Startups rise from the ashes of the Big Tech purge

Startups rise from the ashes of the Big Tech purge
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  • Massive tech layoffs are spawning a new wave of startups
  • Early-stage VC funding at nearly record levels
  • Echoes of the dotcom crash that fueled Facebook et al

Jan 3 (Reuters) – Nic Szerman has lost his job at Meta Platforms (META.O) In November, just two months after joining full-time, it fell victim to a 13% layoff as the advertising market cratered.

A few days later, he’s back at work, seeking investment for blockchain-based payments company Nulink and pitching to startup accelerator Y Combinator and Andreessen Horowitz’s cryptocurrency fund.

“As counterintuitive as it sounds, this layoff has put me in a really good position,” the 24-year-old said. “Because I don’t have to pay back the sign-up bonus, I get four months’ salary and now I have time to focus on my project.”

Szerman is part of a wave of future entrepreneurs emerging from the ashes of Silicon Valley’s massive job losses in the second half of 2022, according to venture capitalists.

US tech giants including Meta, Microsoft (MSFT.O)Twitter and Snap (SNAP.N) According to it, it has cleared more than 150,000 workers Layoff.fyitechnology tracks job losses.

While total venture capital (VC) funding fell 33% globally to an estimated $483 billion in 2022, early-stage funding was raised in so-called angel or seed rounds, matching the record level seen in 2021 of $37.4 billion. According to research firm PitchBook.

Day One Ventures, an early-stage venture fund, has launched in San Francisco new initiative In November, it launched the “Funded, Not Ated” slogan to fund startups founded by people fired from their tech jobs.

The program aims to cut 20 checks worth $100,000 by the end of 2022. First Day said it received more than 1,000 applications, most of them from people cut off by Meta, Stripe and Twitter.

“We’re investing $2 million in 20 companies – if we find just one unicorn, it will almost certainly return the fund, which I think is a really unique opportunity for us as fund managers,” said Masha Bucher, co-founder of Day One Ventures.

“If we look at the last economic cycle, companies like Stripe, Airbnb, Dropbox were created in a crisis.”


Index Ventures, a multi-stage fund that also funded Facebook, Etsy and Skype in November the second Origins fundwill invest $300 million in startups at the initial stage.

Silicon Valley investor US Venture Partners and Austrian VC firm Speedinvest have meanwhile committed a similar amount to start-ups.

Investors highlighted gaming and artificial intelligence as areas of interest.

“With advancements in game design, new innovations like cloud gaming, and the emergence of social networks in the field, gaming has really transcended mainstream culture,” said Sofia Dolfe, partner at Index Ventures.

“In every period of economic uncertainty, there is opportunity – to rebuild, re-prioritize and re-focus energy and resources.”


Szerman said his project was rejected by Y Combinator, and he has yet to hear from Andreessen Horowitz, although he said other early-stage venture capitalists are interested.

“I told the investors that we will talk in two or three months,” he said. “I will now turn my attention to the scale of the system.”

Some investors have compared the 2022 recession to the dotcom crash of the early 2000s, when dozens of overvalued startups failed, flooding the market with talent and helping to spawn new companies like Facebook and YouTube.

“A lot of great companies have been created in relatively dark times,” said Harry Nelis, a partner at the investment firm Accel, who has seen a new generation of risk-takers emerge among the unemployed.

Some industry players say former Big Tech employees are uniquely placed to start their own companies, seeing first-hand how some of the world’s biggest firms operate and having continued access to networks of highly skilled colleagues.

One former Google employee tried to help others like him who were looking for a life after the tech giants. In 2015, Christopher Fong, who had worked for the California tech titan for nearly a decade Xoogle, a project designed to help ex-employees hoping to start their own companies. Since then, the group’s membership has grown to over 11,000.

Fong told Reuters that the experience at the Big Tech firm gave the founders “a strong brand that can be used to meet with investors, potential customers and recruit team members.”

(This story has been redrafted to correct the promotion of Harry Nellis from managing partner to partner in paragraph 19)

Reporting by Martin Coulter in London, Supantha Mukherjee in Stockholm and Krystal Hu in New York; Edited by Pravin Char

Our standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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