When Synacor announced plans on Tuesday to lay off 50 workers in Buffalo, word traveled fast – electronically, of course – in the region’s tech community.
Dan Gigante, a partner at the 19Ideas marketing and communications agency, tweeted that his firm was looking to hire a software engineer. Tech entrepreneur Steve Poland copied that message to his networking email list, inviting others to mention job openings that might suit the Synacor workers. All sorts of companies, from startups to big, established employers, started chiming in to mention positions they were filling.
“It just seemed like everybody coming out of the woodwork with different job opportunities,” Poland said. “I was astonished by there being this many tech opportunities in the tech world in Buffalo.” That was especially surprising to him since expatriates will often say they would come back if only they could find tech jobs here.
When Synacor’s bad news broke, Poland said his instinct was to help the laid-off workers find new opportunities, so that they wouldn’t have to move away. “I know some of these people at Synacor that are affected,” he said. “Some of them are fathers that have families. If it’s a slim job market here in Buffalo, they’d have to look elsewhere. It was great to see this rally.”
Poland created his email list in 2010, called the “Buffalo Open Coffee Club,” to get the tech community talking to each other. Poland started out with 10 people on his list; now there are more than 500 addresses on it.
19Ideas wants to hire for one job but may have other openings to come, said Katie Krawcyzk, the firm’s president. “There’s a lot of talent at Synacor,” she said. “We want to keep that here.”
Krawczyk said she sees signs of the entrepreneurial and tech community taking steps forward in Buffalo, through initiatives like the 43North business plan competition and Start-Up Weekend, and she doesn’t want something like the layoffs at Synacor to be a setback.
The speedy reaction by companies to let Synacor workers know about job openings “goes to show you the type of community Buffalo is,” she said. “It’s a very tight-knit community.”
Chris Beckage, vice president with Superior Group, a staffing company, said hiring for information technology jobs has picked up in the past six months at a range of area employers, including banks and manufacturers.
“The truth of the matter is, every company has IT in some form,” Beckage said.