By Aoife Barry
When the companies we call "Big Tech" - Google, Facebook (now Meta), Twitter (now X), Amazon et al - emerged in the 2000s, we had no real idea they would grow to become the behemoths they are now.
By harnessing the new wave of the Internet, and coming up with intelligent and impactful ways of doing business, they grew swiftly.
As employers, they hired and nurtured a generation of diligent young tech employees, and found new ways of keeping workers happy, from free lunches to free gym memberships.
Later on, during the COVID-19 lockdown era, these companies saw people using their services even more. As a result, many hired more employees to deal with this growth.
But 2022 saw huge changes for tech companies: as the world opened back up, some of that pandemic hiring was no longer necessary. Companies started laying off large numbers of staff.
More change was to come: Twitter’s new owner, Elon Musk, immediately created controversy before changing the company name to X.
Meta (formerly Facebook), though still having a huge user base globally, decided to concentrate on growing its metaverse experiments, spending billions in the process.
Big tech was no longer made up of fresh, moderately-sized companies. Everything had scaled up––including the companies’ problems.
In the meantime, these Silicon Valley-birthed tech leaders had inspired swathes of new start-ups and entrepreneurs.
As a result, in the 2020s people who want to work in the technology arena now have a much wider field to pick from - leading to some workers turning away from big tech in favour of small and midsize companies.
As talk of the post-pandemic “Great Resignation” grew in 2022, Forbes reported on an exodus of tech workers who moved on from big tech and back towards the fresh blood of start-ups.
It pointed out that smaller companies allow workers the chance to have more ownership over their work (rather than being part of a huge team), and also let them move to different roles more quickly.
By April of this year, small businesses in the US were leading the way in job postings, according to Revelio Labs, which uses publicly available data to examine workforce analytics.
It noted that the tech downturn “provided an opportunity for tech startups to finally attract and hire top talent”.
Snapping up talented workers
It also found that tech start-ups disproportionately put out more new postings since December 2022, presumably to try and snap up some of those laid off from bigger companies in recent months.
There are several reasons why people might choose to work at smaller companies. A big one is flexibility. As offices reopened, the usually forward-thinking Big Tech companies quickly started telling their workers to get back to the office as much as possible.
In contrast, smaller and midsize companies are offering flexibility, something desired by the 30 per cent of workers who regularly worked from home last year across the European Union.
Indeed, Vox recently reported on how “the hottest new perk in tech is freedom”.
The Flex Index found that 67 per cent of its Flex Index tech companies with under 100 employees are fully remote, and that as companies get bigger the chances of them being fully remote diminish.
Alongside flexibility, workers can also find in smaller companies the sort of values that they desire in an employer.
If you take a big tech company like X, a change in ownership can radically change a company’s values.
Once Musk took over, employees found themselves unexpectedly thrown into a situation that was so messy it led to some leaving, with many more laid off.
Workers might deliberately seek out a company with transparent values that match their own, or where they can make a measurable difference.
Big Tech might have created the future, but the future of employment doesn’t just lie in big tech. Thanks to the world it created, there are now even more options for workers who want to work in smaller companies, enabling them to carve out their own career trajectory.
Looking to move to a smaller company? Here are three companies hiring via the Euronews Jobs Board.
Principal Product Manager, Analytics & Experimentation Platform Lead, Skyscanner
Skyscanner - which helps users find deals on flights - has around 1,000 employees and has been around since 2013, making it a well-established company, but not so huge you won’t feel the impact of your work.
Hiring for a Principal Product Manager in Glasgow, it says it has an “unconventional” approach to software, doesn’t like top-down decision-making, and values autonomy and nimbleness.
If that’s what you’re looking for, find the rest of the information on this job here.
QA Team Lead, Ledger
This global platform for digital assets and Web3 has a team of 900 people developing products and services for the crypto assets management area.
It’s looking for a Paris-based QA Team Lead, and says that the values that make its company unique include pragmatism, commitment, trust and transparency.
Sound like your kind of thing? Find out more here.
VR/MR Simulator Engineer, Lilium
This VR/MR Simulator Engineer role at a German aerospace company in Munich with around 600 employees is in the virtual reality/mixed reality realm.
It offers the chance to work on the Lilium Jet Mixed Reality Flight Simulator, which is used internally by flight test and flight mechanics teams and for training purposes.
Want to be part of an agile project team while doing this? All the details are here.