You are sitting at your desk, your throat clenched. You heard the rumors, and you can't help but wonder if your phone is going to buzz at the same time as half of your team's will. You may be thinking about the bathroom renovation you've been planning. The Aspen ski break you feel like you deserve. Which you do. You think of the cheers you received from your friends when you got your shiny new job. You wonder about the career trajectory you envisioned on your first day.
Imagining the situation above is how I remind myself not to be too loud with my optimism about what is going on. Because first of all, that is what's in me: optimism. More on that in a bit.
Agents of change
Seeing the headlines every day about thousands of people being laid off made me numb. It's like my relationship with war news. Slightly ashamed that the numbers don't cut as deep as they did back in February. Yet, there is a significant difference. The people affected by the layoffs each represent opportunities. There are now tens of thousands of talented people looking for new jobs.
For many, what's happened will be the final straw. A new generation of companies will pop up led by people with the know-how attained at some of the current giants of the industry.
Is the industry in its ruins?
I am convinced the issues are not as bad as they seem. The average age of the FAANG (or rather: MANGO) companies is... 31 years. Each of them still tries hard to look hip and young. Yet I also happen to be exactly 31 years old and let me tell you, hangovers have changed fundamentally in the last couple of years.
Breathe in, breathe out. What is happening is completely normal. Markets are cyclical, and the dominancy of certain companies isn't set in stone either. Remember Xerox? Kodak? IBM? Sun? Blackberry? Or, for the younger folk: Digg? StumbleUpon? Flickr? All the web 2.0 gradients-and-weird-spelling mess?
Incidentally, some of the biggest companies of our time were founded right before the dot-com crash. The few who survived ended up defining the last two decades. These giants might now look like they have some structural issues. Nevertheless, the industry as a whole looks as exciting as ever.
What comes next will be marvelous
Put aside the unfortunate scams unveiled recently, the crypto world finally makes the internet feel like the wild west again. AI! Fiddle around with some of the newer generative models and you start to question the meaning of our existence. AR! After decades of waiting, we finally have actual immersive headsets. Mix these up, and maybe you get a metaverse that's better than the one made by the company named after it.
Quantum computing can't wait to escape the big laboratories and see what small teams of curious people can do with it. Fusion is around the corner and a new generation of world-changing companies will pop up around it. The climate needs our help too, and I'm glad some of you will now try to tackle it.
To each of you: I share your pain and I am sorry about all the stress and chaos this is causing in your life. But I am sure in the end you will come out triumphant!