Jan 3, 2024 - Economy

Big Tech layoffs shattered industry, worker confidence

Illustration of an office chair with a saw cutting a circle around it

Illustration: Natalie Peeples/Axios

Sweeping layoffs across Big Tech over the past two years have left a permanent impression on leaders and workers.

Why it matters: The experience is likely to reset expectations for many in the industry that haven't experienced prior down cycles.

Context: Nearly half a million job cuts were announced in 2022 and 2023, according to Layoffs.fyi, a tracking platform — with some of the biggest disclosed a year ago by giants like Google, Amazon, Microsoft and Salesforce.

  • For the past 10–20 years, these companies were "rolling in money" and "desperate for tech workers," Dorie Clark, an executive coach, tells Axios in an interview.

The impact: When that environment abruptly ended across the industry, it had a dual effect:

  • It "psychologically unsettled" executives.
  • And became a "wake-up call" for tech workers who now know their jobs aren't "safe" in a permanent way, Clark says.

The intrigue: Roger Lee, the creator of Layoffs.fyi and co-founder of Comprehensive.io, tells Axios in an interview that he believes this recent cycle can help younger tech workers reset their expectations.

  • As an entrepreneur who's lived through the dot-com boom and bust, the Great Recession, and this latest downturn, he says tech's reputation as a way to get rich quick — born "during periods of excess" — was an "unrealistic" view that many people had.

What to watch: Sentiments in tech have been improving over the past few months as inflation has cooled and the generative AI craze has picked up, Clark says.

  • But Lee says the job market for tech workers hasn't bounced back fully and that it's become a lot harder for people to find new roles.

Go deeper: What tech layoffs mean for the future of tech startups

Go deeper