to be a “massive wintertime layoff surge,” as AXIOS put it.
And nowhere is the trend more prominent than at Twitter, which is now under new ownership after a protracted fight by Elon Musk — first to buy Twitter, then to avoid buying it, and finally to give in to buying it.
Abruptly firing approximately half of Twitter’s workforce shortly after taking over the company, as Musk did, was a somewhat unusual move, to say the least.
“Elon Musk Defies Management Mantras With His Rapid Overhaul at Twitter,” the Wall Street Journal reported on November 6 in a tone of surprise. “In first week, the billionaire fired top leaders, conducted sweeping layoffs, mocked internal training and floated new product ideas.”
“Hello,” the innocuous-looking separation email from Musk began cordially, but it was Friday and Twitter employees probably knew what was coming long before the beginning of the second paragraph: “Today is your last working day at the company.”
“As shared earlier today, Twitter is conducting a workforce reduction to help improve the health of the company,” the first full sentence of the email began. “These decisions are never easy and it is with regret that we write to inform you that your role at Twitter has been impacted.”
Some Twitter employees already knew: Login credentials were revoked before the email hit inboxes and word spread quickly.
“Today is your last working day with the company,” was followed by a bit of good news: “however, you will remain employed by Twitter and will receive compensation and benefits through your separation date of January 4, 2023.”
“During this time, you will be on a Non-Working Notice period and your access to Twitter systems will be deactivated,” the email continued blithely. “While you are not expected to work during the Non-Working Notice period, you are still required to comply with all company policies, including the Employee Playbook and Code of Conduct.”
If Twitter’s new management expected the foregoing admonition to prevent disgruntled soon-to-be former employees from dishing to every media outlet in the country, including leaking the email received by those who were fired and the one received by Twitter employees who survived the first round of layoffs, they were sorely mistaken.
Some experts are calling it a ‘bloodbath’, others point to growing tech companies like TikTok which are hiring and expanding.
But with mass layoffs at Twitter and Meta, plus more tech companies contracting and downsizing, and a recession looking likely, what is to become of the American tech industry?
Are these mass layoffs merely a sign of our uncertain economic times? Or are we witnessing the last days of the golden age of Silicon Valley?
(contributing writer, Brooke Bell)