Tech layoffs may get worse before they get better — which means that the next few months will be full of companies trying to pivot their way to survival during this extended downturn.
At least that’s what entrepreneur Nolan Church, who helped lead Carta’s 2020 layoffs as its chief people officer, thinks. He estimates that another 30,000 to 40,000 tech employees around the world will be laid off in Q1 2023 — a number that follows the more than 100,000 layoffs so far in 2022, according to layoffs.fyi data.
Church chatted with me on Equity this past week about how his experience in the people operations world, at both Carta and DoorDash, has influenced his perspective on the best playbook for layoffs. He’s also building Continuum, a venture-backed startup that wants to match executive talent with startups for full-time and fractional opportunities. Unsurprisingly, his vision for a more flexible workforce fits well into the fact that tens of thousands of employees are now looking for work after just this week’s layoff stampede alone.
My entire conversation with Church lives now wherever you find podcasts, so take a listen if you haven’t yet. Below, we extracted four key excerpts from the interview, from canned CEO statements to how he’s thinking about Twitter’s workforce reduction.
Let’s talk about Twitter and ownership. We saw Jack Dorsey tweet a few days after the layoff that he ultimately owns responsibility for the fact that Twitter overhired. That delay in his response created a lot of attention, which made me wonder if the bar is getting higher when it comes to the way that employees expect CEOs to take responsibility for large-scale layoffs.
Over the last 12 years, the pendulum between who has power between employees and employers has drastically swung toward employees. Now we’re in a moment where the pendulum is swinging back. If I predict where the next five to 10 years are going, the best talent is ultimately always going to be sought after. And I think employees now will continue to hold more power as they go forward. And they will remember how companies handle this moment.
To your point around Jack, very candidly, I thought [his statement] was so weak. He waited to say anything; he sent out like two sentences. As somebody who has followed Jack and has been a fan of Jack for a very long time, I thought that this was the definition of weak leadership. And I would have expected more from him. And if I was an employee thinking about working for Jack in the future, I would think twice about it.