I was laid off from Rivian after surviving 3 earlier layoffs. It was almost a relief when it was over.

  • On Wednesday, Rivian announced it would lay off 10% of salaried staff the next day.

  • One laid-off worker said it was their fourth round of layoffs at Rivian but anxiety was still high.

  • They waited all night to learn they'd been laid off but were relieved the uncertainty ended.

This as-told-to essay is based on a conversation with a former Rivian employee who was laid off Thursday and spoke anonymously to protect their privacy. Business Insider has verified their identity and employment. The following has been edited for length and clarity.

I started at Rivian in 2019, before its IPO and around the time of the Amazon investment. At first I was enthralled by the message and the idea of working for a startup.

I was familiar with Tesla's goal to change the world by driving everyone toward the electrification of vehicles. I felt like Rivian had a more wholesome, less materialistic take on privatizing electric vehicles. Rivian also felt slightly more sincere to me — as sincere as a company can be.

I learned I was being laid off on Thursday when it cut 10% of salaried staff. This is the fourth round of layoffs I've experienced at Rivian, so I'm a little bit jaded at this point.

The email announcing the layoffs didn't alarm me as much as it alarmed the internet. I've been through so many layoffs that I've gotten used to it.

I didn't sleep much as I waited to find out if I'd be laid off

I saw the email not even 15 minutes before all the outlets were reporting on it.

I'm notorious for not checking my email, so a coworker messaged me to ask if I'd read it.

I could barely get any sleep Wednesday night. I went to bed at 1 a.m. and woke up in the middle of the night. I even had a dream that I got fired.

I woke up pretty early, too. My coworkers and I were just waiting to see if our names would get called.

A stakeholder on one of my projects messaged me with some tedious requests, and I sat there trying to do them before I realized: "Wait a minute. In a few hours I'm going to find out if I work here or not. There's no way I'm putting the time and energy into this without knowing if I'll be here another day." Many others felt the same way. We were all just watching for a meeting invite and trying to get any information we could.

Going through so many rounds of layoffs made planning for the future hard

I was filled with anxiety the entire day. I kept thinking, "How many times can I possibly go through this annual culling of the herd?" It's a terrible feeling, and I'm still processing it. I think I'm at the acceptance phase now where I'm just glad I don't work at a company where I'm wondering if I'll have a job every year.

As much as I loved working for Rivian — I thought the culture was great, the people were fantastic, and the pay was really good — layoffs felt constant. This past year, I thought: "Oh my God, can I make major life decisions? Can I buy a house knowing that I might not have a job because every 12 months we have another layoff?" It was a mix of frustration and anxiety, and now I'm ready to move on from that.

Rivian R1T
Rivian sells two vehicles, the R1T and the R1S.Chicago Tribune/Getty Images

When I finally got the calendar invite for a one-on-one with my manager, I messaged him and asked if he could just tell me if I was being let go, because I didn't want to wait another hour. Of course, he didn't respond. Understandably, I was in a bad mood.

When we got to the meeting, I decided I wouldn't break the silence, and he needed to say the first word. Eventually, he did. His spiel took all of five minutes.

An hour later I was messaging people to exchange numbers when my computer locked up.

Money didn't always feel so tight at Rivian

It's been strange watching the aggressive cost-cutting over the last few years.

I remember the week we got the big Amazon investment and the investment from Ford. I used to jokingly call the money the "Bezos bucks" with my friends.

We'd spend $40 on Grubhub just for lunch, and it seemed like every team that wanted a piece of software could get it. We had so many redundant services and apps that all did the same thing. It felt like the Wild West.

Rivian announced a $700 million investment led by Amazon in 2019.
Rivian announced a $700 million investment led by Amazon in 2019.Gado

Post-IPO, a lot of those old tech habits died hard. It was difficult to change our spending habits. In 2022, I finally felt like we no longer had infinite money.

I don't blame the leadership at Rivian because I don't think it was a strategic problem. There are a lot of things outside the control of the company. I have heavy stakes in the stock since I worked there for so long, so I want the company to succeed. Considering interest rates and cash on hand, it's also hard to see a positive outlook.

I've already started applying for jobs and talking to friends who can connect me elsewhere. I wouldn't mind working for another startup.

Rivian did not immediately respond to a request for comment from Business Insider.

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