However, every time there is a great deflating, it is because the market is tired and preparing to embrace something different. So far I've been through several of these, chips in the 80's dot coms in the late 90s, storage in the early 2000's, and now either web 2.0 or social (depending on how you score it). Three threads are competing for the next round, IoT, Machine Learning, and Bioinformatics. CRISPR derived technologies could be in there too but I see a lot of regulatory hurdles headed that way which will be hard to dodge.
The thing to keep in mind though if you are one of the folks getting laid off, it isn't you its them. Seriously. Layoffs happen when the world shifts and your company didn't shift with it. That said, it still sucks to suddenly be out of a job and the temptation will be to grab at the first thing that offers you something. My advice to you is to be thoughtful. Think through what you want to do, what the world is going through, and how you want to look back at your role on that. Then head for the area that best meets those needs.
In the early 90s, the next big thing was WebTV, VR, or PDAs. Instead, we got the WWW.
Post dot-com crash, the next big thing was P2P, enterprise software, and the semantic web. Instead, we got social networking.
In 2008, the next big thing was casual games, (micro)blogs, and embeddable widgets. Instead we got mobile and the sharing economy.
Now, the next big thing is wearables, IoT, or AI. And who knows what we're going to get?
Looking at the patterns, it looks like the mistake most people make is to extrapolate the last big thing into the next, not being willing to make a big enough conceptual jump. So enterprise software, the semantic web, and P2P are all offshoots of the WWW and all enjoyed some modest success, but a different offshoot of the WWW (social) connected it to a different area of peoples' lives. Casual games, microblogs, and embeddable widgets are all offshoots of social, but a different offshoot of these social changes was enabled by mobile, which enabled totally different ways of interacting.
WebTV -> YouTube, Netflix. VR -> Warcraft, EVE Online, Minecraft. PDAs -> iOS, Android. P2P -> Spotify, Skype, BitTorrent. Enterprise Software -> A lot, but obviously not well known, say Atlassian. Semantiv Web and APIs have largely failed, probably because of the shift to mobile. Casual games -> Rovio, Supercell, King. Microblog -> Tumblr, Instagram, Vine, Twitter. Embeddable widgets -> All the big companies. Failed dot com things -> "sharing economy" and of course earlier things like Amazon.
And most of those things are still successors to other technologies that performed the same function.
Most of the things happend, just as we know wearables, IoT and AI is going to happen. It's when and how that is the question. The people who hype things are always going to dominate over the people who argue the facts, at least in public forums. Look at any discussion on HN about space, self-driving cars, digital currency etc.
WebTV is in that case not a good "prediction". You have to look at what the premise is and if the product fits the premise. Cheap and easy access to the web is failing because of it's hard to build an ecosystem. Most people don't want to buy, say a chromebook, if something else with the full ecosystem is available at a similar price point.
Which begs the question "were predictions too early, or were early executions insufficient". There are a million examples of first movers who didn't execute. Off the top of my head Yahoo, Blackberry, and IBM OS/2 were first to market for generational techs and then lost.
Its not A or B; its A, in part because of failure to correctly anticipate B. Predicting market success is, inherently, a prediction of market participants successful execution.
I said this in another thread. We know that self-driving cars are gong to be a thing in the future. That doesn't necessarily mean that the effort a company like Google makes today is going to be that valuable. It might be that when full autonomy is ready for mass implementation, we already had cars running around with (much cheaper) sensors for years. Since things like highway autonomy and active safety systems are lower hanging fruit. On the other hand if they gather enough patents and full autonomy explodes in 10 years, they have a good position. There's all this complexity yet most of HN is like "Google is the self-driving company".
Another part of semantic web that had not taken off had to do with www itself. For example, in thinking about blockchain and ipfs, it's possible to create a fully decentralized data store. But to do it well, we'd need to incorporate the semantic web ... And possibly machine learning. I don't think anyone has yet figured out how to do a fully decentralized AI yet.
The AI/ML platform is interesting because I think a lot of it is shifting over to voice-based, rather then web-based (or mobile/tablet-based) interface. A voice-based interface is more invisible than a touch or mouse-based interface.
Come to think of it, adding in the idea of ephemeralization might be a good way of getting a better estimate of timing for a technology. In such a case, voice-interface (and the AIs that power them) would probably be closer to being the next big thing than VR (based upon ephemeralization).
Both Google Now and GMail/Inbox -- as well as Knowledge Graph in Google Search -- incorporate substantial functionality building on semantic web concepts.
Some of them are built on Schema.org markup, which is essentially a modern, multiparty defined vocabulary semantic web markup vocabulary.
I'm not entirely sure how, but the Viv ontologies grows and change as Viv gets used. What would be interesting is to see how the third-party developer interfaces for Viv will look like, and whether incorporating semantic markup in data sources would make it easier to get your offering on the Viv platform. Assuming AI/MLs takes off as the next big thing (which as was asserted, it's not a certainty, but seems likely), I can see the technologies behind semantic web getting resuscitated as people try to get their offerings onto these AI platforms.
IPFS is a completely decentralized store that combines a lot of older ideas in a way that hasn't been tried before. All content is content-addressable (like git), decentralized (like bittorrent), with nodes automatically discovering each other (dht), and a networking strategy that works with NATs. You can use it to publish content, and that content would be pinned or stored by the users who care about the content.
One of the ways you can use IPFS is a kind of decentralized, immutable, unstructured datastore. So if you were writing an app on that, how do you make sure the data is sufficiently structured for your app? You might need to declare schemas, as well as describing a graph of how each piece of data are related to each other. Once you start trying to use IPFS as a kind of decentralized graph database, someone will probably reuse the ideas from semantic web or reinvent it.
The general trends have been miniturisation and ubiquitous connectivity, and they haven't just appeared in one big thing, but in every area of life.
I'd also question the "VR->Warcraft" thing. the 90s notion of VR was about something much more like the current hype for VR, with head-mounted displays and natural human movement in imaginary spaces. Even in the 90s we had what I think of as the predecessors to WarCraft and MineCraft, which were 3D games like Doom.
I also think you can't sweep timing under the rug like that. The next-big-thing phenomenon has timing as literally the first word. And that's important when talking about technology as a business. PDAs were always a niche business; it took integrating them with the cellphone to make the leap to ubiquity. But none of the PDAs made it into the promised land; Palm even had PDA+Cellphone models, but by then they were too old, too tired, too confused to seize the moment, so Apple did.
I think VR was both in the 90s. In large part VR was an interface to getting access to another world. A lot of it stemmed from things like neuromancer for example which isn't really natural world. It wasn't necessarily how realistic a flight simulator is. HTC Vive is quite interesting hese days with the room concept.
It's hard to argue perception of the past though. I'm just saying that plenty of things that are commonplace today, like kids playing (as in the traditional sense of the word) together online, would be science fiction in the 90s.
Regards to timing, I don't think it is unexpected that technology takes a few, or even many, years to live up to expectations. A smartphone is way more like a PDA than it is an early cellphone.
In the end I think the most important part is just having more qualified discussions about these things. We know self-driving cars are going to be a thing and internet connected devices and digital currency, in which capacity it can, should and will be is the interesting part.
WebTV (The product that was later acquired by MS and became MSN TV, and was discontinued in 2013) is basically a forerunner of web-connected smart TV STBs.
It is distinct from the newer "Web TV" (web-delivered TV-style content) like Netflix and Youtube, though WebTV's successors are a common vehicle for Web TV.
How are any of these VR? The first warcraft was released in 1994, Eve in the early 2000s and Minecraft in the 2010s.
None of these use VR. Decent VR was a pipe dream in the 90s but today it will most likely become a reality. Not sure if the public will adopt it en masse.
Nothing is ever new, of course. =)
I'll note that all three Internet booms have fundamentally revolved around communications and advertising. Web, search, social, mobile.
People like to engage with friends and family, and businesses want to sell. Seems fairly powerful. Ever cheaper and more capable kit has gotten ever more portable.
Don't underestimate people's desire to connect. Or advertisers' to pitch. Though each may also have saturation or backlash points.
Simple and atomic seems also to have beaten complex and integrated.
When used as a communications platform, it's a text/voice communication system with an unrelated 3d game you can play to keep from getting bored.
Habbo has many registrations because of the churn rate you mentioned and that it's been around for 16 years, but it's not that big. And it certainly doesn't make billions.
And discretely monetizeable chunks -- ads, music sales, monthly services, frequent sales. The dream of a ubiquitous, always on, universally accessible information stream of the 1950s - 1980s seems not to be compatible with business necessities.
That's kind of confused: WebTV was a predicted next big thing after the WWW (it was, in fact, seen as a progression of the WWW).
Of course, mobile (PDAs, basically) was big in the next wave you cite, and VR is, if not quite big, just hitting the consumer market in a noticeable way now. And WebTV is basically the original SmartTV STBs, which are now an integrated part of most consumer TVs. So, another one that went big, if somewhat later.
> In 2008, the next big thing was casual games, (micro)blogs, and embeddable widgets. Instead we got mobile and the sharing economy.
Microblogging was predicted earlier, and became big (as a key part of 2nd wave social networking -- FB/Twitter, which displaced MySpace, etc.). In fact, its so central to them that its just been absorbed into the concept of what social networking is rather than being called out as a separate, distinct thing anymore.
Ditto with casual games, which then moved from social networking platforms largely to mobile, and while some of the original developers went through a bust after their initial boom, that seems to because the market got more competition, not because it stopped being big. So, of these, the only one that wasn't true either before or shortly after 2008 is "embeddable widgets".
> Now, the next big thing is wearables, IoT, or AI. And who knows what we're going to get?
Well, judging from the success of the other things you point to, probably all three of those (or at worst 2 of 3), but only one of them will hit it big in this wave, and the others will be one-two waves later.
Do you think neural networks are just hype? I am curios, because Tensor Flow seems to be a real product but I can't speak to how much of that is Google's marketing.
However, I've been hearing crazy talk, especially in the popular press, about how strong AI is just around the corner, how AIs will soon replace people, what will we all do when machines can do everything for us, and so on. It's been repeated on a ten to fifteen year interval since the dawn of the computer age, it's no more true than it was the last time, and we should know better by now!
The ones who have overcome it are always just sitting and waiting for everyone else to catch on.. (think social media). Takes a while of digesting and overcoming misunderstandings.
They don't want a federated pseudo-anonymous crypto-currency, just anonymous enough for theft without consequences, which requires them to hoard tokens on their home computer or a trusted server with extraordinary security measures as if they were gold coins and then pay a variable fee and wait a variable length of time (10 minutes!) to actually verify a transaction. I suppose gold bugs might be happy with it as a replacement for gold or stacks of cash under the mattress but as a currency it has glaring shortcomings. I don't think many people hate bitcoin, they just find the hype for it and its blockchain overblown and myopic. It's an interesting experiment, but it's unlikely to replace the currencies we have, I suspect that will happen at the transaction layer, not the currency layer (the underlying currency to a transaction is in many ways uninteresting).
The financial industry may well be ripe for disruption (indeed some startups in the UK have started), but the founding tenets of bitcoin are such that it is not a suitable replacement.
For the reasons given above I find that highly unlikely. Proof of work and distributed consensus are at odds with the requirements of a global real-time processing network.
Once again, whatever people's views on bitcoin at least realize that mining hashes don't dictate how many transactions can be processed by a miner. They mine a block, then they include as many transactions as they think they can get away with and keep the latency low enough to propagate. Right now they are capped by a block size limit which is the real next hurdle. Some people think there should be no block size limit - latency already becomes a limit in itself.
To hammer it home - someone using bitcoin does not need to use any more electricity than a computer and internet connection. The miners use the electricity and the amount of transactions they process is not directly linked in any way.
I agree bitcoin does have its flaws, economically bitcoin behaves like a commodity, which might hinder consumer adoption. There are ways to get around that, you could potentially issue a anonymous currency of sorts backed by bitcoin, with a fixed exchange change rate. So, the prices could remain relatively stable. May be that could drive consumer adoption.
TBH, I don't know what bitcoin is going to look like in the next 10 years. It's like the internet all over again. Just like the internet, bitcoin value doesn't necessarily come from the underlying utility as a transaction platform or in case of the internet TCP/IP, but from its distributed , permissionless and decentralized nature of governance. We know for a fact, that's what drives innovation.
I was under the impression that more than 50% of the mining power is controlled by a very small set of Chinese miners. Could they not wreak major havoc by deciding to tweak the protocol themselves or not adopt certain features?
Similarly, what happens if the few bitcoin core developers decided to do something nefarious with the client. Surely they would be caught right away, but then how would the community decide on what software/protocol to use?
No it is not. Regulation in Financial Services exists for a very good reason. To protect you the customer against the various kinds of risks.
When you run a company and borrow a significant amount of money from a lender you do not want that this lender changes terms half-way through because they are in trouble re-financing their portfolio. The same applies to due-diligence in credit underwriting. Social scoring was hailed as the future of credit origination but it does not work at all (yet). No social characteristic is correlating at to defaults.
What if you deposit your life savings or life insurance with a fintech startup and they do not survive (for whatever reason). Then what?
There are a lot of businesses out there relying on a stable financial systems. Fintech companies will work with established players to bring faster technical implementations and MVP's for banks to implement. After they have done their technical due diligence. Beyond that I am more than doubtful.
I have news for you all of these exotic and toxic investment vehicles that these investment banks cook up, largely because a previous loophole was close are essentially high flying risky startups inside the context of the bank.
Deposits and retirements savings did not survive in the last financial meltdown and this had nothing to do with fintech, these were white-glove investment houses. So yeah people do want protection, protection against this established racket. The established racket is the largest offender.
Yes it did. Nobody lost money in their savings or current accounts in commercial banks (Except Iceland)
What happened in the stock market was different but the core of the FSA/FCA is about protecting customer's money which they did. (See how they were able to ensure none of Northern Rock's customers lost money in the UK).
You mean the Glass-Steagal regulation that was repealed prior to the crisis?
Glass-Stegal would however further my point, its the regulatory capture in the financial industry that allowed that to happen, and by that I mean appointing an investment banking executive from Wall Street to head the Federal Reserve.
In my opinion, bitcoin will be overtaken by another coin, most likely ethereum. This is because while bitcoin has many issues, the underlying tech (blockchain) is sound.
The reason ethereum will succeed is because it is not just a currency. It's not even mostly a currency. It is a decentralized network that gives users the ability to engage in trustless programmatic contracts.
Decentralized, meaning that no one person has the ability to tamper with important documents or files.
Programmatic in that contracts are actual programs that get run at a predetermined time.
And trustless in that some third party mediator isn't required to enforce terms. This point is the most important because it means that organizational structures that simply would not be feasible otherwise are possible.
Organizations as we know them today are necessarily built like pyramids (governments, large corporations) or they are kept very small for mobility (startups). With trustless organizations, this won't (always) be true anymore.
And with the momentum of these features, I could see Ether (Ethereum's currency) dethroning Bitcoin. It's already got a fifth of the market cap that BTC has.
Can you wrap your head around getting rid of the system completely? 'Money' is an artificial numerical system of tokenised management that fundamentally limits our progression as a race. We can't repair roads, fund disease treatment, build structures to house our sick or educate our children, distribute food to the needy because the 'numbers' don't let us. The concept of finance is thrust upon us from birth and we're all but incapable of seeing what a stupid system it really is.
Example. I work x hours and get paid y tokens. y tokens thus equals x hours of my work. I now go and buy a cutlery set. That was produced by n people over m hours, and is sold with p profit. My y tokens is equal to n * m + p, which is equal to x * y.
Money exists to make the n * m + p = x * y things workable. It's an abstracted barter system, where rather than having to work in Sony's programming department to earn a new TV, I can write code for other people, get paid something, and then pay it to Sony, who can equate it to the cost of a TV.
The doing all the things you talked about in the second paragraph is a management and distribution of labour issue, which is down to society and governance. There's many nations that manage those things fine, and have financial systems. The issue is with a society that isn't able to provide those things, because the values held and the outcomes desired are fundamentally opposed.
If you want to fix something, get involved in local politics and make a difference.
The monetary system, is an attempt to use money, and market price setting to solve the problem you describe - and that problem is essentially NP complete, so what markets and market price setting, in conjunction with an enormous number of local decisions made in response to those price signals are doing is trying to find a reasonably efficient approximate solution.
It's an untested assumption that the monetary system can actually do that without any regulation. There are good reasons to think that it can't, especially over long periods.
Completely agree about the involvement in local politics - it's easy to be an armchair economist, and ignore the reality that at the end of the day the single most important government function is that the garbage is collected regularly.
That's a massively oversimplified perspective on the completely broken political systems most of us in western psuedo-democratic nations live in, whereby resolving a lot of the systemic issues requires a lot more than a single individual getting involved in local politics.
Better to be involved and work towards the change you want to see, than to throw your hands up and despair over the "broken political system of our western psuedo-democratic nations".
That's the point of democracies - they only work when people effectively engage. Most people don't, but that's not a failure of democracy, it's a failure of society. History is rife with examples of single individuals and small groups who made massive change over time. The American civil rights movement, the Indian independence movement, the anti-Apartheid movement in South Afica...
You can work to make change and then bemoan anything you want, but if you choose not to engage, your words lack authenticity and merit.
"Money's a matter of functions four,
A Medium, a Measure, a Standard, a Store"
How does that translate to the billions that hedge fund managers "earn".
Overthrowing the system isn't on my bucket list, but it makes for an interesting debate - eg: https://medium.com/@RickWebb/the-economics-of-star-trek-29ba...
Additionally, if you do have over-abundant capacity to pre-manufacture well above that required "spike", then you need to a) use logistics to get it there and b) foresight of knowing where you need to get it to, and how much of it.
Otherwise, you'd have to have the ability to produce any arbitrary amount of it at the desired location when the need requires. By it, I generally mean all products.
The implosion currently going on in fintech indicates otherwise: Lending (Square, Lending Club, OnDeck) and Investment (Robo Advisors) both are unraveling.
A currency backed by no one is unlikely to earn the trust of many.
You could argue "the infrastructure of a bunch of ISP companies", but then you can argue that about Bitcoin as well. The infrastructure of a bunch of (eventually) more trusted companies built around the currency (like Coinbase, etc), and the computing power of the miners propogating the blockchain, plus the entire ledger being public and independently verifiable, could earn the trust of many (it might not, but it could).
There are obstacles getting in the way of that, though, including it being such a new and different concept that most people can't wrap their heads around it.
A currency policy that is constantly being manipulated and a money supply that is constantly tinkered with(quantitative easing?) is unlikely to keep the trust of many when there are alternatives.
Maintaining a currency requires threading a needle. Only strong governments have ever been successful at it.
Perhaps there is a technological solution, but it's not bitcoin or any of its brethren, because their growth rate is decoupled from the economy.
Yep, that's the problem with BitCoin alright: a bunch of people sitting on coins because they got in "early", thinking everyone is going to climb aboard and make them rich.
Probably not gonna happen.
It will become much harder for the average person to put a server on the web because they'll have to pay higher fees and go through more and more bureaucracy. Kind of like what happened to radio.
A few big companies will own 90% of high traffic sites and the only way to get access to "unapproved" software will be to root your device, which will put you on a terrorist watch list.
We'll assimilate under a few main services:
- a social net (facebook/twitter)
- a search engine (google)
- entertainment (netflix/walled garden apps)
Everything will feed directly into the NSA. There will be a slight illusion of choice.
Specify we need a head of marketing, and folks experienced in software, mechanical engineering, chemistry and biology.
To learn more about our CRISPR offering checkout https://crispr.synthego.com
If you are interested in a position email me at email@example.com (We are in Redwood City)
It appears to be people from the former Halcyon Molecular, so basically part of the Musk/Nosek/Thiel and Founders Fund insider crowd.
I'm hoping VR/AR will be on that list as well.
I remember the layoffs right before leaving LivingSocial in 2012. A raw, human catastrophe. Watching friends pack up their things, who had been sold on the culture and vision of what the company could be, was an eye opening experience.
This is why you focus on business fundamentals. Not because it is sexy, not because you can tell ProductHunt about your run rate, and not because you want impress investors.
Because if you fuck up, everyone who depends on you gets fucked.
A few words of advice:
- Before you raise money, ask yourself if that valuation is realistic or aspirational. If it is aspirational, know that you have to reach that valuation without raising another cent, just to break even. Ask yourself if you are default dead or alive.
- Before you start a company, ask if it is solving a problem for customers or your desire "to be an entrepreneur."
- Before you hire anyone, ask if their position is a need to have or a nice have. Like customers, few businesses can afford "nice to haves"
- There is always capital available for businesses with strong fundamentals who are solving real needs.
Layoffs are like throwing up from drinking. Not fun and nearly always your (the founders/managers') fault.
- Pace yourself.
- Build a company you're proud of.
- Build something that people need.
- Growth is great for slide decks, but employees can't use it to pay rent. Don't chase hypergrowth as an end in itself.
Markets can stay irrational far longer than you can stay solvent, but they can also snap back to reality before you can wake-up.
It's surprising to me that no one starts a company solely for creating an amazing place to work. A great workplace and work would be the product/service, and the employees the consumers of the product/service. Sure, you would have to have paying customers to fuel it, but that could always be secondary in some sense. Right now it seems like the workplace is secondary, so why not swap it? I'm sure there are a nice subset of people who would take less (even half) of their current salary just to work in a place that revolves around them and their experience working.. which is the majority of most of our days.
Viable? Probably not, but it's interesting to think about and trying to imagine what that place would look like for you personally.
The problem with the idea in general is that money usually flows from the party deriving the benefit to the party providing it. So if the company's top priority really was to provide a great place to work, then logically, the employees should be paying it to work there. Indeed, places that are often considered great places to work (Google, Palantir, Fog Creek, philanthropy, non-profits, education) are often notorious for underpaying their workers relative to where they could employ their skills elsewhere. If a company took this to the logical extreme - making the employees the consumers of the product/service - then it would cease to be "work", and would instead be a "hobby/internship/volunteer/education/experience".
I think there are a few places where you can fight for this experience. One at a (extremely well-funded) University lab where you are paid a Software Engineer salary to work on computational research problems. Two at a (extremely lenient) company where you are allowed the freedom. like 50% time to take classes on company-time and company-dime and/or pursue your own open source projects that tickles personal intellectual interest, not the company's production needs.
I will however add, being at a place that does offer a 20% time and tuition credit to take your own independent class of choosing, attend journal club/internal machine-learning and algorithm group classes or pursue a open-source project. It is very very hard to take the initiative because it's much easier just to cruise and do 80% of the work in the 100% allotted time. Especially after the first year of novelty of given the opportunity.
So regardless of wherever your workplace, I think whether a person really pushes their own intellectual boundaries is more the person's aptitude to apply themselves than their work environment/culture.
Well, they are. One strong motivation for creating a really good place to work is to attract best-in-class staff without necessarily paying best-in-class wages. In that sense, your employees are paying you a chunk of their potential salary in order to work for you instead of the highest bidder.
As in, the idea is to provide favorable working conditions for people / teams that are making money from their own efforts and who pay for that environment (in cash, membership dues, stock, whatever). The institution itself is in the business of giving the teams within it the best possible working conditions given available resources. However, the catch is that the income of the teams doesn't come from the institution, but rather the other way around.
For shitty working conditions + excellent pay, I'd think more in terms of algo trading or founding a startup (well, technically founding a startup gives you shitty pay too, but with the potential of a large windfall). Those are the alternatives that many Googlers with similar levels of education, intelligence, and ambition would consider, and Google didn't even try to compete with those compensation levels. In the packet included with my offer letter explaining why I should work for Google, they even said "Most Googlers do not work for Google to maximize financial gain."
You've either been unlucky or I've been exceptionally lucky, as my experience has been great working conditions, excellent pay, and exceptional people whom I'm happy to be spending a few evenings a week with, outside of hours, on the company dime.
Happy Friday :)
Work hard, be good at what you do, and save every dime you can. Make sure you've got enough cash to maintain your life for 6 months. This can take time, it took me 3 years in my first tech job to reach this point, and didn't have much resembling a life during this time. It kinda sucked, but the investment paid off multiple times over.
Then interview aggressively. Interview for jobs you don't actually want, it makes good practice, and they're easy to reject. When you're researching the companies you interview for, look into why you'd want to work for them, not just into random trivia to demonstrate an interest in the firm (do this too of course). Remember that the interview is a two way street. You're interviewing them to make sure it's a good fit. Ask to look around the office, to chat to some of the people you'd be working with. Look at the nearest toilets to where you'll be working.
Do not be afraid to turn down jobs. You're not burning bridges. You can turn a job down and still join them later if you change your mind (if they're still hiring). If you've taken a job and decided it's not a good fit, do your best to impress as much as you can, as quickly as you can. Demonstrate your worth. They'll be disappointed when you leave, but you've left the door open for future opportunities with all of them. Having options is the closest you can get to free employment insurance. This builds your professional network, which leads to more and more opportunities in future.
Your salary is a function of your ability to negotiate. Interview for jobs you don't want to get offers. Salary negotiations are like prom dates. The more people that want to go to prom with you, the more people that'll want to go to prom with you. Desirability breeds desire. Having offers means you can negotiate higher, and get more of what you want. Their starting offer is their floor. They will only go up.
Go back to the beginning. Save every nickel and dime you make. You should increase your liquid cash to minimum 12 months living expenses (at the rate of expense of the life you want to lead, not at the rate of saving every nickel and dime). You should have additional savings, investments, property potentially if that's the right route for you.
Work hard, be good at what you do. If you are, and the people you're working with are too, mutual respect builds, and from that, friendship. If you're like me, 10 years in, you're no longer interviewing for jobs, you're chatting to friends about prospective opportunities where they're working. They've done similar to you, and they're only working in places with people they respect, so the effort involved on both sides of the hiring process goes down.
Invest in yourself, balance your life with your work (life-work balance, the ordering of that phrase is important), value your time. Don't work for anyone who doesn't. That doesn't mean you don't do crunches, just that they're exceptional rather than ordinary.
You lost me at this part. Every job out there requires you to go through at least some kind of interview process. What mystical companies out there allow you to skip it, and how do you negotiate that allowance?
If a friend has told you the company is on the level, and told the company you're on the level, the interview becomes much more sociable and low stress. You're each confirming what you already know and looking for a good fit, rather than being suspiciously analyzing one another.
When I was applying, the software labor market was a bit more fluid, Google's target demographic was more startup-like, and it was right as the financial crisis was gathering steam and a number of people who had previously been in finance (including myself) were looking elsewhere. So their competition for employees was much more broadly defined. Google doesn't pay anything near what a creative algorithm-designer can make at a hedge fund, nor will they net you a few million dollars from a startup exit, but at the time those were the other opportunities that people might've considered. A number of folks I met at Google in 2009 were former startup founders; very few that I met in my last couple years there (2013/2014) were.
Tangentially related, but an early strategy of the Ford motor co was to double the standard factory wage of it's employees, so that the purchase of one of its automobiles was within reach and seen as the bonus of employment. It did wonders for their introduction of the automobile to America.
Realization: I have become extremely cynical in my middle years with all the crap I've seen from employers. :/
That workers afford cars after that was a nice side effect that made for good PR.
Google doesn't really cost the users much (except loss of private data?) so its hard to say they should pay their employees enough to afford a google mail account.
Such a company could combine workplace with living quarters, shared transportation, etc.. Something like garage-startup evangelists dream about. Considering that 1) sharing expenses usually lowers single contribution and 2) lots of things could be [personal income] tax free such a company could actually provide services at reasonably competitive prices.
I think that would only be possible at low or large scales (<10 / >1k emploees?) and has own issues like spouse employment, personal preferences (e.g. luxurious car vs spacious house), location that are traditionally handled on per-family basis. Interesting idea, actually
The thing is; it's not nice to have to move out of the neighbourhood when you switch jobs, or to have your manager be also your landlord, or to be stuck using the few "subsidized" services available because you can't afford the others (since you've traded some salary for these compensations).
It's essentially taking the problems of employer-provided healthcare and expanding them to all the other components of your life.
I have some friends who did exactly that. Their company is a small consulting firm that focuses on a rather uninteresting space (enterprise content management) but they have a small profitable company where hires are treated right.
The "problem" with these kinds of companies is that you are never going to read about them on HN, they aren't a lottery ticket for the employees, and the work is not that sexy. However, I have several other friends who are employed by said company and have been there for years because it is a great place to work.
They do, they're called lifestyle businesses and tons of people do them. You simply don't hear about them because the valley (thus VC money) is generally about Unicorns, not regular businesses.
@DHH Startup School 2008
Still inspiring, still relevant eight years later.
I bet there are a lot of amazing or pretty darn good places to work in whatever that 37 Signals thing is that interviews companies who have been in business for a long time.
Found it: https://thedistance.com/
- Solving interesting (to the founders) problems
- Social club (the most relevant to your proposal)
- Ego trip
- Tax dodge
In all seriousness, I support your point that companies are founded for more than just to make money, even though (most) companies ultimately need to make money.
Personally, we are building a company to have an impact. Profit is part of that, since how large of an impact is correlated with the number of customers we can serve which requires certain fixed costs (e.g. salaries.) Profits also allow a company to weather market fluctuations and be free of the hype-cycles of investors.
The product or service are equally means to an end. Building a CRM for local government isn't a goal in or of itself. We don't win when the code is shipped or even when the customer buys it, only when we affect change on the world.
The one thing required to do that is people. And not just anyone is passionate about empowering public servants (which is pefectly fine.) So, in fact, creating a great place to work _is_ one of the few things we build the company around.
At the end of the day, it all comes back to human happiness. Not the spurts of dopamine from Candy Crush or Snapchat, but real fulfillment. (Check out our values and employee handbook for how we put that into action.)
When I was younger, my dad used to always ask me, "What is your goal in life?" I'd say stupid things like a Ferrari or a big house and he would ask "Why?" Because I wanted to drive fast or have room for toys and video games. "Why?" And so on...
All of those "Why"s led to one answer: My goal in life was to be happy. Everything else is a means to that end. That's why a few of the things I listed in the original comment had little to do with product or profit. Build something you're proud of, for no other reason than that you have to live with yourself. Do the right thing. It's harder, but you'll make people, most of all yourself, happy.
And if you die in 30, 40, or 2 years having made a bunch of people happy, I think that sounds pretty great.
[EDIT] - added a story from my childhood
You don't need a company - the same goals can be achieved by a non-profit. The main difference between a non-profit and a company is that the company's owners are allowed to pay themselves dividends from the profit. If you don't care about that, you'd probably be better off with a non-profit.
Our goals are aligned with our customers, not whoever gives us money. As a for-profit enterprise, we are truly independent from the whims of outside investors.
It also changes the talent pool and partnership opportunities. The non-profits we have met, and there are many in the government space, move at a very different pace than a startup. They can also drift to working on the ideological over the practical.
Since software is a quantifiable good, if we cannot sell it than we aren't building something people need, in which case we shouldn't exist. For-profit aligns our survival with our impact.
Unfortunately we haven't figured out how to turn this stuff into a revenue-generating vehicle that would allow our "staff" to be paid in actual currency.
In the early days, we were all about making a great place to be a software developer in New York City.
Yep, that was all there was to it...
I...decided to start a company with my buddy Michael Pryor. Making a nice place to work was our primary objective. We had private offices, flew first class, worked 40 hour weeks...
The tagline was “building the company where the best software developers want to work.”
Figuring out what your company is all about [http://www.joelonsoftware.com/items/2009/11/01.html]
My office used to be the rivers Inn and Oetz in the Austrian Alps, when I worked as a rafting guide and it was an amazing place to work. It just doesn't pay much.
I know at least one company who did that: Mobile Jazz. I started that company in 2009, initially as a freelancer, because I wanted to focus on lifestyle, rather than business success and I wanted to surround myself with other smart people, but also such that have a similar philosophy in life.
We're now a 20 people company with our HQ in Barcelona. However, everyone is allowed to work from wherever they want and (if it is planned properly in advance) also as much as they want. Some of us travel a lot. I've been "homeless" for 2 years now and spend most of my time living out of a camper van: https://i.imgur.com/qZy6Vkd.jpg
One of our employees is currently taking 1 year around-the-world trip with his wife, not rushing, but settling down at least 1 month at each place in order to work comfortably. I've just met up with them in Bali.
On top of our personal freedom and travels we also organize about 3 company events per year, which are voluntary to attend. Some examples:
* Remote office in Thailand: https://mobilejazz.com/blog/working-remotely-from-a-tropical...
* Skiing in the Alps: https://mobilejazz.com/blog/why-we-decided-to-stop-the-compa...
* Summer Camp in the Spanish Pyrenees: https://mobilejazz.com/blog/work-life-balance-in-the-spanish...
* Remote office in Cape Town (blog post pending)
* Remote office in Martinique (coming up this fall)
We pay everyone the same salary (a fair basic salary), but the interesting thing is that every quarter we share a huge chunk of our profit with everyone in the team through bonuses.
We've managed to build an amazing team, hiring mostly through our personal network. Same goes for our clients. We are doing zero sales, but all the work we get comes through word of mouth. And we're constantly overbooked.
We're fully transparent with what we do and even share it with our clients in a monthly newsletter. Now, the funny thing is, they love it. They sometimes even tell us, that they want to stop hire us and they want to start working for us ;-)
By giving my team a lot of freedom and trust, they've learned how to be responsible and act as if would be there business. I can even trust them so much that I just took of a whole month from my role as the CEO and voluntarily worked on a sailing boat crossing the South Pacific from Micronesia to New Caledonia: https://goo.gl/KPXI21
Happy to answer any questions :-)
EDIT: for completion, we're mostly a consulting/services company: http://mobilejazz.com/ - but we also run a couple of our own products, e.g. https://bugfender.com/ and https://mobilejazz.com/products/enterprise-push-technology
If you want to be able to focus on lifestyle, you must have the business success part pretty well sorted out. Otherwise, how would you be able to underwrite all of the activities and profit sharing you describe?
We don't have a huge monetary success and no one is going to buy our company for multiple millions, but we have a lot of freedom, cool people and pretty fun adventures together without having to worry about financials either as long as don't start driving Lamborghinis ;-)
That said, the financials need to be good to support the lifestyle part. But if you live smart (not wasting money on a lot of things you probably don't need anyway) you get pretty far.
How many hours per day do you expect your employees to work ? (I realize it may be task based...but what does it end up spending?)
Second, can you talk about the tools you use to manage the company ? How do you track everyone's work,etc - is it self reported like Google Snippets,etc.
Have you ever fired anyone?
> How many hours per day do you expect your employees to work?
We don't expect any fixed number of hours. As long as stuff gets done and no-one suffers we're pretty cool about it. It does require discipline in planning by everyone though. Taking a day or two of spontaneously usually also isn't a problem.
> Second, can you talk about the tools you use to manage the company?
- Slack (we just recently moved over from HipChat as we couldn't deal with constant connectivity issues any more)
- Asana (best investment ever)
- Google Apps (Gmail, GDocs, tons of spreadsheets, calendar, etc.)
- Harvest (for tracking of hours, invoicing, etc.)
> Have you ever fired anyone?
Yes we have. We have a very special culture with a lot of freedom and flexibility, but that also requires high responsibility. We hire mostly on gut feeling and are pretty good at that. But honestly, you only know after you've worked with people for a couple of months. And while some might be technically excellent, there are those that are no team players, can't communicate well when it's needed or don't have a sense of accountability. Basically these people need supervision, and the way we work we don't have supervision and also don't want it.
You have to create value that customers will pay for. They don't give a rat's ass about your workplace. See iPhone.
An interesting dynamic of startups. You try to build a great place to work at,  and in building that startup you screw it up by building a bigger company. 
 "Managing Software Engineers" ~ http://philip.greenspun.com/ancient-history/managing-softwar...
 "ArsDigita: From Start-Up to Bust-Up" ~ http://waxy.org/random/arsdigita/
"If you see one of your best people walking out the door at 6:00 pm, try to think why you haven't challenged that person with an interesting project."
"This means that if you want to follow the best practices of the industry in terms of design and architecture, the only way to improve speed to market is to have the same people working longer hours."
Software development is inherently creative. Employees need external stimuli to be effective.
3 hours of focused work with no distractions is worth at least 3 typical work days.
Most people are pretty accommodating (and I work with lots of very noisy salespeople).
It only provides value to the employees/owners, though. Ideas/patents are worthless without the right person/people to execute.
The reality is in that most cases, you just change a tagline here and there, recruiters call you, and you just go on and do the next great thing.
The only ones for whom this is a problem are probably the ones with a "nice to have" position and they will have a hard time finding a new job. This sucks, but this is, like you said, also the founder's fault so it's up to the founder to give them a nice severance pay, great recommendations and preferably even introductions to other companies.
That depends where in the cycle we are. You're talking about the normal churn of startups, but in a downtrend the recruiters stop calling and that is the time where it is quite dramatic.
$4k/mo is significantly more than my total monthly expenses. This leads to the other obvious advice: live below your means.
The leaders who fuck up and fail are very rarely in the same positions of influence ever again.
The leaders who fuck up and survive (through luck and ruthlessness) are busy inflating the next bubble believing whatever fantasy they cook up about the reason for their survival.
Look at the company on the basis of the stuff you list. Are they spending lavishly on "nice to haves?" Do they have any customers? Does their business model seem sane? Talk to someone disinterested to try to understand if you're being attracted to hype or to a really sound idea.
This is a joke, right? I must have missed something between the below market salary and the lottery ticket 0.2-1% equity grant over 4 years. Please, do tell where these startup jobs are that "pay so well".
Have 3-6 months emergency fund saved; if not, start saving today.
Also gives you some idea of how stupid expensive the area is, which further increases the risk.
Yeah, I know. Shhh. They were still amongst the most interesting jobs I had, and some of the projects I'm most proud of.
When hiring people, hire people that can work in many different roles/projects, think about hiring a person that will improve the business, not just someone to do a particular thing. This is not saying hire marketing/programmer/designers, but rather, know that a software developer can learn anything in a few weeks and is not just a developer in language XYZ.
Hire people when you are really hungry for people and can't handle what you need to do with the number of people you have in a particular area, and you expect that need to be sustained for the long term.
Avoid the idea that you can hire contractors for short term things, when contractors is really a euphism for disposable employees. Push management to hire full time employees.
Make sure there is available revenue and burn rate to cover people. Even if you need help, hiring people when you are in dire straits may be bad for them if finding a new job is difficult. (Still, providing jobs == good).
When projects end, give these folks new jobs and give them time to learn new things, rather than getting rid of them and then hiring new people for the next project that may be booting up in just a few weeks.
Larger companies seem rather guilty of thinking a person just is hired for a department/project, and somehow thinks it's ethical to shut down or shrink whole departments. They should instead look about how to have lots of potential ideas in the pipeline for the future and move people around better.
Can you elaborate why ?
I don't think founders should go out of their way to avoid risk in order to avoid layoffs, because this would also mean employees would miss out on opportunities too. In fact, employees are already aware of the risks of smaller companies, and adjust their expectations accordingly.
just remember, sometimes that capital comes from customers, not investors.
The job market has been super easy and mediocre workers have been commanding excessive salaries because of various socio-economic forces (high valuations and cost of living). At some point there had to be a cull of bad startups and workers. It's unfortunate for the individuals and companies involved but I think in a couple years we will be through this and it won't have been so bad.
Every week you see the nth article posted here on how hiring is broken, from HR filtering to recruiters to interviewing. So how do good developers survive, if their skills and experience are essentially worthless in an opaque hiring process?
One common answer is "networking" but that's a non-developer skill- a mediocre developer could be better at networking (maybe correlated - he's in the bar handing out business cards rather than working on his latest side project). A lot of good people get hurt in a downturn and either leave the industry or end up in low-paying, mediocre jobs just to hang on.
Maybe the downturn of the market will drive companies to be pragmatic when choosing candidate, instead of trying to humiliate them with whiteboard teasers.
Nevertheless, I don't think there is that much you and I can do about this, not the market, nor the hiring processes. What stays unchanged is when looking for a job, don't put eggs in one bucket.
But my hypothesis is, they would really try to hire someone with experience, because they won't spend time training him/her, just like what happens in the IC industry.
San Jose #1, that looks good. Although San Francisco....
Edit: I meant that my indeed link was about postings. My assumption was that the 2400 figure (800/month) from the article was net jobs added, not postings.
I was going to post the same thing as your parent post but I think the source is state data so probably not postings. Maybe that what the numbers in the DE9C are for...
Anyone living in an expensive city with a layoff seeming imminent should really be thinking on the long term about where it's best for their family to live. Going day to day wondering if you'll be able to keep your house is not a healthy way to live.
I was also under the impression that South Bay had at least a somewhat reasonable real estate market. I've never been down there.
Network engineering seems more specialized/technical than web dev too.
Best of luck.
The sky is not quite falling yet. There are many parts of the economy that are stalling and the impact on that is felt in companies that sell products into those markets. How things will develop is anyone's guess. I feel "Tech" will keep growing though some areas that perhaps were historically considered "Tech" might shrink. If you look at all the great things we can do with technology I think a lot of stuff is still ahead of us. It's just the natural way that things don't always go smoothly.
There are lots of companies that seem to be looking entirely at how IoT can help them, without actually considering whether their customers benefit. There was a group at CES offering an IoT propane tank valve. It gathers user data, great, but who the hell wants to sink $50 into a smart valve for their grill?
An awful lot of the these companies are offering tiny value propositions to users, and expecting that they'll pay for the chance to give up their data. The "smart grid" is a wonderful dream, but when no two pieces integrate you're just selling some shitty wifi monitors.
I would be interested in hearing from some of you that have been laid off. Have you found another job in the Bay Area or did you have to leave?
For experienced developers/managers, things seem to be business as usual, but in particular the "top tier" companies generally are more focused on avoiding false positives than in reducing false negatives, so I see us as entering a slightly unpleasant period for non-traditional and entry-level candidates.
If anyone has any advice other than "go back home", it'd be much appreciated.
But from what I hear from my friends, new college graduates, with no experience are having a tougher time getting jobs than how it used to be 2 years ago.
Recruiters are just casting a wide net for a few seats. Some independent recruiters, given the payout involved, cast that net very wide (and generally contribute to low quality candidates stuffing up your hiring manager's inbox).
Had you said you recently got a lot of offers, that would be a totally different story.
Poor-quality VOIP line out of Noida: bottom-feeder.
Local call, especially SF, PA, SJ, or similar, far better. Independents over firms, in my experience.
Not sure how it was two years ago, but nowadays between college grads, bootcamp grads, and self-taught there's a lot of people applying for "entry level" jobs and I am guessing it's harder for companies to pick out of all of them.
There may be trouble but lucky so far.
I've had coworkers who have been laid off and were snapped up within a week or two. There's still a huge need for software developers who have a few years of experience under their belts.
But let's be realistic. Over hiring exists, and esp in large companies here in Bay Area. That corporate demand to devour whatever engineers in their sight, is draining.
Various companies I know, (small/medium/big companies, from their employees), are running into growth issue. They hit the ceiling. But their workforce is built to handle exponential growth, which is no longer the case. Unless this industry could find new source of excitement, it will stay this way, which means higher entering bar and preference to the experienced.
At this point it's a drop in the bucket.
That said the email / linkedin spam hasnt slowed at all.