Will laid-off Microsoft workers end up at startups?

Flexible work arrangements and better prospects to grow their skills could attract thousands of recently laid off employees at Microsoft to jobs at startups.

At least that’s what helped persuade Chandra Shekaran, a general manager in Microsoft’s Bing search unit, to jump to El Segundo-based Velocify last January.

“I just felt after 15-plus years, my rate of growth could be accelerated in a startup environment,” Shekaran said recently. “It was a very different company from when I started, and I forced myself to leave.”

One of Shekaran’s former bosses, Satya Nadella, became chief executive of Microsoft in February. Last week, Nadella axed as many as 18,000 positions, aiming to make the company more nimble.


Forced out the door, the employees are poised to see plenty of demand from quickly growing startups, Shekaran said. He’s hoping to hire some of them to start an engineering office in the Seattle area, where about 1,300 Microsoft staffers were let go.

“We want to use the talent wherever it is,” Shekaran said about the potential of a new office. “These days, tech companies have to be agile -- that’s the best way to find talent quickly.”

Shekaran didn’t initially have Los Angeles startups on his radar. He first talked to companies, recruiters and venture capitalists in Seattle and Silicon Valley. But a recruiting firm hired by Velocify tracked him down, and they made him senior vice president of engineering. Velocify, which has about 1,500 customers, builds an online tool that helps companies maximize sales by using data tabulation to prioritize and assign leads.

Shekaran commuted every weekend for more than a year before moving with his family to Los Angeles this month.

Now, he’s ready to sell the laid off workers on such accommodating work schedules and the chance to turn thoughts into actions much faster than at the fiefdoms of Microsoft. Or Shekaran said, “the ability to make an impact quickly,” a goal that Microsoft is now striving for too.

Twitter: @peard33