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Tech layoffs more than double in Bay Area (mercurynews.com)
494 points by akg_67 on May 12, 2016 | hide | past | web | favorite | 342 comments

That layoffs have increased should not surprise anyone at this point. Unlike the dot com explosion it seems painfully difficult as a regular employee to have divested some of your equity gains mid-bubble. That makes it more painful.

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.

The interesting thing to me is is that each of these inflection points, the industry had a set of 2-3 possible "next big things", and then none of them happened and the actual next big thing was something different.

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.

I have a hard time seeing how that is accurate. People misjudge the timing and widespread it will be, but those next big things you mentioned are billion dollar industries now.

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.

As is often repeated around the tech industry, "Early = wrong". Knowing that mobile became a huge hit in 2010 doesn't really help the folks writing apps for NewtonScript in 1992 or Palm in 2000. WebTV was a specific Microsoft product (that was gonna be huge, it was the next information superhighway!) - it was actually a set-top box more like GoogleTV or AppleTV - and Microsoft benefitted not a bit from YouTube or Netflix's success. If you got the "casual games" part right but missed the "mobile" part, you ended up like Slide, Newgrounds, or Kongregate, all of which are in decline now, usually bought for 2x invested capital or so.

Newsgrounds and Kongregate was "web casual games platforms" not "casual games companies" like King or Zynga. Notch (Minecraft) worked as a programmer at King between 2005 and 2009. The app store didn't exist until mid 2008. Minecraft is in many ways a casual game.

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.

> Knowing that mobile became a huge hit in 2010 doesn't really help the folks writing apps for NewtonScript in 1992 or Palm in 2000.

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.

> Which begs the question "were predictions too early, or were early executions insufficient".

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.

To succeed you often have to get in early, which means that barrier to entry will be low and competition will be extreme. Plenty of these things didn't fail because they idea failed, but because they got beaten by another company, or a simpler or more advanced technology. I think market success is a higher bar than concept or technology success. Which probably means it is more relevant for discussions (more qualified discussion are better).

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".

From my perspective, semantic web (if we are talking about the same things) failed not because of mobile, but for a variety of other reasons. When semantic web was taking off, the web was very heterogeneous, and web authors could not be expected to write proper tags. In addition, it received little support from mainstream search engines like Google, and for good reason; while the intention of semantic information was to help indexing and other agglutinative tasks, by being invisible to the user, a malicious web page might misrepresent the nature of their content.

The semantic web came silently. Google bought Freebase and has been incorporating that into search. Microformats still live. It just wasn't the big bang it was hyped as.

My lasting (but maybe wrong) impression of the semantic web was that it was basically about interconnecting things. I think when focus shifted to mobile, where closed app store with isolated apps were the norm, that idea became less practical. But I can't say if it was because of mobile or just that the companies "grew up" and this was then reflected in not adopting the semantic web and how mobile was designed.

There is a part of the semantic web being subsumed by AIs. Viv, Alexa, and Google's and Apple's offering will be interesting as people start creating apps for those. (And as you said, timing and how widespread things get is fuzzy).

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.

Interesting, my probably incorrect assumptions are that the semantic web was largely 2000s era hype that didn't really take off. What are Vivs, Google and Apples semantic web offerings? I guess you are referring to the knowledge graph API from Google? Also what's an ipfs?

One more: Buckminster Fuller had this concept of ephemeralization. He talked about how technologies get smaller and smaller until they are invisible. For example, water and sewage pipes are ephemeralized. They are ubiquitous (at least in first-world countries) _because_ they are invisible. I think that is what happened with semantic web. It didn't vaporize so much as ephemeralized.

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).

William Gibson usually talk about how when things are new they are called with a prefix, like "electro", "cyber", "i" or "wireless". Then when it becomes commonplace it usually just sounds silly. We usually don't say "mobile phone" (unless talking about mobile vs. web/desktop) anymore, but we say things like smart-tv.

> What are Vivs, Google and Apples semantic web offerings?

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 don't think Viv is offering a semantic web offering. They are using it. Viv is a generation ahead of the current chat bot AIs, and able to deconstruct a query or a request and then construct actions. Those actions span across multiple APIs and ontologies.

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.

+1 for mentioning Buckminster Fuller. I have a copy of Spaceship Earth on the bookshelf, a great thinker. Thanks for the detailed response, just in time for some weekend reading : )

What's a bookshelf ? ;)

Its where you use old programming books to put your monitor on so its the right height for you.

You're absolutely right. "The next big thing" is a term marketing folks and journalists like to bat around because it (over) simplifies difficult concepts.

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.

Shrink and grow rich ;)

WebTV was just a thin client device you attached to a TV to access the web and email. It wasn't a video service. So it's probably closer to the iOS category, a device for accessing the internet that's cheaper/easier than a PC.

Could you say more about "WebTV -> YouTube, Netflix"? There are two things I could imagine WebTV meaning here (TVs used for Internet access; broadcast TV including more interactive elements) and both are basically the opposite of YouTube and Netflix.

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.

nsxwolf pointed out that WebTv was something I've never heard about [0]. I guess we didn't get web on the tv so much as tv on the web. I'm guessing the original purpose was to give more people access to the web and that as such is fairly solved by phones. I have a hard time being upset over "they promised us WebTv, but all we got were internet access everywhere".

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.

[0] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/MSN_TV

> WebTV -> YouTube, Netflix.

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.

>VR -> Warcraft, EVE Online, Minecraft

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.

In early 2000s, there was massive hype over Second Life. While that never went mainstream, you could see it as the ancestor of today's WoW and Minecraft. I think that's what OP was talking about.

Second Life wasn't the ancestor, so much as a dead-end descendant of a common ancestor, Ultima Online, and Meridian 59 before it. Ultima Online itself was developed to sate a demand for graphical versions of MUDs, which can be said to be the ancestor to the MMORPG genre.

I'd say that Second Life is more of a descendant of MUSH/MOO/MUX than of Ultima Online/Meridian 59.

i second the UO association because of the concept of virtual real estate. In UO housing was a large aspect, regulated with an ownership system, which made the entire world nuanced and relevant. Beyond second-life, I have not seen that level of world-building in any game. Even Minecraft on a server with block area ownership is not the same, as you typically just end up with an endless landscape of art pieces, rather than a functional user-created environment.

That's pretty much what EVE Online is. Most of the galaxy belongs to player-owned corporate alliances, who build infrastructure such as space stations and outposts.

Before UO came out, MUSHes had exactly that (with object/room ownership and @quota to constrain what you can build at any given point).

Nothing is ever new, of course. =)

As far as I remember the "virtual" hype of the 90s was more about the concept of virtual worlds, cyberspace and having experiences online. I think that part has become true in things like WoW and Minecraft. VR as a technology is still not mainstream, but has always existed in form of simulators and other niche products. I don't think anyone should have expected that to come sooner, because the technology just wasn't ready (cheap) yet. It still isn't in some ways. I goes back to my earlier point, people imagine things one way, but we get something else that is practical at the time. Doesn't mean it didn't happen though.

I would point out that World of Warcraft was announced in 2001 and released in 2004. Second Life was released in 2003. I imagine that it's possible Second Life influenced the development of WoW, but I would hardly call it an ancestor.

i am a bit ambiguous about these cycles, its a bit like death/rebirth. Each time i get to work with a new industry: before 2002 i was doing windows stuff , After that it was Linux,networking/security. Now since 2012 its all about storage. the stupid thing is that finding a new job is harder once you are getting a bit older...

Did you mean ambivalent?

Really good point.

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.

The problem is that those are so broad that they are useless at actually predicting what will be successful. People do like to communicate, but the 3D virtual chatrooms that were hyped in the late 90s/early 2000s still failed.

Yet, how many billions have MMOs made? The hype was right (well, hype often prevents good discussions), the implementation was wrong.

Forgive me if I've been using WoW wrong all these years, but do people interact with each other using the 3d first-person components?

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.

More in the way that we assumed that "people like to communicate", so we built something that looked like the real world. But what people really want to do is share experiences and talk about that, which is why everything from sports to bars exist. People probably don't "communicate" as such in WoW (while I'm sure it happens), but they don't in the real world either.

MMOs already existed, the hype was about 3D chatrooms and such. In any case, as much a success as they are, WoW at its peak still had less than half the users of Orkut, let alone Whatsapp or Facebook. It's relatively niche compared to the expectations.

Habbo, even though it has an enormous churn rate since it mostly attract teens, is still one of the most successful communities out there. It just that now these things are commonplace so it's not very exciting anymore.


According to its wiki page, Habbo has ~5 million monthly uniques. HN has 3. Reddit has 227.

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.

Cheaper, simpler, sufficient technologies typically win over complex ones. Email over complex 3D chat. Async over sync. SMS over voive. Image sharing. FB over blogs. Mobile over fixed. Complexity (in the eyes of the user) is virtually _always_ a loser.

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.

Some failed ideas from the original dotcom boom just got recycled, such as Webvan. Better technology and market conditions meant that a bad idea in 2000 made more sense in 2015. So we might see some failed ideas from today succeed in 5 or 10 years' time.

> In the early 90s, the next big thing was WebTV, VR, or PDAs. Instead, we got the WWW.

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.

I'm especially wary of claims that AI will be the next big thing. This would be, what, the fifth time? The sixth? I think we're due for another AI winter, given all the ill-informed hype around artificial neural networks.

Is "AI winter" the semi-official term for the period receding of AI progress?I feel like I keep hearing this term.

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.

"AI winter" is a pretty official term -- it even has a Wikipedia entry. I actually don't think neural networks are just hype, any more than previous AI technology was just hype. A lot of great things have come out of AI research -- logic programming, expert systems, even genetic algorithms -- but each in turn failed to deliver on the unrealistic expectations that were built up around it. We see pictures of ANNs hallucinating, and they seem to promise machines that can dream. But in reality an ANN is just a statistical model trained on a large corpus of inputs belonging to a particular domain. They're profoundly effective at what they're good at, and it's cool to see them pick apart a picture and tell you what's in it.

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!

Very true. This has been the criticism of AI since 1990's. For instance, Berkeley philosopher Hubert Drefus wrote a book "A critique of Artificial reason". A great book to understand the limits of AI.

I agree that we have a very long way to go before strong AI. That being said, I also think quite weak AI is sufficient to commandeer the vast majority of existing jobs, and it's not clear how our socio-economic systems will handle that.

whenever you ask a smart person in tech what the hardest industries are to "disrupt" these days they always say healthcare and education. healthcare has so much money and inertia in it that nothing will happen fast. but education, otoh, is ripe. all students have access to computers and phones, which was never the case. it won't be changed by a single good idea, but if you believe in Steve Case's Third Wave idea, then education is the place to look

I think healthcare and education are very similar in this respect though and hence both equally difficult to disrupt. Even given the presence of connected mobile devices college classes still require 200 dollar text books. Both of these industries are pretty well entrenched and their costs far outpace inflation.

The financial world is absolutely ripe for an overthrow... People don't seem to want to think or talk about that though.. Means embracing a certain cryptocurrency that everyone wants to hate. Cognitive dissonance casts a strange aura over the future that many don't enjoy confronting.

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.

Bitcoin is fundamentally flawed, not in its technology, but because it solves the wrong problems - most consumers want verified identity, reversible transactions, accountability, a centralised source of truth, central insurance, and real-time transactions.

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.

Bitcoin or some derivative is better as a foundational bank reserve currency or wire transfer replacement than the actual direct thing you use. Someone else will build the next equivalent of visa on top of it.

Someone else will build the next equivalent of visa on top of it.

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.

Some people have mentioned this before but I forgot who they were: The blockchain is very likely to disrupt the financial sector, specifically the whole industry which is now in place for settlement/clearing when transferring financial contracts (shares, bonds, CDS, etc). A unified API and single public ledger could really bring costs down for those transactions and that's what a lot of financial institutions are interested in. I don't think it will have much value as a reserve currency, especially since it relies on computational power (so the amount of control is mostly based on economics - ie. the availability of cheap electricity and APUs) rather than political power.

I don't like the fact that bitcoin basically relies trading electricity for money in a nonsensical way. Having large exchanges built on it seems like a terrible idea, where financial places will be required to gobble up immense amounts of energy just to operate. It just won't make financial sense to do this as I can see it now.

Mining resources are not correlated to scaleability.

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.

The amount of money spent on electricity is a rounding error on top of a rounding error, when compared to how much wealth/money the current financial system uses to make it run.

The banks already are working on blockchain based interchange, at least from what I hear in the UK

10 minutes seems like the blink of an eye next to how long it takes money to show up in my bank accounts from ACH or wire transactions. Usually it's at least two days, sometimes three or four - apparently computers take bank holidays too...

But that's only the US. UK/EU has shown that you can have instant free bank transfers.

Hue? I'm in Germany, and SEPA transfers usually show up in the recipient's account on the next business day.

Transfers are instant in the UK now, and have been for a few years.

Same in Spain

Faster payments transfers take seconds, and debit/credit cards usually under 1 second. Those are the competing technologies.

Bitcoin supports reversible transaction, if you don't trust the vendor, it's not that hard to use a trusted escrow service.

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.

>permissionless and decentralized nature of governance.

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?

I think the reason it is working and has worked so far is aligned incentives - doing something nefarious or selfish will ultimately work against you as people abandon and avoid you.

There is no doubt though that cryptocurrencies are potentially fragile. I do think though that pandora's box has been opened. Maybe bitcoin will stand the test of time like jpeg, C, C++, http, TCP/UDP/IP, zip, bittorrent, fortran, x86, SMTP, unix, RTSP, vi, javascript, etc that have been good enough and persisted with a huge network effect. Or it could end up being a jumping off point for something that smooths out the rough edges needed for mass adoption.

> The financial world is absolutely ripe for an overthrow...

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.

Oh come on. Did the regulation in the financial system protect "the customer" against a massive loss of jobs and against having to subsidize a bailout of the entire industry in 2008? Did it protect people from banks who were betting against them(Goldman Sachs.)?

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.

>Oh come on. Did the regulation in the financial system protect "the customer"

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).

Maybe people didn't lose their savings in the last meltdown but can I remind you how maybe people have lost a significant amount of their savings overnight by their governments and the bad monetary policies those governments pursued? The devaluation overnight of the Argentine Peso(where incidentally Bitcoin is very popular), the devaluation of the Thai Baht. These are all incidents where people went to bed and woke up much poorer than they were the day before. How about the unsound policies of Zimbabwe(do a google search for a Zimbabwe 100 Trillion dollar bill) and Venezuela that leads to devastating inflation? These were the result of politics and monetary policies that were enacted in the pursuit of those politics. Crypto currencies turn all of this interventionism on it's head.

> Did the regulation in the financial system protect "the customer"

You mean the Glass-Steagal regulation that was repealed prior to the crisis?

Repeal of the Glass-Stegal Act was not the cause of the 2008 crisis! Also Glass-Stegal was never regulation to protect individuals. It had nothing to do with customers. Glass-Stegal did allow big banks to get much bigger but it was not about protecting individuals. Glass-Stegal forbid commercial bank from becoming investment banks. The crisis in 2008 was caused by subprime lending, complicit ratings agencies and a derivatives market that speculated against those loans. Glass-Stegal would not have prevented this! I wish people would stop propagating this misinformation. The only reason its relevant to the crisis is because it allowed banks to become "too big to fail", not because it would have prevented banks the players from engaging in reprehensible behavior.

Thanks! This is informative.

I wasn't referring to Glass-Stegal but rather the collusion between the the banks and the ratings agency, or banks selling products to investors and then betting against them.

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.

I don't really understand the other guys' argument, but I don't necessarily agree with you either.

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.

You argument is based on 'finance' continuing to exist and trying to regulate it into some notional form of sanity.

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.

Fundamental misunderstanding of what money is. It's an abstracted version of time and labour, allowing for transmission of from one person to another.

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.

I would beg to differ. The monetary system might be described as something that is trying to abstract time and labour in the way you describe. But money itself is just a token of exchange.

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.

> If you want to fix something, get involved in local politics and make a difference.

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.

Single individuals involved in local politics begins the process of change in a small group, which can beget change in a larger group.

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 is a store of value, nothing more. It could be gold, a piece of paper, a coin, an apple, it doesn't matter. It does not represent time and labor. It could be equated with time and labor but that is not what defines money. I think you may have a fundamental misunderstanding.

Money is a store of value, nothing more.

Not quite:

"Money's a matter of functions four,

A Medium, a Measure, a Standard, a Store"

Well I think a medium and a measure are implicit in a store, otherwise you couldn't store them. A standard can be rather loose, when people were using wampum, beaver pelts or cowry shells as money those items weren't all of the exact same, size, shape or color but it was understood that they were a store of value.

"It's an abstracted version of time and labour, allowing for transmission of from one person to another."

How does that translate to the billions that hedge fund managers "earn".

They spend their time engaging in an activity (labour), for which they're given financial reward. Just because you don't equate what they do with work, doesn't mean that it doesn't follow the same rules. They just get vastly more for their labour than other people.

I don't diagree with anything you said, but your rationalisation of why we have the current system is based on the premise that we have to have the current system.

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...

I'm not saying we have to have it. Post-scarcity economics are great, once you've got effectively limitless production capacity. Without that, you've got to have a way for people to exchange goods and services.

Post scarcity isn't just about production, it's also about logistics, everyone forgets that.

Sure, but if you've got essentially limitless production, you must have de facto solved logistics too. (I can't imagine a scenario where you get production without the infrastructure)

If you don't have the ability to near-instantaneously "spike" your production to meet demand, then you have an opportunity for arbitrage. At least a time-based one.

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.

That doesn't follow. One can easily imagine a situation in which the US or Western Europe are post-scarcity but the rest of the world isn't.

I can wrap my head around a lot of things. But I value realistic pragmatism over ivory tower logic. There are real people in an real economy who want real compensation for their works to fix roads, do research, or construct things.

> The financial world is absolutely ripe for an overthrow...

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.

What's the internet backed by? You could argue ICANN but that's not absolutely necessary to have an internet, and in fact other countries want their own version of that.

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.

I dont agree, its backed by everyone that participates. This is just FUD that is propagated by those with vested interests for preserving the status quo.

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.

Any currency that has a supply decoupled from the macroeconomy is doomed to failure as a currency, either through deflation or inflation. Deflation results in hording, at which point there is insufficient exchange and another currency replaces it. Inflation results in divestiture, at which point another currency replaces it.

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.

>The ones who have overcome it are always just sitting and waiting for everyone else to catch on..

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.

Outsiders radically underestimate the complexity of what banks actually do. A fintech firm that isn't 90% ex-bankers is extremely unlikely to succeed.

The reason its complex is because if it was simpler the masses would see how much its ripping them off.

Ironically one of tne reasons is regulatory compliance and reporting...

Dissonance and causality are related. Not sure how yet, but they are.

I think the next "big thing" is going to be that the internet as we know it comes under much more strict control and people just don't care because they spend all their time in smartphone apps and only browse a few big websites.

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.

What about IpV6

"the temptation will be to grab at the first thing that offers you something" I actually think this is a good idea, since it will give you a chance to pay the bills while you take your time to find the best next step in your career. Also, like it or not, there is real bias against hiring the unemployed and you are in a better position to negotiate compensation when you are currently employed.

I don't think CRISPR is going to face as many regulatory hurdles as you might imagine. USDA is pretty clear that CRISPR plants are unregulated [1] and the White House is likely in the process of making lighter regulations so that you can apply CRISPR to animals as well [2].

[1] https://www.aphis.usda.gov/aphis/ourfocus/biotechnology/am-i...

[2] https://www.whitehouse.gov/blog/2015/07/02/improving-transpa...

Hey Y'all. If you want to hop on the CRISPR train, my startup Synthego has made the best CRISPR RNA printer around. We plan to double the size of our company this year.

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 josh@synthego.com (We are in Redwood City)

You may want to consider putting a page about the team on your site. You most probably targeting scientists, highly educated segment of the market. You need to build trust before you can sell online to them.

They look intentionally secretive.

https://www.crunchbase.com/organization/stealthy#/entity https://angel.co/synthego

It appears to be people from the former Halcyon Molecular, so basically part of the Musk/Nosek/Thiel and Founders Fund insider crowd.

What kind of tech stacks are involved in CRISSPR?

Would it make more sense financially, during this time to join a larger company? How long do you think before we start seeing regular IPOs of tech companies?

As an older guy who has been through a number of these economic cycles, my feeling is that this will be a mild recession. Nothing like 2000 or 2008. (I'm not always right about the economy but I did correctly take my money out of the stock market on Thanksgiving weekend 2007.) Joining a THRIVING large company right now is a good idea. Google, Apple, Dell. Not HP or Yahoo. Some of the large consulting companies are also in good shape although from my experience they don't know what to do with good software engineers. Also good would be auto high-tech, like BMW or Mercedes Research. That field is in a growth curve that will do just fine during the recession.

Having also been through a few recessions, of also advice anyone who works in training or marketing to get out now. Training especially is one of the first things companies cut during hard times. Experienced that painfully in 2001.

Great advice. In recessions, small companies tend to disappear entirely, medium sized companies get gutted, and larger companies, although they do cut, you've at least got a chance to survive and they're not going to go out of business. Take it from another older guy who spent his life in small and medium sized companies and lived through 2000 and 2008 as well, although not as good a the stock market as you :)

Genuine question: Would big companies also lay off people during recession? I mean companies like APPL/GOOG/FB. What happen to their employee at that time though? Did they get a pay cut?

Wages are generally pretty sticky. So bonuses might be eliminated and pay increases deferred but it's relatively unusual for base pay to be cut. (And, of course, stock based compensation may suffer in a downturn.) AFAIK, neither Google nor Facebook have yet had significant layoffs. Apple certainly has in the past.

For Apple, I see layoffs under Gil Amelio in 1997, and recruiters in the last month (http://venturebeat.com/2016/04/25/apple-recruiters-layoffs/). Are there more recent layoffs for engineers?

Google and Facebook haven't really had rough times yet, so it's hard to tell. Does anyone know about Apple?

They just reported their first revenue drop in 13 years and first-ever decline in iPhone sales[0].

0: http://www.reuters.com/article/us-apple-results-idUSKCN0XN22...

>IoT, Machine Learning, and Bioinformatics.

I'm hoping VR/AR will be on that list as well.

I agree. The only thing to add is that the numbers we are seeing today are tiny. In 2000-2002 companies laid of tens of thousands per month, and new jobs were hard to find.

I'm moving soon into iot stuff ( especially api communication, protection etc) I'm really looking forward to it :)

Bioinformatics was the next big thing in 2009

And 2003-2004.

This is a necessary, if painful, lesson.

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.

Right now it seems like there are two reasons for creating a company. One is for making a profitable business that creates wealth for the people invested. Two is for creating a product or service that customers need or want. These two revolve around servicing those invested, or the consumers of the product/service, or both.

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.

Google tries (tried? it's been a couple years, and the culture was changing when I left) very hard to do that, and they actually have the money spigot to make it work (for the most part).

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".

>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.

> 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.

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.

Aren't incubators, cooperatives and co-working spaces closer to what it is being described here?

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.

Out of curiosity, since you label as Google as notorious for underpaying - something I haven't heard much elsewhere - what are some of the places that do pay appropriately?

That's actually more in reference to the situation from '07-10 (before the high-tech antitrust employee lawsuit, perhaps not coincidentally), although I think their reputation for massive perks & great working conditions also seemed to drop off around 2012ish.

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."

> For shitty working conditions + excellent pay, I'd think more in terms of algo trading

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 :)

Care to give some pointers?

TL;DR: Work hard, save money, don't be an asshole.

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.

> 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.

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?

I don't think you're skipping the interview process (that's quite rare), but you're not worried about using it to prove your competence and look for dark secrets in the company.

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.

Thanks, I am aware of these strategies, they work. I was actually looking for some pointers to places to work for you think are worth checking out.

Interesting, thanks. Obviously it's a huge place, especially these days, but from talking to recruiters there in the 2013-present time frame about potentially going through their process at some point, "when people turn us down it's rarely for financial reasons" has been the sort of line I've been getting. But without actually going through the process and seeing if I got an offer / what the offer would look like, obviously that could just be talk -- though I've seen recruiters at some places just walk away "yeah we wouldn't be able to give you numbers you're looking for" when presented with some of the same info.

I think Google's competition for employees is now largely other big tech companies, and they pay competitively relative to other big companies.

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.

I know people at most of the larger algo trading firms in nyc, they all have all excellent reputation for how they treat employees. Sounds like you have algo trading confused with big banks like GS.

"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"."

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.

The pessimist in me wonders just how altruistic the intention behind the wages in the Ford example was. If that were a modern example, I fear the rationale from management would not be about putting the vehicles within reach as an _optional_ bonus, but rather that it would be an unwritten rule that employees are expected to purchase one. Not buying the company's product? Enjoy your status as an employee who doesn't "fit the company culture".

Realization: I have become extremely cynical in my middle years with all the crap I've seen from employers. :/

I share your suspicious. Before they raised their salaries, they were having to hire 52k workers/year despite only having a 15k workforce, due to a tremendous turnover. And the extra money wasn't free; you had to subject yourself to the "Ford Sociological Department", whose 200 investigators would make sure you complied with the company's rules: be married, keep your wife at home, abstain from alcohol and to ask for permission before making serious purchases (like buying that Ford car).

Early Ford was pretty direct about the value of "fitting the company culture", what with ceremonies like this: https://www.thehenryford.org/collections-and-research/digita...

They actually doubled the wages to combat crazy rates of attrition. (Way more than 100% a year.)

That workers afford cars after that was a nice side effect that made for good PR.

Very interesting and relevant but under the model where the products of the tech titans are near free its hard to apply this same logic.

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.

The last example you were looking for is "country club."

I think we could also go with coworking space!

This usually pops up when we discuss quality of life in various countries/regions. Why do we need money in the first place? Basic needs, nice-to-haves and hobbies/entertainment (rough Maslow's pyramid) and some deferred for pension. Major part of our paychecks is consumed by the basic needs: +/- housing, transportation, food, clothing and depending on country some public services like healthcare in US, children schooling.

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

What is old becomes new again. You're essentially describing the early 20th-century company towns.

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.

> no one starts a company solely for creating an amazing place to work.

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.

> It's surprising to me that no one starts a company solely for creating an amazing 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.

Oh yeah you're right. I definitely hear about lifestyle business all of the time, but I was always under the impression that they were trying to sell you a lifestyle instead of a product/service. I didn't know they were actually trying to create the lifestyle for themselves.

On that note I have to post one of my favorite talks.

@DHH Startup School 2008 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0CDXJ6bMkMY

Still inspiring, still relevant eight years later.

Thanks so much for this, as someone making just "a nice italian website in the web space", it's comforting to hear this rarely heard logical approach.

They're not trying to create a lifestyle, they're just running a small to medium sized regular business. "Lifestyle business" is just an idiotic Valley term.

In all fairness, there are small companies where people get a lot of time off and other forms of flexibility. However, I don't really disagree in general. A lot of the time "lifestyle business" seems to just be code for a smallish business that doesn't really pay up to market rates or otherwise provide competitive financial compensation.

They're also called names like, "Smuckers."


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/

Don't forget these crucial categories:

- Solving interesting (to the founders) problems

- Social club (the most relevant to your proposal)

- Ego trip

- Nepotism

- 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.

Businesses are a means to an end.

Personally, we are building a company[1] 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[2] and employee handbook[3] 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.

[1]: http://seneca.systems [2]: http://seneca.systems/values [3]: https://Github.com/senecasystems/employee_handbook

[EDIT] - added a story from my childhood

> Personally, we are building a company[1] 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.

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.

I looked at non-profits, but sincerely believe for-profit is better for our company.

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.

There is potentially a shitload of extra paperwork, bookkeeping, and regulation involved in a 501(c) corporation that isn't present in a standard private corporation. Assuming, of course, you can convince the IRS that you fit one of the 501(c) subsections to begin with. Much easier just to run a standard, closely-held corporation or LLC.

I've "worked" on large volunteer-run art projects, and it's a lot like what you're describing. It's like a regular business with a hierarchy and people working various job titles, except that no one gets paid, and we're all just there for the delightful "work culture". We're inspired to bust ass, and we really do work incredibly hard; it's just that we get "paid" in personal fulfillment and camaraderie rather than in money.

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.

I seem to recall that that was one of Joel Spolsky's intentions when he created Fog Creek Software ( https://www.fogcreek.com/about/ )


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]

I think it's completely viable, although probably less so with VC funds. I plug this book a lot on HN, but in Managing the Professional Service Firm, David Maister talks about how a firm has 3 goals that must stay in balance: profit, job satisfaction, and client happiness. If any part is neglected, things will fall apart. In the long run, job satisfaction is not even a "nice to have," because if your employees (or you!) are unhappy, they are going to be more expensive, and they will damage your customer relationships. I know personally as I am trying to get a development partnership off the ground, enjoyment of the work and the team is a huge consideration.

You are looking at the wrong jobs.

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.

You have to get pretty high up in salary level before at least roughly competitive salary isn't a tier one factor for most people. And, even then, salary is often taken as a proxy for overall value--see pro athletes, for example.

I think the reason it doesn't appear people are creating businesses to be a great place to work, is because if it's created for that purpose, you probably want to get as many people as possible working there to they can share in the happiness. How do you do that? Grow. From the outside, it can look just like any other company trying to grow. Are they adding perks because they need to attract talent so they can compete and grow for growth's sake, or are they adding perks because they think the employees deserve them and also just trying to grow?

> It's surprising to me that no one starts a company solely for creating an amazing place to work.

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

> because I wanted to focus on lifestyle, rather than business success

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?

Depends what you define as "success". Probably my wording was not the best. Our business is extremely successful, but in different ways that most people define success.

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.

This is awesome and something to be proud of !

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?

Thanks. I appreciate it. You know, sometimes I develop envy when I read news about the financial success of other startups, but then when I take a break from work to go kitesurfing or for a yoga class in the middle of the day I feel pretty happy and proud of what we have achieved :-)

> 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.)

- Trello

- 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.

I don't think you understand what business is at all if you think that making an "amazing place to work" can be the primary reason for starting a company.

You have to create value that customers will pay for. They don't give a rat's ass about your workplace. See iPhone.

You have misunderstood the parent post.

"It's surprising to me that no one starts a company solely for creating an amazing place to work. "

An interesting dynamic of startups. You try to build a great place to work at, [0] and in building that startup you screw it up by building a bigger company. [1]

[0] "Managing Software Engineers" ~ http://philip.greenspun.com/ancient-history/managing-softwar...

[1] "ArsDigita: From Start-Up to Bust-Up" ~ http://waxy.org/random/arsdigita/

The author of your first link has an obsession with overworking his employees.

"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.

It's generally the case that you can't work on anything truly interesting or challenging until after 6pm anyway -9-5 gets chewed up so badly by all the bullshit, meetings, email, and noisy salespeople yelling into their phones, that the real work can't get done until everybody goes home and some peace and quiet can be obtained.

3 hours of focused work with no distractions is worth at least 3 typical work days.

Just say no to meetings. As an employee for your own calendar, and as a startup founder for the whole company.

I block off three mornings a week, and all day Friday for "actual work". I like to start early, and have no desire to work till 9pm (sometimes it happens, but it will be at home and because I really want to finish something).

Most people are pretty accommodating (and I work with lots of very noisy salespeople).

I wonder if a software shop structured as a co-operative would be good for this. Let the employees themselves control the workplace and set it up as they see fit. I know I'd personally be a lot more invested in my workplace if I had a direct voice in how it functions and the direction we move in.

I've often thought about starting a think tank business that would be similar to this thought. Basically, it would employ people to think up new things, whatever they wanted, and then we would sell those ideas/patents. Sort of like Google's 20% time only at 100%. No idea if it would work, but it would be a great place to work.

Intellectual Ventures had done this.

It only provides value to the employees/owners, though. Ideas/patents are worthless without the right person/people to execute.

Have you seen public sector organisations?

this is a terrible idea.

I whole fully agree with the points you make but I want to point out that for engineers in Silicon Valley, it's less dramatic to get laid off than you make it sound (I've been a part of a couple and I've had to lay off people as well).

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.

> 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.

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.

This is where I point out the obvious: save enough of your huge paychecks to last you a few months in the event of a downturn. I keep about 6 months expenses in my savings account but it's up to your individual risk tolerance.

6 months of expenses in SV is like $24k just in rent. That's going to hit people pretty hard whether they've saved for it or not.

$4k/mo is higher than average unless you're talking about supporting a family as well. If you're supporting a family your risk tolerance should be lower meaning you'll want more saved. Though it should hit people equally regardless of rent. The only difference is that people with lower rents can afford to take lower paying jobs in the event of a downturn.

$4k/mo is significantly more than my total monthly expenses. This leads to the other obvious advice: live below your means.

When layoffs start happening, they tend to be happening everywhere, so no, you're not going to just "change a tagline" and choose among the hundreds of recruiters banging down your door. Doesn't anyone remember 2000-2003? or even 2007-2009? (or earlier I'm sure, I've mercifully only had to survive two major downturns)

Bubbles repeat cause no great lessons are learnt.

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.

I disagree that it's the employer's responsibility to look out for the employees beyond paying them the agreed-upon salary. Anyone who joins a startup should know that their job could disappear if the funding dries up. That risk is a big part of why startup jobs pay so well.

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.

> That risk is a big part of why startup jobs pay so well.

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".

Maybe you've never taken a hard look at other, non-engineering positions. Where I'm from making $100k a year right out of college with zero experience is quite nice.

Hold on tight. We'll see if you'll still be making that in 6-12 months. Having lived through the first dot com bust, as well as the 2008 financial crisis, things usually fail slowly until they fail all of a sudden.

Have 3-6 months emergency fund saved; if not, start saving today.

That was his point. You're making more, because you also have to live with a higher degree of uncertainty.

My understanding is that's a pretty typical starting salary for the Bay Area right now, so it isn't really compensating the recipient for the risk of not having a job in six months for reasons outside of the recipient's control.

Also gives you some idea of how stupid expensive the area is, which further increases the risk.

I'm in a low cost of living area, emergency fund, everything and I just can't imagine having little experience, making 100k a year where you're paying $3-4k/month for rent, and then to lose your job with only a few weeks before you're broke.


Wish I made that much at the two startups I worked at. I didn't even quite reach that when you combined the two salaries. Plus I had prior job experience.

Yeah, I know. Shhh. They were still amongst the most interesting jobs I had, and some of the projects I'm most proud of.

Good post. Random thoughts from me on reducing layoff potential:

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.

"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" ..

Can you elaborate why ?

You can ask for less money? Why didn't anyone tell me you ask for less money? FUCK!@

That show has snuck in some remarkably good lessons on startup funding. Just avoiding the mistakes SV has displayed would put a lot of startups in the upper half of the market.

Wise words, I'd like to add one thing: You are doing it right only if your customers are providing most of your money - if it is VCs, you're probably in a bubble soon to burst.

This is perhaps the best comment I have ever seen on YCombinator news. Seriously. All very good points that I wish more companies followed.

There seems to be a huge moral asymmetry in your worldview between hiring and firing, which I disagree with. Yes, layoffs are very disruptive. But not having jobs (or having lower paid jobs) in the first place is also bad.

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.

> There is always capital available for businesses with strong fundamentals who are solving real needs.

just remember, sometimes that capital comes from customers, not investors.

Your opinions on employees cannot be truer. Keeping employees in the dark, even when the founders know what's coming is just terrible

Basically, you are begging those entrepreneur to think reasonable, when they are at their highest...it won't work.

Since I'm old and I went through the .com crash (I didn't get to participate in the boom) I hope my input is valid. This feels like more of a correction than a disaster.

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.

The problem is that these crashes hurt both good and bad workers.

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.

It is not a problem. It will HAVE to happen at some point.

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.

If companies aren't pragmatic now, when supposedly demand outstrips supply, why would they change when conditions are reversed? I suspect they'd just double down and network will become even more important (you'll have more unemployed friends needing a hand).

Yeah, network will be more important. I think they will stop looking at resumes that are not from internal referrals. And probably still some boring whiteboarding questions after that.

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.

If worker is good, and have enough cognitive power to learn all that algorithms and solve problems, he can land in Google/FB and enjoy life and safety.

I wish you are right, but I have a feeling this is beginning of more things to come. These things always pan out over much longer period than people predict. Unemployment rate is at multi year low.

so is participation rate

If I'm understanding the article, there was a net increase of 2400 jobs in the quarter. That's still pretty good. (Edit: it may seem gloomy by comparing to 2015, which seemed like an extremely good year). I googled a little because I was curious and found this:


San Jose #1, that looks good. Although San Francisco....

Are these postings or actual jobs filled?

I assumed postings but not sure. It's just the most interesting google result I got looking around on this.

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.

"Vitner's analysis of state employment data showed that Bay Area tech firms added only 800 jobs a month in the first quarter of 2016"

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...

My dad got laid off from the Fremont Western Digital location just the other day ago. He saw it coming as they were warned layoffs would keep coming (WD has been laying off workers since the middle of last year, I think). So luckily we moved to a nearby city with substantially lower housing prices than in San Jose, where we were spending lots more than we could justify on housing. If we had stayed in San Jose, we would be in some real big financial troubles- pretty much game over. But where we live now (which is actually in a house of the same size, just significantly cheaper) we are living more comfortably and happier without the stress of living in such an expensive city.

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.

Can you mention cities with a better cost of housing? Genuinely curious ... Gilroy is cheap but seems way too far.

I am referring to Gilroy. The distance seems "too far" but it's something you adapt to rather quickly. Pretty much everyone in my neighborhood works in tech at Cupertino and surrounding areas. If you're able to work around leaving during rush hour traffic then that's even better.

I'm really hoping that more companies embrace remote workers ... so that it doesn't matter where you live

Is your dad an engineer?

Data center/Network engineer

That's interesting. I feel a lot of people are arguing that engineers will largely be safe and will fare any trouble better anyway being in a higher income percentile.

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.

If the firm is predominately staffed with engineers (either raw headcount, or by salary percentage), then there's no buffer against being laid off.

This article is very confusing to me. If we are concluding that startups are laying off due to funding squeeze, how is that San Francisco actually saw a decrease in lay offs ? SF is where most of the startups are based. Also, it says that layoffs totaled roughly 3000 in 4 months. Which comes down to 750 a month. Compare this to what the article said later that 32,000 jobs were lost per month during the recession. Finally, I couldn't figure how many jobs were added in this period, to get a context of the layoff percentage. Seems a little alarmist

I feel similarly. However, the article points out reporting differences for differently large companies and layoffs. That might factor in heavily. Would be nice though of the article had explicitly addressed that.

"Today the Bay Area's total employment of 3,353,600 as of the end of March still reflects job growth, with 102,600 workers added from March 2015 through March 2016."

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.

FYI if you're interested in the raw data from which this story is ostensibly based in part, I've dumped it into this Github repo:


The mobile wave is ending and we are in the middle of the dip preceding the next big "thing". A lot of companies are betting on IoT but these are mostly service companies pushing their own proprietary stacks, which is why I think IoT is a dead-end because there is either no demand for the hardware or the hardware is at a price point that makes no financial sense.

I think joelonsoftware predicted a lot of the IoT failures a decade ago with this piece: http://www.joelonsoftware.com/articles/fog0000000037.html

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.

Can any of you from the Bay Area comment on if you have found it harder to find jobs lately? Are recruiters reaching out less than they did last year?

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?

As a hiring manager in SF, my anecdotal experience is that most large companies are still hiring at the same pace they were a year ago, but that capital and subsequently hiring has dried up for smaller companies.

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.

As someone with a lot of great experience and no CS degree, I'm definitely seeing a lot more gunshyness in my interviews.

As a "non-traditional" (self-taught) and "entry-level" candidate who who just moved to SF a week ago (crashing on my bro's couch), I've been nervous as hell about my prospects.

If anyone has any advice other than "go back home", it'd be much appreciated.

Befriend some Googlers, do lots of mock interviews with them, then go for Google. (Some for Facebook etc.) They still got oodles of cash.

Doesn't Google still but a lot of weight on your degree? Sounds like a waste of time to me.

I work for them without one.

They changed their heavy reliance on top universities and degrees for signalling around 2012, I think.

As someone in Europe, with 10+ years experience, I'm seeing a LOT less in the way of serious recruiter outreach (not spam) and opportunities than 5 or 10 years ago (when I had correspondingly less experience). Just one data point of course and could be personal circumstances, but it looks pretty dire here outside one or two tech hubs.

Interesting. Now that you mention it, my LinkedIn recruiter volume has been dropping down a bit. Was just noticing that the other day. I'm based in Seattle.

Thanks! I can't imagine that being good for a lot of the bootcamp grads.

Everything looks normal to me. My employer is hiring (and it's not easy to find candidates either). I just got contacted by a recruiter yesterday (from Uber). Facebook and Google recruiters contact me every few months.

I'm in Dallas, and I haven't been pinged by a Bay Area firm in a long time. Amazon keeps hitting me up every month or so (despite me not wanting to go anywhere near that shitshow anymore), and Microsoft occasionally pings me (only to then ignore me). I get the impression that Bay Area recruiting has been getting much more insular over the past couple years.

I'm a couple years into the industry, and I'm still getting recruitment emails every day.

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.

It's a mistake to equate recruitment emails with ability to get a job. There are many reasons for recruiters to send you emails that have very little to do with your likelihood of being hired. Talented engineers will always be difficult to find, though the challenge may change from trying to find one that's not employed to finding the best among those that need a job.

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.

I moved to San Jose a year ago and in general I'm finding the recruitment contacts I receive are higher quality than I'm used to. Actual managers, tech leads and CTOs contacting me inviting me for a drink. I'm sure it's still quite shotgunny, but feels a step or two above the spam I'm used to.

Frequency matters far less than quality.

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.

> 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.

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.

Looks like I've got to be the contrarian, but I have not found the tech job market to be particularly hot within the past few years at all. Compared to the late 1990's when they were almost literally giving jobs away at the airport when new grads landed, things aren't even close to that in recent memory. So, I'd say pretty slow last year and pretty slow this year.

It's harder to get an IT job in the Boston area compared to 2-3 years ago. I've been in the job market for several months. With my skill set it was a breeze to find a job just few years ago.

Three of my friends have switched jobs to higher paying positions in the last three months and my employer is hiring. My social circle is doing all right. SF, Santa Clara, SJ.

There may be trouble but lucky so far.

I haven't really seen a letup in recruiters emailing me. Not one of the ones who was laid off, though.

The contraction is definitely overstated. If you can nail the technical interview, doors will still open for you left right and center.

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.

Cold emails seemed to slow down in December and January, but everything seems normal to me now.

That's just a seasonal effect.

Get harassment from Google's recruiter. And from small companies here and there, now and then. So far it feels a not too much of a difference.

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.

I live in SF and was a little surprised how many SF-based candidates responded to a front-end engineering position I posted on Stack Overflow (the position is remote and my location wasn't part of the post). But I certainly don't know anyone local who is out of work.

No change. It's far too early to expect much of an impact. I think the knock-on effects take awhile to show up, even if things didn't get any worse.

At this point it's a drop in the bucket.

If you are networked you generally don't get jobs via recruiters.

That said the email / linkedin spam hasnt slowed at all.

How do you get jobs if you're not networked? I'm getting recruiter emails, but not nearly the volume I'm seeing from people here.

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