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BW Businessworld

The Cruel Cruel Tech World

A sector that continues to be the cornerstone of many of the present-day growth stories is facing a tough period not only for the businesses involved but also for its people

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The year 2022 unfortunately would end up becoming one that was about cost restructuring and layoffs. Throughout the year, grim news kept coming from the startup sector, wherein while edtech was perhaps the worst hit, the likes of ecommerce, social commerce, delivery apps, auto and cab share services and mediatech companies were not spared either. 

In hindsight, one wonders whether the writing was on the wall, given that most of the hit platforms were facing challenges due to the changes in how consumer behaviour was changing again and how tech-focused initiatives like online learning or online shopping were impacted. 

Twitter was the first to occupy headlines for its layoffs. While the primary reason was the change in the microblogging platform’s ownership and Elon Musk’s plans for the company but the starting point revolved around Twitter’s performance itself. It did not take long for the big tech companies and others to follow suit. Meta initiated a layoff of 11,000 people, Amazon is letting go of approximately 10,000 of its staff and Alphabet said it would sack about 10,000 ‘low-performing’ employees. Microsoft, Snap and Shopify are some of the other names that joined the list even though the numbers were much lesser. 

Different reasons have been cited for the ‘colossal’ losses. These include the likes of the metaverse and artificial intelligence platforms not delivering to the changes in online shopping and hybrid lifestyles behaviour to the global slowdown. 

Indian tech players continue to grow but India, given that the country serves as a large base for these firms, is affected and the impact is in several forms. Senior leaders are looking at new chapters and younger employees are in the market before they could spend enough time at their coveted workplace. 

There are also changes in structure in cases such as Meta. The newly appointed Meta India chief, Sandhya Devanathan, who begins her role in January will report to Dan Neary, the vice president of Meta for the Asia Pacific region. This hierarchy goes back to the pre-Ajit Mohan era. Mohan was the first Meta, then Facebook, head to report directly to the US. 

Does this shift mean that India is losing significance for global big tech firms? Hardly. Markets such as China are not open to these companies and India is the biggest marketplace they have in Asia. Since Asia’s tech economy will continue to grow, India will continue to be important. However, there is no denying that these moves create pressures and will demand more from the Indian professionals in these firms.

Even though some of these pains are short-termed but in comparison to the last few years, it appears as if the honeymoon period has ended. Layoffs in droves leave a sense of insecurity and risk. This was not the modern world’s tech dream so far. ‘Math men’ are facing new challenges. And this means the year ahead will see many interesting changes in the tech sector, where India will continue to play a pivotal role globally.

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