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Why corporate leaders like Mark Zuckerberg, Jack Dorsey, and Evan Spiegel are all apologizing for the massive layoffs at their companies

Layoffs and hiring freezes are sweeping the nation across industries, from automotive to big tech.
Layoffs and hiring freezes are sweeping the nation across industries, from automotive to big tech.
  • Massive layoffs are happening at companies like Twitter, Amazon, and Meta.
  • CEOs are publicly taking the blame, some saying they grew their companies too quickly.
  • "The best CEOs know that they are accountable for this," a tech startup founder told Insider.

CEOs are sorry you got fired and are issuing mea culpas to jobless ex-employees, according to Bloomberg

At tech firms, more than 25,000 employees have been laid off in this month alone, according to the Layoffs.fyi, a tracker compiling tech layoffs since the COVID-19 pandemic began. Since the pandemic, the largest tech layoffs have been at Meta, Getir, Booking.com, Twitter, Uber, Better.com., Peloton, and Groupon, Layoffs.fyi data show. 

"Now in recent weeks, it's the biggest startups and tech companies that have been announcing layoffs compared to earlier this year," Roger Lee, co-founder of Human Interest who launched the Layoffs tracker, told Insider. 

There could be a couple of reasons behind this pattern. Lee pointed to better times in 2021 when the tech industry was booming and companies were rapidly expanding their products and workforces as a result of the pandemic. More employees were working from home, and Fed monetary policy was not as tight. Now companies in tech are reversing some of the huge hiring that they did in the past couple of years, Lee said.

"The best CEOs know that they are accountable for this," Lee said. "That's why these leaders are apologizing for making the initial poor decision to over hire last year, and now apologizing for the decision to do the layoffs as a result. Does it make a situation better? That's a different story."

Here are some of the CEOs who have issued public apologies for the layoffs. 

Mark Zuckerberg, Meta

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg speaks about "News Tab" at the Paley Center, in New York on October 25, 2019.
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg speaks about "News Tab" at the Paley Center, in New York on October 25, 2019.

In a memo to his employees, Zuckerberg apologized for over-investing in Meta as he announced more than 11,000 staff would be laid off, Insider reported. In the memo he wrote: "Many people predicted this would be a permanent acceleration that would continue even after the pandemic ended. I did too, so I made the decision to significantly increase our investments. Unfortunately, this did not play out the way I expected."

Jack Dorsey, ex-CEO Twitter

Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey
Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey testifies before the House Energy and Commerce Committee in Washington, DC, in 2018.

Elon Musk's Twitter plans to cut 50% of the company's workforce, including its contractors, Insider reported. The Twitter founder tweeted his sympathies: "Folks at Twitter past and present are strong and resilient. They will always find a way no matter how difficult the moment. I realize many are angry with me. I own the responsibility for why everyone is in this situation: I grew the company size too quickly. I apologize for that."

Evan Spiegel, Snap

Evan Spiegel at the TechCrunch Disrupt SF 2019 conference.
Evan Spiegel.

Snap let go more than 1,200 employees — about 20% of its full-time workforce — this summer in a move that surprised many insiders. In a memo published online, CEO Evan Spiegel wrote that the company "must now face the consequences of our lower revenue growth and adapt to the market environment." The company announced it was pulling out of its investments in Snap Originals, Minis, Games, Pixy, and slowing down Zenly and Voisey.

In his memo, Spiegel stated: "I am deeply sorry that these changes are necessary to ensure the long term success of our business. The friendship and camaraderie we all share as a team make these changes particularly painful, and we will make every effort to treat our departing team members with the respect and gratitude that they deserve."

Tobias Lütke, Shopify  

Tobi Candid 4 (1)

Summer cuts hit Shopify earlier this summer as CEO Tobias Lütke announced a 10% reduction in the workforce. In a memo, Lütke said e-commerce growth was "steady and predictable" before the pandemic, leading the company to bet that "the share of dollars that travel through ecommerce rather than physical retail would permanently leap ahead by 5 or even 10 years."

Lütke continued: "It's now clear that bet didn't pay off. What we see now is the mix reverting to roughly where pre-Covid data would have suggested it should be at this point. Still growing steadily, but it wasn't a meaningful 5-year leap ahead. Our market share in ecommerce is a lot higher than it is in retail, so this matters. Ultimately, placing this bet was my call to make and I got this wrong. Now, we have to adjust. As a consequence, we have to say goodbye to some of you today and I'm deeply sorry for that."

Patrick Collison, Stripe

patrick collison

In an email announcing 14% workforce cuts to Stripe employees, CEO Patrick Collison wrote, on behalf of himself and his brother, company president John Collison: "Today we're announcing the hardest change we have had to make at Stripe to date. We're reducing the size of our team by around 14% and saying goodbye to many talented Stripes in the process. If you are among those impacted, you will receive a notification email within the next 15 minutes. For those of you leaving: we're very sorry to be taking this step and John and I are fully responsible for the decisions leading up to it."

Glenn Kelman, Redfin

Redfin CEO Glenn Kelman
Redfin CEO Glenn Kelman

After announcing an 8% company reduction earlier this month, Glenn Kelman, CEO of the real estate firm, apologized several times in a memo: "To all the departing people who put your faith in Redfin, I'm sorry we can't keep our commitment to you. With May demand 17% below expectations, we don't have enough work for our agents and support staff, and fewer sales leaves us with less money for headquarters projects."

Vlad Tenev, Robinhood

Vlad Tenev
Vlad Tenev.

In August, Robinhood CEO Vlad Tenev announced a 23% workforce reduction, particularly in the trading platform's operations, marketing, and program management functions. The letter followed an earlier decision to cut 9% of Robinhood's workforce.

In a letter to employees, Tenev wrote: "Since that time, we have seen additional deterioration of the macro environment, with inflation at 40-year highs accompanied by a broad crypto market crash. Last year, we staffed many of our operations functions under the assumption that the heightened retail engagement we had been seeing with the stock and crypto markets in the COVID era would persist into 2022. In this new environment, we are operating with more staffing than appropriate. As CEO, I approved and took responsibility for our ambitious staffing trajectory – this is on me."

Brian Armstrong, Coinbase

brian armstrong coinbase

In June, Coinbase CEO Brian Armstrong wrote in a letter that he was trimming the Coinbase team by about 18% to ensure the crypto-exchange platform stays "healthy during this economic downturn." He pointed to rapidly changing economic conditions, cost management in down markets, and over-hiring during a bull market. Armstrong wrote: "First I want to start by taking accountability for how we got here. I am the CEO, and the buck stops with me."

He continued: "To our colleagues who are departing, I want to say thank you for giving everything to this company, and that I am sorry. I hope that as we grow again we get a chance to hire you back. We would not be where we are today without your hard work and dedication to our mission. I am incredibly grateful for everything you have done to contribute to our success."

Niraj Shah, Wayfair

Wayfair co-founder Niraj Shah.

In August, furniture retailer Wayfair said it would lay off nearly 900 people, or about 5% of its workforce, the Wall Street Journal reported. In a published letter, CEO Niraj Shah wrote: "Over the past few years, we've grown Wayfair significantly to keep pace with the ecommerce growth in the home category. We were seeing the tailwinds of the pandemic accelerate the adoption of ecommerce shopping, and I personally pushed hard to hire a strong team to support that growth. This year, that growth has not materialized as we had anticipated. Our team is too large for the environment we are now in, and unfortunately we need to adjust.

Shah continued: "I take responsibility for the impact this decision will have on the nearly 900 Wayfairians who will be told today they are no longer a part of building our company's future."

Rich Barton, Zillow

Rich Barton CEO and cofounder of Zillow
Rich Barton, CEO and cofounder of Zillow

Zillow laid off 300 employees in October, or about 5% of its workforce, according to Bloomberg. The latest cut came less than a year after the real estate marketplace announced a 25% workforce reduction in November 2021 in a letter to shareholders. Zillow CEO Rich Barton apologized for the prior layoff on a call with analysts: "I'm sorry for how difficult and disruptive this will be."

Read the original article on Business Insider
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