Startup Layoffs Seem to Have Leveled Off as Winter Approaches

As we head into November, it seems that startup layoffs remain fairly level, according to layoffs.fyi, which has been crowdsourcing startup layoff data for the past several months

At the beginning of November, recorded layoffs stand at 79,718, up slightly from 79,370 in September. As you might expect, given the nature of the COVID-19 pandemic, transportation remains the industry most impacted by layoffs, followed by finance; arenas such as legal, security, and energy, meanwhile, have shed relatively few jobs.

Here’s the full chart for your perusal:

However, some startups are still imploding. For example, Quibi, the video-streaming platform that bet nearly $2 billion on short-form content for smartphones, recently announced that it was shuttering operations. Although layoff.fyi hasn’t yet incorporated former Quibi employees into its layoff counter, it seems likely that hundreds will be out of work once executives finish divesting the company’s tech stack and other assets.

Depending on who you ask, Quibi either failed due to the pandemic (with everyone stuck at home, nobody has a need to watch 10-minute videos on their smartphone) or a fundamental flaw in their business model (nobody wants to pay to watch short videos when they can get similar content for free from YouTube). In any case, Quibi employees who specialized in video technology may find a job at any number of entertainment and technology companies pouring billions of dollars into streaming content.  

Chef, which builds automation software, will also reportedly cut employees following its acquisition by Progress. Although those cuts will impact some of Chef’s engineering team, it seems the layoffs stem from corporate needs rather than pressure from the pandemic.   

Meanwhile, some of the startups that have taken the biggest hits since COVID-19 swept the globe include Uber (which has eliminated more than 3,700 jobs since the pandemic began) and Airbnb (1,900 workers cut). (Yes, these companies are huge, despite continuing to use the term “startup.”) But while many startups continue to readjust their business models and headcounts in the face of this pandemic, it seems, many others have figured out how to power forward. Hopefully startup layoffs will continue to remain relatively flat through the winter months.