On the other hand, they probably weren't exactly expecting this reaction. And I have a feeling they aren't gonna like this. Well played ex-Garmin team, well played.
So go Olathe! And go S.F. And hey... If you aren't in Toronto, Canada you're missing a third great opportunity ;-)
Olathe: where is the nearest mountain? Sorry, too flat.
Toronto: too cold, too flat.
“Considered Harmful” Essays Considered Harmful: http://meyerweb.com/eric/comment/chech.html
Three blog posts I'd love to read (and one that I wouldn't): http://weblog.raganwald.com/2007/10/three-blog-posts-id-love...
Olathe is a much better place to raise children than San Francisco imo. Olathe is recognized as a pretty dope place; see http://www.olatheks.org/Council/Awards , notably "Money Magazine ranked Olathe as America's 11th Best Place to Live noting the city's growth and major employers."
I recognize that it's difficult to leave old friends and acquaintances, but it's also a great positive opportunity to make new, geographically-distributed networks. People relocate all the time. My family was brought to Kansas by a relocation from Florida and it was a very good thing for us, though of course when someone says "hey buddy why don't you come move to Kansas" it doesn't sound that attractive. Frankly, that's part of the reason it's important to go; these people have some prejudice against the place, but they haven't tried going there. It's a good place with just as many modern accouterments as any other. It's in one of the richest counties in the nation but has a pretty low cost of living. It is not the rural farm-town Kansas of lore.
Obviously some people have compelling personal reasons to stay in SF, and that's fine. But it's highly unlikely that all of them have such reasons, most are probably just Kansas haters. :(
And Olathe's claim to fame is not "a list in a magazine somewhere", that's distorting my point. I linked to a whole page of awards and emphasized the most recognizable. I used these awards, and that award specifically, to indicate to people that Olathe is a real modern place, not a podunk with four buildings like people seem to think when they hear "Kansas". I used them in conjunction with other anecdotes and data. You're distorting my argument to marginalize the place, again. I don't why there's so much disdain for not-California among people.
Some people like SF and that's fine. I don't want everyone from San Francisco to move to Olathe. But I don't like how there are just a handful of places that people consider "acceptable" and everything else is "flyover country". There is real life and existence, normal people, normal existence, normal cities with normal roads and normal stores, outside of California and New England. People disdainfully refer to everything else as "flyover country", and perhaps even refuse en masse to relocate to some place as humble as Kansas, surely not big enough to contain those people, and it's just really silly imo. There's nothing wrong with Olathe.
I'm all for people living where they want. I agree that Kansas isn't the right place for everyone. I am simply annoyed by the assumptions heretofore described, and that this group refuses to even give the place a try.
That attitude comes from a different era. That "most employees understand" thing came from a time when there was something called "Job Security" so people understood that in return for moving, they had a reasonably good chance at keeping their jobs.
In this day and age, where you live in an at-will employment world, I know of _nobody_ in the bay-area technology scene who would relocate to kansas from California. Can you imagine what would happen if you relocated to Kansas and then were laid off? Olathe doesn't even have a Craigslist entry. The closest entry I could find was Kansas City, and the Bay area has about 15x to 20x the number of job listings.
I'm in absolute love with Vancouver, British Columbia, and one day, if I'm very lucky, hope to return there, (I visit about 4-5 times a year, my heart really is in that city) - but I couldn't rationally relocate my career out of the valley.
There is a different between being a wonderful place to work, and a wonderful place to live.
Olathe is a suburb and is a part of the greater Kansas City metro. Kansas City is about twenty miles away.
Meanwhile, in Redwood City alone, within walking distance from my house, I can count about 20 companies who might reasonably employ me.
I'll agree there isn't as much competition, but, the high end positions are _very_ few and far between.
Also, it's great to have many "competitor" companies working within a few miles of each other. If you decided to leave a company like Playfish, all the competitor companies like Zynga, Rock You, and Playdom will want to snatch you up in a hurry.
Except that then we'd have to deal with taxes, and corrupt city government (ok, SF isn't much better in that regard), and paying a private security force so we don't get shot, and fixing up houses that are in worse-than-teardown condition. And when I just want to write software - it's probably not worth the hassle. Organizing a mass relocation can be a pretty big drag.
1. If you lose your job working for Megacorp, who else is willing to hire a senior software/hardware engineer in the state?
2. What kind of salary would you even get from the 1 or 2 tech companies in the area? These companies know they are the only shop in town and probably only pay $50-60K/yr. for senior level positions.
3. What type of quality of life are you going to have? Are there any artistic or cultural activities in the area?
If you can answer these questions positively, I say go for it. Personally, I'd rather live on either coast and make 6 figures than live in flyover country any day. If I want, I can work on the coast for 20 years and save enough money to live comfortably in flyover country the rest of my life.
But I do get the desire to live in a big city over a suburb. I've worked in a city for the last few years after growing up in a suburb, and waking up in the morning and walking through the energy of a city is just different than waking up, getting in your car, slogging through traffic to work, parking in a giant lot, and going into a corporate office park for the day. Just something like lunch is vastly different in a city vs. a suburb, and that kind of stuff matters.
Indeed, I have no doubt that there are lots of technically smart people working at Garmin....but what is it about this company where they seemingly rest on their laurels like, forever, and google can come in, and with their first iteration of a product, make them look like little schoolchidlren...what were they doing in the meantime if they were so smart.
And by the way, I have a very expensive Garmin product sitting upstairs on my shelf if you suggest I should actually try it out before I criticize. Despite the behind the scenes software being very impresive, the UI looks like something done by a community college student who was drinking heavilt and has a deadline to meet.
I also think you're downplaying the social problems to moving, particularly away from a place like the Bay area. Personally, I'd just bristle at being told by my company to move half a continent away.
As for myself, I couldn't do that. I moved twice when I was growing up, and I hated it. I'm a homebody. I need a psychological anchor. You may prefer the experience of new people and places, and I prefer having a constant home. It's just who I am. So while I understand where you're coming from, and your reasons for your preference are perfectly valid, in the end it's still just a preference. I wish you luck and happiness in your lifestyle. It's not for me, and apparently it's not for this team either.
It is not a tech hotspot, don't get me wrong there. But the question isn't "Does KC rival Silicon Valley for tech jobs", just "Does KC have work for me if I get laid off from Garmin". I would say yes.
I'm just not sure that H&R Block or Hallmark likes to build cool new products like Garmin Connect. One could technically get "a job that pays money" at any city in the USA, so why move out to Kansas?
Keep in mind that these people built Garmin Connect, and have little to do with Garmin-the-company other than being employed by Garmin & using software interfaces from Garmin devices. Garmin probably decided to create a team to build Garmin Connect in the valley because of the talent available there. I don't think it would have been as easy to create such a talented team in Kansas.
If you're a geek, you'll probably hate Olathe though. One good simple measurement is counting the number of nearby hackerspaces. The SF/Bay Area has no less than 5 hackerspaces within a 20 mile radius of each other. Olathe only has 1 which is in Kansas City.
Assuming they would have kept their SF salaries - they would have felt like they got a pretty sweet raise. On the flip side, Kansas doesn't offer anywhere near the culture or available activities.
They way they choose to handle this was pretty cool though, good for them!
Nobody on the Garmin Connect team or here on Hacker News needs to give me a reason for not wanting to relocate here. In a way, the place where you want to live is a very personal thing. Different people have different reasons for what they do and they don't need to justify their choices to me, just as I feel no need to justify my choice to them.
That said, I definitely think there are people blindly saying "Kansas sucks" without having lived there or even traveled there. I sympathize with the Garmin Connect team, as I would not want my employer to try to force me to move anywhere. However, I also resent the attitude that they seem to have taken toward Kansas and the implication that no one would choose to live there. (I admit that perhaps I'm reading too far into it.) To me, it would be enough to say that Garmin asked them to move and they didn't want to.
For a number of years my father was the business manager for a group of microwave engineers in Olathe, Kansas, strangely enough (only a few hours north from SW Missouri). After that team failed to win a contract for some sort of JDAM precursor (I think, my father is not a techie) they broke up and their top dog was one of the first hired by the founders.
Let's just say that the founders weren't terribly generous with employee stock allocation....
How is it risky to the engineer, as long as he gets paid? Job security, maybe, but that is hardly worth a lot.
And even if your bosses give you a great recommendation, it can sometimes still hurt your career. After all, the company failed. Maybe these bozos recommending you were idiots too, and the fact that you were working for them means that you were also an idiot.
This attitude is thankfully pretty rare in Silicon Valley, but it can be quite common in other parts of the world. Early employees actually run more resume risk than founders do, because if the company fails, the founders can at least put "Founder & CEO" on their resume, but the engineers can only put "Software Engineer, company you've never heard of."
So? Every for-profit company I worked for from early 2001 through 2008 failed. Who blames the programmers for the failure of a company? In my experience, virtually no one.
Anyway, it is all in the upfront negotiation. If engineer is unhappy with the conditions (ie not enough stock options), he should leave. To complain afterwards is lame (oh, they made a shitload of money - if only I had negotiated for more stock options...).
One aspect was that he was having trouble finding interesting projects to work on. The JDAM precursor where he teamed with a major aerospace firm was I think lost due to politics. Simple GPS systems were a step or three down from that but were nonetheless more interesting than the other work he had been able to find for some years previous to that (losing the JDAM precursor contract was a last straw sort of thing).
(the entire system is biased towards letting people 'just walk' - unless you are so small that you need to personally co-sign your loans/leases/etc... like I do.)
I mean, I'm not saying a employer who pays people salary instead of stock options is evil; I mean, as long as everyone knows the score ahead of time, that's fine. (In fact, that's what I do with my employees. The downside of this is that as you can't attract people who are as experienced or otherwise desirable as you could with options, and people leave you for better paying gigs as they gain experience sooner than they would if they had stock options.)
I'm just saying, the way most (not small-time) corps are structured, the founders have an opportunity to protect their personal assets in case of corporate bankruptcy. And even in the case of small companies like mine (I have a corp, but the protection means nothing; nobody gives me jack without a personal co-sign. I'm tiny.) American bankruptcy laws are pretty liberal, assuming it's business debit, and not tax debit, so sometimes you can still walk. (I do know several people who were 'ruined' by screwing up their taxes enough to get a giant, long-term debit.)
People can cry 'til their blue in the face about how undercompensated they are, but if that's really true they should take their skills and build a profitable business. I say this because engineers do create tons of value, but we need to put our money where our mouth is and do it ourselves to increase our market value rather than whining about history.
that's why there is equity compensation - something that Garmin didn't provide adequately
And as little equity as possible, for identical reasons.
An employee is responsible for making sure the terms agreed on are ones they're happy with, not an employer. An employer has a legal obligation to shareholders to minimize the costs of her business, one in direct conflict with "being generous in compensation" to her employees.
And you're wrong about "minimize costs" per se. The employer has a obligation to maximize shareholder returns, for which a simplistic application of the "minimize costs" principle is seldom a solution.
I wouldn't say not caring about employee equity participation is a good founder quality.
In fact this whole thread just goes to show that Garmin fails miserably at motivating it's engineers to this day.
Based on what happened to him I'd have to wonder if later employees got much more than beer money.
Paul Shumaker was one of the founders of Garmin: he and others had worked together at King Radio before Paul split off with one of them to do microwave system design and development. He eventually became one of the four founders of Garmin (so says Google and my father, e.g. Paul was a part of the team before incorporation and got a minuscule piece of the action). He was their microwave engineering leader, with 23 engineers under him when he retired for medical reasons in 2004.
So contrary to my vague description above and the interpretations in this thread he was there from the very beginning and was a key to their success. (In fact, the superior GPS reception of the specialist companies like Garmin and I assume Tom-Tom would appear to be their key lasting advantage in this market (well, along with incumbency)).
As for Garmin's top dog, my father's opinion of him cannot be published in a family newspaper such as Hacker News ^_^.
The built-in updating mechanism has never worked for me - it helpfully indicates that the update "is estimated to take 3 hour(s), 38 minute(s) to download on a 56k modem". A 56k modem, for a piece of software bought in 2009, whose About box indicates a copyright of 2008.
The map format (.img) is proprietary, but has been reversed engineered, so, for example, there are tools for converting OpenStreetMap data into the format. You can download maps of many areas from cloudmade.com.
I usually download my logs onto a Linux machine, but it works just the same on the Mac (using the device as USB mass storage).
Dealing with Garmin devices is only tough for the new fitness devices...proprietary binary format :( I wrote a ruby module in C to stream parse it which I plan to opensource soonish.
I lucked out on GPS though - in some cases, the GPS signal has died just when I need it most. Darn Nexus Ones.
Does anyone else have any examples of entire development teams leaving at once and offering themselves for hire? Seems like a great way for the competition to snap up talent.
You can stop someone from disclosing trade secrets, that is why most companies do a "non-compete / non-disclosure agreement". But, again, the non-compete part is about as enforced as the "do no remove label" on your mattress ;)
Note that the lawsuit isn't going to be filed unless you're successful (or starting to be), upon which you're in for a world of hurt. Who wants to invest in a startup where success is going to earn that sort of "reward"?
I've seen a non-compete enforced on a normal employee in Virginia - someone left a tech company that did graphics visualization to do graphics programming at a game company. While he probably would have eventually won the suit, the new company defended him - eventually settling for like 60k.
If Garmin wanted to move these people, they should have done so during the acquisition.
JSF & Facelets
Google Web Toolkit
Google Maps API
Well, yeah; the website is a resume, for the entire team. It's just describing the site they built as an example of past performance. So including every framework they even looked at is, if not great, at least understandable.
So, Garmin has been working on this for years, they are up to version who knows what....and then google comes out with their navigation program on Andriod....it is night and day, despite this being like version 6 (I'm guessing) for Garmin vs Version 0.5 for Google. Yes, Google has some architectural advantages that Garmin doesn't, so they can offer some amazing advanced features, but for me it's the small things that make the difference...like, does using your software make any sense?
I wish these guys the best of luck, assuming they're been unhappy with how things have been for years, but if they they their work of 2 years ago was "good", I'm sorry, you guys should really be in a different profession.
It looks like the motionbased.com blog and forums have been taken down. That makes it hard for those who didn't go through that hell, like I and many others did, to appreciate just what a total cluster fsck the transition was. The new site, while much prettier with all its shiny web 2.0-ness, is functionally on par with the site it replaced.
Here is a cached forum link talking about how the December 2008 launch is slipping.
Not defending a slow release schedule, but it's not "trivial" after working in this industry for the last couple years.
That, and any corporate structure slows a development team down considerably. Nice dig for the cache, thanks for the info :)
I think everyone is free to use affiliate links on their site. Even more so, if you are the developer of this product.
You have to wonder what is going through Garmin's mind when they almost went out of their way to _shut down_ their valley subsidiary...
The Garmin-derived name ("gcteam") could be a problem, but it's not clear that Garmin is (or should be) unhappy with this sort of team-marketing. Garmin may very well wish the best to their soon-to-be-former employees, and be happy for them to showcase their Garmin work/affiliation as they look for a new employer.
Making use of Garmin's trademarks (even indirectly, e.g. "gcteam") or other intellectual property, or giving out example logins to the production website ... those things seem much more problematic if the relationship with Garmin goes south.
I've never heard of anyone getting slammed for discussing implementation details absent an NDA, unless there was source code or other obviously-proprietary IP involved.
If you want to work for ten different companies in three years (with at least eight going out of business while you're there) and never know whether you'll have a paycheck next quarter, then the Bay is the place. If you want a steady job that you'll get to keep for a while, you can do a lot worse than KC.
There's a lot of tech stuff going on in the area (Garmin's one company headquartered here; Sprint's a stone's throw away in Overland Park, Linux Pro magazine has its North American offices in Lawrence, etc.) and a lot of geeks, but not so much youth (as in "I graduated college last month" youth). Most of the techies you'll meet are in their late 20s or early/mid-30s, and have been in the industry for a while; quite a few of them have written unglamorous but indispensable tech books. Most have settled here to raise families. There's a lot less emphasis on doing things that make great blog posts or conference talks, and a lot more emphasis on doing things that solve problems in useful ways.
That's not to say there's no innovation, of course; Django came from Lawrence (close enough that a lot of people live there and commute to KC), there are some interesting startups doing stuff like e-gov and transparency, one of the best GIS groups anywhere (with a yearly conference at the University of Kansas), a lot of new-media consulting... but nearly all of it happens without fanfare and chest-thumping.
Anyway. The important thing is not to have an attitude of "oh crap, it's Kansas", because you'll never meet most of the interesting people that way.
Another popular option is Cerner. From what I have heard they have good pay and benefits, but expect lots of hours.
Whatever you do, don't work for Sprint. They employ a ton of people in the area, but there is a running joke that the halflife of a job at Sprint is about nine months. They are constantly hiring and laying people off, and the people they lay off seem to be totally arbitrary.
Which most likely comes from people who have never lived there. I think you can take it with a grain of salt.
-- Someone who has lived there, but doesn't right now
yeah, that's not gonna fly in Olathe, Kansas.
If you've got a ready-made team that can make a product like this but is unwilling to leave the bay area, it would seem there aren't a lot of companies around that can absorb a whole team like this overnight. I wonder where they'll turn up.
I've had nothing but disappointment with Garmin's commitment to their products until Connect came out. I hope this isn't the last stupid move of a failed company.
If you are really fedup with connect, try out our service at http://ridewithgps.com. We offer much of the same stuff they do and more.
So being willing to relocate but having restrictions doesn't make Mr. Pelosi a hypocrite
I don't think this is ever a "yes/no" question.
Sorry if you disagree, but unless you're a robot, professionalism only goes so far.
However, Olathe is a town of suburbs and schools and not much else. I wouldn't want to move back there, period, let alone from SF.
I'll add that some of the parts of Kansas I've been to seem very nice if you want to raise kids, or just relax, although I wouldn't want to stay there long term.
I know a lot of decidedly cool people from Wichita... but I also know quite a few crazies.
Do you want employees that don't care about causing you a PR disaster?
Is this the context where "team player" means "someone who will bend over backwards for a company that likely wouldn't do the same for him"?
Being a team player doesn't necessarily mean mindlessly obeying every corporate policy (though I suppose sometimes it does).
There is definitely no PR disaster. The site isn't knocking Garmin at all. In all actuality, the people creating the site do not seem disgruntled one bit. They seem proud of the work they did, they rep Garmin products and seem in good spirits. Sorry, but your analysis is way off.
Also, if you have a large bike route, 50 miles or so, you have to cache a huge amount of tiles to see that route at any detail. Currently, Google Maps fails at consistently doing this even with expanded cache sizes.
I've not used Garmin connect but some of the features look promising enough that other websites would benefit.
And checkout http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=1197891 - this is your uber talent who deserves special treatment during a recession?
AVOID, these cats are selfish prima donnas who are not team players. Garmin isn't asking them to relocate for fun, they're doing it because they face an existential threat on the consumer side of things from the Iphone.
All the team is doing is saying "hey, we built this for Garmin, but now we're on our own. If you think we do good work, come talk to us!" - how are they unfairly profiting from Garmin's product? I suppose you also refuse to talk about past work at previous employers on your resume/during interviews? Otherwise you'd be guilty of the same level of unfair profit.
Furthermore, Garmin's resources aren't being used. Garmin isn't paying for the server that this page is on, in fact, Garmin's not paying for any of this attempt at advertising. What's your stance on this? Should all former employees of a company disavow their previous employment and not use any showing off of previous work (publicly accessible work, mind you!) to seek more employment?
As for your first claim: the company is worrying about itself, and the team is worrying about itself. Everyone is a selfish, but rational actor in this situation. Nobody is evil - and I find it disingenuous to paint the team as profiteers when you fail to do so to Garmin also.
Did the team buy all software they used to create the site themselves? Did they discuss it during work hours? Did they mail each other ideas or designs at work? Using email addresses of the company? What is the quality of their work focus between now and the time they stop working, which IIRC is in May sometime? They're still being paid, but I'm pretty sure they are quite focused on ramping up their own marketing during this period.
Note that the blogosphere is really enjoying this interaction and the company is coming off as stupid, out-of-touch etc. Do you think it's helping Garmin or hurting them, on balance?
It comes down to do-unto-others. I'd prefer not to burn the bridges, myself. I loathe corporate game-playing as much as the next person, which is why I write and sell my own software. But I fully understand that some decisions are just very hard to make, and beating up on Garmin seems a bit simplistic.
Clearly some new management technique with which I am not familiar.
IMHO, sometimes being a true team player means having the guts to tell management that they're KILLING THE TEAM!
I haven't, although I have indeed experienced examples of "teamcide" (to use the DeMarco and Lister term) as well as just plain killing the company by insisting that their engineering management be yes men. Sooner or later they're reminded that you can't fool mother nature, reality cares not a whit for bluster and ego.