I'm a junior dev who is just 10 months into a job at a startup (which I took out of university) and I'm terrified of losing my job due to the coronavirus.

I have many friends back at university who have either lost their summer internships or had full time offers disappear.

My brother is a year behind me and he went from 4 offers to zip in under a week.

My LinkedIn feed is filling with stories of rescinded offers, internship cancellations, and mega lists of layoffs and hiring freezes.

I work for a small startup and want to figure out whether they are likely to survive this crisis. How would I conduct that analysis?

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    A small startup sounds like the way to management is short and probably you meet them in person now and then. Perhaps you even have a not so distanced relation to them. Did you simply ask them how they estimate the situation?
    – puck
    Commented Mar 29, 2020 at 6:42
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    @puck they are a company which likes to preach about "missionaries, not mercenaries", so I am wary of asking viability questions because they have fired people for not being sufficiently dedicated to the company.
    – ScaredDev
    Commented Mar 29, 2020 at 7:10
  • how many people work there? (management, owners, employed) How is your general communication with management or owners? Which personal sacrifices would you be willing to make?
    – Benjamin
    Commented Mar 29, 2020 at 10:49
  • @JoeStrazzere I would job hunt like crazy to a more stable company. My regional government is hiring a bunch of people for example. I would enjoy the work less, but there would be a need to put options on the table.
    – ScaredDev
    Commented Mar 29, 2020 at 16:46
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    @Casey Perhaps they do. It's possible to get a response like "it will be hard, if you get an offer, take it" or "we'll survive that because of master plan" or the like.
    – puck
    Commented Mar 30, 2020 at 14:52

2 Answers 2


I work for a small startup and want to figure out whether they are likely to survive this crisis. How would I conduct that analysis?

Check their product and their customers. Are they still open and conducting business? If the customers had to close down, they won't buy anything and there will be no profit.

Example: Dentists are open and will remain open. If you sell software for dentists, that's good. Hairdressers in my country are forced to shut down by government order. If you sell software for hairdressers, that's bad.

Check your own company. Can they produce their product with as much remote work as possible?

Example: PC Software can be produced anywhere. Software for devices need at least the device hardware at home (for example you'd need a Mac to produce an iSomething App). Software embedded in cars for example is even more complicated.

And last but not least: how is your company set up financially? Is it stable, or was it bought by some hedgefund to sink money into in exchange for market segment? If it was financially stable before, that's good. If it's a investors money sink, that might be bad.

So to make up two extremes: if your company sells a software where you can scan your own mouth in 3D with your Android device and send the file to your dentist so they can decide whether you need to actually be physically present and it connects to the existing customer base of dentists using your practice management software? You are golden. If you program software embedded into heavy duty trucks for hairdressers in need of such a thing because somebody with too much money thought that might bring in money in two to five years? Well... might be time to polish your CV.

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    Thanks. We sell to governments, but in areas which are certainly not essential, so will have to dig deeper into that.
    – ScaredDev
    Commented Mar 29, 2020 at 7:42
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    Selling to governments COULD be a good sign, because some of them try to pump money into the economy, so they keep buying stuff and services.
    – Simon
    Commented Mar 29, 2020 at 17:33
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    Most automotive software development isn’t done anywhere near the car, it is done on car platforms which are basically just ordinary computers in a different casing, and you usually interact with them through SSH/SCP, even if the lab is in the same building that the developers work in Commented Mar 29, 2020 at 19:43
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    @ScaredDev take this with as many grains of salt as necessary but... I'm a software developer for the government and we're busy enough even now that we just added a contract with a third party developer (we can't hire more devs because of complicated bureaucratic reasons). Commented Mar 29, 2020 at 20:16
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    @nvoigt In my state, most dentists are only doing emergency procedures and have put off regular exams.
    – Kathy
    Commented Mar 30, 2020 at 13:40

You can't be completely sure your job is safe. You can be reasonably sure your company's founders don't want to lay people off, and hope to come out of the present crisis in shape to carry on.

If your company is already at a stage where they're getting paid by customers, then, obvs, the question is the stability of their cash flow. If customers stop paying, that's not a good sign. Government work is usually more stable than household or small-business work, so that's a positive sign.

If their go-to-market product isn't ready yet and they're still running on investor money, they'll probably keep pushing to finish it.

In any case, you can bring up the issue by asking a founder what you and your co-workers can do better to get your customers and your company through this crisis. It's virtually certain they lie awake at night thinking about that question. They may even have thought through some answers. And, that kind of question shows your loyalty.

I'm nearing the end of my software career. I've been through five downturns. They all pass. Hang in there, and save some of your pay when you can.

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    OTOH this is a perfect opportunity to get rid of specific people if you've been waiting for an excuse to do so. Commented Mar 30, 2020 at 17:08

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