Laid Off!

tl;dr: Got laid off, wasn't fun but I'm taking it well :)

The party is over (for me)! Reality is hitting tech companies that for nearly a decade were able to operate businesses with massive losses all in the pursuit of massive growth. Now that the Federal Reserve is raising interest rates in order to curb inflation, venture capitalists are much less gung-ho about handing out money to twenty-something tech CEOs.

As interest rates continue to rise, so does the necessity for companies to tighten their belts. Initially, this started out as reducing in-office benefits, providing less money for health insurance, and more stringent rules and regulations around spending. Eventually, this led to the difficult decision of having to cut the largest expense any business has: payroll.

On Friday August 12th, two days after my 25th birthday, I received the present of funemployment from my ex-employer OnePointOne, Inc. The company is an indoor vertical farming startup aiming to fully automate the process of growing plants indoors. They are a Series A startup with around 100 employes on Thursday, and around 75 on Friday (this is just a guess -- the funny thing is, I actually don't know how many people were laid off, or even why they laid me off, the number of people and the reasons for the layoff are just my best educated guesses).

As is the case for many startups, they have yet to find product-market fit (AKA enough paying customers to support a business). Without going into too much detail to avoid getting sued for violating any NDAs, they basically ended up spending money more quickly than expected and were burning their runway much faster than anticipated. That in tandem with more difficult capital markets led them to the decision to cut costs by dramatically reducing staffing.

Here's how it went down from my perspective. I opened my work laptop at 9AM like any other day and looked at my Slack, Google Calendar, and Gmail. I had received a message from my boss (also the VP of the engineering org) that read "Just checking to make sure you saw the invite to the 11:30 AM meeting." I looked at the meeting, at saw it was titled "Product Engineering Reorganization" with the attendees as myself, my boss, and the head of HR. I sent this message to two other co-workers and asked them if they had this on their calendar, they did not. At that point, it was pretty clear what was about to happen.

At 11:30 AM I attended the virtual meeting via Google Hangouts, and was informed that I was being terminated effective immediately. I was being offered health insurance until the end of the month, and 2 weeks of severance. Afterwards, I went for a 30 minute walk to clear my head a bit, and came back to find that all of my communications (Slack, GSuite, GitHub) had already been shut off. I didn't even get a chance to say goodbye to my co-workers.

I understood the rationale that they didn't want a disgruntled employee to retaliate and cuss everyone out in Slack, or to delete a bunch of code in GitHub. Of course this wasn't personal, it's just business. But it's funny to me that when push comes to shove, no matter how much a business says that you are a "family", or cousins (as was the case at OPO), you'll always be treated as dispensible and won't be trusted. I find it especially funny because I was quite literally the first employee to work on the prototype of OPO's system as an intern my sophomore year alongside the CEO.

With that said, I am grateful for the opportunity to have worked at OnePointOne full time these past two years. I was offered a job when I had no offers on the table graduating 3 months after the start of the pandemic. At that point my prospects were not looking good, and getting an offer from OnePointOne after a grueling all day interview was a massive lifeline. Since I started, I've improved so much as a software engineer. I also have a much better grasp on how businesses operate and how office politics work. While the project I was working on never really got a full chance to mature, I really enjoyed the work I did and learned a lot about what I want to do in my career going forward.

I also got to meet a lot of great people who I will continue to keep in touch with going forward. Like I've been telling everyone, I'm not exactly happy about getting laid off, but I am more than ready to accept that it is time for me to move onto the next chapter of my career. Thank you OnePointOne!

Zach Bellay published on

4 min, 795 words