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People find themselves drawn to the unlikely startup success stories because they have a beautiful allure to them: if I spend every night tucked away writing code and focusing my entire life around my work, then maybe I, too, can be the next Zuckerburg!

Even though this narrative is hugely removed from the realities of startup life (most college startups go nowhere, the most successful founders tend to be in their middle age with significant financial stability, etc), it is still romanticized by founders and startup employees and other people who really should know better. So then why do they buy it?

To get people to work harder for you. Spending every waking moment in front of a customer or a computer screen eating bulk ramen sounds like a great montage scene in the movie you'll have an EP credit in, and this distorted reality is even easier to sell to impressionable young college grads who have maybe .1% of the equity (in options!) that founders and VCs get to keep.

Why are jeans and hoodies the fashion choice of founders? Because if everyone is used to dressing like a poor college student, they tend not to notice how little they're truly being compensated.

This isn't some big founder/VC conspiracy, it's complicit common sense.




Random thought. People also do WANT a "romantic" or "interesting" or "passionate" life or whatever you want to call it. All the talk about "work/life balance" and "stable income" and stuff is uninteresting to this mentality because in one sense all it is is a preference for stability, a kind of conservatism. I know people who have abandoned career altogether to go around busking, and they LOVE the "hustle" even when it sucks in objective terms. They love the sense of urgency, the sense of being on their own space fighter like in Firefly. With funded startups it's a bit different because you still have daddy in the board room handing out your allowance, but that's secondary.

I can imagine someone semi-consciously optimizing their life in such a way as to avoid middle class normality as much as possible. If you want to get financially independent without doing "boring" stuff like working a stable career and investing in index funds, the notion of a wildly successful startup is perfect: you get to be interestingly poor for years, and then you can suddenly get fuck-off rich, with no intermediate period of dull stability.

Presumably after that you can go off and build canoes with your friends or whatever it is you "really" want to do. Except that probably, for reasons David and others outline, the plan will fail and drag you into decades of pure hypocritical misery.


This is an interesting thought, I like it


You still have to be able to eat.


> Why are jeans and hoodies the fashion choice of founders?

Because they're comfortable, familiar, and they can get away with it? I think it takes a particularly cynical and angry mind to stretch the choice of clothing to be a tool of oppression on the part of the founders.


If you research any culture at any time period, you will find clothing as a method of control. Medieval European countries often banned commoners from wearing violet, because the color was expensive and the ruling class wanted to reinforce the idea that the nobility were fundamentally different and better. Same goes for Jews in nazi Germany's being forced to wear yellow stars. The way you get someone to dress influences the way they think.

It's the same as buying a few pizzas for your employees to get them to code till sunrise instead of paying them proper overtime. Impressionable college grads with little work experience elsewhere will take that kind of behavior for granted, and assume it is the cost of their (measly) equity. Essentially, you want them to be suckers. Comfortable suckers.


Any culture at any time period? Are you sure about that? That's a ridiculously strong claim.


It's not that they can get away with wearing jeans so much as they can't get away with wearing other things. There's still an egalitarian and meritocratic notion in technology that rank shouldn't matter. Ask yourself why NSA director and General Keith Alexander showed up at DEFCON in jeans and a t-shirt with an EFF logo on it.

Most of these guys telling you what to do, where to live and which technologies or schools that matter are Ivy League alumni multimillionaires. Many from a time before a widespread Internet and grants for poor students. When was the last time you saw any of them sit down with someone who were really challenging their views?

Edit: For somewhat of an example of the last thing there are two episodes of This Week In Startups with DHH.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XDGHxO6N3Ms&t=15m30s https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jzERXJgi5vQ&t=7m11s


They're also inexpensive and low-overhead. I'm glad to have the luxury of working in jeans and tee shirts. Cuts way down on ironing and laundry, frees up time.


Time to spend working with no overtime pay?


Starching and ironing dress shirts is work (done for your employer's benefit) that is completely unpaid.


You will find tech people are far more into their uniform than "suits" are.


Not at most enterprise companies. Maintaining an extra set of clothes is expensive, especially when they require frequent dry cleaning. I also found it was a hassle to 'match' all the time, I was called out for wearing a black shoes brown belt combo while running out of the house a few times.

Additionally, after work most of my friends have to change outfits to participate in social events. Business casual dress is useless, now I wear jeans, athletic shorts, and t-shirts to the office.




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