There I was, sitting at my desk on a beautiful Friday morning. I took a deep sigh of relief. I was officially unemployed for the first time in my life, a casualty of the 2023 tech layoffs. I needed a break.

"How could this happen?" I thought. I played an instrumental role as one of the first employees in a $75M startup.

As an individual contributor, I followed marching orders. I chose my battles wisely, voicing shared opinions. I advocated for automation and spotlighted the spoiling technology. But nobody cared.

As a manager of a rewrite, I was crippled. Each day blurred into the next, a fatigued haze as I hopped between meetings from sunrise to sunset. I tried to shield my team from external pressures and fallout.

After two rounds of layoffs, morale was at an all-time low. Talent became a revolving door, and the amazing people who had cared deeply gave up. Something must be terribly wrong. "It's a startup" was the excuse.

We made a lot of mistakes, including but not limited to:

  • Lack of accountability.
  • Poor communication.
  • Conflicting opinionated processes.
  • Disagreements on priorities.
  • No clear aligned vision of the company goals.
  • Adopting the wrong technologies.

Reflecting on the last 3+ years, I stumbled upon an X Post (opens in a new tab) that resonated with me. Elon Musk acknowledged technical debt as a major problem.


I'm interviewing for my next role and I'm noticing the same red flags:

🚩Move fast and break things.
🚩Selling features that don't exist.
🚩Building what competitors have (or whatever the customer wants).
🚩Overworking and excessive burnout.
🚩Desperately hiring.

Silicon valley is riddled with the gravestones of startups that focused on the wrong things.
Tyler Warnock (opens in a new tab)
Cofounder & CEO at Userfront

What advantages do companies such as Tesla and Apple have over their competitors? They are leading their industries, product-driven, and customer-obsessed.

But how do you get there as a startup or early stage company? How do you build a product that people will love? How do you align your team on goals and quickly plan and track progress without being in the office?

Fast forward, here I am today: young and motivated to solve the problems most technical startups face. I'm trying to build a product that addresses the issues I've experienced. I'm not sure if I'll succeed, but I'm determined to try.

CodeTrackr from ChatGPT

Thank you for reading and your continued support,

Isaiah Marc Sanchez