Y Combinator’s Garry Tan Goes to the MatRead more

Art by Clark Miller
Art by Clark Miller

Tech’s ‘Doom-and-Gloom Guy’ Builds a Database for Happier Days

Layoffs.fyi creator Roger Lee—the de facto census taker of the tech downturn—has launched a new tool to track salaries across the industry.

Jan. 13, 2023 11:00 AM PST

In February 2020, Roger Lee found himself out of a job. He had stepped down as CEO of Human Interest, the 401K startup he co-founded in 2015, to spend time with his newborn daughter on an extended paternity leave. Within a few months, he found he was not alone: Thousands of other tech workers were also suddenly unemployed, as the pandemic capsized the economy and tech companies like Uber, Airbnb and Expedia began catastrophic layoffs.

Lee, who was still adjusting to the domestic demands of new parenthood, decided he needed a project. So he threw together an online spreadsheet to track the industry carnage, naming the database Layoffs.fyi. Three years later, the site has become the de facto clearinghouse for information about tech layoffs, which affected over 1,000 companies and more than 150,000 employees in 2022, and an additional 23,550 workers in the first two weeks of 2023. The free,  site now receives more than a million visitors each month, and Lee has become the media’s chosen expert to analyze the tumult in the tech economy.

If Layoffs.fyi is like a cemetery for tech jobs, Lee wears the role of undertaker uneasily. “It’s been very weird,” he told me this week at Tartine Bakery near his home in San Francisco’s Inner Sunset. Lee, who has the soft, sunny disposition of Mr. Rogers, was not prepared to become the face of mass unemployment. “Sometimes I feel like the doom-and-gloom guy. My wife pointed out to me pretty early on that all the news I was posting was negative. I said, ‘Well, I can’t help it. It’s a site about layoffs.’”

Now, after three years as the bearer of bad news, Lee has launched another database—this one with substantially more room for optimism. His new project, Comprehensive.io, tracks salaries across the tech industry, giving both employers and employees a better sense of what tech talent costs.

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.
Former Apple design chief Jony Ive and OpenAI CEO Sam Altman. Photos by Getty.
Designer Jony Ive and OpenAI’s Sam Altman Discuss AI Hardware Project
Jony Ive, the renowned designer of the iPhone, and OpenAI CEO Sam Altman have been discussing building a new AI hardware device, according to two people familiar with the conversations.
From left to right: Blair Effron, Robert Pruzan and David Handler. Photos by Getty; Tidal Partners.
Exclusive Finance
Disputes, Employee Misconduct Rattle Centerview’s Silicon Valley Dreams
The San Francisco Bay Area–based bankers at Centerview Partners, the investment bank that advised Silicon Valley Bank’s owner and Credit Suisse through recent turmoil, got two doses of bad news last week.
Art by Clark Miller
Exclusive startups entertainment
MasterClass Takes a Crash Course in Frugality
MasterClass had a problem with the shoot featuring its latest star instructor, Walt Disney Co. CEO Bob Iger.
OpenAI CEO Sam Altman and Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella. Photos via Getty
Exclusive microsoft ai
How Microsoft is Trying to Lessen Its Addiction to OpenAI as AI Costs Soar
Microsoft’s push to put artificial intelligence into its software has hinged almost entirely on OpenAI , the startup Microsoft funded in exchange for the right to use its cutting-edge technology.
From left: Paul Graham, Garry Tan and Michael Seibel. Photos by Getty. Art by Mike Sullivan.
Exclusive startups ai
Y Combinator’s Garry Tan Goes to the Mat
Garry Tan was in his happy place. Surrounded by food trucks and techies basking in San Francisco’s September sun, the CEO of Y Combinator snapped selfies with entrepreneurs as he meandered through a crowd of 2,700 attendees at the startup accelerator’s annual alumni event.
Dave Rogenmoser, cofounder of Jasper. Photo via Getty.
Exclusive startups ai
Jasper, an Early Generative AI Winner, Cuts Internal Valuation as Growth Slows
Jasper AI, an early darling of the generative artificial intelligence boom, has cut the internal value of its common shares 20%, according to former employees who were notified by the company.