Business News/ Companies / Start-ups/  Startups Are Scooping Up Big Tech’s Cast-Off Workers

Startups Are Scooping Up Big Tech’s Cast-Off Workers


One e-commerce startup says 15% of the 65 workers it hired in the past year had been laid off by Meta, Tesla,, Google and other tech giants

BYJU'S-The Learning App, A student trying out the BYJU's App. For Sadhna’s story, for MINT 40 startup series. Shoot happened on 21.02.17, Pic by Hemant Mishra/mintPremium
BYJU'S-The Learning App, A student trying out the BYJU's App. For Sadhna’s story, for MINT 40 startup series. Shoot happened on 21.02.17, Pic by Hemant Mishra/mint

Startups are recruiting a growing number of laid-off software developers, data scientists and engineers, luring them away from larger employers—and bigger paychecks—with a chance to build software capabilities from the ground up, tech recruiters and investors say.

Other startup perks include permanent remote- or hybrid-work models and equity stakes with more upside potential than those offered by mature companies’ stock options.

Pandion Pro, a three-year-old e-commerce delivery startup, in recent weeks hired three workers who were laid off by Facebook-parent Meta Platforms, said Scott Ruffin, Pandion’s founder and chief executive.

Of some 65 new hires in the past year, roughly 15% were laid-off workers from Meta, Tesla, and Google, among other large tech employers, Mr. Ruffin said. The Seattle-based company currently has more than 85 full-time workers, following its first hiring spree last year. Last summer, Pandion raised $40 million in a Series A funding round.

Mr. Ruffin said, as for many other startup employers, the size of paychecks isn’t a deciding factor for most laid-off tech workers Pandion has interviewed over the past few months. In wage negotiations, he said, “you hit some number and there’s always somebody bigger with deeper pockets who can offer more."

Instead, Mr. Ruffin says, “We’ve been able to attract some pretty high-quality talent because what we’re doing is different."

By one count, large tech companies last year laid off an estimated 165,000 workers, with an additional 191,000 fired so far this year, according to layoff tracker

U.S. employers added a total of 253,000 jobs in April, the highest increase since January, with the jobless rate dropping to a decades-low 3.4%, the Labor Department said Friday.

While tech-sector employers as a whole, including startups, added more than 18,000 new workers in April, the number of technology-related jobs at U.S. companies across all industries fell by 99,000 positions, according to an analysis of Friday’s federal jobs report by information-technology trade group CompTIA. Amid ongoing layoffs at the tech sector’s largest employers, startups likely account for a big portion of last month’s employment gains, analysts said.

Ruth Ebeling, a managing director and partner at management consulting company Boston Consulting Group, estimates that at least 40% of tech workers who have found new jobs after being laid off within the past nine months are now working at startups or other small tech employers.

“While some of them go back into big tech, for others the industry has lost its luster," said Ms. Ebeling.

Victoria Sun, principal at venture-investment firm Playground Global, said many tech workers have been feeling “locked up" in big tech companies by generous compensation packages, even if the work itself has become dull. “In some ways, the layoffs have offered a release from their golden handcuffs," Ms. Sun said.

She said tech workers often see startups as a way to develop their skills and advance their careers—especially at early-stage ventures—since they tend to take on responsibilities outside of their scope, play a bigger role in decision-making, and get closer to products and customers than they would at a big tech company.

“The best talent is always looking for where they can have the most impact, and how they can accelerate their career," said Alex Kayyal, a partner at Lightspeed Venture Partners. He said some tech workers began their careers at giant tech companies that were little more than startups when they joined. In some ways, he said, they are now looking to go back to those roots and join an emerging company on the ground floor.

Ayal Yogev, founder and CEO of Anjuna Security, cybersecurity startup, said ongoing layoffs at giant tech-market leaders have many workers reassessing the idea that big, established employers offer better job security than fledgling ventures on a shoestring budget.

“If Google is laying people off, it makes more people comfortable with the idea of working at a startup," Mr. Yogev said.

Mr. Yogev saidlaid-off techworkers are also being drawn to nontech positions at startups. Anjuna, which launched in 2018, recently filled two open sales positions with applicants who had both been laid off by a large tech firm, he said. The Palo Alto, Calif.-based company currently has about 55 employees, he said.

“It’s just much easier to hire at the moment," Mr. Yogev said. As a result of the layoffs, he said, “there’s a lot of phenomenally talented people out there right now."

Write to Angus Loten at

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