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The fast-paced hustle culture that was once synonymous with Silicon Valley startups seemed to be fading away in recent years. Startups started prioritizing work-life balance and embraced concepts like soft entrepreneurship and quiet quitting. However, with the rapid advancements in artificial intelligence (AI), the competitive landscape of the industry has become more intense, leading some startups to revisit the hustle-harder mentality.

One prime example of this resurgence is AI startup Exa Labs, as highlighted in a recent post by Jeffrey Wang, the company’s co-founder. Wang’s viral post sought opinions on purchasing nap pods for their San Francisco office, sparking conversations among founders and professionals who expressed interest in napping at work. Some raised concerns about the expectation for employees to work such long hours that sleeping at work becomes necessary.

Contrary to the concerns raised, Wang clarified his intention in an interview with TechCrunch. He explained that the purpose of providing nap pods would be to give employees the opportunity to optimize their sleep when they couldn’t do so at home. Wang emphasized that their employees were well-compensated and had equity in the company. Therefore, the concept of hustling harder was not about exploiting them but rather empowering them to achieve greater personal earnings.

As AI startups face fierce competition and strive for breakthroughs, the hustle culture is making a resurgence. Startups are recognizing the need to go the extra mile to stay ahead in the AI race. While the balance between work and personal life remains essential, the renewed focus on hustle reflects a collective determination to succeed in this rapidly evolving industry.