Headlines of layoffs and shutdowns are increasing, as is the general schadenfreude that we begin to see when the success stories of yesterday become the failures of today. The tech world got to see its fair share of this eight years ago, and it’s now rearing its ugly head all around us.
Not to pile it on, but there were a few interesting (sometimes quirky, sometimes inspiring) items seen today that are representative of these times.
First, U.K.-based Web TV start-up Mobuzz is asking its users for donations so it can stay alive a bit longer. This sounds like a bridge loan — albeit an odd one — before a possible deal is sealed that could buy it some more time. It’s shooting for 120,000 euros in one week, based on a belief that its users are so dedicated to the free offering that they would pay to keep the lights on.
Tough times also seem to inspire innovation that is based on necessity, and cost savings based on bootstrapping. TechCrunch profiles a new job board site that was started by an 18-year-old Berkeley student for only $500. Called InternshipIN, it’s aimed at college interns. There is indeed a lack of a dedicated spots to search for internship positions, short of looking through listings of existing job sites (or going to an aggregator like Indeed). I’ve always thought this is an opportunity for SimplyHired, given its partnership with MySpace that gives it a pipeline into a college-aged user base. Similar could be said for Facebook and its partnership with Jobster.
Lastly, the famously generous perks of Google have been scaled back to some degree, such as the freebies that are offered to employees throughout the campus (energy drinks, massages, etc.). But more importantly, CNBC reports a hiring freeze, which has never happened at the company. Google has just about doubled its head count over the past two years from 9,300 employees to about 20,000. It now seems to be bracing for a tough few quarters, despite positive third-quarter earnings.
The current recession shouldn’t affect Silicon Valley to the degree the last one did, simply because it was mostly caused by over-exuberance in places outside the tech sector. But it will of course still feel a pinch, just like everyone else. Let’s hope the tech sector comes out of it stronger, as it often does.