Illustration by Josh Brill
May 6, 2022 6:00 AM PDT

Two years ago, Reef Technology was gearing up for a period of explosive growth. The operator of a network of ghost kitchens—spaces where meals are prepared independent of restaurants—raised $700 million from SoftBank and Abu Dhabi’s sovereign wealth fund that year in a round that valued it over $2 billion. The company went on a hiring spree that saw its head count eventually swell to 15,000 full-time employees.

But now Reef is pumping the brakes on those expansion plans, with a plan to announce it is laying off 750 employees as early as next week, according to a person familiar with the matter. In a draft of a memo announcing the cuts that was viewed by The Information, Reef co-founder and CEO Ari Ojalvo said the cuts are part of an effort to focus on profitability and productivity, “both critical assets in inflationary environments.” Ojalvo added: “This move proved to be timely and necessary as we observe the current state of the economy.”

After an intoxicating, 14-year fixation on growth—in headcount, product lines and revenue—tech companies are sobering up fast as worries about an economic downturn intensify. From the smallest startups to industry icons like Facebook, tech companies are starting to cut staff, freeze their hiring and kill nonessential projects. Veterans of past bear markets—the global financial crisis in 2008, the dot-com implosion in 2000—have started tweet-storming survival tips to a younger generation of techies unaccustomed to such uncertain circumstances.

Get access to exclusive coverage
Read deeply reported stories from the largest newsroom in tech.
Latest Articles
 
The Briefing Amazon Markets
Musk-Twitter Drama Jumps the Shark
Jonah Hill. Photo by AP
We’re now at that part of the Elon Musk–Twitter drama where—as happens for some long-running TV shows—the plotline has gone off the rails. Of course, this isn’t a TV show, although there likely will be one, and I nominate Jonah Hill to play Elon Musk. And what seems off the wall is just life in Musk’s world. It’s a little like the alternate reality Donald Trump creates to replace a less...
Latest Briefs
 
China’s Vice Premier Vows Support for Tech Sector, IPOs
Apple Delays Plan For Workers To Return to Office 3 Days a Week
Netflix Lays Off 150 People
Stay in the know
Receive a summary of the day's top tech news—distilled into one email.
Access on the go
View stories on our mobile app and tune into our weekly podcast.
Join live video Q&A’s
Deep-dive into topics like startups and autonomous vehicles with our top reporters and other executives.
Enjoy a clutter-free experience
Read without any banner ads.
Apple's Tim Cook (clockwise from top left), Bob Iger, Al Gore and Mike Rockwell. Images by Bloomberg, Shutterstock. Art by Mike Sullivan.
Exclusive Facebook Apple
The Inside Story of Why Apple Bet Big on a Mixed-Reality Headset
In 2016, Apple’s board of directors gathered inside one of its buildings in Cupertino, Calif., for a glimpse into the company’s future.
IRL CEO and Co-founder Abraham Shafi. Art by Mike Sullivan
Exclusive Startups
SoftBank-Backed Messaging App IRL Says It Has 20 Million Users. Some Employees Have Doubts About That
IRL, a four year old social app, appears to be a fast-growing alternative to Facebook and messaging app Discord.
Photo by Bloomberg. Art by Clark Miller.
The 1:1
‘I Don’t Know How Steve Jobs Would Survive Today in This Environment’: Tony Fadell Has Opinions to Share and Scores to Settle
Within Silicon Valley power circles, being “on the beach” is a euphemism that covers a continuum of unemployment, from “retired rich” to “brief pause between high-powered jobs.” Tony Fadell has been metaphorically on the beach for six years, ever since leaving Google, which paid $3.2 billion for Nest Labs, the maker of smart thermostats he co-founded, in 2016.
Elizabeth Spaulding, CEO of Stitch Fix. Photo by Bloomberg.
Exclusive E-commerce
How Stitch Fix Fumbled a Make-or-Break Pivot
Stitch Fix planned to revive sales growth by turning its original strategy on its head. Inside the company, there were warning signs that the effort would struggle.
Traders on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange. Photo by Bloomberg.
These Enterprise Software Firms Are Top Targets for Private Equity Takeovers
Big deals are on the way. The sharp drop in tech stocks over the past six months, making companies cheaper to buy, is likely to trigger an increase in merger activity, bankers say.
Twitter's San Francisco headquarters. Photo by Bloomberg.
Policy
Combative FTC Could Complicate Homestretch of Musk’s Twitter Deal
When Elon Musk first tried to buy Twitter, the social media app’s executives tried to rebuff him.