The tech industry experienced a tumultuous year in 2023, marked by a series of layoffs across various startups and established companies.
Layoffs were driven by a myriad of factors, including shifts in business strategies, financial pressures and the integration of advanced technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI).
Only nine days into the new year and 2024 is already set to rival the industry bloodbath that was 2023. With layoffs from Duolingo, Unity Software, and VideoAmp, it is apparent that companies are navigating a complex landscape where adaptability and strategic adjustments are paramount.
The embrace of generative artificial intelligence (GenAI), regulatory setbacks and market dynamics have played crucial roles in shaping these workforce decisions.
Verdict has compiled a list of the 13 tech companies that have laid off an estimated 2,358 employees in the first nine days of 2024.
Duolingo’s transition to AI-generated content
Duolingo, the language-learning software provider, cut 10% of its contractors as it embraces GenAI for content creation. The move is aimed at leveraging AI to develop content, including scripts for language teaching shows, at a faster pace.
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This shift has raised concerns about potential job displacement, reflecting a broader industry trend.
Unity Software’s workforce reduction for long-term profitability
Unity Software, known for its software used by video game creators, plans to cut 25% of its workforce, amounting to approximately 1,800 jobs. This decision, part of a broader ‘company reset’, is aimed at improving long-term profitability.
The move follows previous staff reductions and a change in leadership. Unity faces challenges, including customer dissatisfaction due to price hikes, signalling the company’s commitment to strategic adjustments.
BenchSci adapts to generative AI impact in drug discovery
Biomedical startup BenchSci, specializing in artificial intelligence (AI) for drug discovery, has reduced its headcount by 17% (70 employees) as it adapts to the transformative impact of GenAI in the field, the company revealed in a LinkedIn post yesterday (8th Jan).
The company had recently secured $95m in Series D funding for its AI-powered drug-discovery platform, emphasizing the ongoing evolution in the intersection of AI and biotechnology.
Pitch’s strategic shift and workforce reduction
Berlin-based startup Pitch, offering collaborative presentation software, is undergoing a significant transformation. CEO Christian Reber stepped down, and the company laid off two-thirds of its workforce (80 personnel), the company said on its website yesterday (8th Jan).
Pitch, once backed by substantial funding, is shifting away from the conventional venture-backed model, prioritizing profitability and sustainable growth over hyper-growth fueled by continuous funding.
Flexe’s ongoing workforce trim
Seattle-based Flexe, a warehousing and logistics startup, has cut 38% of its workforce, company CEO Karl Siebrecht told GeekWire.
The layoffs reflect the broader difficulties for logistics startups that have raised significant venture capital but are now navigating industry-specific hurdles and market challenges.
Cue Health’s workforce reduction amid regulatory setback
Cue Health implemented a cost-reduction plan, laying off 13% of its workforce (94 people) as the FDA declined to grant Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) for its COVID/Flu test, 360Dx first reported.
The reduction is a strategic response to regulatory challenges and underscores the impact of regulatory decisions on the growth trajectory of healthcare startups.
Lever’s workforce reduction in response to industry challenges
San Francisco-based hiring company Lever, facing the aftermath of a challenging year for the tech sector, has confirmed limited headcount reductions.
While the exact number of affected workers remains undisclosed, the move reflects ongoing challenges in the tech industry and the need for realigning objectives and financial plans.
NuScale Power’s workforce reduction post regulatory approval
NuScale Power, a nuclear energy startup, is laying off nearly a third of its workforce (28%, 154 employees) following regulatory approval of its reactor design. Despite being a pioneer in the nuclear energy startup space, NuScale faces financial constraints and the cancellation of its first power plant.
Trigo’s workforce reduction amid market dynamics
Israel-based computer vision company Trigo, focused on autonomous retail infrastructure, is laying off 15% of its workforce (30 employees). The move reflects the company’s response to market dynamics and the need to adapt its operations in the evolving retail landscape.
InVision’s closure following competitive challenges
InVision, once valued at $2bn and a market leader in collaborative design software, is shutting down at the end of the year. The closure comes as the company faces challenges from competitors like Figma, resulting in a significant decline in revenue.
VideoAmp’s leadership change and workforce reduction
Media measurement firm VideoAmp has undergone a leadership change, with the CEO stepping down and a 20% reduction in its workforce (about 80 employees). The move reflects the company’s strategic response to financial challenges and competition in the video measurement sector.
Orca Security’s workforce reduction in response to funding and growth
Israeli cyber unicorn Orca Security is laying off 15% of its workforce (around 60 employees) as part of a strategic adjustment. This decision follows the company’s substantial funding and valuation, highlighting the complexities of sustaining growth in the competitive cybersecurity landscape.
Frontdesk’s shutdown and workforce layoff
Frontdesk, a proptech startup managing furnished apartments, laid off its entire 200-person workforce and is on the verge of shutting down, TechCrunch first reported.
The mass layoff comes after failed attempts to raise additional capital, showcasing the challenges faced by startups in the real estate sector.
The Messenger’s workforce reduction amid financial constraints
Digital news startup The Messenger is laying off about two dozen employees due to financial constraints. The move comes as the company faces challenges in the tough digital ad market, underscoring the financial pressures impacting digital media startups.
Bolt.Earth’s workforce restructuring amid market uncertainty
Bengaluru-based electric vehicle charging infrastructure provider Bolt.Earth has laid off around 15-20% of its workforce, according to sources at Inc42.
The restructuring is attributed to uncertainty surrounding the FAME II scheme, highlighting the challenges faced by startups in the EV industry.
Technology analyst Laura Petrone from Globaldata said the latest tech layoffs aren’t a surprise but are “a continuation of last year’s industry restructuring, and there are no signs that this trend will stop anytime soon.
“The sector’s headcount is still above pre-pandemic levels, even after significant cuts in 2023. In addition, start-ups in tech and across industries continue to lay off staff as investors remain cautious in today’s uncertain macroeconomic environment.”