Tech’s latest controversy? The return of the five-day in-person workweek • TechCrunch
Startups Welcome Weekly, a nuanced take on this week’s startup news and trends from Senior Reporter and co-host of Equity Natacha Mascarenhas. To get it delivered to your inbox, subscribe here.
Let the most serious among us stand up: Techies, it’s the season of predictions. It’s my favorite time of year, not because I’m a talk glutton or care deeply about why the worst of DTC is still ahead of us – a loudly ringing take for the third consecutive year, mind you – but because it’s nice to see us all sit down and think.
Before I jump into what I think, some of my favorite prediction coins and threads are from Lolita Taub from Ganas VCNigel Morris of QED Investors and ours.
OK, with that, here’s what I think will happen next year: the return to in-person five-day work weeks for tech workers. Before you jump in with all the exceptions and asterisks, let me explain why I think this is going to happen.
Throughout 2021, we’ve talked about the shift of power to employees, led by the Great Resignation. Then this year, the Great Resignation became the Great Reset as employers laid off much of their staff due to changing macroeconomic conditions. As we enter 2023, many have predicted that the wave of layoffs could get worse before it gets better – a prediction already proven by recent rounds of pre-holiday cuts including Airtable, Plaid and Komodo Health.
In many cases, the power is once again shifting to employers – meaning those who have wanted to bring people into the office since lockdown began may finally be empowered to do so. I’m not saying that all founders and leaders are secretly colluding, but I also think the domino effect is important here. If your biggest competitor is starting to work from the office to increase their productivity, you might be tempted to do so as well; at the same time, if you’re a scrappy start-up lucky enough to hire, you might still be able to get the recruiting advantage if you tell employees they can work from anywhere .
My point of view is not just a hunch; that’s what I hear from founders. A number of entrepreneurs, some citing Elon Musk’s choice to bring Twitter employees back to work in person, say they plan to bring back a mandatory in-person work culture in the new year due to the issues. that arise from the distance. work (whether productivity or collaboration). It’s a bit of manifestation, a bit of reality. A founder told me over drinks and fancy snacks that he was not worried about losing talent – because those who leave just because there is an in-person mandate were not mission driven at the beginning.
There are many things that make this feeling much more complicated, especially when you think about the impact of in-person work on the immunocompromised and those with families and care responsibilities. While I don’t think companies that have been 100% distributed since day one will go into buying offices, I do think we’ll see more companies than you might think start with a hybrid approach and more of hybrid companies weigh more on in-person work than remote work.
I know you all have ideas about this, because you did not hesitate to tell me that on Twitter. Let’s end with some of my favorite tweets:
Let’s stop all this work talk and talk about some more work talk. As always, you can find me on Substack and Instagram, where I post more of my words and work. In the rest of this newsletter, we’ll talk about Relentless AI and Open Source, as well as Staff Gift Guides.
AI art apps are having a moment – thanks to Lensa AI
Artificial intelligence is having (another) moment – which means rambling innovation is getting some deserved, if not buzzing, attention. This week, TC’s Sarah Perez spotted the rise of AI art apps all over the App Store, seemingly jumping from the success of Lensa AI’s viral avatar generators.
Here’s why it’s important: We’re going to see a lot of flash-in-the-pan stars, and real power, in this space in the months ahead. Sam Altman, the CEO of OpenAI, helped build ChatGPT (which has been responsible for all those funny prompts and responses you’ve seen all over Tech Twitter). He made a big point when describing the technology, but which I think can be adapted to the whole sector:
“ChatGPT is incredibly limited, but good enough at some things to create a deceptive impression of grandeur. It’s a mistake to rely on it for anything important right now. It’s a glimpse of progress; we’ve a lot of work to do on robustness and veracity”, Altman tweeted.
How open source is shaping the future of Twitter
TC’s Paul Sawers is one of the most thoughtful writers I know, and you’ll know what I’m talking about if you read his latest article: “Decentralized Discourse: How Open Source Is Shaping the Future of Twitter”. He explains how algorithmic transparency, encrypted DMs and, yes, even content moderation, have been a recurring theme in Twitter’s present — and will certainly shape its next chapter.
here is a key snippet:
What if Twitter decided to bet on open source? Not just a recommendation algorithm or a protocol, but the whole shooting match – code base, clients and all? It would certainly be a herculean undertaking, especially with everything going on on Twitter right now.
It would also be an almost unprecedented move to see a $44 billion private company open up its entire codebase to the global masses. That’s not to say it could never happen, as Musk has the form to take drastic action. Eight years ago, Musk tore up the patent playbook when he promised that Tesla wouldn’t sue any company that violated one of his patents “in good faith.” At the time, Musk said it was about accelerating electric car adoption and the infrastructure required (e.g. charging stations), a philosophy largely aligned with that of open source. .
Gift guide corner
Here are some of the fun and imaginative gift guides TC staff have put together this week:
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So we have come to the end of our last discussion of this wild twist of the year. I’m not going to lie: these last 12 months have not flown away. Instead, each day on the beat of tech news felt important, complex — if not exhausting, and confusing too — in a way that really shaped the way I see this world. It’s still a work in progress, but I will say that 2022 was finally the year that I finally found the right supply, the right trust and the right networks to realize that technology isn’t just arcs- rainbow and butterflies.
To brag for a second, there have been some highlights of my career this year, from Interview with Kevin Hart to fight with many millionaires on Twitter. I’ve written about the struggles of rebuilding a startup and given a window into a community business that’s failing its community. I laughed at the full-circle technology – and then found that my predictions aged horribly each time. We’ve turned Equity Wednesday into a thoughtful show that tries to answer one big question at a time, instead of all the questions at once.
Startups Weekly is now read by tens of thousands of you all – and it’s never been so spicy!
I have never been so fascinated by the workings of power and capital in this world. It’s thanks to all of you, from those who read and amplify our stories, to those who help push us toward rocks waiting to turn around, even to those who tell us what angle we missed (and how to make it better). next time ). It’s also thanks to my amazing team here at TechCrunch, for whom I can’t have enough words of gratitude.
I’m going to be out of the office until the new year, probably sipping cocoa, sneaking Skyline chili, and indulging in my mom’s chana masala. Wishing you a happy holiday season, and when we’re back, let’s talk about resolutions, okay ‽
In the meantime, I would like you to follow me elsewhere than on Twitter. I’m on Substack, Mastodon and Instagram under @/natashathereporter.
OK, you say goodbye first. No seriously. Ok ok, ok, goodbye,