Silicon Valley in the pandemic

FIRING SOMEBODY is hard under any circumstances. But doing it over a video call is brutal. “It’s not the best environment for this, with people at home and kids in the background,” observes Marwan Forzley, the boss of Veem, a startup based in San Francisco which allows firms to transfer money cheaply. He recently had to let go 30 of its employees.

Mr Forzley speaks for many in Silicon Valley. The largest American tech firms may be the winners from a global pandemic. Demand for their online services has exploded among people and businesses in lockdown. But many startups in tech’s heartland are hurting. Hardly a day goes by without news of more lay-offs and firms going out of business. Yet amid the doom and gloom, venture-capital (VC) firms and entrepreneurs are already doing the thing they believe they do best: divining the future in their crystal balls.

Californian tech firms and their financiers were among the first in America to take the threat of coronavirus seriously. Some venture capitalists began refusing to shake hands at the beginning of February (and were ridiculed for it). The moneymen also moved quickly to “triage” companies in their portfolio, classifying them according to how likely they were to survive and what they should do. Mostly this involved letting people go. “The shocking thing is how fast...

via Business Feeds

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