Earlier this week, Carta released 2023 hiring and departure/layoff numbers for startups with the headline that more employees left startups in 2023 than joined.

Sobering enough on its own, the datapoint that caught our attention was that 2023 hiring the was down from 2019 (-4%) and 2020 (-6%) numbers.

In past quarterly reports and newsletters, we’ve noted that executive hiring across asset classes began skewing more senior as market conditions deteriorated, so we looked back to see how that’s changed since 2020 (the first year of our data).

To do so, we looked at the raw number of executive hires and then looked at them via distribution of executive hires by seniority level.

While our data shows more executive hires in 2023 than 2020 (the first year of our dataset), it also shows that those hires were more senior. In 2023, for instance, C-level hires made up 42% of all closed searches in our dataset. In 2019, that number was 32%.

The connection here, it seems, is while startup hiring may have been at historic lows, the percentage of those hires being executives appears to be at historic highs.