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Silicon Valley giants lay off fiercely: closing office permissions within an hour, Chinese people help themselves to find work
The elites of Silicon Valley, once glorious, fell into unprecedented anxiety and panic.
Tracking data from the layoffs tracking organization Layoffs.fyi shows that as of November 12 this year, at least 120,000 employees in the global technology industry have been fired in the wave of layoffs in 2022, involving 779 technology companies such as Meta, Twitter, and Netflix.
"Before, many people around me went to Hawaii to work while on vacation." Guo Qing, who had just experienced layoffs, told Times Finance that programmers in Silicon Valley were basically one of the most stable and comfortable jobs in the United States before. The situation reversed rapidly.
According to public reports, Silicon Valley technology giants such as Apple, Qualcomm, and Amazon have successively announced a recruitment freeze. Xia Jie, who is burdened with mortgages and car loans, told Times Finance that she has no confidence in finding a job within half a year. After being laid off by Meta, she decided not to buy big-ticket items for the time being.
Times Finance observed that when other industries in the United States were hit by the epidemic, Silicon Valley giants once maintained their growth momentum, and some leading companies even expanded wildly. Taking META as an example, as of the layoff, its employee scale was 85,000, while the data was 59,000 at the end of 2020.
However, with the release of the third quarter of this year, the giants were embarrassed. From July to September, Meta and Intel revenue fell 4%and 20%year-on-year, and net profit decreased by 52%and 85%year-on-year, while Qualcomm lowered the fourth quarter performance guidelines.
The stock that accounts for half of the salary has already shrunk sharply
"It was very sad at that moment. After all, I have worked so hard for the past three years." In the early morning of November 9th, US Western Time, Xia Jie was woken up by her baby, and habitually checked her personal mailbox. When she saw Meta's layoff notice, she was stunned.
According to Meta, the company will lay off more than 11,000 people, accounting for about 13%of the total number of employees.
The layoffs take effect immediately, and those who are laid off are not psychologically prepared and have no room for negotiation. Xia Jie told Times Finance that he went through the resignation procedures at home all the time, and didn't even have time to go back to the company to say goodbye to his familiar colleagues.
Xia Jie sent the company's equipment back, and the company sent her personal items. When the compensation was received, she completely cut herself off from Meta.
Elite white-collar workers in suits and leather shoes walk out of the office building with a small suitcase in their hands, blending into the crowds of the city... This is a scene in many Hollywood movies, but in reality, due to the epidemic, most of Meta's laid-off employees received news while working from home , Xia Jie and Guo Qing are both like this, which makes this mighty wave of layoffs seem silent.
Small companies are not immune. Previously, Guo Qing worked in the core project team of a start-up technology company with nearly 100 employees. On the morning of October 20, she received a one-on-one video conference notice from her boss, and then she received a layoff notice, compensation for only two weeks' wages .
After being laid off, Guo Qing's Slack (third-party collaboration platform, similar to Feishu) and mailbox permissions were immediately closed. In less than an hour, she seemed to have evaporated from the company without leaving a trace.
Xia Jie's layoff compensation is higher than Guo Qing's. She is satisfied with Meta's layoff compensation standard, but at the same time, she also believes that management's decision-making mistakes should not be borne by old employees, which is unfair.
The Meta announcement shows that 16 weeks of wages will be compensated to laid-off employees, and employees can receive an additional 2 weeks of wages for every year they work. The pre-tax compensation that Xia Jie can obtain is more than 40,000 US dollars.
"Blindly expanding enrollment has exposed the corruption of the management and the ignorance of decision makers." Xia Jie entered Meta in 2019, when her manager had 9 employees, and by 2022, this number had risen to about 30.
Another Meta employee told Times Finance: "Xiao Zha is the only founder of these major technology companies who is still a CEO. I respect his ambition and attitude towards employees, but he is too optimistic." It mentioned that in a department with more than 80 people in the company, there will be more than 80 open headcounts (open positions), and the recruitment does not depend on whether they match or not, just pull them in.
In the past two days, Xia Jie checked the recruitment information on the online recruitment platform and submitted resumes to three remote office positions in Google, but has not yet received an interview invitation. In an environment where major companies in Silicon Valley have laid off employees and frozen recruitment, she has no confidence in finding a job within six months.
"Our family is carrying mortgage and car loans. If we haven't found a job in three or four months, we will be under great mental pressure." Xia Jie said.
Deng Yu worked at Meta for more than 5 years and left at the beginning of this year. In an interview with Times Finance, he said that some old colleagues who suffered the layoffs could receive at least US$70,000 in pre-tax compensation, but he did not regret resigning voluntarily. If he experienced the layoffs of Meta, he might not be able to find a suitable new job.
Currently, he is working as a programmer in a small and medium-sized technology company in Silicon Valley, and most positions in the company have also been frozen. The company's management also made it clear that the number of employees will not expand next year, and only when someone leaves the company can new employees be recruited.
Xia Jie and Deng Yu are still paying close attention to the volatility of Meta's stock price, because they both hold a lot of Meta shares. According to reports, in the company, stock accounts for half of the salary of ordinary staff.
Their equity holdings have experienced significant drawdowns. In September last year, after Meta’s stock price climbed to $384.33 per share, it went downhill. The day before the layoff, on November 8, local time, the stock price closed at $96.47 per share, and rose by 10.25% on November 10. Xia Jie didn't know whether to laugh or cry: "Meta's layoffs are indeed the magic medicine to save the market."
Deng Yu said that his Meta stock had a book loss of two to three hundred thousand dollars. The reason why he left his job was that he was not optimistic about Meta’s bet on the Metaverse. “Many so-called high-priority projects are based on the name of the Metaverse. In fact, many products influence each other and have little actual influence.”
He also mentioned that every February and March are the peak recruitment seasons in Silicon Valley, and companies generally formulate recruitment plans at the end of the year, but there are no signs of this in the surrounding companies.
Carnival before layoffs: Traveling around the world while working
"I totally feel that this wave of programmers was fired just to repay the debt." Guo Qing sighed to Times Finance. In the early days of the epidemic, Silicon Valley technology giants were frantically expanding their recruitment.
As of the end of September this year, the total number of Google employees reached 187,000, a year-on-year increase of 24%. As of the end of June this year, Microsoft had a total of 221,000 employees, a year-on-year increase of over 20%. The size of Amazon's personnel will also reach a peak of nearly three years in the first quarter of 2022, at 1.622 million.
At the same time, the salaries offered by these giants are also extremely generous. Some international students told Times Finance that it is not difficult for fresh graduates to earn an annual salary of more than $150,000 if they can enter major companies such as Meta and Google, including basic salary, bonuses and stocks. Converted into RMB, this means that just entering the workplace can break through the annual salary of one million.
Times Finance understands that even in the local area, this also belongs to the income of the middle and upper classes. Although the local consumption level and housing prices in Silicon Valley are much higher than the average level in the United States, the income of programmers is enough to support them to live a good life.
According to Fortune, in the United States, a family of three can be considered middle-class if they earn between $52,000 and $156,000 a year.
"The sequelae of the epidemic finally hit our programmers." Before being laid off, Guo Qingchao had a leisurely job from ten to six. Although the start-up company's treatment is not as good as that of the giants, but after working for 5 years, her annual salary has exceeded 250,000 US dollars, equivalent to more than 1.77 million yuan.
This is not the most enviable place. A survey by Enterprise Technology Research, a US research firm, found that in 2021, the proportion of permanent remote employees in the total workforce is forecast to reach 34.4%, more than double the pre-epidemic figure of 16.4%.
"Think about how cool programmers were at that time. You didn't need to go to the company at all, and you could work anywhere in the country. Many people around me went to Hawaii to work while on vacation."
And the benefits of her company are also enviable. Guo Qing told Times Finance that their company also has a policy that everyone can go abroad for two months every year and work remotely. Therefore, in July and August this year, she spent the whole time in Europe, all the way from Switzerland to the Netherlands, traveling around the world while working remotely.
However, in the eyes of some Silicon Valley programmers, their lives have nothing to do with the wealthy class. Deng Yu believes that the United States is a high-consumption country, which means a higher cost of living. He also mentioned that public schools in the United States are classified by area, good first-tier school districts, and a house that is comfortable for a family of three or four to live in. It takes more than US$3 million, so families in Silicon Valley who carry a monthly mortgage of US$5,000 to US$10,000 are not At least, it usually takes 30 years to pay back.
Deng Yu said that Silicon Valley sounds full of technology, but it is actually a rural area. Technology companies are relatively scattered and there are few entertainment activities. The three most typical entertainment activities are: mountain climbing, board games, and cherry picking.
"It's okay for young people to have no house or home, but some of them also have identity problems. They can't find a job or get a green card after being laid off, and they may be sent back to China," Deng Yu said.
Looking for a job in a group, Silicon Valley Chinese start a self-help mode
In the midst of layoffs in Silicon Valley, how to find a new job has become a primary problem facing the laid-off employees. Some Chinese in Silicon Valley quickly realized that we must work together to tide over the difficulties together.
A person who was laid off from Meta told Times Finance that there are already many spontaneous Chinese mutual aid groups, and after entering the group, you can see the organized resources, including jobs that are still being recruited, and visa-related strategies. This provided a huge help for her who was still looking for an internal job transfer.
"After I adjusted my Linkedin status to 'Open to Work' (looking for a job), many Chinese compatriots I didn't know personally messaged me and said that they could help me to refer."
Times Finance noticed that there are also many Chinese people on the site of Xiaohongshu and the Overseas Chinese Forum, saying that there are still jobs in their companies and they can help those in need to push inwards.
In addition to these scattered mutual aid groups, some more powerful Chinese mutual aid organizations have also begun to emerge. On November 9th, Zhou Zainan, a programmer at a major Silicon Valley factory and the founder of the Chinese community ZaiGoogle, decided to build a community that can help each other.
"The number of Meta layoffs is really huge. Although I have not been affected for the time being, many friends around me have been laid off, and now the entire industry has problems. Everyone is close to each other. One day I will be affected if I fail. Influence. As long as we still have the conditions, we will help others." Zhou Zainan said.
In just one night, the community was immediately organized. Zhou Zainan brought in job-seeking communities such as CareerUp, Layoff, Techie, and lawyers related to work visas to build a community that can help laid-off employees solve work, visa and other issues - "to overcome difficulties together".
At present, "Overcoming Difficulties Together" has organized 5 mutual assistance WeChat groups for job hunting, with a total of more than 2,000 people; several Zoom online lectures on immigrant visas; Managers to interaction designers, companies ranging from giants like Google to entrepreneurial teams, many of them also attached the contact information of the corresponding Chinese recruiter.
"I never thought that such a large-scale and positive community could be built in just one day," an engineer in the group told Times Finance.
For a long time before, there was a saying in the Chinese circle in Silicon Valley: Although there are a large number of Chinese engineers, few Chinese engineers hold high positions. In addition to cultural and language reasons, what is often mentioned is the lack of a group culture: there is no atmosphere of mutual support and help among the Chinese, and they usually fight against each other.
Now, in this sudden storm, that is changing.
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