Protocol - The upside of a downturn

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By Nat Rubio-Licht and Caitlin McGarry
June 8, 2022


Good morning! Layoffs are on the rise, which means some talented employees are hunting for their next gig. It’s prime time to recruit — but that doesn’t mean it’s an employer’s market just yet. Also: The EU is taking aim at Big Tech again, and this time the primary target is Apple. Thanks for joining us this Wednesday! Let’s do it.

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The time to recruit is right now


As tech companies big and small cut staff and rescind job offers, you’ve likely seen at least a few LinkedIn posts from recruiters trying to take advantage: “If you’ve been impacted by the layoffs at *insert company name here*, my startup is hiring!” One upside of a downturn: Companies in search of talent have a window to recruit some impressive workers.

Some of the top tech companies have laid off employees. Talented workers from Netflix, PayPal, Robinhood and many more are suddenly available. It’s no wonder that recruiters are swooping in.

  • Searching for the phrase, “If you have been affected by,” on Linkedin turns up hundreds of posts from recruiters, team leads and founders trying to attract top talent to apply to their companies with remote-first work or a fast-tracked hiring process.
  • Recruiters are also swarming to the comments under posts of people announcing that they’ve lost their jobs to plug open positions at their companies.

But recruiters don't have inboxes full of résumés. Employees who have been laid off still seem to be as picky about their next opportunities as they were when the Great Resignation was in full swing.

  • “We're seeing tons of layoffs and hiring freezes at the same time that recruiters are being left on read,” Emerald Nwanne, senior growth manager at, wrote in a LinkedIn post. “It looks like we might be entering a tighter jobs market but hiring is still harder than ever.”
  • Even as companies focus on critical hires to save cash, “we're still in a labor shortage, so there's still a demand and need there,” John Anderson, Managing Director of the HR practice at executive search firm Allegis Partners, told me.

So it’s still a candidate's market — for now. It just might not stay that way for long.

  • Though many recruiters are itching to get their hands on talent from companies like PayPal and Coinbase, more and more companies are still pumping the brakes on hiring.
  • Anderson said increased competition among applicants for a shrinking pool of jobs is inevitable down the line. “We're not at a point right now that it's an employer’s market yet,” Anderson told me. “But that trend is starting to shift.”

For workers, having an impressive company name on a résumé is a plus — especially after a layoff. For employers, scooping up that talent might soon get a lot easier.

— Nat Rubio-Licht (email | twitter)

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The EU’s big USB-C change


The European Union is taking aim at tech companies yet again, this time finalizing a rule that will require device makers to embrace a universal charging port: USB-C. Odds are that Apple isn’t pleased; the company’s iPhones have used a proprietary Lightning port for more than a decade. But the EU is arguing that it’s a win for consumers — and the climate.

EU efforts to regulate tech companies show no signs of slowing. The rule follows the passage of the bloc’s landmark Digital Markets Act and Digital Services Act, which are both designed to crack down on Big Tech. So why charging, of all things?

  • The EU thinks it’s high time that tech companies make things easier for consumers by adopting a single charging standard. The bloc has been pushing for this for years, and eventually Android device makers settled on USB-C. Apple, meanwhile, is holding out.
  • A shared charging standard creates less e-waste. In addition to helping consumers save an estimated $268 million a year, the switch will also save 11,000 tons of e-waste annually.
  • The European Commission released analysis last year showing that 44% of smartphones sold in 2019 already use USB-C charging, while 38% use micro-USB. (Those devices tend to be older and cheaper.) Then there’s the 18% that use Apple’s Lightning port — and that’s where the EU’s legislation comes in.
  • "We gave industry plenty of time to come up with their own solutions, now time is ripe for legislative action for a common charger," Margrethe Vestager, the European Commissioner for Competition, said last year.

Apple will be forced to change its iPhone design. The company has been clinging to its Lightning port for more than a decade, but iPhones sold in Europe will have to switch to USB-C. That likely means the company will move the entire lineup to USB-C to avoid supply chain headaches.

  • Apple is already preparing for this. The company has reportedly been testing USB-C iPhones, and is also working on adapters that would enable USB-C iPhones to be compatible with Lightning accessories.
  • Apple has been reluctant to give up Lightning. Accessory makers pay Apple for licenses to use the Lightning port; now, any USB-C accessory would work with the iPhone, eliminating a revenue stream for Apple.
  • Apple positioned its disapproval as a consumer issue, arguing last year that the regulation would slow innovation in charging standards.

Despite its kicking and screaming, when the new rule takes effect, Apple will surely be ready. The first iPhones with USB-C ports are reportedly due out next year. The EU’s USB-C requirement is slated to take effect in fall 2024 — perfect timing.

Caitlin McGarry (email | twitter)


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People are talking


Tim Cook thinks it’s important for companies to prioritize doing good — even in a crisis:

  • “Unfortunately climate change doesn’t go on hold because we have a bad economy. Advocating for privacy is not something that becomes less important because there’s a bad economy.”

He also called Apple's return-to-office plan the "mother of all experiments":

  • "We're running a pilot and trying to find a place that makes the best of both of these worlds."

Affirm CEO Max Levchin isn’t worried about Apple Pay Later:

  • “I don’t think there’s much concern. There’s a lot of room for growth for all involved."

Making moves


E3 will return in 2023 as a hybrid event, after being canceled this year (for the second time in three years).

Waymo and Uber are partnering on driverless trucks. Waymo is integrating Uber's truck brokerage service, Freight, to enable fleet owners to deploy autonomous trucks.

Alex Kipman is leaving Microsoft. Kipman was the company's HoloLens boss and has been with Microsoft for a couple decades.

Greylock general partner Sarah Guo is leaving the VC firm to start her own fund. Guo was Greylock’s first female general partner in its more than 50-year history.

In other news


Crypto financial services in California may soon need a license. A bill introduced Tuesday aims to regulate crypto investing, trading and lending.

SpaceX’s Starlink isn’t going public until 2025 or later, Elon Musk told employees. He'd previously aimed to take the company public as soon as this year.

Shell will start selling renewable energy in Texas. The move brings Shell’s push into green energy to the U.S.

PayPal users can now transfer cryptocurrency from PayPal to and from other wallets and exchanges. The feature is available now to some users and will be open to the rest of eligible U.S. users in coming weeks.

Some of Elon Musk’s Twitter financing is on hold. The uncertainty he's created about the deal has reportedly led to arrangements for Apollo Global Management to chip in up to $3 billion being paused.

Bird plans to lay off 23% of its staff, according to the layoff tracker It currently has about 600 employees. Online car dealer Cazoo is also laying off 15% of its staff and pausing new hiring. The company employs around 3,500 people.

Twitter's reportedly aiming to grow its monetizable daily active users — those are the ones who see ads — by 13 million this quarter, its most ambitious goal for the metric so far.

BlackRock, Delta and Netflix CEOs are on a list of sanctions that Russia has imposed in retaliation for economic restrictions put in place following the country’s invasion of Ukraine.

The work 'perks' no one wants


What really constitutes a good work perk? Unlimited paid time off, fitness rooms, hammocks and ping-pong tables might make a company seem cool on the surface, but those "perks" are actually increasingly seen as red flags. Often when companies emphasize silly benefits like ping-pong, it's a distraction from the lack of important benefits like a remote-first workplace or good employee-leave systems. Employers take note: Forget the in-office massages and pay attention to what workers really want.


To counter the rise in phishing attempts in collaborative working tools, Google is expanding its proven AI-powered phishing protections to Google Workspace. You are automatically alerted if the doc you’re working in contains a suspicious link, and are taken back to safety.

Learn more


Thoughts, questions, tips? Send them to, or our tips line, Enjoy your day, see you tomorrow.


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