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Laid Off From a Corporation? Maybe That’s a Chance to Start Something New

Tech is in recession — well, you’ve heard that. Maybe you even received an email saying that you no longer work at the tech corporation where you’ve been for years. We won’t bug you with the “crisis is a time for opportunity” content, but maybe there can be a different angle to this situation. Here are some stories of specialists who took their years of experience and invested it into new ventures.

Looking for opportunities

What happened and why are people being laid off in a wave?

The pandemic made all the world go online and sparked a boost in online businesses.  According to Deloitte, many CIOs doubled down on the digital technologies that drive e-commerce, telehealth, online learning, contactless payments, and more. However, the trends didn’t live up to its expectations — and the consequences are catastrophic.

After laying off over 11,000 people from Meta, Mark Zuckerberg sent a message to the employees where he admitted that “Many people predicted this [growth] would be a permanent acceleration that would continue even after the pandemic ended… Unfortunately, this did not play out the way I expected. Not only has online commerce returned to prior trends, but the macroeconomic downturn, increased competition, and ads signal loss have caused our revenue to be much lower than I’d expected.”

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Well, for many people who lost their permanent income and work visas, there seem to be few reasons to stay positive. However, working at a corporation gives you: 

  • An opportunity to work with the cutting-edge technologies on a large scale;
  • Access to corporate networks and the ability to create a powerful network of your own;
  • In many cases, the ability to save resources and accumulate capital;
  • And if you’re laid-off – a “parachute” of 4 to 6 months’ salary. 

All of those create a base to start something of your own. Here are some stories of people who quit large corporations and started their own ventures – this time, on their own terms. 

Examples of people who went from corporate sharks to founders

  1. Marc Faddoul, co-director and cofounder of Tracking Exposed

Marc spent over 2 years working on Meta’s team FAIR, which is responsible for the company’s (infamous) AI algorithms. While at Meta, he was fighting with misinformation within the company. He realized the scope and the magnitude of the algorithms’ influence on content that users consume, but he never had the power to change anything.  So, he decided to take matters into his own hands and founded a civil initiative – Tracking Exposed. 

Tracking Exposed is a company that builds free software and investigates algorithm-based recommendations on major social networks. Now it also provides research tools to facilitate independent analysis of algorithm personalization, such as browser plugins. His platforms works with  sites including Facebook, Youtube, Amazon, and Pornhub. 

  1. Heinrich Küttler, founder of Inflection AI 

In March 2022, former Meta research engineer Heinrich Küttler joined forces with his fellows from DeepMind and started Inflection AI. According to its founders, Inflection AI redefines human-computer interaction. The company has an impressive list of co-founders: AI researcher Karén Simonyan, LinkedIn founder Reid Hoffman, and DeepMind cofounder Mustafa Suleyman. 

As we know, AI is one of the fastest-growing areas in tech that is hungry for people with knowledge and experience. So, if you’ve been laid off and want to make a difference, this may be the time to look into starting something of your own.

  1. Aparna Lakshmiratan, Snorkel AI 

Former director of product at Meta, who was in charge of managing AI platforms, Aparna joined the team at Snorkel AI as the VP of product. Aparna has an impressive technical background: she holds a Ph.D. in artificial intelligence and worked at Microsoft as a principal program manager prior to Meta.

What is Snorkel AI? It’s a project that came out of the Stanford AI Lab and works on data-centric AI approaches. Snorkel works in collaboration with several top US banks, Fortune 500 companies, and government agencies. To this day, the estimated net worth is $132.8 million. 

New way

What to do if I’m laid off and I am a mere mortal? 

Well, okay, you might say, but these people were directors, presidents, and C-levels. What do I do? So here’s what you can do today to start drafting something new: 

  1. Evaluate your resources

    Most importantly: do you have a financial safety fund to keep your bills paid for a while? How much time do you have? Be realistic about your finances so you can be sure that they don’t run out sooner than you think. 

  2. Evaluate your network

    You’re probably not the only one who’s been laid off. Decide what competencies you need for your future team and start searching. Social media is very helpful, especially the places where you can skip the cold outreach and start talking with people right away – just like Intch. Here are a few tips on how to make your network work for you – give it a try!  

  3. Make a plan

    When you have the team together, you can perform the full audit of what you need and when. Who are your founders? What is the joint capital? What is the product? And the rest will be history. 

We know that this time is  difficult on those who lost their jobs – but it doesn’t mean that life is over. Even if you don’t work for a corporation, you still have your experience, your skills and your talent (and hopefully some savings). And if you ever need a community of founders to support you – you can always turn to Intch! Simply post a request (we’ve collected the tips on how to make the perfect request here) and your message will be sent to a community of 100k founders, investors, and top-level specialists from all over the world. 

Join us today! 


Miriam Rawles

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