While failure is not fatal, there’s definitely no harm in stacking the odds in your favor in the first place. With some proper insight and critical thinking, the chance of a venture’s success can be increased by mitigating some of the most common startup risks.
That’s why it is not enough to know how many startups fail – we must know why startups fail.
CB Insights, a venture capital database, did their homework based on 101 startup post-mortems to pin down causes on why startups failed. Here’s the results in infographic form:
Why Startups Fail
The most common reason for startups to meet the grim reaper was a dreaded lack of “product/market fit”.
In other words, a startup was unable to satisfy a real market need with its product. Famed investor Marc Andreessen says that product/market fit is so important, that the lifespan of a startup can be broken up into two parts: before product/market fit, and after the fit is achieved. Once it is obtained, it’s a game-changer that increases the chance of success tremendously.
Presumably, the startups that never achieve such a fit end up in the graveyard. The analysis from CB Insights above agrees, showing 42% of startups fail because they do not solve a real market need.
The two other major reasons why startups fail include running out of cash (29%) as well as not having the right team (23%).
Inevitably, there’s no changing the fact that the vast majority of startups will meet their bitter end. That said, a better understanding of the above causes of failure may help to mitigate the risks of any new venture. And even if a startup does meet its maker, the founder may still have another shot: failed entrepreneurs often find more success the second time around.
As Winston Churchill says: “Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.”
Original graphic by: Lance Surety Bond Associates
Ranked: America’s 20 Biggest Tech Layoffs Since 2020
How bad are the current layoffs in the tech sector? This visual reveals the 20 biggest tech layoffs since the start of the pandemic.
Ranked: America’s 20 Biggest Tech Layoffs This Decade
The events of the last few years could not have been predicted by anyone. From a global pandemic and remote work as the standard, to a subsequent hiring craze, rising inflation, and now, mass layoffs.
Alphabet, Google’s parent company, essentially laid off the equivalent of a small town just weeks ago, letting go of 12,000 people—the biggest layoffs the company has ever seen in its history. Additionally, Amazon and Microsoft have also laid off 10,000 workers each in the last few months, not to mention Meta’s 11,000.
This visual puts the current layoffs in the tech industry in context and ranks the 20 biggest tech layoffs of the 2020s using data from the tracker, Layoffs.fyi.
The Top 20 Layoffs of the 2020s
Since 2020, layoffs in the tech industry have been significant, accelerating in 2022 in particular. Here’s a look the companies that laid off the most people over the last three years.
|Rank||Company||# Laid Off||% of Workforce||As of|
Layoffs were high in 2020 thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic, halting the global economy and forcing staff reductions worldwide. After that, things were steady until the economic uncertainty of last year, which ultimately led to large-scale layoffs in tech—with many of the biggest cuts happening in the past three months.
The Cause of Layoffs
Most workforce slashings are being blamed on the impending recession. Companies are claiming they are forced to cut down the excess of the hiring boom that followed the pandemic.
Additionally, during this hiring craze competition was fierce, resulting in higher salaries for workers, which is now translating in an increased need to trim the fat thanks to the current economic conditions.
Of course, the factors leading up to these recent layoffs are more nuanced than simple over-hiring plus recession narrative. In truth, there appears to be a culture shift occurring at many of America’s tech companies. As Rani Molla and Shirin Ghaffary from Recode have astutely pointed out, tech giants really want you to know they’re behaving like scrappy startups again.
Twitter’s highly publicized headcount reduction in late 2022 occurred for reasons beyond just macroeconomic factors. Elon Musk’s goal of doing more with a smaller team seemed to resonate with other founders and executives in Silicon Valley, providing an opening for others in tech space to cut down on labor costs as well. In just one example, Mark Zuckerberg hailed 2023 as the “year of efficiency” for Meta.
Meanwhile, over at Google, 12,000 jobs were put on the chopping block as the company repositions itself to win the AI race. In the words of Google’s own CEO:
“Over the past two years we’ve seen periods of dramatic growth. To match and fuel that growth, we hired for a different economic reality than the one we face today… We have a substantial opportunity in front of us with AI across our products and are prepared to approach it boldly and responsibly.”– Sundar Pichai
The Bigger Picture in the U.S. Job Market
Beyond the tech sector, job openings continue to rise. Recent data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) revealed a total of 11 million job openings across the U.S., an increase of almost 7% month-over-month. This means that for every unemployed worker in America right now there are 1.9 job openings available.
Additionally, hiring increased significantly in January, with employers adding 517,000 jobs. While the BLS did report a decrease in openings in information-based industries, openings are increasing rapidly especially in the food services, retail trade, and construction industries.
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