Woman in tech pointing at computer screen while colleague writes notes

Article by Vicky Grobbelaar, Founder of Ethiqs Legal

As more and more big tech companies report redundancies, thousands of tech experts are now on the hunt for their next opportunity.

As the dust starts to settle, whispers are becoming louder –  has tech birthed its biggest competitors? The overnight emergence of competitor brands like Post and Spill makes one think of how the law of unintended consequences may lead to big tech regretting its actions around restructuring and hasty layoffs sooner rather than later.

Will ex-big tech join forces?

The tech exodus leaves the market with so many specialist tech employees seeking new opportunities at once, which begs the question – is this their opportunity to join forces to create the Utopia Big Tech competitor?  A dream place where they can not only use the specific specialist skills they have gained, but also create a space rectifying all the wrongs perpetrated by Big Tech as employers, of which they of course have first-hand knowledge?

These abandoned techies have a  huge advantage: they know what other people in tech want, so they can quickly deliver it and attract new talent, as we have seen with the mushroom emergence of Post and Spill! Also, they seem to prioritise privacy, transparency, and user control in contrast to the big tech’s tendency to prioritise profits and growth. These new start-ups may not pose an immediate threat to big tech, but they are a clear sign of a growing appetite for alternatives that puts user’s interests first.

Big tech’s weakness can become new tech’s strength 

Arguably the most overlooked consequence may be the fact that these ex-employees are perfectly positioned not only to attract the talent that is left in these organisations but also to capitalise on their intricate knowledge of the organisation’s strengths and weaknesses. What a competitive advantage that can be!

Big tech can’t easily replace lost talent 

Unfortunately for the likes of Bezos, Musk and Zuckerberg, their lost talent won’t be easy to replace. Those forced to leave or those who have indeed decided to jump ship have specialist (technical) knowledge that can’t easily be replaced.

This could actually be big tech’s biggest downfall because without having the right people, the job won’t get done as efficiently or, even worse, some expert knowledge completely lost. On the flip side, with this knowledge, those leaving can compete with their former employers without much effort.

Big tech’s shiny perks a thing of the past?

Some of the appeals of working in big tech were the perks involved, with famously interesting offices, slides, games, and dry cleaning on-premises, to name a few. Come to the downturn in the economy and the downturn in members, and perks seem to be flying out the window first. That, coupled with the freedoms and flexibility most employees now tasted having worked from home during Covid, will make going back to the office a hard sell.

Winning over users

What remains to be seen, however, is the uptake by users who are mostly creatures of habit and who may not be as quick to jump ship as you would expect. The future of big tech and its newfound competitors makes for an interesting social landscape which will hopefully benefit its users instead of just becoming the same old power-hungry monster all over again.

How can females in tech take advantage of this opportunity?

Although playing a significant role in the shaping of the tech industry, women remain underrepresented in many areas of the sector. Despite making up approximately half of the workforce, they hold only 25% of jobs in computing and tech. This lack of diversity has been shown to limit innovation and creativity. Over the years, calls for greater support for women in tech has been growing, and with that, the voices of various memberships and networking, networking opportunities exclusively for women in tech. It seems that the mass redundancies have brought women together in the sector even more, whether that’s in the form of start-up opportunities, sharing job vacancies, networking events, or even warning each other of companies to stay away from.

Will we soon see the rise of the female techpreneur?

There’s a growing solidarity among those in tech right now, and it can be seen in LinkedIn referrals and general network collaborations to help those affected and even more so amongst the women.

As Surbhi Gupta, who was laid off from her product lead role at Meta, puts it: “I don’t feel there’s any discrimination against me as an immigrant or a  woman in tech. As I’ve put myself out there, so many doors have been opening.” There is a camaraderie between those in tech right now to help each other succeed and even more so among women.

“I’m in a group with around 400 people who were laid off from Meta, and we’re helping each other navigate what’s going on. We even refer to each other for new jobs or warn each other over companies who aren’t doing what they say they can.”

There’s a real sense that everyone is looking out for one another.

Vicky GrobbelaarAbout the author

Vicky Grobbelaar is the founder of Ethiqs, a boutique law firm passionate about technology.