Welcome to Black January: Microsoft, Intel, IBM and others lay off tons

I’m tracking the dismal news on all the various blogs. This is the worst month the tech industry has ever seen. The bad news from Microsoft, Intel, IBM is all over TechMeme and TechFuga.

Wake me up when it ends. More later, but today there is some good news, just not enough to stop the tide of bad. A new startup, Plinky, will come out of stealth mode at 1 p.m. (we’ll have a video of that up on FastCompanyTV) and I’m getting around Silicon Valley and San Francisco starting at 9 a.m. at Seesmic, with stops in Mountain View to see something secret, and Sunnyvale. Back to San Francisco tonight for a Fast Company dinner event. Whew!

My heart goes out to all the people who’ve lost their jobs this month. What’s worse is it isn’t over.

Solution? Next week at the World Economic Summit my “Davos Question” is how can we create one million new startups with a failing/failed VC system?

That’s what it will take to repair the damage this month has done to the tech industry and our economy. Yes, the depths of our problems ARE that deep. Got any ideas?

Comments

  1. Robert,

    How can we create one million new startups with a failing/failed VC system?

    We won’t. The cost of starting up will have to come down. Labor cost will drop as will the cost of office space and technology. Spending millions in VC on startups isn’t going to be they way we come out of this. Bootstrapping is going to be the way we come out of it, and it’s going to take a while. Expectations will change. People are going to be dragged kicking and screaming into reality. We’ve been pretty fat and happy for a while, now were going to learn the hard way. Don’t live beyond your means. Too many people believe you can get rich quick, especially in tech. It might be true in some cases, but in most it isn’t. I’d much rather see a million 1-2 person shops that are modestly profitable than these giant tech behemoths. I think that is the direction we are headed.

  2. Idea 1, stop bringing in more H1b visa people to take the remaining tech jobs.
    Step 2 is to send away some eisting H1b holders, the idea of the visa is to fill places when there are no local workers to do the job, the H1b was designed as a buffer to level out demand and supply of employees.

    When supply outstrips demand the H1b’s should be cancelled – they are currently not in the country’s best interests.

  3. Robert,

    How can we create one million new startups with a failing/failed VC system?

    We won’t. The cost of starting up will have to come down. Labor cost will drop as will the cost of office space and technology. Spending millions in VC on startups isn’t going to be they way we come out of this. Bootstrapping is going to be the way we come out of it, and it’s going to take a while. Expectations will change. People are going to be dragged kicking and screaming into reality. We’ve been pretty fat and happy for a while, now were going to learn the hard way. Don’t live beyond your means. Too many people believe you can get rich quick, especially in tech. It might be true in some cases, but in most it isn’t. I’d much rather see a million 1-2 person shops that are modestly profitable than these giant tech behemoths. I think that is the direction we are headed.

  4. Idea 1, stop bringing in more H1b visa people to take the remaining tech jobs.
    Step 2 is to send away some eisting H1b holders, the idea of the visa is to fill places when there are no local workers to do the job, the H1b was designed as a buffer to level out demand and supply of employees.

    When supply outstrips demand the H1b’s should be cancelled – they are currently not in the country’s best interests.

  5. Yes Robert I have an idea,

    Many potential start ups have changed their tech implementations to require less seed capital.

    While at the same time tech firms have laid off full time employees but often still have the need to have certain part time projects competed that require tech skills.

    Why not exchange those project needs for an exchange in seed capital and the tech firm exchanging seed capital for project work being completed also gets stock in the potential start up?

    You avpoid setting it up as a fund and thus keep it at high tech speed instead forming it as an ad-hoc arrangement or start up new VC social network..

    My Biases: I am one of those potential startups that changed my tech implementation to be lower in dev costs and also seeking seed capital currently. My mobile app uses new hybrid mobile dev technology that relies upon web code base to make web app behave like a native mobile app using javascript to access GPS and etc. Yes, iPhone, Android, And Palm Pre stuff. why seed capital? To pay for several months dev so that I can present full demo to Fred Wilson, he already said yes to viewing it..

  6. Yes Robert I have an idea,

    Many potential start ups have changed their tech implementations to require less seed capital.

    While at the same time tech firms have laid off full time employees but often still have the need to have certain part time projects competed that require tech skills.

    Why not exchange those project needs for an exchange in seed capital and the tech firm exchanging seed capital for project work being completed also gets stock in the potential start up?

    You avpoid setting it up as a fund and thus keep it at high tech speed instead forming it as an ad-hoc arrangement or start up new VC social network..

    My Biases: I am one of those potential startups that changed my tech implementation to be lower in dev costs and also seeking seed capital currently. My mobile app uses new hybrid mobile dev technology that relies upon web code base to make web app behave like a native mobile app using javascript to access GPS and etc. Yes, iPhone, Android, And Palm Pre stuff. why seed capital? To pay for several months dev so that I can present full demo to Fred Wilson, he already said yes to viewing it..

  7. As PR Director for Century 21 Real Estate, I’ve been dealing with negative headlines for over three years now. I’m curious about your perspective on how companies like Century 21 may positively influence consumer confidence through the utilization of social media tools. The real estate market is not bad for everyone, in fact, I’m out looking for a new home here in Parsippany, NJ and I’m very pleased with the options available to me. It is really an individual situation right now, market by market.

    I watched a presentation by Channing Dawson at Inman’s Real Estate Connect where he mentions Marshall McLuhan’s “The medium is the message” and repackages it as “Marshall McLuhan (predicting the rise of social media online).” I mean, I learned about McLuhan in Mass Comm 101 back in my undergrad days in 1990, but this 60 year old message does seem to have just as much, if not more relevance today.

    In any event, I’m a bit of a communication theory geek, but I’m sure you can see the relevance. It seems to me that many social media advocates are espousing would be entrepreneurs (e.g., small business owners or sole proprieters) to brand themselves and use social media to market. Are we moving to a place where each business will need to develop into a media property with their own radio, tv, newsprint broadcasting capabilities to promote their business and build online brand value to build equity?

    Best Regards,

    Matt Gentile, Director
    PR and Brand Communication
    Century 21 Real Estate

  8. As PR Director for Century 21 Real Estate, I’ve been dealing with negative headlines for over three years now. I’m curious about your perspective on how companies like Century 21 may positively influence consumer confidence through the utilization of social media tools. The real estate market is not bad for everyone, in fact, I’m out looking for a new home here in Parsippany, NJ and I’m very pleased with the options available to me. It is really an individual situation right now, market by market.

    I watched a presentation by Channing Dawson at Inman’s Real Estate Connect where he mentions Marshall McLuhan’s “The medium is the message” and repackages it as “Marshall McLuhan (predicting the rise of social media online).” I mean, I learned about McLuhan in Mass Comm 101 back in my undergrad days in 1990, but this 60 year old message does seem to have just as much, if not more relevance today.

    In any event, I’m a bit of a communication theory geek, but I’m sure you can see the relevance. It seems to me that many social media advocates are espousing would be entrepreneurs (e.g., small business owners or sole proprieters) to brand themselves and use social media to market. Are we moving to a place where each business will need to develop into a media property with their own radio, tv, newsprint broadcasting capabilities to promote their business and build online brand value to build equity?

    Best Regards,

    Matt Gentile, Director
    PR and Brand Communication
    Century 21 Real Estate

  9. You want more startups? Take what Dvorak has been saying for eons seriously – work to get Sarbanes/Oxley repealed. No startup can afford to go public, and – in the current environment – big companies aren’t buying.

    Thus, there’s no VC payday.

  10. You want more startups? Take what Dvorak has been saying for eons seriously – work to get Sarbanes/Oxley repealed. No startup can afford to go public, and – in the current environment – big companies aren’t buying.

    Thus, there’s no VC payday.

  11. What Rob and James said. We’re a small, agile web business and a lot of the time we feel utterly boxed in by a government living by the rules of last century. Giving billions to huge corporations and penalizing the little guy is not how you get things back on track.

  12. What Rob and James said. We’re a small, agile web business and a lot of the time we feel utterly boxed in by a government living by the rules of last century. Giving billions to huge corporations and penalizing the little guy is not how you get things back on track.

  13. Rob, James, and Patrick… Great ideas… One of the biggest problems today isn’t too little regulation, it is too much. Regulation like Sars-Ox stifles startups and protects the dinosaurs. Self-Employment should be encouraged, not taxed. Innovation and small business is our way out of this. Right now you pay twice as much payroll tax (SS and Medicare) if you are self-employed as when you work for a corporation. It should be the other way around.

  14. Rob, James, and Patrick… Great ideas… One of the biggest problems today isn’t too little regulation, it is too much. Regulation like Sars-Ox stifles startups and protects the dinosaurs. Self-Employment should be encouraged, not taxed. Innovation and small business is our way out of this. Right now you pay twice as much payroll tax (SS and Medicare) if you are self-employed as when you work for a corporation. It should be the other way around.

  15. I hate to point this out, but this is the regulatory environment that most of the tech sphere voted for. The ideology of the current government favors large businesses over small, so that it’s easier to gather workers into unions. I seriously doubt that you’ll see any moves to slacken the regulatory regime for a long, long while. Possibly not for decades.

  16. I hate to point this out, but this is the regulatory environment that most of the tech sphere voted for. The ideology of the current government favors large businesses over small, so that it’s easier to gather workers into unions. I seriously doubt that you’ll see any moves to slacken the regulatory regime for a long, long while. Possibly not for decades.

  17. I love Rob’s idea. But my comment is really that we need to “put away childish things.” Not all innovation takes VC money, and indeed VC money should be only for expansion capital. We can finance a million startups by 1) pooling our own funds 2)bootstrapping 3)Working for equity on the side. The question is “what comes next,” after they’ve started, and that involves fixing the public markets so there’s an exit strategy for a VC.

  18. I love Rob’s idea. But my comment is really that we need to “put away childish things.” Not all innovation takes VC money, and indeed VC money should be only for expansion capital. We can finance a million startups by 1) pooling our own funds 2)bootstrapping 3)Working for equity on the side. The question is “what comes next,” after they’ve started, and that involves fixing the public markets so there’s an exit strategy for a VC.

  19. It will be difficult to intiate 1 million start-up tech business with the current aversion to risk. I believe if things could be stabilized a little, you would start to see money from smaller investors who want need to get better gains than they can from traditional markets.

    We need to see innovation applied to the financing arm of tech which is just as creative as the tedch itself. Maybe investor pools/funds managed by reputable firms…difficult to find..but out there somewhere.

    I’d put some moey behind a lot of companies if i thought i could get better returns.

    Also, the new government is going to support labor law reform, but they don;t prefer larger companies over small, they will be passing legislation that will make it easier for a union to organize any company or employer, including small tech stuart-ups.

  20. It will be difficult to intiate 1 million start-up tech business with the current aversion to risk. I believe if things could be stabilized a little, you would start to see money from smaller investors who want need to get better gains than they can from traditional markets.

    We need to see innovation applied to the financing arm of tech which is just as creative as the tedch itself. Maybe investor pools/funds managed by reputable firms…difficult to find..but out there somewhere.

    I’d put some moey behind a lot of companies if i thought i could get better returns.

    Also, the new government is going to support labor law reform, but they don;t prefer larger companies over small, they will be passing legislation that will make it easier for a union to organize any company or employer, including small tech stuart-ups.

  21. It seems counter intuitive, but these crazy times are a great time to have your own business. All the competition is fading and creating opportunity for others. I feel bad though that everyone is losing jobs.

  22. It seems counter intuitive, but these crazy times are a great time to have your own business. All the competition is fading and creating opportunity for others. I feel bad though that everyone is losing jobs.

  23. I think Phil hits the nail on the head, cancel visas and start filling in positions with americans. Sadly, the one area where labor importation is actually almost regulated fairly, and it still gets abused. The job loss and business shutting down really breaks my heart, but maybe a better immigration/visa regulation system could eliminate some problems, at least in the short term.

  24. I think Phil hits the nail on the head, cancel visas and start filling in positions with americans. Sadly, the one area where labor importation is actually almost regulated fairly, and it still gets abused. The job loss and business shutting down really breaks my heart, but maybe a better immigration/visa regulation system could eliminate some problems, at least in the short term.

  25. Yes this is a great time to start a business, just be prepared to stay small and focused and expect growth to be a challenge until this economy settles down. Right now, it seems the rest of the world is sitting on their hands even more than the US is as far as spending goes.

  26. Yes this is a great time to start a business, just be prepared to stay small and focused and expect growth to be a challenge until this economy settles down. Right now, it seems the rest of the world is sitting on their hands even more than the US is as far as spending goes.

  27. I dont know why you are dragging IBM into the “bad news” scene. IBM hasnt laid off anyone due to the recession yet, and infact for the first time in its history, IBM crossed the $100 billion mark for total revenue. IBM actually set a record in one of the worst economic times!

  28. I dont know why you are dragging IBM into the “bad news” scene. IBM hasnt laid off anyone due to the recession yet, and infact for the first time in its history, IBM crossed the $100 billion mark for total revenue. IBM actually set a record in one of the worst economic times!

  29. umm, Michael – unions would be a very bad thing in a small employer. When your costs are already at the margin, you simply can’t afford silliness like work rules.

  30. umm, Michael – unions would be a very bad thing in a small employer. When your costs are already at the margin, you simply can’t afford silliness like work rules.

  31. @Steve Olson – huh?

    “Regulation like Sars-Ox stifles startups and protects the dinosaurs.”

    Nope. It euqal across the board. I work for a so-called “dinosaur” and yes, believe it or not, we have to deal with this atrocity too.

    That said there’s a reason for it.

    “Innovation and small business is our way out of this. Right now you pay twice as much payroll tax (SS and Medicare) if you are self-employed as when you work for a corporation.”

    Wow. You’re serious? You make the uninformed believe that the government gets twice as much FICA/MED from a self-employed and from one who “works for a corporation”. Disingenuous.

    Right now an EMPLOYEE pays just as much as an EMPLOYER for this tax.

    Innovation and small business isn’t the only way out of this. I can think of more. Save more and buy less on credit. Lend responsibly – instead of lending to unemployed college students and ARM balloon filled mortgagees. Live within your means. Just to name a few.

    What’s so great about this country and the internet is the ability to speak an opinion without much to back you. Like this post.

    In the same month – Black January? – Microsoft posted profits, Apple posted record numbers (once again), and Google just posted better than expected numbers.

    Times are bad. No doubt. But Robert loves to cherry-pick. And it seems that Steve Olson does the same.

  32. @Steve Olson – huh?

    “Regulation like Sars-Ox stifles startups and protects the dinosaurs.”

    Nope. It euqal across the board. I work for a so-called “dinosaur” and yes, believe it or not, we have to deal with this atrocity too.

    That said there’s a reason for it.

    “Innovation and small business is our way out of this. Right now you pay twice as much payroll tax (SS and Medicare) if you are self-employed as when you work for a corporation.”

    Wow. You’re serious? You make the uninformed believe that the government gets twice as much FICA/MED from a self-employed and from one who “works for a corporation”. Disingenuous.

    Right now an EMPLOYEE pays just as much as an EMPLOYER for this tax.

    Innovation and small business isn’t the only way out of this. I can think of more. Save more and buy less on credit. Lend responsibly – instead of lending to unemployed college students and ARM balloon filled mortgagees. Live within your means. Just to name a few.

    What’s so great about this country and the internet is the ability to speak an opinion without much to back you. Like this post.

    In the same month – Black January? – Microsoft posted profits, Apple posted record numbers (once again), and Google just posted better than expected numbers.

    Times are bad. No doubt. But Robert loves to cherry-pick. And it seems that Steve Olson does the same.

  33. DaveD – what he means is that a self employed person pays both sides of FICA and medicare; the employee only sees 1/2. Sure, it means lower base pay for him, but that’s invisible. IMHO, it would be better if it were made fully visible, so that everyone saw the full costs.

    As to SarbOx – witness the dearth f IPOs since then, and draw your own conclusions. There’s no reason for it at all, other than making accountants hapy and making them blameless. What a great idea!

    Enron was found w/o SarbOx….

  34. DaveD – what he means is that a self employed person pays both sides of FICA and medicare; the employee only sees 1/2. Sure, it means lower base pay for him, but that’s invisible. IMHO, it would be better if it were made fully visible, so that everyone saw the full costs.

    As to SarbOx – witness the dearth f IPOs since then, and draw your own conclusions. There’s no reason for it at all, other than making accountants hapy and making them blameless. What a great idea!

    Enron was found w/o SarbOx….

  35. It’s posts like this that only make things worse by making the perceived problem greater than the real problem. So perhaps ~15% of those losing their jobs needn’t if decision makers didn’t have the fear of god put into them by such fear mongering.

    PS 15% is a figure I pulled out of my hat and has no real accuracy, akin to any other number that might be produced to the contrary.

  36. It’s posts like this that only make things worse by making the perceived problem greater than the real problem. So perhaps ~15% of those losing their jobs needn’t if decision makers didn’t have the fear of god put into them by such fear mongering.

    PS 15% is a figure I pulled out of my hat and has no real accuracy, akin to any other number that might be produced to the contrary.

  37. Scoble- Count yourself lucky that you have a funded pipeline to do what you’re doing. I’m certain major layoffs from more big companies are imminent, which exponentially compounds the economy’s [poor] tenor. Walking around Wall Street last week (and seeing that USAir plane in the Hudson), I was reminded that we all really just hang by a thread…

    Post inauguration, you may wish to reconsider your use of the word “black” to describe negative events. Black Friday means positive news for retailers. Using “black” in a negative context will surely raise the thought police’s ire.

  38. Scoble- Count yourself lucky that you have a funded pipeline to do what you’re doing. I’m certain major layoffs from more big companies are imminent, which exponentially compounds the economy’s [poor] tenor. Walking around Wall Street last week (and seeing that USAir plane in the Hudson), I was reminded that we all really just hang by a thread…

    Post inauguration, you may wish to reconsider your use of the word “black” to describe negative events. Black Friday means positive news for retailers. Using “black” in a negative context will surely raise the thought police’s ire.

  39. “Post inauguration, you may wish to reconsider your use of the word “black” to describe negative events. Black Friday means positive news for retailers. Using “black” in a negative context will surely raise the thought police’s ire.”

    I don’t even know what this means. Unless it’s an attempt at satire. If so, it’s not too far off the mark

    Well, we have our first event we can blame Obama for. For 33 years Microsoft had never publically announced layoffs. Two days after Obama is sworn in? Layoffs. Coincidence? I think not. :-)

  40. “Post inauguration, you may wish to reconsider your use of the word “black” to describe negative events. Black Friday means positive news for retailers. Using “black” in a negative context will surely raise the thought police’s ire.”

    I don’t even know what this means. Unless it’s an attempt at satire. If so, it’s not too far off the mark

    Well, we have our first event we can blame Obama for. For 33 years Microsoft had never publically announced layoffs. Two days after Obama is sworn in? Layoffs. Coincidence? I think not. :-)

  41. Before you can create companies, a country needs to have and define demands.
    Demands by the consumer.
    Demands by companies or industries.

    That’s why Obama will start large public and infrastructure works.
    Just like Hoover did.

    So Scoble do you have a demand?
    If so, then see if there are other people with the same demand.

  42. Before you can create companies, a country needs to have and define demands.
    Demands by the consumer.
    Demands by companies or industries.

    That’s why Obama will start large public and infrastructure works.
    Just like Hoover did.

    So Scoble do you have a demand?
    If so, then see if there are other people with the same demand.

  43. how can we create one million new startups with a failing/failed VC system?

    It’s simple, but there’s no chance in hell our federal government would do it: Remove the barriers that keep small businesses from offering equity to the public. As things are today, it makes no sense at all to go public until you need tens of millions of dollars.

    Right now, if you want to start any business that needs more capital than you’ve got in your pocket, you can only raise it from a bank, from friends and family, and from “qualified investors” (IE, people who are already rich.) This doesn’t protect anybody from fraud, of course. Bernie Madoff and the Enron perps have proven that a crook can still be a crook in a highly-regulated market.

    There are trillions of dollars in behemoth mutual funds that could be far more useful if the average person had the opportunity to invest in new ventures.

  44. how can we create one million new startups with a failing/failed VC system?

    It’s simple, but there’s no chance in hell our federal government would do it: Remove the barriers that keep small businesses from offering equity to the public. As things are today, it makes no sense at all to go public until you need tens of millions of dollars.

    Right now, if you want to start any business that needs more capital than you’ve got in your pocket, you can only raise it from a bank, from friends and family, and from “qualified investors” (IE, people who are already rich.) This doesn’t protect anybody from fraud, of course. Bernie Madoff and the Enron perps have proven that a crook can still be a crook in a highly-regulated market.

    There are trillions of dollars in behemoth mutual funds that could be far more useful if the average person had the opportunity to invest in new ventures.

  45. Giving billions to huge corporations and penalizing the little guy is not how you get things back on track.

    Oh, you noticed that? Gee, I guess the feds are going to have to do a better job of disseminating propaganda.

    The damage of the bailout is actually far worse than just the inflation and the robbery of our purchasing power. The worst part of it is that the bailout keeps incompetent management in place and in control of vast swaths of our economy.

    We could be out of this depression in a year, but the sad fact is that the lovers of power will never admit that the solution is to quit fucking with it and let the people sort it out for themselves.

  46. Giving billions to huge corporations and penalizing the little guy is not how you get things back on track.

    Oh, you noticed that? Gee, I guess the feds are going to have to do a better job of disseminating propaganda.

    The damage of the bailout is actually far worse than just the inflation and the robbery of our purchasing power. The worst part of it is that the bailout keeps incompetent management in place and in control of vast swaths of our economy.

    We could be out of this depression in a year, but the sad fact is that the lovers of power will never admit that the solution is to quit fucking with it and let the people sort it out for themselves.

  47. Right now an EMPLOYEE pays just as much as an EMPLOYER for this tax.

    Nope. The employee takes 100% of the hit for payroll taxes, and the pretense that it’s somehow split between the employer and the employee is just a shell game. The employer is spending money for labor that the employee’s not getting.

    Corporations don’t pay taxes, they only collect them. People pay taxes. Don’t ever let a government leech try to tell you otherwise.

  48. Right now an EMPLOYEE pays just as much as an EMPLOYER for this tax.

    Nope. The employee takes 100% of the hit for payroll taxes, and the pretense that it’s somehow split between the employer and the employee is just a shell game. The employer is spending money for labor that the employee’s not getting.

    Corporations don’t pay taxes, they only collect them. People pay taxes. Don’t ever let a government leech try to tell you otherwise.

  49. Robert,
    Most startups should really be funded through founder equity or credit, rather than outsider equity. Equity is very expensive capital: just ask any VC what their targeted rate of return is. Unless your startup is one that will grow very large and very fast (rare), paying 30% or 40% for capital just doesn’t pencil. Which is why most VC-funded startups eventually die.

    I don’t know about a million startups, but I did develop a plan that would be far more effective, and infinitely more cost-effective, than the bailout monstrosities coming out of Washington.

    In the old economy, the assets were things like factories and inventory. Unfortunately, those are still the only assets that banks will lend against. In the new economy, the assets are people: their ideas and their work product. But you can’t borrow to keep or grow your most important asset. This plan solves that problem, and best of all, it would actually turn a profit for the government, even if the default rates were double the historic SBA rate.

    The plan has been seen by several U.S. Senators, economists, and even the Obama team. People on both sides of the political spectrum like it, and can’t find any big holes. Forbes.com even published it. But not surprisingly, no politician has the courage to champion it. Too darn practical, I guess…
    http://www.printingforless.com/pressreleaseStimulusProposal.html

    The only objection would be that government should stay the heck out of the private sector. I actually share that view, but that horse is far, far out of the barn.

  50. Robert,
    Most startups should really be funded through founder equity or credit, rather than outsider equity. Equity is very expensive capital: just ask any VC what their targeted rate of return is. Unless your startup is one that will grow very large and very fast (rare), paying 30% or 40% for capital just doesn’t pencil. Which is why most VC-funded startups eventually die.

    I don’t know about a million startups, but I did develop a plan that would be far more effective, and infinitely more cost-effective, than the bailout monstrosities coming out of Washington.

    In the old economy, the assets were things like factories and inventory. Unfortunately, those are still the only assets that banks will lend against. In the new economy, the assets are people: their ideas and their work product. But you can’t borrow to keep or grow your most important asset. This plan solves that problem, and best of all, it would actually turn a profit for the government, even if the default rates were double the historic SBA rate.

    The plan has been seen by several U.S. Senators, economists, and even the Obama team. People on both sides of the political spectrum like it, and can’t find any big holes. Forbes.com even published it. But not surprisingly, no politician has the courage to champion it. Too darn practical, I guess…
    http://www.printingforless.com/pressreleaseStimulusProposal.html

    The only objection would be that government should stay the heck out of the private sector. I actually share that view, but that horse is far, far out of the barn.

  51. Some Guy is right, although I’ve been flamed in the past for pointing out the absurdity of pretending that the portion notionally paid by the employer is somehow different from the portion also paid by the employer but shown on the payslip as notionally having been given then taken back. Each month my employer writes two checks regarding my employment: one to me, the other to the government. Officially, my “gross salary” is somewhere in between the first figure and the total of the two – but nobody ever actually sees that except in a job listing!

    As for the creation of new businesses, investment hasn’t stopped entirely – as the story on this very site about Twitter having just secured some shows – but I imagine we’ll see a lot more companies bootstrapping. Instead of dropping tens of thousands on colocated servers, they’ll be spending hundreds on cloud hosting initially, getting up and running with a much smaller outlay. Instead of working full-time on VC cash, they’ll build the business in evenings and at weekends. Ultimately, successful companies and failures will both benefit: greater equity for the founders of the latter, smaller losses for the latter. Meanwhile, someone newly laid off might spend the first few months and some payoff money building a startup, rather than trying to find a job working for someone else in this climate. Given a good idea and suitable skills, building a company might just be a better use of your time than sending out resumes – more so now than a year or two ago when jobs were easier to find.

  52. Some Guy is right, although I’ve been flamed in the past for pointing out the absurdity of pretending that the portion notionally paid by the employer is somehow different from the portion also paid by the employer but shown on the payslip as notionally having been given then taken back. Each month my employer writes two checks regarding my employment: one to me, the other to the government. Officially, my “gross salary” is somewhere in between the first figure and the total of the two – but nobody ever actually sees that except in a job listing!

    As for the creation of new businesses, investment hasn’t stopped entirely – as the story on this very site about Twitter having just secured some shows – but I imagine we’ll see a lot more companies bootstrapping. Instead of dropping tens of thousands on colocated servers, they’ll be spending hundreds on cloud hosting initially, getting up and running with a much smaller outlay. Instead of working full-time on VC cash, they’ll build the business in evenings and at weekends. Ultimately, successful companies and failures will both benefit: greater equity for the founders of the latter, smaller losses for the latter. Meanwhile, someone newly laid off might spend the first few months and some payoff money building a startup, rather than trying to find a job working for someone else in this climate. Given a good idea and suitable skills, building a company might just be a better use of your time than sending out resumes – more so now than a year or two ago when jobs were easier to find.

  53. The pain is as real as the empty cube next to me. I’ll feel better when the economy reaches bottom.

  54. The pain is as real as the empty cube next to me. I’ll feel better when the economy reaches bottom.

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