February 26, 2023•291 words
Stop me if you've heard this one before.
- Tech startup gets their break and becomes a tech company
- Tech company makes lots of easy money
- Tech company wants more easy money
- Tech company buys tech startups and / or their patents
- Tech company makes lots more easy money from the startup ideas / solutions
- Tech company goes stale, and runs out of obvious ways of making more easy money
- Tech company fires thousands of people
- Thousands of fired people launch hundreds of tech startups
Guess what happens to the tech startups next.
Tech layoffs aren't happening because the tech giants are out of money. They're happening because they're out of ideas.
Something about the cushy paycheck, the smug air of invincibility and the inevitable groupthink turns out to be killing creativity.
And something about being out there in the real world, being vulnerable, open to new ideas, and (after the severance runs out) left to your own devices turns out to foster it. Or at least a certain breed of it - the kind which your mothership is likely to want to swallow back up at some point.
For as long as the endgame for your work is to rank well with Google, the kind of work you'll be conditioned to ship is the kind which Google likes.
For as long as the endgame for your startup is to be bought by Big Tech, the kind of work you'll be conditioned to ship is the kind which Big Tech likes.
For anyone who feels nauseous as they hurtle from one of these dots to the next, and back again: what would it take for you to imagine another (any other) kind of work?