Layoffs at big tech a boon for climate change firms


The laity of Pius wastes the valley. Tech titans like Twitter, Amazon and Facebook are shedding thousands of workers, as job cuts and shrinking industries plague.

Many software engineers, programmers and data scientists are out of work, driving the next. But climate technology firms have a tantalizing message: act for us.

These companies offer a range of products. Some companies are developing software to better measure gas emissions. Others use materials such as cement and steel without carbon.

Record fundraising in previous years and renewed government support have put the tech sector in an unenviable position: hiring talent while prestigious Silicon Valley employers are downsizing.

Already, climate tech companies — which once could compete with lucrative pay packages and social media options — are seeing their inboxes filled with repeats once thought un-poachable.

Some climate leaders are skeptical, saying they need more chemical engineers and scientists, not coders and managers. Others, however, say that the influx of talent could help tech companies, which often struggle to achieve lofty goals.

In many ways, other scholars have added, this is merely a repetition of history, which shows that innovation is often followed by crisis.

“It’s really a major secular boost,” said Phil Budden, a senior lecturer in innovation and entrepreneurship at MIT’s Sloan School. “All of a sudden, engineers are available in the wider world. … There’s a bigger hope that the tech climate will take off.”

The layoff spree in Silicon Valley spells the end of an era for Big Tech

Over the past week, tens of thousands of tech workers have lost their jobs. On Monday, Amazon announced that tens of thousands of people were being tricked. A few days ago, Meta, the parent company of Facebook, said that 11,000 employees, or 13 percent of its workforce, would be laid off. Twitter has laid off over 3,700 employees, with Elon Musk at the helm.

In the field of air technology, things are different. The cost of tech is cooling the climate, but only after record highs. As of Wednesday, $16 billion has flowed into the sector this year, nearly double the $9.3 billion raised in 2019, but less than the record $30.4 billion raised in 2021, according to PitchBook.

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Climate Draft, a coalition of climate technology companies, has job boards showing over 4,000 available jobs spread over approximately 360 companies. Another business portal, Climatebase, has more than 6,000 currency notes.

Job fairs are being held next week and after the Thanksgiving holiday to promote climate tech openings. Many tech workers on messaging apps and community message boards are encouraging their colleagues to consider climate action. Employers are offering a 33 percent discount for 12-week climate change training courses that usually cost around $1,499.

Apoorv Bhargava, chief executive of climate artificial intelligence company WeaveGrid, said he has noticed a difference. Normally, his company fields about 80 job applications a week. This week: 800, according to the company they change.

His firm, which uses artificial intelligence to help electric vehicles charge without needing power grids, raised $35 million on Tuesday and needs to quickly double its staff.

In the past, they have been entertaining famous internet software and data scientists to release Big Tech salaries and well-performing stock. But now his inbox has been filled recently by people looking for a job. “My LinkedIn is a disaster,” he said.

Now that funding and staffing seem less of an issue, Bhargava is more confident about rolling out his products to more cities. It also emphasizes how to expand its business to corporate classes like Amazon’s delivery trucks, which requires analyzing large amounts of data.

“That’s going to be something that we think we can do in some way that we couldn’t do if this kind of talent pool isn’t motivated to move into something like the climate,” he said.

Eugene Kirpichov, formerly of Google A talent programmer who has worked for two years to build work at the non-profit Climate Group, said the influx of lay talent could be a boon for the climate industry.

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Many workers do not realize that their skills can easily be transferred to Kirpichov’s sky companies. The fallacy, he said, is that workers need a doctorate in climate-related studies when they really need all the skills they already have. We only need to use it to solve different problems, he said.

Evan Hynes, co-founder and CEO of Climatebase, said the shift to climate technology partly reflects falling interest for Big Tech companies.

“Many people at the beginning of Tech 2.0 – like the days of Facebook – had this feeling that you could change the world for the better,” he said. “But when they got into these larger companies, it was more like cog in a big machine.”

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Working on climate change isn’t just for scientists or engineers anymore, Hynes said. The top three types of job postings on Climatebase, historically, are business development and sales, communications, and engineering.

Quinn Hawkins, who was president of product management at real estate tech brokerage Redfin, says his unit at the company closed this month. That’s why Hawkins, who also worked at Microsoft on new ventures, is on the hunt for a management job, especially in the tech space.

He told his story from an experience last September when he visited a friend in the Sierras near Los Angeles.

“The air was smoky,” he said. “There were hand-painted signs on plywood in front of farms that said, ‘Pray for rain’ or ‘God bless our fighters.’ It was apocalyptic.”

After 10 years in the real estate industry, Hawkins hopes to spend the next decade helping with public affairs management at a company that seeks to address the climate crisis and working to create a better future for her 8-year-old son.

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“Even though I didn’t work out everything,” he said, “I’d really like to be proud to tell him, “I’m sorry to be on that planet as a traveler, but your father tried. He gave time and passion to make the world a little better for you.’ “

Not everyone agrees on how useful this worker satisfaction is.

Jonathan Strauss, chief executive of Climate Draft, said that for the purpose of what climate firms do, programming is crucial. “They need to develop that product, bring it to market, run it,” he said.

Cody Finke, chief executive of Brimstone, which makes decarbonized cement, disagrees. Companies that focus on hard science innovations, rather than purely software solutions, will make a bigger difference, he said. Chemical engineers and metallurgists would be more valuable to their companies than coders and product managers, he said. “Fundamentally, the program cannot solve the climate problem,” he said. “You need hard science.”

Some tech workers who have already made the transition to the climate sector say it’s worth it. Yin Lu vividly remembers the day he decided to leave tech education and enter the sky.

It was the summer of 2020, and the air in Northern California was so thick with wildfire smoke that it turned orange. Her daughter wanted to play outside, so Lu put on a respirator mask and went to the park.

Watching his daughter play, “I was just thinking: What am I doing with my career?” she said. “I had this “to Jesus” moment where I thought, “I need to stop working because it’s not heaven.”

Lu quit his job and began to read everything he could on climate change – looking for ways to pressure his stage in the early age of start-ups to grow. Now, my Climate Journey partner, a climate collective and venture firm.

“Now knowing that I wake up every day and spend time doing the work that I do for my daughter” [life] better—there is no better antidote than that,” he said.


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