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Tech Layoffs Shock Young Workers. The Older People? Not So Much.


“This is a gift,” Mr. Pulliam said. “I don’t think that story is told. It’s always doom and gloom.”

But for tech workers experiencing their first economic downturn, the cuts have been eye opening. Ms. Chang had studied product design in college with an eye toward joining a tech industry that seemed recession proof. Getting laid off from Lyft shook that faith.

Erin Sumner, a software recruiter at Facebook’s parent company Meta, used to brag to potential hires that the company had been the fastest ever to be valued at $1 trillion. She said that she would promote the company’s strengths, even last year as its stock price tumbled and its core business, digital advertising, struggled.

When rumors of layoffs began to circulate last year, she assured colleagues that their jobs were safe, pointing to the more than $40 billion in cash the company had in the bank. But in November, she was among 11,000 workers laid off.

“It was gut-wrenching,” said Ms. Sumner, 32. She has managed to find a new job as the head recruiter for a start-up called DeleteMe, which aims to remove customer’s information from search results. But she said she cringes each time she reads about more tech layoffs.

“I fear it’s going to get worse before it gets better,” Ms. Sumner said. “There’s no guarantee. I got laid off by the most secure company in the world.”

A similar reversal of fortune has challenged businesses selling software services. Shares of Salesforce, an industry leader, fell nearly 50 percent last year as its sales growth slowed. The company had splurged during the pandemic, spending $28 billion to buy Slack Technologies. It swelled to 80,000 employees from 49,000 in two years.

During an all-hands meeting last week to discuss the company’s decision to lay off 10 percent of its workers, Marc Benioff, the company’s chief executive, tried to sympathize with his unhappy staff by putting the cuts in context.

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