Notes for February 5th 2023

I'm a little late this week as I've been traveling for work.

  • I spent the week in San Fran with work. $job HQ is not in the city, but out towards the airport. It's a beautiful facility, but seems quite empty. As does the city as a whole. Feels like post-pandemic SF is a very different place to years gone by.
    • I've only been to the city a few times but it's always a shock to see the homelessness and open drug usage in areas that should be teeming with life, bars, restaurants, etc.
    • Locals have no idea how lucky they are with Mexican food. We stumbled into (one of the only open places!) a Mexican spot on our first night and it was divine.
  • Spending 4 days in a seminar-style venue in an office with AC on full blast is an absolute assault on the senses for anyone coming from northern Europe. Jet lag is easy to fix, but my sinuses, lips and respiratory system took a beating that'll require more time.
    • We wrapped the seminar stuff on Thursday, when most folks went home. I stayed on for a Friday morning exec briefing with a huge prospect and our 4 hour meeting was condensed into 90mins because it went so well. Absolutely stellar way to end the week. Though as with all these things, we're only at base camp.
    • It's important to build the narrative with stakeholders before any meeting, but we really primed the pump on this. So merely getting everyone in a room morphed from "let's do slide decks and demo stuff" into "how much will it cost and how do we get to next steps in x-weeks". Having an exec champion was a win. And it's why sales can be so fun and rewarding.
  • Flying business class is a step above. It's sort-of what the promise of flying always was. I find it hard to sleep on any type of transport, but managed to get a little bit of sleep into the agenda on that flight. Aer Lingus unfortunately have no class between economy and business, which is bizarre.
  • The flights from Europe to SF were notably empty according to my experience & my colleagues' corroborated stories. Could just be the time of year, but I would hypothesise that the tech layoffs are impacting those routes.
    • Notably, the east coast flights seemed jammed per usual. I think more tourism is drummed up in NY/Boston from this part of the world, on top of business travel.
  • Coming home, one thing of note is that we absolutely take for granted how clear and lovely our air is in Ireland. A quick walk of the dog in the park and my systems were feeling amazing.
  • Steam Deck performed admirably on my flights. Having it plugged into a slow USB charge port gave the battery a stay of execution to a small extent. I am awful, truly awful, at Dead Cells... but it's so fun.
  • Far right protestors have been agitating against immigrants in Ireland recently. The reaction to this is really odd to me. There is evidence of grifting here where "senior leaders" of this idiot grouping are profiting off of the anti-immigration sentiment. And then the bleeding heart liberals (me) are counter-protesting these right wing people.
    • The right-wing end of the stick is protesting the victims, not the policy. The policy and lack of intelligence from the government is causing a substantial rift in Irish society. A policy which has consulted no local communities, not informed the public (of the plan) and made an attempt to be a bleeding hearted land-of-a-thousand-welcomes destination for anyone in need. Which is all well and good until you enter those folks into an arcane system in the midst of a housing crisis in which the locals are struggling to survive. This bubbles up to the kind of madness we saw in Italy, who now have a literal fascist regime in power.
    • The left-wing end of the stick is trying to balance the need to not seem racist against the need to do something nice against the protests. It's an utterly ridiculous situation leaving no one to point their finger at the issue, which is the government policy.
    • My local community is adjacent to the one in the story linked above. I've kept quiet in a political party organisation WhatsApp group. I worry saying anything it'll be too easy to bucket it into one of the two buckets provided, when we really need about a dozen buckets to sub-divide the actual issues here.
  • Many friends and former colleagues were impacted by the layoffs at HubSpot last week. Even if they weren't directly laid-off, someone they work with probably was.
    • Since it's been a long time since I worked there, what's most disheartening is hearing that the comms internally weren't handled well. I've commented to folks that the company is transitioning from founder-lead hyper-growth innovation hub that's close to the customer to a career-CEO lead business that's holding itself accountable to business metrics only.
    • All companies must go through this transition but the post-Covid, 2023 macro economic environment will force tech companies into it quicker than they might have expected. And let's be honest, lots of people work at tech companies for lifestyle, not for the the rewarding work. So some level of stage-setting will be good for the gander.
    • I've also had a lot of folks comment that these businesses laying folks off are recording healthy numbers. They're not reacting to the numbers as they stand today. They're reacting to how resilient they can be over the next 6+ months as the economic headwinds truly take a hold. Your cash holdings and margins are going to be battered if, like HubSpot, you're predicting a lot of churn from SMBs that run aground financially. You don't out-hire that problem.
    • The positive news is that tech isn't contracting, it's merely expanding out. People laid off in big companies are going to smaller ones (or enormous ones). There's a rising tide raising all ships but unemployment is extremely low. I think the second-half of the year will see some economic rebounding and the stock market hitting some good news, which should yield a tailwind in '24.