When he launched his own startup more than two years ago, Chris Brownridge chased the same dream that attracts countless entrepreneurs. But when he shut down GawkBox last summer and had to let everyone go, Brownridge’s next idea had to do with helping those affected by layoffs.
Brownridge, who spent time at Google and Vungle, is now running Silver Lining, a website aimed at connecting job seekers and recruiters in the tech industry and take some of the sting out of job loss.
The streamlined site is an answer to the unorganized chaos of spreadsheets that seem to pop up at companies in the wake of a downsizing or closure. Brownridge knows them well, because he built one for his employees at GawkBox, a platform that enabled game stream viewers to tip game streamers by downloading and using apps and once employed 21 people.
“It just seemed that each time the whole thing was really messy. Information was not standardized,” Brownridge said of the spreadsheets. If I was looking to recruit talent it would be impossible to review the profile and get a sense of who they are, what they’re looking for and even contact them in many cases.”
Silver Lining allows job seekers to create a free profile on the site that promises to put their information in front of recruiters for tech companies all over the U.S. Recruiters pay $29 a month to gain access to a dashboard full of jobseeker resumes. New candidate profiles are delivered to their inbox and they can contact as many recruits as they like.
Silver Lining has attracted almost 1,000 profiles and 100 recruiters so far.
Brownridge has watched big layoffs at WeWork and Expedia, for example, and knows the challenge on both sides of the equation. He encourages employers to be as transparent as possible, and lean on companies such as Silver Lining as a resource before bad news drops.
“There’s a sensitivity and stigma around layoff moves, and companies in particular often want to control the release of the message,” he said. “They only let the affected know, in many cases the day of, which makes it more challenging to be a resource ahead of that.”
From an employee perspective, news of a layoff is often a shock and the first reaction many people have is one of panic or despair. Brownridge wants them to take a step back and realize that there are resources out there.
“Thankfully we’re in an economy right now — and hopefully coronavirus doesn’t affect this too much — there’s a lot of demand for talent. And I think we’re seeing that particularly on Silver Lining,” he said. “We had a lot of recruiters sign up, more than we anticipated, because there’s such a thirst for talent right now.”
Silver Lining has attracted a diverse array of profiles in terms of job function — engineers, designers, sales and marketing. After WeWork laid off thousands last fall, Silver Lining saw a spike in interior design architects.
The site features a job board, which costs $99 for a post and gets the listing featured for four weeks in a jobseeker email. Recruiters who sign up pay half for the job board access.
When asked whether the silver lining would be a world in which Silver Lining had to close down because of no more layoffs anywhere, Brownridge chuckled and said he hadn’t thought of things that way. But as a realist, and a startup founder, he knows the odds are stacked against the chances of success and the majority of startups shut down within a couple years.
“Layoffs are always going to exist, be it big companies that need to downsize or situations like mine at Gawkbox,” he said. “People will always will be reentering the job market, because of those events or because of other reasons. The way we’re thinking about it is there’s more interesting ways to provide resources to those affected.”