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Ask HN: Who Is Firing?
604 points by justforfunhere 49 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 558 comments
Times are bleak.


Last week during covid crisis, all while announcing a $100m Series E round of financing, they let some employees go and did not offer any severance.

Disorganized management, and with some teams, passive-aggressive management style.

Would not recommend joining...

I don't know much about CircleCI but my understanding is that they are a Clojure shop but (one of?) their founder(s) moved on to Dark Lang

They're replacing their ClojureScript mishmash of libraries with a React action team because they couldn't onboard effectively

As a customer, I can see I'm being pushed into this new UI that I'm indifferent to but moving between the options is difficult

As a Clojurian & customer, I'm not sure any of this bodes well

Guess they might just be using Covid as an excuse to get rid of some people? Wouldn't be ethical, but wouldn't be surprised if some companies took advantage of the situation.

> Wouldn't be ethical, but wouldn't be surprised if some companies took advantage of the situation.

I know for the fact that few US, Indian firms with offices in India are just using this as an excuse to trim their workforce, enforce paycuts (upto 50%), hold back increments for the year (and even next) and restructure salaries drastically - by moving almost 60% to vaiable pay(which typically never gets paid).

Such a list is live at https://careervscovid19.com/insights

Traditional BigCo ITeS/outsourcing shops are using this as a great opportunity to trim the flab in the middle (claiming as "a dire measure to sustain shareholder value") while it was always about . These are the same bunch in middle-management whom they would pamper regularly by giving quarterly/monthly awards (quarterly Gem, Spot awards, Player of the month, etc bullshit accolades)

And the markets also work that way. On a regular day, if there's firing, stocks of a BigCo go wonky sensing something is amiss. During a crisis, if they do not fire people by the thousands, markets deem it as lack of financial prudence and stocks go down.

Everything (and anything) in the name of profits and shareholder value. There's a saying dated thousands of years, goes like "vyaparam droha chintanam” meaning "Business is all about profits most often via undue advantages".

Related article - http://www.informaticsjournals.com/index.php/dbijb/article/d...

Our experience with Indian firms during COVID has been rocky.

Most of the big firms (Tata, CTS, CapGemini) have big offices or call centers, with VPNs or private connections to western infrastructure -- otherwise you would have random Indian IPs logging into your systems, and that would make my security team lose their minds.

But with COVID they can't congregate in those offices, and the logistics of getting additional VPNs, working around geo-fencing, and the fact that some of the admins don't have internet at home means they're not able to support anything.

The handful of Filipino and Mexican offshore talent has been more successful in that regard. Mexican talent in particular has been pretty good -- more expensive than Indian hires, but generally more qualified with overlap of US timezones.

> some of the admins don't have internet at home means they're not able to support anything

Yes, this is the reality. Most of these shops do not believe in issuing a laptop along with a secure connectivity option, simply because they deem all of that as a sap on procurements.

And they still use shitty 2005 era desktop since work gets done on VDIs (citing info sec and DLP) and desktops are mere dumb terminals. But even to operate those dumb terminals, they are ready to spend cost on electricity and logistics but will actively avoid issuing good equipment just to avoid cost on licenses and manageability.

Bunch of old coots that do not ever learn.

And the lack of good tools and beefy desktop machines is precisely why they cannot grep the code themselves, which is why those outsourced coders will fail unless you micro-manage them with design specifications.

Living in Singapore, I met some people who trained India and then used their own good equipment and their productivity was on par with US or EU employees. I was also unfortunate enough to manage some people using '95 equipment, and they were basically dead weights for the project.

> big offices or call centers, with VPNs or private connections to western infrastructure

I used to work on a product with a web console. One of the things we designed and planned for was a login storm around 9-10 AM on Monday in pick-a-timezone where 200 users log in from the same IP. If you ignore the seasonality, it looks a bit like an attack.

I must admit, I get this feeling from using the product over the last 2 years. I moved us over from Jenkins to CircleCI and while on the whole it was positive, we’ve had a lot of issues and the product has failed to live up to some of the promises made in our trial period.

We basically just hit hard edges and missing features very quickly, and what’s there is good, but not great.

Each bit of the product feels good, but it feels like there’s a lack of direction, product thinking, understanding users, or something at a fundamental level that is causing friction.

I have a friend who worked there a few years ago and from her experience it sounds like there are some good engineers, but some careless decisions being made.

Wow that’s nasty! Will be steering clear of them for my CI needs.

Can you expand a bit more on this, how can they let go without severance? How big was the loss? Was it contractors?

I'm in the final stages interviews and up until now have generally been looking forward to the prospect of working there. This is troubling. Thanks in advance.

Can we communicate over a private channel? Can share more. Wasn't contractors; was employees. Indeed.

If we can't, my advice to you is to backchannel. See if you have a friend of a friend's who works there, reach out to people via LinkedIn whom you didn't interview with, or find former employees, they will tell you the real story...

That would be great, email me if you can at johnnyaghands@protonmail.com. Thank you!

How would you characterize the quality of CircleCI? I've spent quite a few hours trying to work out mysterious bugs in a build process that runs fine locally. This morning the web ui was full of 'client error' messages.

As an end user I've been pretty happy with it. I've used Jenkins, Travis, Github and Circle mostly, and of those I hope to never have to use Travis or Jenkins again, and I've only really used Github for some simple stuff, but rather enjoyed the experience.

Circle however I've used with some fairly lengthy and complex build processes involving multiple parallel builds of Rails apps during upgrades and it's handled the workflow well.

I think they've improved the UI a bit recently, but it's still pretty complex though.

Have you tried Teamcity? https://www.jetbrains.com/teamcity/

No, not yet.

We've seen great results since switching from Circle to Buildkite, not the least of which is cost, but you have to be willing to do a little bit of your own IT work.

But isn't that the point of Circle...not having to do any IT work? At some point the cost of Circle becomes negligible, especially when you consider how much your time is worth...and that you don't have to do any maintenance.

Yes, if you are completely allergic to IT work, then your options are more limited. In terms of time, I would say the initial setup cost us a day or two, but after that our EC2 build box has just been fire and forget.

edit: I'll also add that in terms of time, I feel like most of the time in build pipelines is actually spent in tweaking, adding, and modifying the build configs, as opposed to the servers themselves (and you might also value developer time differently from devops time). I have found Buildkite easier to work with than CircleCI in this regard, and thus saved much more time overall.

I second Buildkite, one of the best choices we made at my previous company.

Buildkite is awesome. Thirded. Love the clear UI, yaml based dynamic pipelines and ease of integration.

Coupled with Terraform for us.

Buildkite + preemptible GCP instances has worked great for where I'm working right now!

Another happy Buildkite customer here. Beautiful UI and it just works really well.

You might be interested in what I'm building over at https://boxci.dev

The motivation for this was exactly this problem. With Box CI your local build is your CI build because it runs jobs via agents on your own hardware so you can very easily debug / understand what is going on.

Wow, that looks so practical ! And no server cost/setup/maintenance, I guess.

The thing I'm concerned about that doesn't seem addressed on your home page is security : by installing your agent on my machine, I'm basically giving you access to my machine non-stop, no ? What guarantees do I have that your agent can't be used as a backdoor ?

Great question!

Firstly, and very importantly, the agent is open source (https://github.com/boxci/boxci) so you can see exactly what it does and even build it from source if you want. I should mention Box CI isn't launched yet, everything is still in beta including the agent.

The Box CI service doesn't have any way to send requests to or send commands to agents - the requests are one-way, agent to service only, with agents polling the service for build jobs to run, running them, and sending logs and results to the service.

Build scripts and configuration are all in your source code. This is a tradeoff, because it definitely means you have to trust your source (and everyone committing to it) if you're going to be running agents on your dev machine for instance.

There are obviously mitigations to this though, like running the agents on a dedicated Cloud VM with nothing on the filesystem and internet access locked down to package manager and cloud provider hosts. A future plan is to provide pre-configured VMs for various cloud providers so this can be set up in a few clicks for low cost ($20 a month or whatever a reasonable build machine VM would cost).

The real security point of the the agents though, the other side of these tradeoffs, is that your code and your production secrets never leave hardware you control - the CI service never has access to them. That's a massive security advantage Vs centralised CI services which do have full read access to your source and effectively full write access to your production infrastructure via keys you give them - compared to what I've described above this is a massively bigger and more dangerous potential security hole.

You can probably tell by the length of this comment I'm super interested in this aspect (along with dev experience I see it as the key advantage of the model and one of the reasons I'm building it) there's a lot more depth to this and if you'd like to discuss further, I'd love to :-) Email's in my profile.

Neat! I love the model of giving powerful CI tools directly to the user. I ended up with a similar solution for my personal projects: a private bors-style CI GitHub bot, written from scratch, running on my own hardware, that I control via GitHub comments (the bot ignores comments from other users).

It's quite spartan, but it gets the job done, and I love that a) it's fast, b) I can see exactly what happened, down to ssh'ing into the build directory and poking around, and c) If there's a feature I want, I can just add it!

Here's my bot in action: https://github.com/lukechampine/us/pull/37#issuecomment-5936...

Very cool - yeah I know exactly what you mean, running CI workflows on your own machine is just so nice.

When something fails it makes the debug and retry loop just as simple and fast as when you're developing, and there's really nothing like watching a production build run and ship in literally like a minute, just as fast as if you're building and starting your local dev server :-)

v1 was good for us, but when they moved to v2, it just seemed like far more work for us than Codeship Pro.

Crazy. They're advertising quite a lot on LinkedIn at the moment too. :(

I wouldn't be surprised if this was a method of rotating staff to reduce salary spending.

You mean kind of a chaos monkey, but for people?

Stack ranking, but they save money by not sorting the stack.

The Met Police (London, UK) love to do this

There's nothing to say the two events are correlated. As far as we can tell, they could have been underperforming sales people who were let go. Hiring/firing is _not_ based off the single criteria of raising money. There are complex business decisions between events like this, regardless of the coin in the coffers.

Wow, I actually really concidered CCI. It seemed like such a great company to work for. It's good to know this.

Were any execs let go?

I bet they all had severance guaranteed in their contracts...

Not recently, and not due to covid. Within the last 6 months, yes some execs were asked to leave, but no execs let go so far in 2020.

Looks like their chatbot needs to sanitize input - "All set! I've sent an email confirmation to sales@circleci.com." that will be interesting.

Thanks for the great idea!

I have a fairly rare surname, but have {surname} at gmail, so I get a lot of "spam" from companies that sign me up before verifying if the user inputting my email is the person owning the email.

In the most egregious/spammy cases I'm gonna find some higher-up emails and sign them up for their own services in hopes that the practice will stop.

TL;DR: email confirmation or get egged.

Whoa. I was close to using their product. You just talked me out of it.

FIRST FACTORY (company link: https://firstfactory.com/)

Hello fellow HN readers. Here's the short version of the story:

So I was working at X SF startup company (with a subsidiary office in Costa Rica) and decided to give it a try at First Factory, an outsourcing shop based in NY and Costa Rica, they handed me a contract (March 5th, 2020) to start working with them effective March 30th, 2020.

So I quit my job and was ready to jump on board. Then on March 25th, 2020 I get a call (the lady pretty much laughably telling me all this) stating that they were in financial trouble and couldn't onboard me at all, and the contract was voided.

I know this happens, but you get a feeling of how shocked I was hearing this. I couldn't believe my ears. And now I'm unemployed pretty much. I've applied to a few positions through "Who's Hiring" at HN tough, let's see how it goes -_-

Contact your former employer... and see if they want you back. Tell them the new place isn't as fun as you thought.

No, you should tell them the truth.

Or just tell them the truth

I'm really sorry to hear that. It's unclear to me if you're in Costa Rica, but heads up if you're in the US your situation likely qualifies you for the new unemployment benefits (Pandemic Unemployment Assistance.)

Perhaps an opening here may line up with your skills? (disclaimer: I have no involvement with them; looked at a job opening months ago and remembered they have a Costa Rica office upon seeing your comment)


You qualify for unemployment FYI, in case you weren’t aware.

Love Lonely Planet!

Read the room.

Poster said they worked there, not that they just got fired from there. Read the post.

God this brings back memories of fuckedcompany.com

Right after September 11th, that site got very popular among engineers like me -- seeing (on a daily basis) which company bloodbath was next.

It was kind of fun, until it was our company.

And suck.com! They ran a sad requiem for a company I worked for to the end in '96: Kaleida Labs, a joint venture of Apple and IBM.

Q: What do you get when you cross Apple and IBM?




    For Goldhaber and Braun, we

    recall the line of Guildenstern

    in coming out the losers in a

    game of princes and kings from

    Tom Stoppard's Rosencrantz and

    Guildenstern Are Dead: "There

    must have been a moment, at the

    beginning, where we could have

    said - no."

PBS did a story on them but couldn't say Fucked Company on their broadcasts so they used the name "The Dot Com Deadpool" instead.

Fucked Company published an excellent documentary on the Digital Entertainment Network.

(It's from "Fucked Company", so obviously it's NOT SAFE FOR WORK, but who's at work any more these days?)


>Dot Com Boom & Bust - Digital Entertainment Network

>A parody of the founders of Digital Entertainment Network. DEN was "a quintessential example of the excesses and lack of control of the dot-com craze."


>I rescued this from Web Archive, and it was originally posted on the Fuckedcompany.com website, which went defunct in 2007.

Yes, THAT guy:


>Cryptocurrencies: Last Week Tonight with John Oliver (HBO)


Oh no :(, the Internet Archive fucked them:



>This URL has been excluded from the Wayback Machine.

Alternative archive of the front page, at least:


Then they went from sorta fucked:


To fucked:


It's a different thing (for acquihires) but https://ourincrediblejourney.tumblr.com/ has much the same vibe.

Blind is the resource I use now to scratch the same itch

Unless you are in US, it is a very poor one, sorry.

I wonder what Pud is up to now. Didn't he use to post on here?

He started and is running DistroKid, which is probably the most popular way for independent music artists to get their music into digital stores and streaming services.

Ah, yes. I remember now.

He is on Twitter: https://twitter.com/pud

I sometimes check https://www.thelayoff.com/ to see which companies are having layoffs, though much of it is rumors of things which never happen.

When Oracle data cloud had 20% layoffs in September (~250 people) that site was the best and worst place. You could see layoff reports in realtime and get info on how to do benefit claims/etc.

Very scary to sit in an office where nobody is working because we are waiting to see who gets let go next.

Kind of, though the main draw for me was all the stories of hubris and ineptitude, and it was largely just the money of the rich being burned up in the process.

What did the site show?

In form, it was a pretty simple discussion site. But it had a lot of insider info and an enormous amount of snark, and it really captured the spirit of the popping of Bubble 1.0 (and the post 9/11 downturn).

I remember one where a CEO made a big deal about the tech staff working through the holidays to finish vital new products. And then the CEO went on vacation to Hawai'i, leaving the nerds to grind it out. The memo and vacaction leaked to Fucked Company, where comments were spirited, and I think it eventually caused a big to-do.

We all got hooked on the forum when waiting for news of the inevitable for our company, which ironically didn't fail, and we actually ended up cashing out in an acquisition.

IIRC, some of Howard Stern's wack pack people were regular posters on the forum as well. It was a pretty awesome message board for that era, until ruined by nazis and other lowlifes.

Which wack-packers were posting? Beetlejuice and Elephant Boy?

I remember a suggestion to place all startups in a death pool which they were only allowed to leave if they managed not to buy any Aeron chairs (those were all the rage at that time) after one year in business. I loved that idea.

My company was featured in a story on Herman Miller, where we spent more on Chairs then we had in revenue for the entire 24 months of our existence.

The other side of this, is the company I worked for about that time, purchased the entire set of office furniture from a defunct company to setup our office when we moved. Turns out we didn't need it all, and sold a lot of it. At the end of the year, the majority of our profit was the furniture hussle.

At the end of the first dot-com boom, there was a place in San Jose called Consolidated Office Supply which bought the furniture of failed dot-coms. They had a warehouse which covered an entire city block, full of used furniture. Looked like the warehouse from Raiders of the Lost Ark.

I bought furniture there for something I was starting up. Very cheap, and they delivered.

I am currently sitting in an Aeron chair from one of the dot com bust furniture auctions... I had a friend who rescued servers just abandoned in their racks when one company just folded mid-day, the last remaining guy just walked out of the office. Crazy times.

It allowed employees to leak when their company was laying off employees. There was a sister site called luckedcompany.com which allowed employees to leak when their company got investment (IIRC)

It also had the memos or emails sent, which were morbidly interesting to read.

I really remember these the most.

Companies that were fucked, as their name documents.

Got their start in the heyday of the .com crash as domino after domino fell and many companies were exposed for the unviable company’s they were.

The site took great joy in documenting (mocking) companies that were once tall and proud and quickly collapsed.

I always wondered if fuckedcompany.com had back-door access to the Internet Confessional database.

I think they just allowed anonymous posts. Different era where they were actually sort of reliable. I think they got sued a lot which forced them to shut down. In the end Fucked Company was fucked, too.

There was a German equivalent called Dotcomtod (dotcomdeath), which had incredible amounts of inside knowledge. I had just started a small software company and for some reason loved reading their stories. One of the key people of Dotcomtod (Don Alphonso) is now a famous blogger with conservative/libertarian views.

Groupon - 2800 jobs (44% of workforce) - https://www.chicagobusiness.com/john-pletz-technology/groupo...

How can they possibly employ 6400 people.

I didn’t realise they were still around, I thought they went under years ago...

still big in certain industries. only a fool would pay full price for laser hair removal

Seems like many companies within the startup world. Layoffs.fyi says more than 250 companies and more than 24,000 people.

Their tracker, https://layoffs.fyi/tracker/, has reasonably well corroborated data, although it's surely incomplete.

a quote i remembered from twitter: "This is the best time to get rid of employees".

a startup based in London just fired 10% of their workforce. all were given two options: government's furlough scheme where the state pays 80% of the salary, or outright dismissal. interestingly, half chose to quit.

For a bit of context, at London startup the furlough scheme is very unlikely to be 80% of their salary because it is capped at 30k per year pre-tax/80% of your salary whichever is lower.

That said, I'm surprised half of people turned down 2k/month to job hunt.

If my LinkedIn messages are anything to go by, there's still quite a few companies hiring tech workers in London at the moment. So I imagine many of these people would be quite confident finding a new job.

you need to bear in mind that the government's furlough scheme is capped (gross £2.5k per month) and it has an expiry date. this means that in such a situation, you can't assume you'll be on furlough until "normality resumes". even if the government extends the scheme, the company can still fire you and opt for not having you on furlough or not. overall furlough is as uncertain as it gets. on the other hand, dismissal might come with a "severance package".

Right of course if you have a severance package on the table you need to weigh that against the expected payout across your expected out of work period but in this climate I'm not convinced you can safely estimate that out of work period as short.

Wouldn't you be able to job hunt while taking the furlough scheme money?

It might be worth getting the notice period (for which I assume you must be paid fully) ticking ASAP.

If they take the dismissal they get paid out immediately and they can immediately start getting government unemployment benefits. I think?

You don't get government unemployment benefits in the UK if you have >16k in savings (i.e. most programmers, presumably)

London developers do not get paid well vs cost of living. I interviewed for a city based senior data engineer role at a large insurer and was supprised that they choked at 45K basic not much package.

Generally uk dev pay is very bad compared to US or even other Europe.

Contract work used to be basically the only way to make good money but this has now been nobbled. Not a good city to work in.

As a result permie developers generally don't have a huge amount of a savings.

I was able to get Senior at £74k in London. Nothing to sneeze at in principle, save for the London cost of living.

Moved to New York following Brexit, now making literally twice that. (Paying twice that for housing, too, but my housing is more like 15 minutes from work instead of 60 and I have a real subway option instead of putting up with Southern Rail and the strikes.)

>You don't get government unemployment benefits in the UK if you have >16k in savings

This isn't true. You'll get new style JSA for 6 months [1] pending you have contributed NI for the past 2/3 years which almost all will have.


You're talking about universal credit which yes you won't qualify for with greater than 16k savings (pension savings or HTB ISA are however are excluded).

How much are unemployment benefits worth in the UK? Like if you are a programmer, what percent of monthly salary would be the unemployment benefits?

Shit all. New style JSA is £74.35 a week plus you could also potentially claim Universal Credit (if you've got under £16k savings) which is £94. £730 or so a month is not enough to live on if you're having to pay for your accommodation in most of the south.

The Local Housing Allowance pretty low but you'd be able to claim the it, housing element of UC, on top of UC.

> immediately start getting

Ah, I see you've never applied for Universal Credit. Immediate, it ain't.

Under UK employment laws, you can't just force your staff to take a 20% pay cut without their consent, even if you're using the furlough scheme. And as others have pointed out, it may have been more than 20% in practice, if it was based on the furlough scheme where a cap applies. A lot of places that are genuinely up against it because of the virus are asking staff to take that hit voluntarily to help protect the business and their jobs, but that's different.

If you make them redundant instead then you must give them a redundancy payment as well. However, this only protects employees after two years and in any case it's capped at a low level relative to typical salaries in fields like tech, so this might not have been worth much to the staff at a startup. Many employers do offer more than this voluntarily, but I wouldn't necessarily assume any startup did.

Maybe the staff who chose to leave were more concerned about the future viability of the business, an extended pause in their career development, or both. Or maybe they really were offered voluntary redundancy on favourable terms.

Curiously, just yesterday the UK government announced some new measures aimed directly at supporting startups, particularly tech startups in their early stages that aren't yet making money. Apparently at least someone in government recognises the business model and feels it will be better to protect that part of our economy during the downturn, which is a remarkably enlightened view given how badly successive governments in the UK have treated small businesses in the past.

Yeah lots of people aren't aware that you can refuse the UK furlough scheme. The company can then fire you but you could then take them to an employment tribunal and sue for unfair dismissal. At certain companies that are using furlough as an excuse to increase profits rather than to prevent job losses then you would probably win your case.

Although obviously you should consult with a proper employment lawyer.

As I understand it, most employment lawyers are advising clients to follow the same processes as they would for redundancy in selecting staff to be furloughed etc. This ensures that if an employee does decline then proper records will have been kept and proper processes followed to make them redundant in the normal way. Given that the explicit intent of the furlough scheme is to provide an alternative for employers who would otherwise have to make staff redundant, this doesn't seem unreasonable.

Obviously this means employers who are abusing the system to try to force a pay cut on people or fire them by the back door when they weren't genuinely redundant may be out of luck. I'm not sure anyone is going to have much sympathy for employers doing that, though.

>Curiously, just yesterday the UK government announced some new measures aimed directly at supporting startups, particularly tech startups in their early stages that aren't yet making money

Do you have a link about this please? Hadn't heard of it until now

I'm not sure the full details have been published yet. It was mentioned in the usual round of news reports last night, so I assume it was announced as part of one of the set pieces yesterday.

It sounds like some sort of investment-matching scheme, where the existing investors have to put more money in to keep the business viable but the government will then make some sort of contribution as well.

Ah cool, thanks for the heads up!

Do you have an idea if they chose to quit because they expect finding new jobs is easy right now, or any other aspect?

It's definitely not easy, more candidates on the market -> higher competiton. As a side note, furlough only covers up to a certain salary level (2500 pounds I think).

Demand side decrease as well

I don't know about other sides of IT, but as a data engineer in London I'm getting daily messages from recruiters offering contract/permanent positions. All the big companies are also hiring. So if you have a certain level of seniority I can imagine it's easier to land a new job now.

Yeah there's loads of work around from what I've seen.

Good luck getting a job in the upcoming massive recession.

In some companies it feels like they are firing the people that they could not easily get rid of otherwise - cutting of the bottom 25% of staff (based on low performance reviews or personal grudges).

Makes a lot more sense than firing the high performers, no?

Would seem so on the face of it, but measuring performance is not trivial, and some people can be essential for reasons unrelated to performance (or their real performance isn't accurately measured, however you want to see it).

Sometimes, but often I think it’s fairly clear that someone is underperforming.

Statistically-speaking, this will disproportionately effect women and minorities (low performance reviews !necessarily= low performance when implicit bias is present, which again, statistically-speaking, it is). Certainly these times suck for everyone, but there go the careers of black, brown, and female millennials with yet another black mark on their CVs before they've hit their 40s.

I'm sorry but I (as a minority myself) genuinely feel a little bit insulted by your assumption that minorities score worst in performance test. There's no basis for that belief, a part from your personal biases and they are shockingly regressive even if well intentioned. Are you yourself a minority?

I think they didn't mean tests but reviews, as in subconscious racism and sexism on the part of the reviewer

I think they meant manager and peer evaluation, not standardized aptitude testing. Though on that note, I know someone who creates those standardized employment apptitude tests and checking the test for minority group biases is part of their validation, I believe so the company has something to point to if they need to defend the test later. It's apparently easy to start measuing things other than apptitude and veer into cultural or economic influences.

I included the parenthetical to make it clear that what you're asserting was not my intended meaning.

I am a gay black man.

Okay thanks for the clarification, but still if anything I find the tech sector to be one of the industry with the least amount of racial prejudice even in promotions. I totally understand that personal experiences can be different and are still valid, but I think the data tells us that there isn't any widespread systemic racism in tech. The proportion of people of color in C level exec/higher management levels is huge and the efforts made to increase diversity have been intense. I just don't see how that could happen if lower performance reviews were generally biased against us.

That is inaccurate to the point of straining good faith.

His point is accurate if you include asians as a minority group. I suspect you're talking specifically about black people.

> His point is accurate if you include asians as a minority group.

No, it's not. Even if they were favored, one racial minority group being favored and others being disfavored doesn't balance out to “no racism”, it's even more racism than the latter being disfavored alone. And even if there is no evidence of racism in either direction affecting Asians, that doesn't negate racism affecting other groups.

At best it might be accurate of you only look at Asians.

What about the much higher numbers of indians (especially in C level executive positions) in tech? Or Arabs? Transgenders? Neurodivergents? Iranians? Muslims?

What's the line here? At what point would tech not be racist? I really don't see your point here. There is a lot of evidence pointing to a really diverse, generally progressive industry with, if anything, a higher over representation (compared to the population) of multiple minority groups, different gender identities and a much more inclusivity conscious mindset than probably any other industry. We have no data that really points to the opposite conclusion. Again, at what point would you not say that those are all exceptions?

> What about the much higher numbers of indians (especially in C level executive positions) in tech? Or Arabs?

What about them? (Mostly, what both of those show is what the structure of the immigration system favors for nationalities where there aren't lots of people who are eligible for family-based immigration.)

> Transgenders?

Mostly reflects that people of higher socioeconomic status and in social environments concentrated on particular geographic locations are more likely to primed to accept.(or, viewed another way, less strongly conditioned to deny) transgender identity, and that both of those correlate with onramps to the tech field. Not that that is germane in any way to racism since gender identity isn't a race/ethnicity.

> Neurodivergents?

Also aren't a race/ethnicity and so aren't germane.

> Iranians?

See above notes about Indians and Arabs.

> Muslims?

Aren't a race, but also see above notes about Arabs and Iranians (which apply to lots of other places where Muslim immigrants come from.)

> At what point would tech not be racist?

I never said tech was racist, I said that “some races are overrepresented” isn't counterevidence to racism but, absent evidence for some other explanation for the overrepresentation, supporting evidence.

But, that aside, obviously, at the point where no one was systematically disadvantaged in the field on the basis of their race.

> There is a lot of evidence pointing to a really diverse, generally progressive industry

No, there's not. There's a lot of evidence of an industry drawing principally from a narrow domestic racial and class pool, that on non-racial/class grounds overrepresents groups overrepresented in that pool, and which in addition to that domestic pool overepresents immigrants to the US on non-family bases because being in the industry is itself highly advantageous to employment-based entry into the US.

The absence of certain types of bias does not preclude nor excuse the existence of other types.

>There is a lot of evidence pointing to a really diverse, generally progressive industry with, if anything, a higher over representation (compared to the population) of multiple minority groups, different gender identities and a much more inclusivity conscious mindset than probably any other industry.

That is not true. Retail, labor, non-tech administration are good examples to the contrary. The difference in pay and prestige is telling.

> At what point would tech not be racist?

When it's demographically representative.

Does your circle of friends exactly match the general population demographics? No? You're a racist!

See how absurd your expectations are?

While that's a false comparison (there aren't lots of people trying to support their families by becoming my friend), bubbles are very real. Communities tend to be racially segregated and that leads to prejudice and discrimination.

Please be a little more receptive to stuff like this. Racism and sexism are social ills that affect the majority of people. It's worth your time to having a passing understanding of the major concepts.

This is also the time that th underprivileged would get exploited more.

Work permit/visa holders will see an increase in workload (with a "work-more-or-eff-off" note, along with possibly a paycut too) Even pay negotiations on open offers, making it seem generous tha offer doesn't get cancelled.

Personally know a couple of friends who are in the US (with H1Bs awaitng transfer/extensions) facing this particular situation now.

Hiring is fucked. Tech hiring and ex\mployment more so.

Seems every employer treats employees as though the wage slaves are just so, or just above hamsters on wheels doing tricks.

Depressing, to say the least! :(

throwaway account for obvious reasons.

Work permit workers (H1, OPT and L1-B in increasing order) are the worst exploited and least privileged sub group of the entire tech workforce.

Be it an upcoming economy with a flood of opportunities like we saw for the past 7 years or a downturn, like the one we are witnessing now, visa workers will be exploited no matter what.

They are not cheaper than non visa-dependent hires, but they are abundant, easy to hire, easy to fire, easy to replace, incredibly easy to bully, pressurize and basically exploit. The only barrier to total exploitation is the manager's own conscience and values. And we all know, values are easily compromised when it can help the bottom line.

Working on a visa in USA is fucked.

Having not worked in USA, I always wonder how valid such comments are.

Never really felt such thing being anything but odd ball case in Europe.

Depends on where you work in Europe. There is definetly a glass cieling for minorities in companies like VW.

I am not sure if it glass ceiling exists for minorities or simply for people who are not 'playing the game' or not fully participate in it.

When you claim to be speaking statistically, shouldn't you also cite some statistics?

It's generally a well-known phenomenon, but here:



Links to the research cited are in the articles, which provide a basic overview.



Please respond to the strongest plausible interpretation of what someone says, not a weaker one that's easier to criticize.


Estonian startup Starship Technologies(robot delivery service) has laid off lot of people. How many is unclear. As I understand they try to stay afloat by using their robots for pizza deliveries now.


Interesting, as I surely thought they will be one of the companies benefiting the lockdown.

I think it's because most of their fleet of robots was focused on serving campuses.

That sounds consistent - before the radioactive mutant black swan of Covid they would make the most sense to serve as lowest risk of robot mugging and would need less battery endurance which is expensive and when done wrong attracts headlines as your bots catch fire in the streets - regardless of who is at fault there is no way to not look incredibly incompetent when your product immolates like that.

Probably most of the people they fired were "robot operators", who were paid ~3 euros/hour (~550/month), while their executives and high-levels make 5k to 10k a month net. Robot operators' jobs are to manually test or drive these robots.

- All salaries are net, after taxes - Estonian average salary is 1000 euros/month

I've heard that their executives/PMs are top notch, so 5-10k month net might be on the high side, but not outrageous IMO (assuming the Estonian job market is a bit more expensive than Latvian, which I'm familiar with).

I’ve been checking layoffs.fyi every day and it is incredibly bleak

This is looking 2001-dot-com-crash bad, but much, much faster.

It's worth remembering there are plenty of companies not laying people off, and "normal" will return eventually.

That said, I was watching The Big Short yesterday, and a line that I had noted before haunted me even more: "For every 1% unemployment goes up [in the USA], 40,000 people die".

Stay safe, stay positive.

> Assessing the short term health impact of the Great Recession in the European Union: a cross-country panel analysis

> Results

> Overall, during the recent recession, an increase of one percentage point in the standardised unemployment rate has been associated with a statistically significant decrease in the following mortality rates: all-cause-mortality (3.4%), cardiovascular diseases (3.7%), cirrhosis- and chronic liver disease-related mortality (9.2%), motor vehicle accident-related mortality (11.5%), parasitic infection-related mortality (4.1%), but an increase in the suicide rate (34.1%). In general, the effects were more marked in countries with lower levels of social protection, compared to those with higher levels. Conclusions

> An increase in the unemployment rate during the Great Recession has had a beneficial health effect on average across EU countries, except for suicide mortality. Social protection expenditures appear to help countries “smooth” the health response to a recession, limiting health damage but also forgoing potential health gains that could otherwise result.


> An increase in the unemployment rate during the Great Recession has had a beneficial health effect on average across EU countries.

Many animals live longer in captivity than in the wild.

Restricting your caloric intake as much as possible will prolong your lifespan.

There's more to health than just how long you live.

That seems pretty disingenuous given that the Great Depression was the lynchpin for World War 2 which directly resulted in the deaths of 75 million people.

That's a cherry picking fallacy and unrelated to the effects of the Great Recession.

We do not live in a 1930s world of belligerent alliances itching for a chance to bloody someone up.

Wars between the big powers are now economic and political. Nobody wants nuclear annihilation.

Things might be different now in ways that now have a different impact, but if you want to feel better, there's evidence that the Great Depression did not cause an increase in people dying[1].

> Population health did not decline and indeed generally improved during the 4 years of the Great Depression, 1930–1933, with mortality decreasing for almost all ages, and life expectancy increasing by several years in males, females, whites, and nonwhites.

(Although, significantly, it does note that suicides increased, and another study found no increase in life expectancy, but no real change outside of suicides and car accidents.[2])

1: https://www.pnas.org/content/106/41/17290 2: https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/03/110324202055.h...

and the thing about suicides is, that the rates are really low compared to everything else... (even the flu... - at least in non-gun countries).

I think this is mainly fearmongering by the upper 0.1% seeing that now they might have to bear the "risk" they are always claiming to shoulder when taking in enormous returns on their capital... (e.g. in Germany currently most car-companies (BMW and VW are both largely family-owned) still pay their dividends, while their employees are getting unemployment benefits from the state...).

In the end history tells us, that people generally seem to prefer to stay alive however low the odds are. If this has significantly changed in the last 50 years, maybe we should think about what has changed that – I seriously doubt that a "let's go back to business" is the right approach in that case.


> Did the Great Recession affect mortality rates in the metropolitan United States? Effects on mortality by age, gender and cause of death.

> Our finding that all-cause mortality decreased during the Great Recession is consistent with previous studies.

And yes some specific mortality like cancer did increase because of the broken -- profit based -- health care system. But otherwise, no.

Of course ironically prosperity can be more dangerous dirtectly as risky "vices" like extreme sports and fast cars are expensive. The Kennedies tend to die doing activities restricted to or done far more often by the privledged.

Extreme sports may technically have a long term boost on life expextancy (from fitness) but short term would make a spike in accident deaths. I guess money is sort of the same way - better outcomes from affording healthcare but the temptation to take risks results in more immediate deaths.

> "For every 1% unemployment goes up [in the USA], 40,000 people die".

I have seen that line too, but I wonder how substantiated this is? Is there any data to support it?

There is the coping hypothesis, that coping with unemployment causes unhealthy behavior and death [1] and the latent sickness hypothesis [2], that unhealthy behavior is a cause of both unemployment and death. Anecdotally it makes sense - if you are an alcoholic or drug addict you are likely to lose your job as well as die as a result of your behavior - but the actual number of people who die is ostensibly hard to measure.

1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3070776/#R41

2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3070776/#R65

I'm guessing there'll be a lesser need to cope this time around since a lot of people will know a lot of other people who are unemployed. All of a sudden being unemployed might be the new normal and we'll all help each other cope

I don't think this is dot-com-crash bad yet, if you mean that tech workers specifically are in dire straits. The major Bay Area employers like Google, FB, Apple, Netflix, Amazon, etc haven't had layoffs; it's mostly small startups. Some of the large companies are even outperforming currently (Amazon and Netflix are at all-time highs).

But if you mean dot-com-crash bad in terms of the economy in general crashing, oh man are you right. This is an economic free-fall for most of America.

Given that peopled art forced to stay at home with families, I am a little worried that other negative statistics are going to rise. I expect we will see an increase in divorces and abuses of various types. A lot of people need, but are not getting personal space.

Mortality declined not just during the Great Recession, but also during the Great Depression.


Meanwhile the Nasdaq is roaring back from a bottom...Someone is making a lot of money on the crash and the government printing press. It ain't me.

You may be interested in the short-squeeze hypothesis, which suggests the current rally was triggered by technical factors and will soon peak and evaporate.

It's pretty common, i heard realvision say traders make most of their money when crashes happen.

Although I enjoyed the film I found this article more interesting as a story, and more useful as a soource of information too:


> This is looking 2001-dot-com-crash bad, but much, much faster.

Also probably much more transient, no?

Is there a reason to think this trend would continue beyond say... six months? (or whenever quarantine measures are mostly relaxed).

The Netherlands tested for antibodies in blood donor serum last week, preliminary result is that 3% of people have them. And not all of them show full immunity.

If we relax quarantine measures, the virus just comes back immediately. This is going to stay with us for years.

> And not all of them show full immunity.

Where did you get that number? This seems more like propaganda than scientific claim.

That depends how many companies survive the six months. The good thing is it should reset things to a boom time in 5 to 10 years.

Even if it's transient, I think you'll see a lot of companies use this situation as an excuse to clear the decks of what they perceive to be bad hires or underperforming employees that they'd otherwise let limp on in good times.

> This is looking 2001-dot-com-crash bad, but much, much faster.

"fail fast; fail often" seems ominously dark for the circumstance.

https://layoffs.fyi/ for the lazy

And as far as I can tell that’s America only, nevermind Europe and Australia...

In UK employees are more likely to get furloughed, where they are paid 80% of their salary from the government, do not work but keep their job.

In the Netherlands similar. Government pays 90%, employer the other 10% and can't fire anyone.

But it's doubtful how long they can keep that up for. Some months, sure. But not years, and the virus is going to stick around for a while. I think it's just a delay.

It strikes me as a good play, if we were living in times that were normal.

Take 2019 for instance. If that scheme existed then, without any pandemic, it would be a great way to soften the exit and allow folks time to find new jobs.

But the world we're in now, not so much. It's pulling the band-aid off slower, and my take is, waiting for a hail-mary play when someone magically comes up with a solution for this problem.

My interpretation of all of this waves hand around at world leaders is that they genuinely believe science and technology work like magic, and will come up with something, soon.

In Poland you get fuck all. Government kept promising 40% contribution but doesn't say where you're supposed to find the other 60% from. So companies are letting go of people left and right.

Sweden too, but government "only" pays 60% IIRC. Employer pays the rest but there has also been some ease on how much tax an employer has to pay for each employee.

Same with Germany. We call it Kurzarbeit.

The company I'm in hasn't fired anyone and is safe.

Some neighboring countries have similar programs.

Australia apparently saw a minor rise in employment[0] for now.


Our government basically hasn't shut down our economy.

To quote, "all jobs are essential services".

I'm an Australian living in Europe.

What's it actually like there? It sounds like you're under strict lockdown but everyone seems to be saying the government is doing a terrible job (even though the test positive rate is low and the relative number of cases, even the absolute number of cases, is low). Here you say the economy is still humming along but other people say there's queues outside of Centrelink and down the street and around the corner.

Are shops like Bunnings and Big W still open? Bike shops? Hobby stores? Gift shops? These are considered non essential here in Germany some of which has caused me difficulty and some of which have not (somewhere may be non essential this week, but over a long enough period of time, everywhere is essential; we just moved a fortnight before the lockdown and fortunately I bought the things I needed for a new home just before they were shut down as non-essential).

Restaurants I gather are closed to in house meals same as here. But same as here they're open for takeaway.

Factories and such businesses were closed in Italy, but I don't think they were shut down here.

Cinemas I take it are closed. Prisons in Victoria at least do not accept inperson visitors which causes prisoners severe isolation but is obviously better then getting them all infected. I understand prisoners are still working - if they're isolated and healthy I guess there's no reason to stop them from working.

Australian in Sydney here.

Most retail shops are closed. A lot of restaurants and cafes are closed. All events cancelled. So there's a lot of casuals / partimers who don't have any work anymore.

Bunnings, BigW, Kmart, all supermarkets are open with social distancing and limiting people in the store. Not sure a bout bike stores. Hobbyco in QVB is still open. A lot of stores closed their retail but are still doing online orders.

Basically Australia uses a combination of blacklist and a whitelist system. Some places where people gather like gyms and pubs are forced to close, and restaurants are forced to takeaway-only. You also have a whitelist on reasons to come outside of your home, which still include work.

My company was good - we spend a week preparing and now almost everyone is working from home, which is probably unusual considering we work in embedded systems. I have several boxes of hardware in my room with me now.

> Not sure a bout bike stores

Open and doing roaring business from what I can tell. Took my mountain bike to get serviced and my mechanic said he’s far busier than he anticipated and it’d be over a week before he could even get to my bike.

Just to clarify, the guy below said he lives in Sydney and retail is closed, but in Melbourne the corona cases density seems a bit less than Sydney.

Most of our retail is still open, for example Target, Kmart, most coffee shops are still open doing takeaway and I can still go to JB HiFi, BBC shop, book shop, EB Games etc. So it seems like not a lot has changed regarding my current lifestyle except working from home.

Gyms, Massage, Casinos, Pubs, Clubs etc. that you’d expect to spread the virus really quickly are all closed.

This is good news, considering they've apparently been also able to reduce the number of new confirmed cases [1].

[1] https://aatishb.com/covidtrends/

Yep. social gatherings / hospitality industry / gyms etc are banned, and anyone who can work from home is doing so, but you still can leave your house for "essential reasons", e.g. exercise, buying takeaway lunch every day. many retail stores and public transport are still functioning. I think it's our

- low density

- government actually listening to scientists and reacting quickly and non-ideologically.

Density differences are overblown. No-one is catching coronavirus in the uninhabited deserts or cattle stations hours from the nearest town. They catch it in crowded public transport vehicles and in grocery stores.

The government responding quickly and non-ideologically is the number one reason why Australia is doing good and the rest of the west is doing so badly. Whether it's the ideology of freedom of travel or the ideology of the economy before health, it has hurt other nations whereas Australia's ideology of pragmatism (and our neverending experience with many other crises and disasters) has helped.

> The government responding quickly

For real? Morrison’s response to this has been lacking in its effectiveness and treacle-like in its speed. Up until a few weeks ago he was saying that people shouldn’t stop going to football games, and up until teachers put their foot down and in spite of health professions advice and common sense he thought keeping schools open indefinitely and as a fine idea.

pragmatic in that a party with your 20 closest mates is probably, no definitely worth that $1000 fine? Could be a bit soon to be making grandiose rationalisations on the (abundant) benefits of the Australian gaze. there's a way to go yet.

Pff. Every country has people breaking the law. I never said Australians universally follow laws they expect to be enforced, but for that to be a big deal you would have to demonstrate people universally following laws they don't expect to be enforced in some other place. I tell you, it doesn't happen.

Leadership in the early days of the crisis made a huge difference. The early days of the crisis now are passed us, so whatever happens next it is about perseverance - a completely different matter and something a country does not excel at if it goes through prime minister faster than a pub goes through sixpacks.

Yes, yes. Tho I guess it totally depends on your definition of leadership. IMO the handling has been pretty average.

I could make a list, but I won't. Instead I'll focus on the positives and note that the one commendable thing that the federal government has done in this crisis is to reach deep into their mothballed hip-pocket and squeeze out a few billion pineapples.

I fully appreciate how hard that must have been, given their fixation on 'the black'. And all with only half a whinge.

>low density

I'd be cautious with this point.

Sydney is more dense than LA, Chicago. It is lower than NYC. But still for an urban area of over 5 million people it's densely populated and has all the ingredients for a bad outbreak. https://www.smh.com.au/business/the-economy/the-truth-about-...

low density yes. tho would argue each politician is finger-dancing to the beat of their own belly-gurgles. not quite trump/cuomo levels of disfunction, but trendy-curves aside, messaging here definitely lacks some cohesion.

Of my complex of 15 people, 14 were employed prior to coronavirus. Other than my wife and I, only one other person in our complex still has a job.

Expect those numbers to change. A lot.

Or non-Western countries!

And the list is just startups, too - they're obviously more vulnerable in many ways to financial shocks than large companies, but large corporate layoffs are going to be where the big numbers are.

What I don't quite understand is why startups who either just received funding or companies who were doing reasonably well decide to do mass layoffs during economic downturns? I mean they provide $reasons but I have a hard time taking them at face value.

Keep in mind:

- A lot if them are not profitable. - They don't know how long this will last. - Many planned on growing into profitability over n months and expected they could raise more money if needed. - Now, there is no growth for many and contractions. - Investment money is drying up - they might not have 2 years at their current burn rate to get to profitable status.

In the end, it can be about survival. Their pre coronavirus burn rates are not sustainable. Of course, for some, it is also a continent way to shed staff who appear to be underperforming, freeze raises, and ask more of their employees.

If you just raised 18 months of cash you might find it prudent today to cut burn by 30% to turn that into 24 months of runway.

The money might not be in the bank.

For many (even unicornish) startups the funding is released in tranches, usually tied to certain performance metrics. With drastically reduced revenue, new customer flow all dried up, and even marketing result graphs simulating nosedives, there aren't that many milestones you could hit.

If [enough] performance milestones are missed, company's next batch of on-paper funding pot may not be released.

Non-essential demand has been down and even those who are essential suffer from a logistical hellscape. Unless you are involved with COVID mitigation directly now is not the time to attempt growth. Even those which service those stuck at home have to suffer from the rest of the economy collapsing. Advertising rates are in the toliet because they can't do much good to bring in sales.

Are they seriously listing down emails and mobile numbers of the people layed off? Is there no privacy concern here or am I missing the bigger picture?

Are those not submitted by the people themselves to aid in their job search?

I don't really understand that either. My best guess is potential employers can contact them directly? Still I would put a layer in between, i.e. LinkedIn.

Didn't know this site existed. Thanks!

layoffs.fyi is an email harvester's dream...

I'm not seeing it. Where's the leak?

Click on the spreadsheets

Lol. Thanks.

ProtonMail is hiring. A lot: https://careers.protonmail.com/

Please tell me you're hiring bloom filter / client-side JS search experts. We're on the verge of moving our whole company off ProtonMail because search is unusable.

Search is unusable on ProtonMail because they can't decrypt your emails to search through them. I've raised this issue with them and they responded that the (current) solution is to use a local mail client to download all your emails and search them using your client.

Hence "client-side". a-la Elasticlunr.js

Great product, too. If I was looking for work this would be a top pick!

Several Utah startups have had layoffs due to COVID, not sure about the numbers for most of these though.


Domo: 10% of workforce

Vivint Smart Home


Divvy employees have been told that layoffs are inevitable.

No whispers yet of layoffs at the two Ycombinator startups in the state (Weave and Podium)

Add Nav to that list.

Babylon Health furloughed 140 people. I think they're using this as an excuse to re-structure their organisation. The tagline is that they are furloughing 5% of staff.

They've used it as an opportunity to make 30% of their mobile engineers redundant, as well as push many senior engineers on higher salaries towards the exit

They are actually FIRING many more. See https://www.glassdoor.co.uk/Reviews/Babylon-Health-Reviews-E...

Can you explain more about why you think they would need an excuse to re-structure?

If they thought their senior engineers were getting paid too much, what was stopping them from cutting their salaries before the pandemic?

I suspect legal liability to be a big factor.

I imagine, for a manager to get rid of someone on performance grounds needs heck a lot more work and time than getting on the company wide blanket firing bandwagon.

"We hate to let you go but we have no options in these challenging times" gets less opposition from employees and more legal stance over any performance related reason.


So also here healthtech startup letting people go?! Why? I thought you guys would get more business in these times?!

That's a false statement.

My sister is a doctor. She told me that she is getting less patients, as only those are very serious, are coming.

Plus transport system is down, so only ambulance can be used for transporting patients to and from hospital. So this puts a limit to hospital's income source.

But what about telehealth?

you don't need to go to _your_ doctor for a telehealth appointment. Many insurers are recommending particular telehealth solutions that they have contracted with which means that the normal doctor you _would_ have gone to see is seeing less people.

Not unless they directly impact COVID work. Hospitals are laying people off and asking people to take pay cuts.

cough ... React Native ...

Stats of last week layoffs at Lightbend (Akka, Scala) right after 25MM funding round


Lightbend WAS a vendor to a lot of companies that were affected by COVID-19 related layoffs. Some of these companies like Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings are part of industries that are virtually nonexistent right now. Some of those companies are also based in Europe like SwissCom and UniCredit. The shutdown of our borders has made it difficult to maintain the same roles they were originally contracted to fill, resulting in cancelled contracts. Not as much fishy as it is obvious to me that lost/cancelled contracts equals less money to pay employees. Less money === less jobs.

Hospitals are having a surprisingly tough time of things. I work for a very famous hospital in a small town in the American midwest, and we've (our IT department, that is) laid off all our contractors and the rest of us have mandatory furloughs coming up too. They're doing everything they can to not let us go, but some of us will probably end up getting sacked. And this is maybe the richest and most well-connected hospital in the entire world! Turns out that when you cancel all elective procedures (not only non-essential surgeries, but things like allergy testing and pediatric audiology work etc.), you can very quickly go from a billion dollars in the black (last year) to an estimated billion dollars in the red (this year). Just brutal.

Will be very interesting to watch financial reports from health insurers. Premiums are the same, despite (almost) everyone consuming less health services.

Can Covid costs (at current patient levels) make up for the loss of other claims? I'm doubtful, especially since some Covid costs are evidently borne by the federal government. The suffering of hospitals is circumstantial evidence that insurers are paying out less overall.

ACA requires insurers to refund premiums if they do not spend at least 80% of the premiums on healthcare. See here for more details:


No, the covid costs are actually not terribly high.

The other thing is that as millions of employees get laid off, millions of health insurance premiums stop getting paid.

> as millions of employees get laid off, millions of health insurance premiums stop getting paid.

Failure mode of a system where healthcare is tied to employment -- works as long as people keep shuffling around, shatters when a systemic black swan comes along.

And no, cobra doesn't address it. It's just a patch. Anyone actually pay cobra for more than a month or two? You quickly realize just how expensive employer group plans can be for an individual.

>a systemic black swan comes along

Nassim would like people to stop saying this. I view him as an authority on the subject.


> shatters when a systemic black swan comes along

Well, whatever colour the swan is, a pandemic is no any unprecedented crisis. It's frankly more predictable than large scale earthquakes, but many people simply didn't give a shit to plan for it in advance.

Although surely a lot of those procedures will just get pushed back until after the pandemic?

Meanwhile there may be costs stemming from complications where the treatment was delayed.

My stepfather is a doctor and reports the same. Unless you are actually swamped with COVID-19 cases, the lockdown is having the perverse effect that people are going to the hospital less often. Diseases in general are spreading less now, fewer accidents are happening, fewer elective procedures, along with a general fear of going to the hospital in general (presumably for fear of catching COVID-19 from someone there). He's seen fewer hours and staff cuts come from the situation.

My fiancee is a veterinarian, and it is the same there.

* Absolutely no overtime for hourly employees (the salaried doctors, of course, do 18-hour shifts) * Doctors in elective departments (dermatology) are furloughed * They've all but confirmed the techs will have layoffs

For-profit hospitals are a stain on the American healthcare system.

I worked for one of these facilities years ago, and elective surgery was the only thing the administrators cared about.

Just out of curiosity, is your comment about "for-profit hospitals" a non sequitur?

Your parent comment refers to the Mayo Clinic, which is neither "for-profit" nor "a stain on the American healthcare system".

The existence of for-profit healthcare is reasonably why hospitals have to shut departments in the middle of a pandemic to handle balance sheets. If for-profit healthcare didn't exist, I really don't see how the total amount of money going into a hospital would decrease right now.

You are conflating “for profit” with private. Most good hospitals are non profit, but private institutions.

To help you understand how this could decrease revenue - my annual checkup is postponed by 6 months. This is true for everyone who had an annual checkup scheduled.

I agree. but the existence of for-profit healthcare is largely why the US is the only country without public healthcare.

This is a common misconception about health care. Most countries have a mix of private/public funding a mix of private/public run health care. Canada is almost all non-profit charity hospitals, but other OECD countries use for profit hospitals. For example:

>...The study, released Tuesday, compared the universal health-care systems of Australia, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Sweden and Switzerland, and looked at the presence of for-profit hospitals and for-profit health-care insurers in each of these countries. ... The study found that for-profit health-care insurers and for-profit hospitals are found in all six countries. This is in contrast to Canada, where similar for-profit insurance is not allowed, and where only a small number of private, for-profit hospitals exist.


Sure, but in all of those countries health care insurers are incredibly tightly controlled and the state is still by far the biggest insurer. Which is why the state can and will fund hospitals directly after this crisis.

>Sure, but in all of those countries health care insurers are incredibly tightly controlled...

Insurance companies in the US are also "incredibly tightly controlled". Regulations even specify amounts that can be spent on patient care, administration etc. Health insurers are the only segment of the health care sector in the US where profits are directly limited.

>Which is why the state can and will fund hospitals directly after this crisis.

I don't think that has anything to do with it.

It does have a lot to do with it, as it directly nullifies the issue the OP was talking about.

When I mean incredibly tightly controlled, I mean effectively price controls, and very stringent ones at that, and all of them have the state as the main insurer anyways, while AFAIK the US does not insure anyone directly.

>...AFAIK the US does not insure anyone directly

The government provides health insurance to many people. 44 million people are insured by Medicare. 74 million people are insured by Medicaid. Over 1 million veterans get their health care provided by the government run VA medical system.

As I pointed out, most countries have a mix of private/public funding a mix of private/public run health care. Lots of people seem to be under the misconception that universal health care coverage is only possible in a Canadian or UK type health care system.


Even non-profit, publicly funded hospitals are feeling the squeeze. Most are paid on a fee-for-service basis. If you cancel all your elective surgeries, there goes a huge chunk of funding. Yet you still need to pay salaries and other overhead.

It's not like non-profit hospitals are suddenly immune to the realities of economics.

Publicly funded healthcare does not work the way you think it does. There is a budget allocated to healthcare every year, if one year the hospitals don't have enough money to cover expenses but that there is still money left in the coffers (for example, due to less electives), then they will end up getting the money they need to operate.

Were it not for for-profit healthcare, the US would almost certainly operate this way.

There are probably 170 different versions of public systems. I think you're making the mistake of assuming they all operate the same way.

In both public systems I've been a part of, yes there is a hospital budget, but it's paid out through procedures. Don't have anyone in the hospital? No payment.

Sure, but what I'm telling you is that in the event of a major event that means that the amount of procedures goes down drastically which means the healthcare budget is not depleted, but that hospitals need to money to deal with a pandemic, the state steps in and will fund the hospitals.

Non profits just make profits in a different way. Either the money goes to the leadership or into an endowment or new buildings or something else. Don’t confuse non profit with not greedy or not profitable. They are basically the same as for profit hospitals as far as cost goes.

My parent comment does not mention Mayo Clinic. I'm mainly talking about hospitals that operate only for profit.

Apparently many US hospitals are formally non-profits but operate very much in a corporate logic. What did mayo do with its bn profit last year that Op mentioned?

Mayo earns $12bn per year.

As contrast, a hospitals in Germany for a whole year cost €105bn, with an average total cost per stay (including operations etc ) of 4500€.


It's not just for-profit hospitals, non-profits are very focused on elective surgery as well. Why? Because elective surgery is the money maker for the business. Healthcare systems typically have profit margins between 1-4% with 4% being on the high side. For comparison SAAS businesses typically have profit margins of 70-95% [1]. 1 - https://www.lightercapital.com/blog/calculating-gross-margin...

The differences between the two aren't what you think.

Aren't they going to end up over-burdened soon, at least in some departments, due to all of the deferred surgeries and the like?


My wife works at an orthopedic office as a PA and they're talking about how they'll probably have to work weekends just to catch up with the backlog of surgeries.

IT security in hospitals is already lacking in general. Cutting all this staff is going to expose them to even worse situations. Obviously they can't make money they don't have magically appear but these layoffs will end up making things even worse.

Same thing is happening in Australian hospitals, dentists, etc etc. All elective procedures are banned to keep the hospitals empty so suddenly a lot of income is gone. Everything is closing down.

I was in the hospital for a procedure a few weeks ago and it was empty. I saw maybe three people who weren't staff the entire time.

Hey onychomys, I am doing some research about the state of Tech and how it’s integrated into the healthcare system, and the insurance providers. Would it be ok if I asked you a few questions?

Hey, sad to hear that healthIT is not getting a better safety net. I am in healthtech startup and some sales were let go but the business is still up so development goes on. I was hoping that hospitals would get better funding after such a crisis and especially things like electronic or personal medical records for telehealth could get a strong support...but not the case as it seems.

I work for a large healthcare org. We just had a hiring freeze and have to work hard to justify extending existing contracts with our contractors. At the same time, I am unsure how this will long term impact the org. Utilization of most services is down but we did have to buy a lot of ventilators/etc; also, I imagine health insurance membership will decline.

I’m guessing this is Mayo Clinic?

We may disagree on political solutions, but I hope at this point everyone will acknowledge that in a society with otherwise so much wealth, health care shouldn't be that dysfunctional.


True, but that's a little above my pay grade. I'd just like to get my current project over to the SQA guys before we all go on extended unpaid holiday, lol.

This is kind of depressing.

Nebraska? The only Midwest place I could imagine with the best hospital in the world would be close to Warren Buffet.

Mayo Clinic in Rochester, MN?

This is correct.

A friend of mine works in a finance dept at Mayo and is getting furloughed. FTE not a contractor.

Quick edit: since he's been working there for the last 18ish months he has made it clear how poorly run and awful that place is to work for, sentiment is from way before covid.

I would imagine OP is talking about the Mayo Clinic.

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