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Layoffs or Hiring Boom? Tech Industry Rides Turbulent Waves Amid Fears of Recession and Private Data Seizure

Layoffs or Hiring Boom? Tech Industry Rides Turbulent Waves Amid Fears of Recession and Private Data Seizure

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Jun. 28 2022, Published 3:38 p.m. ET

The headlines are conflicting: some talk about the fact that the tech industry is hurting for talent and can't hire people quickly enough. Others suggest that layoffs are sweeping the industry as businesses contract to prepare for a potential recession.

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Which is true - or can both be true? The industry is roiling, existing in a weird intersection between necessity and luxury. As tech privacy becomes central to headlines due to the Supreme Court's choice to overturn Roe v Wade, things are more uncertain than ever.

Layoffs or Hiring Boom? Mixed Messages

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Just last week, Netflix laid off 3% of their staff - around 300 employees.

And CNBC reports, "Last week, senior product manager for Coinbase David Hong wrote on LinkedIn that he was up at 4am to prepare for a meeting when his company MacBook abruptly shut down. He later found out he was part of the nearly 20% of the company was being laid off from what the company’s CEO called a looming recession.

'When I joined Coinbase, I accepted that working in this industry would be risky,' Hong wrote on a LinkedIn post. 'But on the other hand, I’ve never given more to a company and was reassured as recently as last week that I / my team was safe.'”

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All across the industry, fresh hires are sharing stories of being told that their expected start days are no longer a go as companies cancel new hirings amid fears that a recession is looming.

But does it mean the industry is contracting across the board? Recruiters say no.

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Multiple tech giants including Meta and Twitter among others have announced plans to slow hiring for now - but experts say the effects are relatively isolated.

CNBC adds, "'Layoffs appear to be specific to businesses that are in a more fragile financial situations, like if they are unprofitable and funding dried up, or if they just don’t have the runway to continue to operate without additional funding,' said Daniel Zhao, a senior economist at Glassdoor, a site which job-seekers use to evaluate prospective employers .

Zhao added that a few companies are 'reading economic tea leaves and pulling back in uncertainty' as opposed to necessity."

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For most companies, it's business as usual - and in fact some are finding they can't fill their talent requirements fast enough. Especially health tech and day-to-day tech companies. The places seeing the biggest drop in activity are often tied to crypto, which makes sense when you consider the volatility and market saturation. Crypto as an industry was always doomed to contract, it's just doing it a little ahead of schedule.

Elon Musk Contracting Tesla Due to Worries About World Economy

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But "relatively isolated" doesn't mean "no effects whatsoever."

For instance, Elon Musk recently laid off 10% of Tesla's worldwide salaried staff last week, although overall employees are expected to grow according to the tech giant founder.

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Musk told Tesla executives that he had a "super bad feeling" about the near future of the economy, and seems to be tightening his belt to prepare - a common theme across industry competitors.

But, Musk offers, next year things may be better.

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Period Trackers: Where Private Data is a Battleground

Alongside the boom or bust headlines about the tech industry is buzz about what the Supreme Court ruling overturning Roe v Wade may do to tech companies.

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All across the world but especially in the United States, women use apps to track their periods and fertility windows. Advocates worry that that information can be used to criminally prosecute them in states where abortion bans will likely go into effect soon.

After all, if your data suggests you're pregnant - and then suddenly you're not, a state where abortions are criminalized can use that data against a woman.

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Some tech companies are promising to keep data private. Stardust for one is a woman-founded company that promises women can continue using their app safely, and not worry that the information will be given to courts to prosecute them for miscarriages or abortions.

The battleground over women's right to bodily autonomy and privacy may be moving into the digital arena - and companies are scrambling to pick a side.

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