Earlier today, we reported that visual search engine startup SearchMe had laid off 20 percent of its workforce. Lots of startups are laying off workers this week, but SearchMe is led by long-time Valley veteran Randy Adams. He survived the bursting of the last tech bubble, so he wasn’t just responding to general sentiments of fear, but to his own past experiences.

Adams has done everything from helping Yahoo to secure its initial backing from Sequoia Capital, to serving as director of engineering at Adobe, to founding successful startups like Internet Shopping Network, AuctionDrop, Inc., and Navitel Communications. More details on Crunchbase.

I asked Adams a couple questions today about layoffs and surviving downturns. Here are his responses:

VB: How is this downturn different than the last one for startups?

RA: In the last downturn, there was a sense of invincibility that was pervasive in the Valley. Many inexperienced people didn’t want to believe that their companies could be affected and they over time learned that they were wrong. The greatest difference for startups this time is that they have the opportunity to quickly assess the state of the economy and respond by being fiscally prudent, even if that means making difficult decisions. I predict that many more companies will come through this downturn because executives will make prudent decisions in the best interests of their companies. While history repeats itself, we now have the benefit of being able to learn from the past. Many of us have been through this before, and as seasoned entrepreneurs, we know what we need to do to get through these tough times.

VB: How is SearchMe positioning itself to come through the recession and succeed — especially against competitors like Google?

RA: Our goal is to be the most popular visual search engine on the planet and we have every intention of succeeding. Our quick response to the nationwide economic downturn is intended to best position our company to do just that. We’ve supplemented this by making additional cuts in unnecessary travel expenses, meals and in other areas to help get us through this phase. But most importantly, we remain focused on our goal and continue to innovate in search with new features such as music search that we’re announcing next week. Yes, this downturn will be tough on startups but those of us who engage in smart partnerships, invest in technology and innovate with services and products that consumers embrace, will ultimately succeed against the competition. Because downturn or not, those who innovate, and work hard and smart, will prevail.

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