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Solace for laid-off Wayfair workers: Other Boston tech companies are hungry for talent

With tech companies in Boston looking for talent, many laid-off Wayfair employees should have options

A Wayfair website page.Jenny Kane/Associated Press

At Wayfair on Thursday, laid-off workers said goodbye to their colleagues, boxed up their belongings, and severed ties with a company that until recently had been a job-filling juggernaut of Boston’s booming tech economy.

The 550 job cuts — 350 in Boston — represented a rapid change of fortunes at the home-furnishings retailer whose massive workforce has become a ubiquitous presence around its Copley Square headquarters. But there’s one point of solace for the many highly skilled tech workers whose jobs were eliminated: They may not go without a paycheck for long.

“These people will all have jobs in two weeks if they want them,” said Maria Cirino, cofounder of the Boston tech investment firm .406 Ventures. She said the companies in her portfolio are all hiring, and will want to talk to people let go from Wayfair. “We need talented engineers and other functions.”


Cirino described layoffs like those at Wayfair as part of the normal cycle of turnover and hiring in the tech industry: “Good companies make adjustments as they have to from time to time in order to meet their financial objectives, and other good companies gain from jumping on great talent.”

Tech companies in Boston routinely describe a shortage of talent as one of the main limits to their growth here. A recent report by the Mass Technology Leadership Council found that there were 38,000 open postings for tech jobs in Massachusetts — 26 for every bachelor’s degree in computing and math awarded in the state in 2018.

So it’s no surprise that other Boston-area tech firms moved quickly at the sight of hundreds of workers streaming out of Wayfair’s offices. On social media and in interviews, some laid-off workers said they had been contacted by recruiters within hours of leaving.


One person who said he had been laid off from Wayfair Thursday morning reported hearing from six recruiters by late afternoon.

“I do generally hear from a recruiter or two each week in any case, but today there’s been a surge,” the former employee said in an e-mail. “One recruiter asked me if I knew of any one else who’d been affected at Wayfair. I mentioned a couple of other engineers and he’d already spoken to both of them.”

Several people interviewed by the Globe about the layoffs asked that their names not be used, citing concerns about potentially violating severance agreements or hurting their professional prospects.

It’s not certain that all former employees will be so lucky. Some were in professions outside of computer science. And despite the hot market for the services of many of the laid-off employees, job loss can still be an emotional and financial hardship.

One young ex-employee who works in merchandising said she wished she had more time to prove herself before losing her job. She worries that the few months of Wayfair experience on her resume won’t amount to much.

“That is not a long time to be somewhere to really contribute to that company,” she said. “How are you supposed to explain that you grew in that time?”

Another engineer who said he was laid off Thursday cited the plight of a colleague whose termination came as he was in the process of closing on the purchase of a home. Another is expecting a child.


“Even if you weren’t laid off, it’s just a lot to process,” he said. “It makes you feel unsafe. It makes you feel insecure, even if you have a check.”

He acknowledged that layoffs are an unfortunate fact of life in technology, where fast-growing companies can shift course quickly amid technological changes and financial challenges. In his decade of employment in a high-demand occupation, he’s now been been laid off twice.

“If you’ve never been through it, you don’t know what it looks like,” he said.

Globe correspondent Anissa Gardizy and Janelle Nanos of the Globe staff contributed to this report.

Andy Rosen can be reached at andrew.rosen@globe.com.