As the COVID-19 pandemic drags on, startups across the country are facing once-in-a-lifetime challenges. In order to save cash and readjust their business models, many of these startups are resorting to layoffs.
The pandemic’s impact on startups can vary wildly, with some industries (such as transportation) particularly hard-hit by citywide lockdowns and self-quarantining. But even those startup founders with a solid business model in a relatively insulated industry may find their funding sources drying up, or the need to radically (and quickly) alter their long-term roadmaps.
In light of all that, it’s worth examining which startups have been hit by layoffs over the past few months. Fortunately, we have layoffs.fyi, which is crowdsourcing startup layoff data. Here’s a breakdown of what it classifies as the largest layoffs (by gross number) among these small firms:
Examining these layoffs by percentage reveals that many firms are cutting a pretty substantial portion of their overall workers. Here’s that breakdown:
Granted, there’s a world of difference between a “startup” such as Uber, which is arguably far too large and old to fall into that category, and a ten-person startup that barely managed to bootstrap a product and annual budget before COVID-19 came along. Nonetheless, if we take layoffs.fyi’s list at face value, it’s clear that startups in transportation (Uber and Lyft), travel (Airbnb) and events (Groupon) have taken some of the heaviest hits, both in terms of gross layoff numbers and percentages.
It’s also worth noting that the pandemic also slammed startups that were already in trouble for other reasons. Magic Leap, which was struggling to translate its billions of dollars in venture investment into an augmented-reality headset that would truly wow the world, recently laid off hundreds of workers in an attempt to manage costs during these unusual times. “The post-COVID economy will be one of resiliency and the ability for businesses to operate across vast distances and connect with their customers in ways that mimic physical interactions, but benefit from the speed and scale of high-speed networks, will be critical,” Magic Leap CEO Rony Abovitz wrote in a hopeful statement, but it remains to be seen whether the startup can survive through the next few months.
Meanwhile, startups are still hiring. According to layoffs.fyi’s crowdsourced database, small companies specializing in everything from robotics and healthcare to cloud-based services are all looking for specialized technologists. Technologists as a whole remain impressed with their companies’ response to the pandemic, according to Dice’s ongoing COVID-19 Sentiment Survey; a sense of job security also remains high. Technologists know their skills remain valuable, no matter what the broader economic situation.
Visit our COVID-19 Resource Center, which aims to provide the tech community with the best, most up-to-date information on the novel coronavirus.