Last week, Brian Chesky, the CEO of Airbnb, caused a stir in the tech industry by declaring that, “It’s like we’re all in a nightclub and the lights just came on”, which could be perceived as a negative piece of PR for high tech giants.
His comment comes at a turbulent time for the tech industry. Meta, who initially doubled its staff during the pandemic, announced last week it was cutting 11,000 jobs. Amazon has already started laying off staff, with the total number of redundancies set to be 10,000 positions. Added to this, Elon Musk recently announced that 50 percent of Twitter’s workforce was being cut, after reports that the firm was haemorrhaging money.
While Chesky’s comment may seem dramatic, it certainly shines a light on the sustainability of the tech industry. In fact, his words certainly offer some free PR for high tech companies, even if the PR is not altogether positive.
A PR stunt to work in Airbnb’s favor
Airbnb hasn’t been immune to its own staff layoffs and downturn. At the beginning of the so-called Corona Crisis, when worldwide travel came to a halt, the accommodation app giant cut 25 percent of its staff and lost more employees by attrition thereafter.
According to Chesky, “Two-and-a-half years ago, we lost 80 percent of our business in eight weeks. People were predicting we were going to go out of business.”
Instead, they rebuilt their business from the ground up, stayed lean and now they’re accelerating forwards – rather than putting on the brakes – with a current strategy in place to hire more staff again.
Chesky, who holds significant authority on the global stage, would surely have known the impact of his words. The health of the stock market is highly influenced by commentary from the world’s most renowned leaders and entrepreneurs.
When someone in such a position of power and high esteem raises doubts on a particular topic, that particular topic has the potential to become unstable and / or questionable. As is the case here, Chesky questioning the future success of tech companies could instil fear and doubt into tech investors. As a consequence, tech investors would pull their capital from tech companies, in favor of reinvesting elsewhere – somewhere perceived as more risk-averse, perhaps somewhere that is about to grow.
Additionally, announcing its successful comeback and, further, its intention on a major expansion of its team, puts Airbnb in line to become the lucky recipient of that funding – thus further bolstering its own growth and success.
A ploy to attract the best tech staff to its vacancies
With thousands of layoffs happening in tech companies all around the world, and Airbnb openly hiring, this statement can also be seen as an official employment advertisement. Much of PR in high tech in recent years has been around marketing to hire the best talent to the best positions.
Conveniently, Airbnb’s HQ sits less than 40 miles north of Silicon Valley, a global center for high technology and innovation in California, and the home of Meta. With Meta cutting 11,000 jobs, will Airbnb be able to quickly scoop up some of those 11,000 being laid off, further strengthening its own workforce and future success.
In reality, most downturns don’t last forever. Cuts are made to minimize losses but when demand rises again, companies gain momentum and rehire staff to replace previous lost workers.
Right now, in the current difficult economic climate, many investors understandably want to protect their portfolios. With no end in sight to this downfall, it could spell a long difficult stint for the high tech sector, a previously booming industry.
Counteracting the downturn, as a tech company
An agency like Percepto helps with PR in high tech companies by increasing brand awareness and spreading your message to a global audience. The need to position yourself as a credible company has never been greater if you want to futureproof the success of your business, not only for this high tech downturn, but for the inevitable future downturns too