I agree with Stripe’s layoff, even though I’m included

On Thursday, my phone rang during my morning walk in the crisp air today in Chicago, the city my husband and I moved to last year for a job at Stripe, a payment processing and e-commerce company.

When I looked at my lock screen, I saw the subject line “Emily, your role at Stripe.” Immediately I knew I was losing my job, like probably 14% of our company’s global workforce. The cuts are, of course, deep and sudden, although not unexpected given the state of the economy and the decline in employment in this technology sector in the past few months.

As I ride the elevator back to my 19th floor apartment in the South Loop, I cycle through the full spectrum of emotions and land somewhere between relief and anger. I have gone through layoffs before, in 2020 in my previous role as a result of the sharp economic contraction during COVID-19. However, I am on the other side, as a manager who leaves people and wishes for them.

This time, I was relieved to be on this side with a soft landing, knowing how terrifying it must be for those left to pick up the pieces. I felt angry – I still don’t know who – miscalculated the huge growth that let things get to this point.

Emily Tsitrian moved to Chicago for a job at Stripe, a financial technology company.

As one of the leaders in Stripe’s technical services organization, not only was my own role eliminated, but several of my team members were let go as well. It’s strange to be in two worlds: a bit of Schrodinger’s cat from layoffs.

Over the next few hours, I went through a checklist of “yesterday’s” tasks – including saying goodbye to my customer contacts and typing a fast-and-furious “Thanks, stay connected!” emails to the circle of Stripe employees I want to keep close in my network, while watching my access to systems and devices disappear one by one.

External emails started bouncing back after about an hour, my desktop icons were unclickable for the rest of the day, and by the end of the day, I could no longer use my company-issued laptop. I learned the names of others who were affected little by little, each one familiarly snapping at my gut like rubber – the lives of so many talented and deserving people changed forever. In the haze of turmoil, one thing is clear: This is a shakeup.

And yet – this is the right decision.

With this reduction in power, Stripe follows suit cohort of tech companies which has taken drastic measures in the past few months to remove the hatches and drive operational efficiency by brute force. The stock market bull of the past decade and the easy access to capital have led to many technology companies that seem to have invented everything that is useless and useful – from Uber for the inconvenience of life to leap forward like PlanGrid, an application that digitizes construction information.

In the midst of our modern Roaring 20s, even the cream of the crop of leaders made critical mistakes and let organizational bloat seep through the cracks of low interest rates. deep letter to employeesStripe CEO Patrick Collison wrote: “We made two very important mistakes. … We were too optimistic about the near-term growth of the internet economy in 2022. … We raised operating costs too quickly.”

It is heartening to see accountability from a strong and important business leader, but selfish, as a shareholder in Stripe, this staff reduction reaffirms my bullishness in the company and my own personal shares. As a privately held company, Stripe has been the darling of Silicon Valley for years, but in recent months, it has made its way to the market with a 28% reduction in internal valuation. With a halt to this year’s blockbuster initial public offerings and a similar private funding landscape, Stripe, like most unicorns of late, could easily be painted into a corner.

As an insider for almost two years ago, I can attest that the efficiency of operations has grown more and more antithetical to innovation. These staff reductions are forcing every part of Stripe to get down to the brass tacks and ditch the nonsense to deliver valuable products and services that actually make the world more prosperous. With a large and growing portion of the world’s businesses running on Stripe, this is ultimately a good thing for humanity.

I certainly don’t want to minimize the hurt and uncertainty these staff reductions will have on over 1,000 employees and their families. But, when I say that the cream of the crop has hit the road, I mean this: The next generation of CEOs, senators, teachers, founders and do-gooders have abruptly pushed into their next chapter. All will land on their feet, but most will fall upside down, kicking up dirt as they blaze a new path forward for the global economy. And in a place like Chicago, which has gone on in the world as a place for tech talent, I couldn’t be more eager to see what our ex-Stripes do in Chicago with a new, different line.

I sure wish I was one of them.

Emily Tsitrian is between jobs. She lives in Chicago with her husband and dog. She is a writer “Make Me the Boss: Surviving as a Millennial Manager in the Corporate World.”

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