Back in the hammock again

A person sits in a hammock overlooking a mountain lake

Well well well, here I am again, staring down the barrel of a month of free time thanks to the largesse of venture capitalists providing funding to enable my employer to offer me an involuntary paid vacation. πŸ˜…

So what to do with my time?

Since you're reading this, you may have guessed that part of what I'm planning to do with my time is get back to writing. Apparently full time employment interferes with my writing in a serious way. According to the old archive, I only managed three posts in the whole of 2023, compared to 60 in 2022. 55 of those 60 came in the 78 days between 15 June, when I started the blog, and 1 September, when I started my old new job.

I restarted my career as a professional writer on 8 January, 2024 at 10:30 in the AM, and since then, I've only managed two posts. 😞

In my defence though, see exhibits A and B:

Exhibit A: The two posts I did produce were a couple of real doozies; clickr, or a young man's Flickr clonejure weighed in at 7,559 words, and clickr goes frontend even topped that at an eye-watering 10,945 words! 🀯

Exhibit B: I spent the last three weeks feverishly interviewing for a new job, since a) "writer" is a profession that isn't well known for being easy to make a living by, and b) I'm not what they call "actually good at writing".

In any case, I signed an offer today with a start date of 4 March, so I have just under a month to sharpen my quill and pump out some new #content!

Having thus established some context, I'll share with you the experience of being laid off twice in 18 months: it sucks. Verily does it suck.

However, the degree to which each instance of being laid off sucked varied greatly. In the first case, big VCs leaned on management to "cut the fat" and management then blamed Putin for destroying the world economy and tried to strongarm people out the door, despite the robust labour protections offered to the majority of those employees under the Swedish model. As a member of the board of the local union, I spent the first 6-8 weeks of my garden leave helping union members understand their rights, evaluate their options, and negotiate with HR. This was important work that I'm proud of, and I would do it again in a heartbeat, but it's not exactly conducive to process being told you're surplus to requirements by an employer you've been with for 6 years and consistently received positive performance reviews from.

Contrast this to my experience being laid off a year and a half later by Pitch, where leadership took a sober look at market conditions and the trajectory of the company and concluded there was no path to success without a radical restructuring of the company. The founder and CEO explained it like this:

As many of you know, being a venture-backed company in 2023 was insanely challenging. We created sky-high expectations for our business, our employees, and ourselves as founders. Towards the end of last year, my co-founders and I noticed that those expectations were simply too high, and we decided that we wanted to take a new and completely different path for Pitch. Instead of pushing harder and harder to turn Pitch into a hyper-growth company with venture funding, we concluded it was better to build a profitable company and grow Pitch organically from here. We had conversations with our investors about resetting our company and cap table, so there’s potential for meaningful impact for everyone involved. Despite having more than 4 years of runway, we know that a sustainable path has a much higher chance of success than the path we were on.

This change also means we’re reducing the size of the Pitch team by around 2/3 today. Going forward, we’ll be a significantly smaller team focused on creating maximum value for our customers and driving sustainable growth. I am very sorry that this happened, and I take full responsibility for leading Pitch up to this point.

Contrast that final sentence with "Putin broke the economy and I'm deeply saddened". πŸ™„

Pitch leadership talks a big game about their people first approach, which is not really unique in these days of "woke capitalism" where many companies feel the need to prostrate themselves at the alter of Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion (just to lower the chances of this being taken out of context, OF COURSE I'M BEING SARCASTIC, CAPITALISM IS FAR FROM WOKE!), but they are in the truly rarefied company of those who stick to their values when times get tough.

Pitch's new CEO laid things out transparently, telling employees what the situation was, how the decision was made, and the reasons for making it. Every employee who was laid off received a generous severance package, regardless of if they'd been with the company for 5 years or 5 days. We retained access to Slack and Zoom and so on for the rest of the day so that we could say our goodbyes. In short, we were treated like adults rather than potential enemies. πŸ’œ

So yeah, here I am, back in the hammock again. May the good times roll!

🏷 diary trade unions
πŸ“ Published: 2024-02-08