The world’s tech titans are facing terror attacks: The millionaires and Gen Xers who provide the infrastructure that makes the Internet and social media work don’t want to do much.
For the tech cognoscenti who have long showered their beloved employees with lots of love—unlimited sick days, flexible work-from-home rules, in-office ping-pong, craft beer, and the like.
Back in the day, it wasn’t easy to find college students writing endless code and uploading all that profit-making user data from customer accounts.
The tech gravy train is now suffering from severe recession-shock panic. Profits are plummeting and so are the valuations of stocks that were once the most valuable part of corporate America. The dudes who run our tech industry are looking for ways to fill the gap, knowing that many of those Pamper Brats aren’t doing very well and aren’t worth it as they get heavier and heavier.
That’s why Mark Zuckerberg, the usually flashy Facebook founder and CEO, displayed testosterone-infused fury in the company’s sprawling town hall last month. An employee asked about the extended hiatus as Facebook braced for weak ad sales, low revenue and earnings (now formally called Meta for reasons no one could understand).
“The truth is, there are probably a lot of people in the company who shouldn’t be here,” Zuckerberg said.
Google CEO Sundar Pichai was a little more diplomatic in technical and creative ways. Google recently told employees that it was creating a strange initiative called the “Simplicity Sprint” to cut costs amid declining profits and stock prices. Employees are being asked how they can make Google more efficient because “it’s clear we’re facing a challenging macro environment with more uncertainty ahead,” CNBC reported.
It doesn’t take much reading between the lines to conclude that Pichai is basically asking employees how he and his team can get rid of ineffective colleagues.
Can’t wait to hear their thoughts.
At the time, CEOs seemed happy to cut layers of management off the balance sheet because investors liked decisive actions (think Neutron Jack Welch, the former GE Chief, or John “McKnife” Mack, the legendary CEO of Morgan Stanley).
Welch once told me that no one at GE was surprised when the ax fell over the years because he imposed such strict performance discipline. Nor was there much time for ping-pong and craft-beer breaks when Mac Morgan ran Stanley with an iron fist.
In our politically correct times, CEOs try to make their employees feel like they’re doing something special, like saving the Earth. It’s a no-brainer that the real work is finding new and innovative ways to squeeze out personal data so you can sell more ads to consumers.
Now the charade is over. Tech executives can sell lofty ideals (“don’t be evil”) and free meals when times are good. But no matter how lazy those CEOs were supposed to be, workers now want them to be productive.
“I think CEOs are now concerned that the inefficiencies of many tech companies may be a result of their inefficient business models,” said veteran recruiter Gary Goldstein of the Whitney Group. “I think the workers are becoming less efficient because they don’t have that discipline.”
Or maybe they like being lazy too much. Where are Neutron Jack and Mack when you need a knife?