Startups

Pittsburgh’s IAM Robotics just saw a round of layoffs, too

The news comes amid a string of tech company downsizing announcements, both locally and nationally.

Inside IAM Robotics' former HQ in 2019. (Photo courtesy IAM Robotics via StartNow PGH)
Layoffs have hit Pittsburgh tech, again.

Last week, IAM Robotics endured a round of layoffs that are reported to have impacted a significant portion of the Lawrenceville-based robotics company’s staff. H/t to Pittsburgh Inno, which first caught the news.

The company hasn’t yet responded to Technical.ly’s request to confirm how many people were affected, but founder and CTO Tom Galluzzo took to LinkedIn to express his sadness over the turn of events.

“To all of the people at IAM Robotics that were let go today, I want to personally thank each of you for your help, effort and care for the company and team,” Galluzzo wrote. According to the company’s LinkedIn page, it previously employed around 100 people.

While the reasons for the layoffs weren’t explained in the post, the move is part of a larger trend happening in the tech industry. According to tech layoff tracker TuneUp, in 2023, there have already been 222 instances of tech layoffs affecting more than 75,000 people (as of this writing). Some of the bigger names included Microsoft, which laid off 10,000, and Amazon, which laid off 18,000. Just today, Spotify announced it was cutting 6% of it employee base, or around 600 people.

Pittsburgh has not been immune to these hardships. Last summer, Seegrid, an autonomous mobile robotics company, reduced its staff by 90 positions. The move was attributed to the state of the economy.

“While regrettable, this decision was made in light of the global economic slowdown and to better position Seegrid, the leader in the mobile robot market, for long-term growth,” former CEO Jim Rock told Technical.ly at the time. “The investors, Board of Directors and executive leadership team continue to have confidence in the company’s vision, team and growth opportunity.”

During the fall and winter of 2022, the city saw a series of shutdowns which included Argo AI after Ford, one of its biggest investors, decided to place its efforts in developing driver’s assistance systems instead of autonomous vehicles technology. The Pittsburgh tech industry was surprised by the decision, which cut hundreds of jobs, but experts said it wasn’t yet cause for industry-wide panic. After all, sometimes, startups fail.

“A failure is much more common than success,” Sean Sebastian, a partner at Black Tech Nation Ventures and Birchmere Ventures, told Technical.ly in October. “The successes get lauded and praised and put on the cover of blogs, or whatnot. The failures usually kind of go away quietly, with some few notable exceptions.”

Yet several of these local and national layoff events have been attributed to macroeconomic conditions. And while we can’t be sure yet if we’re in a recession now, some experts have used the term “richcession,” or a recession impacting individuals with high-paying jobs. In 2020 and 2021, Big Tech companies saw massive growth as pandemic lockdowns raised the demand for hardware, software and online services. Now that consumers are out in the world more, demand has decreased. Unfortunately for workers, that means their employers may need them less, too.

While the future is never guaranteed in the world of startups, in the case of IAM Robotics, the company still appears to be in business. Galluzzo ended his LinkedIn statement by thanking his employees for all their hard work, and expressed hope for the future.

“As a founder, this is hard to see happen, but it’s wonderful to see the support from the community,” he said. “Please don’t hesitate to reach out to me if you need anything or just want to talk.”

Atiya Irvin-Mitchell is a 2022-2023 corps member for Report for America, an initiative of The Groundtruth Project that pairs young journalists with local newsrooms. This position is supportedby the Heinz Endowments.
Companies: IAMRobotics / Argo AI
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