Tech workers confront post-boom reality

When Ryan Stevens joined Meta Platforms Inc. as a product operations manager for WhatsApp in August 2021, he was enticed by the opportunity to help shape a messaging app used daily by 2 billion people.

He also figured tending to a service that touches so many people would translate to a degree of job security. That belief shattered when Stevens awoke around 3 am earlier this month to an email from Meta management, informing employees that layoffs were coming. After tossing and turning, Stevens, 39, received another missive at around 6 am: He was one of more than 11,000 workers who had lost their jobs.

“I’m not excited to be part of such a large, immediate pool of laid-off people who are all looking for tech roles at the same time,” said Stevens, who lives in San Jose, California, with his wife and young child. “That gives me a lot of anxiety.” He believes the industry is in the midst of a cyclical reset and is open to focusing on something “a little smaller” until things pick up again.

After years of exuberant growth and hiring, layoffs have burst the bubble of Silicon Valley inviolability. As of Nov. 15, tech companies had announced 31,200 job cuts so far this month, according to Challenger, Gray & Christmas Inc.

The human-resources consulting firm says that’s the highest monthly total since September 2015, when a restructuring Hewlett-Packard said it would slash thousands of positions. Meta, Twitter Inc. and Amazon.com Inc. have all slashed their ranks, or said cuts are coming.

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