Big tech companies have been hiring for years. Compared to startups, Big Tech has long offered employees a better work-life balance and – thanks to the talent shortage – less aggressive performance management, leading to the “rest and vest” stereotype immortalized in the portrayal of “Silicon Valley” from Big Head drink double sips on the roof of Hooli. But with seemingly endless growth no longer in the cards, that might be about to change.
The brutal layoffs Twitter, Metaand Selling power, following other major cuts at Stripe and Lyft, could mean big tech jobs are about to get a whole lot less cushy. Already, Salesforce has updated its policies to make it easier to fire peopleand Musk told employees that remote work is no longer allowed on Twitter.
Crawford sleeping in the office seemed to exemplify this shift, and among those who expressed support were like-minded tech leaders. Former GitHub CEO Nat Friedman was one such founder who encouraged Crawford.
“That’s how great new things are built, more often than anyone was willing to say during the last decade’s cultural revolution in Silicon Valley,” Friedman said. tweeted Saturday.
Not all founders think that way. Miguel de Icaza, who co-founded developer tools maker Xamarin with Friedman, disagree with that assessment, tweeting that he left Xamarin at 5 p.m. each day to prioritize a “healthy work/life balance.”
“I think asking people to work overtime [gives] you have poor quality output,” he wrote. “And in the context of these layoffs, that’s rude.”
And Crawford herself addressed the furor over the viral tweet.
“Doing difficult things takes sacrifice (time, energy, etc.)”, Crawford tweeted. “We are less than a week into a massive commercial and cultural transition. People are giving their all in all functions: product, design, engineering, legal, finance, marketing, etc.”
The tight labor market has given more power to the hands of the workers, which – at least in Big Tech – has led to a move away from the hustle culture and towards a focus on work-life balance and self-care. Nolan Church, co-founder and CEO of Continuum, the talent marketplace for leaders, said hard work has become “demonized” over the past decade.
“It’s not fashionable to talk about hard work,” he said. “People call it hustling porn. It has been misspoken over the past five, 10 years.
Technical benefits on TikTok
Celebrating Big Tech employment for the benefits, not the hustle and bustle, has become a trend among some tech workers on TikTok and YouTube.
TikTok ‘Day in the Life’ Videos Putting the Business in Serious Spotlight iced matcha and office rooftop views led some to post sneering comments about Big Tech’s lavish perks and overstaffing, dismissing project and product manager roles as “largely fabricated and redundant jobs“and calling on tech companies to lay off”70% non-engineers.” The criticism is similar to that addressed to the two product managers who described their work in a TikTok snap in a pool on a work trip earlier this year.
In early August, the @VCBrags Twitter account (which uses the handle “VCs Congratulating Themselves”) roast “TikTok tech influencers” with a starter pack meme highlighting supposed traits like “earning six figures with no experience” in jobs that “[consist] to send e-mails.
These videos have clearly struck a chord on social media: tech workers celebrating their company’s perks – mostly free food – with small images of them at their desks have become scapegoats for the stock market performance of their employers.
But for Big Tech content creators themselves, there are obvious reasons why videos focus on benefits rather than work: engagement and corporate privacy.
“If I created a real video of a day in the life of a product manager at a technology company, my video would be filled with me in a meeting room most of the day,” said Diego Granados, senior PM at LinkedIn whose “day in the life” video was played on YouTube more 42,000 times. “If you’re trying to make it entertaining, we need to show the fun parts that have nothing to do with confidential information.”
Despite all the layoffs, Granados said he doesn’t notice a dramatic shift to a tougher work culture. He took issue with the idea that Big Tech is overstaffed and said LinkedIn’s “great” work-life balance doesn’t mean it never works weekends to deliver a new feature. LinkedIn’s parent company, Microsoft, To cut less than 1,000 jobs last month, according to Axios, after an August restructuring at LinkedIn which allegedly affected its global events marketing team.
Albert Yang, director of software engineering at Amazon Web Services who made Three “day in the life” videos this year (including a “realistic” teleworking version), also said his company – now in a hiring freeze – is not overstaffed. On the contrary, AWS could use more staff, he said.
In Yang’s experience, software engineers at Big Tech do about five hours of direct work a day, plus about two hours of meetings.
“Five very focused hours a day is quite productive,” Yang said. “Obviously there are days that will require you to work harder.”
And Yang feels some pressure to work harder, both because of all the layoff news and his own desire to continue his career. “This layoff situation definitely puts a little more pressure on top of that,” he said, “but as long as I do my job and perform well, exceeding expectations, I think I’ll be fine. “
“Hiring people willy-nilly”
When Apoorva Govind joined Uber as a software engineer in 2017, she found herself on a team she felt had little purpose.
“Within a month I was, like, ‘Oh fuck. I gotta get off this team ASAP,'” Govind said. , every time they try to do some kind of restructure – you know who is going to have the axe.
She changed teams in four months.
For Govind, who left Uber and founded a startup last year, the initial team she worked on was formed because of a permissive hiring culture and managers’ drive to grow their skills. teams as much as possible in order to boost their own careers and move up the ladder. enterprise scale.
“At most large companies, for middle managers, they incentivize the number of people they manage,” Govind said. “That, ultimately, leads to the situation we find ourselves in right now, which is hiring people willy-nilly, and now the people who suffer at the end are the workers.”
Climbing the corporate ladder is “easy” when you can justify it with: “My organization is 60 people and now I’m ready for the position of director,” Church said.
“And employment/legal won’t let you fire someone,” he added. “What’s happened is that the underperformers on those teams end up being transferred within the company, and then that manager is completely cleared of any responsibility.”
Church said it was a “dirty secret” at Google, where he worked as a recruiter until 2015, to be careful not to accept an internal transfer that could be a problem another manager is trying to get rid of.
When Big Tech overhires, it leads to more pointless meetings and busy work, said Flo Crivello, who spent 4.5 years at Uber before founding remote office startup Teamflow.
“When you hire 10 people to do one person’s job, it’s not like they go to work on Monday and go home the rest of the week,” Crivello said. “What this is going to mean is a lot of unnecessary work, a lot of unnecessary meetings and a lot of unnecessary conversations. Basically the whole incentive is rotten from top to bottom.
Tech companies haven’t just massively increased their workforces over the past two years. During the pandemic, many businesses across all industries were so “panicked” about the talent shortage they were holding back from underperforming employees, PwC partner Julia Lamm said in a call with reporters last week. Today, four out of five human resources managers say they are reducing their workforce.
Aside from the talent shortage, performance management tends to be more lax in larger companies. As companies grow, they become less incentivized to eliminate underperformers: the risk of wrongful termination litigation increases, and managers are rewarded for growing larger teams, not for eliminating them.
Govind recalled a former colleague at a large company who didn’t write code for two or three months, she said. But rather than be fired, he found a better-paying job for a competitor.
Another colleague was outright ignoring alerts that a system had gone down while working on call. Govind said she repeatedly complained about him because his irresponsibility caused problems for other team members, but he was not released until more than a year later.
“There’s this whole thing where people say, ‘It’s so easy to fire people in the United States,'” Govind said. “Ask any CTO, they’ll tell you it takes them at least six months to a year before they can fire the worst performers.”
Is this the end?
Silicon Valley will likely see a culture shift after all the carnage on Twitter, Meta and elsewhere, but it won’t be a long-term shift, according to Church and Crivello.
Although the pendulum has swung back toward employers, it hasn’t swung that far, Church said.
“I actually think it’s always going to be on the employee side for the foreseeable future,” Church said. “But I think it’s backed off a bit, in the sense that now CEOs can be a bit more realistic about how companies are run. They have to make a profit, and the money is no longer free, and sometimes we have to work weekends.
Crivello predicted that engineers’ lives would become 20% more intense for about a year before returning to normal. It’s “just economics,” he says.
“Historically there has been an endless demand for engineers and very little supply,” Crivello said. “These companies have very little influence.”