High-tech Industry is Powering Up Again: Los Angeles Times, March 2010

An early look at the potential for tech to lead the way out of our “jobless” recession.

High-tech Industry is Powering Up Again

It looked as if the economy had dealt a powerful blow to L.J. Mottel, a 35-year-old father of two, when his employer, the Fontainebleau hotel and resort in Las Vegas, filed for bankruptcy and laid him off.

But unlike other victims of the downturn, Mottel had the luck of a high-roller on a hot streak: He was the Fontainebleau’s director of information technology, and that made him a hot commodity. He didn’t have to wait long before getting a new job at Service-now.com, a Solana Beach, Calif., tech firm that develops Web applications to help companies automate their IT departments.

“Due to the recession and the economy, people are reluctant to seek change,” said Robert Greene, a tech recruiter in San Mateo, Calif. “They become more risk-averse in times when the economy is not good. People got burned. They went to companies and then got laid off. They don’t want to have that situation happen again.”

But now, he said, “I have seen that start to change a little. The floodgates have started to open a little.”

Greene has been able to recruit and place employees in new jobs within weeks — instead of months, as was the case last year.

“Recruiters are the canaries in the coal mine. We’re the early bellwethers,” said Andy Lewis, a principal at Levinger Lewis, which places executives at high-tech start-ups. He said he could see in 2007 that the economy was ready to dip, which was borne out in a sluggish 2008 and a “pretty abysmal” 2009.

The job search

Of course, many people are still looking for work.

Jobnob Inc., a San Francisco company that has established an online community to match tech companies with job seekers, put on an event last December at the Air Conditioned Supper Club in Venice, and 350 people attended to hear hiring pitches from about 100 companies.

Similar events last month in Palo Alto, New York and Chicago drew more than 100 employers and 350 job seekers.

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