Corona Virus Lays Remake Silicon Valley Job Market

A few hours after Uber Technologies Inc. fired Joe Taylor, a hardware engineer began looking for a new job as part of the ride-sharing company’s far-reaching cost. What he sees is the Silicon Valley job market, which has lost its spark.


The tech industry was one of the most resilient sectors of the economy during the Kovid-19-induced recession. Microsoft Corporation and Amazon.com Inc. Reported strong sales growth in the first quarter. But major layoffs at large companies, including Uber and Airbnb Inc., and a host of smaller startups, have stirred up the notion that the tech industry has been prevented from widespread job destruction — and for many, the prospect of losing jobs could be easily replaced.


“Everyone is a little wary,” said Mr. Taylor, 38, who left earlier this month. There are fewer recruiters involved than in the last job hunt, and he has seized opportunities in companies large and small. The message from many recruiters is: “I don’t have anything right now, but stay in touch.”

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During his 15-year career, Mr. Taylor has seen major ups and downs in the Silicon Valley job market, including during the 2008 financial crisis, at big companies such as Microsoft and San Bruno, the startup that manufactures California-based, sportive and wireless chargers. During its boom, companies offered great pay and benefit packages in the race to gain talent. Now, however, Mr. Taylor and other tech workers are signaling that the race has significantly cooled.

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Earlier, Mr. Taylor said he would set his LinkedIn profile to show that he was open to opportunities, and recruiters would be flooded. “You flip that switch and you get 10 chances a week or something like that”. “This time, you flip that switch and you get two or three hits.”
Two weeks after the announcement of nearly 3,700 job cuts, Uber announced Monday that it would lay off another 3,000 people, making up a quarter of its total workforce. In recent weeks, Rival Lift Inc. said it would cut its staff by 17%, and Airbnb said it would cut jobs by 25% after bookings on its site declined with people unable to travel.

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Three accounts lost more than 10,000 positions earlier this month, more jobs were lost across Silicon Valley, and in the weeks following the Kovid-19 outbreak, the U.S. added nearly 36.4 million applications for unemployment benefits. Tech startups have seen more than 56,000 layoffs since the coronavirus pandemic, according to job-tracking site Layoffs.fi.

Many tech companies that have avoided job cuts have openly or quietly set up a hiring slowdown. Microsoft is among those in relief, which has temporarily suspended recruitment for certain roles while maintaining recruitment in strategically important areas, a spokeswoman said. Google, the search giant owned by Alphabet Inc., publicly announced a slowdown in hiring last month.

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Unraveling now could change the long-term prospects for job seekers in Silicon Valley. Recruiters and some executives have said they don’t expect tech hiring to rebound once the economic recovery begins. “I don’t think you see us re-entering the same level,” Nelson Chai, Uber’s chief financial officer, said recently.

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