‘I’m still shocked’: Tech insiders report on mass layoffs

Layoffs The tech industry hit in 2023, triggering a series of job cuts that began last year. In all, about 50,000 people have lost their positions this month.

tech giants like Google, Microsoft Amazon led the sector in terms of the volume of discounts. While a slew of smaller companies like Spotify, Vox Media and IBM have forced layoffs as well.

Sales at major tech companies have slowed from the steep pace they hit during the pandemic, when billions around the world were forced into isolation.

Company officials often cited economic uncertainty and recession fears in their layoff announcements.

While large-scale jobs cut across as a severe economic warning, they point to a direct and intimate rupture of the workers who suffer from them. ABC News spoke with three laid-off workers about what the experience was like and how they deal with it.

Nnuma Agyu, Spotify

What started as an ordinary morning turned into a surprise for 29-year-old Niuma Ajewi.

At around 5:14 a.m., Aggio says she received a calendar invitation asking to be in a one-on-one meeting with someone on Spotify’s human resources team.

PHOTO: The Spotify logo on a laptop computer arranged in Hastings-on-Hudson, New York, January 25, 2023.

The Spotify logo on a laptop computer arranged in Hastings-on-Hudson, New York, January 25, 2023.

Tiffany Hagler-Gerd/Bloomberg via Getty Images

“It’s funny because the night before I texted my coworker a TikTok we were laughing at her saying ‘I don’t mean to alarm you’ and I sent this Bloomberg article about Spotify laying off workers earlier this week,” Agioi said. “I told her we were probably fine.”

Little did she know that she would be one of the 6% of employees, roughly 600 or so, that will be written off Spotify’s workforce this year.

About an hour after Ajiwe received its calendar invitation, Spotify CEO Daniel Ek sent an email to the staff breaking the news.

“I was literally driving on my way to the gym,” said Agioi.

The Houston native is a 2016 graduate of The University of Texas at Austin with a BA in Public Relations. She has worked with a plethora of companies in the industry such as Billboard, Genius, Sirius XM, and XXL Magazine but has always seen her Spotify career as “elusive.”

Ajewi applied five times before being offered the job as Director of Social Marketing at Spotify for Artists and Spotify Charts in May 2022.

Having been laid off from a different employer before, Ajewi said she felt many different emotions this time but the ones she felt just days after being laid off on Monday were “upset”.

“It’s bad because I especially liked this team. I just arrived. I loved my job,” said Aguiwi. “I’m still in shock and just trying to sort out the feelings and think about what I need to do.”

In response to a request for comment, Spotify filed a note About the layoffs that Ike sent to employees.

“Like many other leaders, I hoped to maintain strong tailwinds from the pandemic, and believe our broad global business and risk reduction on the impact of the advertising slowdown will insulate us,” said Eck. “In hindsight, I was too ambitious to invest before our revenue grew.”

Although layoffs can cause a bout of immediate financial trouble, Ageo works as a sidekicks photographer and calls herself a “good saver.”

Because of this, she believes it will take a month or so to figure out her next move.

“I wasn’t blown away by the fact that I might not have any money coming in for three months, because I know I had things to do on the side. But it sucks because that was the highest I was making. It was me,” she said.

“I believe that with every opportunity that closed in on me, something better always happened. I firmly believe that God will put me in a better place,” Agioi said.

Jonathan Bellak, Google

Jonathan Belak, 50, who has worked at Google for nearly 15 years, said he knew his tenure was almost over — and he wanted it that way. Two months ago, he told the company he sought to leave early in 2023.

Photo: Google office reopens in a historic building on Main Square in Krakow, Poland, November 29, 2022.

Google office reopens in a historic building on Main Square in Krakow, Poland, November 29, 2022.

NurPhoto via Getty Images

When he submitted the application, Belak expected Google to work with him on a plan to hand his duties over and say goodbye. Instead, he said, he hadn’t heard much.

“I had an idea that something was up,” said Belak, who lives in Montclair, New Jersey.

A self-described “workaholic,” Belak rose through the ranks at Google, becoming a senior director of product management who oversaw a team of about 45 employees dedicated to developing systems that protect users from phishing schemes and other attacks.

Over time, he said, he came to enjoy mentoring and relationships more than other parts of the job.

Belak says he woke up around 5 a.m. on Jan. 20 and found an email telling him “the company no longer has a position for you,” he says.

He kept accessing the work email long enough for him to see another message announcing company-wide layoffs. Within minutes, he said, he was locked up.

In all, Google has cut 12,000 jobs or about 6% of its workforce. After witnessing an attack Layoffs In the tech industry, Belak wasn’t surprised.

“It seemed like the thing all the cool kids in Silicon Valley were doing,” he said of the layoffs.

Google did not respond to a request for comment. In an email to employees last Friday, Google CEO Sundar Pichai said, “This means goodbye to some of the incredibly talented people we worked so hard to hire and loved working with.”

He said the layoffs left Bellak “very torn”. A forced exit clarified his situation, allowing him to move on; But he felt bad for colleagues who didn’t expect it.

“A lot of people had no idea this was happening or that they might be involved,” he said. “For them, it’s obviously a shock.”

He said Bellak is not worried about his financial prospects, describing his previous job as “high paying”. Furthermore, he praised the company’s severance package, which gave departing employees 16 weeks of basic compensation with an additional two weeks for each year of employment.

Belak said that a new project is already waiting for him. He launched a consulting service that advises startups and other companies on how to grow.

Belak, who is a father of two boys, ages 9 and 14, said he was looking forward to lunch with his wife and time with the kids. Their first big step: getting a dog.

“If I put this in the article, my 9-year-old would be excited,” he said. “It means I am deeply committed.”

Phoebe Gavin, Fox

Phoebe Gavin, 37, the former executive director of talent and development at digital news outlet Vox, was laid off by the company last week. But she said she had been preparing for something like this since “a very scary situation” nearly a decade ago.

Photo: In this illustration, the Vox Media logo is shown on a smartphone.

In this illustration, the Vox Media logo is shown on a smartphone.

Getty Images / File

In 2014, Gavin loses her job at a different media company. She said she lacked any savings and had to “put it all on my credit card to get to my next job”. Since then, she says, she started putting 10% of every paycheck into savings and later built a side job as a career coach.

Last Friday, Gavin had a previously scheduled meeting with her boss, who told her she was being let go and that she should take the rest of the day off, she said. Vox Media, the parent company of Vox, has laid off 130 workers, or 7% of its staff.

Gavin, who had worked at Vox for a little over a year, oversaw the staff’s in-house expertise, so she understood what her manager could and couldn’t say about the decision. “I didn’t expect her to tell me more,” she said.

The news surprised Gavin, but she knew she was in a troubled business.

It was a bit of a shocker and a bit of an ‘Okay, I work in the media industry,'” she said.

Vox Media declined to comment on the layoff. In a note to employees last Friday, Vox Media CEO Jim Bankoff referred to the “challenging economic environment affecting our business and our industry.”

She said after years of planning for a potential career setback, Gavin is not worried about her finances. In fact, she’s ready to turn her side gig into a full-time job, after putting clients out of the apprenticeship business for the past six months.

“I had to strike a balance with making sure the side hustle matched the side hustle time — I don’t have to do that anymore,” she said. “Instead of 6 am to 9 pm, I will work on it from 9 am to 6 pm.”

Gavin, who is black, said her commitment to protecting her career was due in part to her knowledge of widespread job losses. disproportionately affect Colored people and women.

“This is clearly something that we as a society have to take strong steps to address,” she said. “The system will not improve fast enough to keep us safe as individuals.”

To overcome the mental health challenges of workflow, Gavin says she will rely on therapy that has helped her put together an “emotional toolkit,” she says, noting that a more flexible schedule will help her do stress-relieving activities.

“I mostly focus on being able to go to the gym in the middle of the day when it’s empty,” she said. “One of the things that helps is picking up and dropping heavy things.”

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