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Ask HN: Who is firing?
1087 points by wellworld on Nov 2, 2016 | hide | past | web | favorite | 432 comments
The startup I work at will soon be undergoing an exodus of staff due to a failure in leadership and management by the founders. Really painful, sad, situation for all involved.

So, I figure if we're allowed to talk about who is hiring, why not the other way around? At the very least, we can get a pulse on those companies which smells like roses on the outside, and reek of something more earthy on the inside.

Twitter is firing the people who worked on Vine. http://www.digitalmusicnews.com/2016/10/27/twitter-strong-q3...

Really love how you are doing the opposite for this thread. I guess It helps people get prospective on both sides :)

I did a double-take when I saw Twitter posting[0] in the Who's Hiring thread.

What's the rationale here? Why are they firing and hiring at the same time?

[0] https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=12851502

> Why are they firing and hiring at the same time?

Because downsizing via attrition is a death sentence. The worst people are the most likely to stay and then new hires will be unlikely to stick around and deal with the code from the worst people.

Once the spiral starts it's hard to get out of.

I always found if funny companies touting "We're hiring only the best" and then "We firing the worst".

Companies can self-consistently seek to hire the best and fire the worst from the the hired-pool.

1. Hiring is a noisy process. You can tune your hiring test to lean more towards false negatives or more towards false positives, but you cannot (at this juncture in history) eliminate a large amount of bias (error) from evaluations of candidates.

2. Regression to the mean ensures that any hiring process that sets a "high bar" will result in pool of developers who are on average below that bar.

3. as an employee remains at a company, the bias in your evaluation process should decrease dramatically. One can, and probably should try to weed out false positives, especially if one is trying to reduce payroll.

Companies can self-consistently seek to hire the best and fire the worst from the the hired-pool.

Knew the HN SV crowd would find a way to spin this as "This is good for <company>"

Its not a spin. Its the actual business process and thought behind it.

The solution to that is challenge it with clout equal to the business. And that means unions. Only when 2 powers butt heads, will there be any fairness out of that.

> Its the actual business process and thought behind it.

Exactly. Even if one disagrees with a thought process (actually, especially if one disagrees with a thought process), one should still seek to understand it inasmuch as possible. Otherwise one is doomed to repeat it.

For the record, I am neither employed in or near Silicon Valley (not that it should matter), nor do I have any strong beliefs about whether or not actively weeding out developers is a good tactic for a business (five years ago I would have said it wasn't, now I'm agnostic).

Whatever my beliefs or situation though, it's not hard for anyone to understand how a medium-to-large scale organization with a high hiring bar could make a rational decision to "hire the best" while still making an effort to release the least valuable developers in the company.

An alternative strategy is Google's. Google tunes their hiring process to produce almost exclusively false negatives rather than false positives (they very deliberately reject qualified candidates far more often than they hire under-qualified candidates). With this hiring strategy in place, it wouldn't make as much sense for Google to "weed out" developers.

And for the record I think 20th-century impersonal, statistical business thinking is toxic, but that doesn't mean I don't see its use or that I know of a better way to do things.

If I had a dollar for every time someone said "why don't we hire like Google does"?

Answer: Google can do what they do because of their scale, culture, systems, access to pots of money etc.

Google are Google. The rest of us are not and can't calibrate our hiring process to turn up only false negatives. We'd never hire anyone.

I agree, it's not a feasible strategy for most companies. It's not even that innovative, it's just repeating a test with a high error rate repeatedly. This doesn't reduce error, but it does change the type of errors they make. I think that's pretty interesting. (From speaking with co-workers, it also damages Google's image considerably and reduces the probability that people will spend time and energy applying there; the their applicant pool seems large enough anyway).

It is really funny in a way and necessary in another.

Funny because companies necessarily say they aspire to have a representative workforce, one which reflects the community (local/national workforce, users, the founders?) but then when it comes down to it, they only want to keep the ones who will provide some value (which is obvious) but then remember the community is made up of all kinds of people with different abilities --so we realize we are all in it for ourselves --there is no "community" where we look after each other. It's me or them, really.

It's necessary because, well, we live in a competitive world where your competitor isn't going to say, well, let's take it easy on them, they are keeping on a bunch of underachievers, and keeping underachivers employed is good for community, so we should give them a break.

'Best' here refers to the population of job seekers, 'worst' refers to the population of the employees.

There are still some elements in the 'best of all job seekers' (= employees) who qualify as worse than the rest. You don't even need to change the trait(s) 'best' and 'worst' refer to.

I believe the hiring is a facade. They have been sending out hackerrank tests to every new grad but never planning to follow up. As a matter of fact, they stated that they will "follow up" in December. Any serious company in the Bay Area wouldn't be this slow with hiring if they were not in trouble.

I don't disagree with your conclusion about Twitter specifically, but it always blows my mind how slow tech companies are to deal with candidates in a hot job market.

It's just Twitter. The new grad hiring at pretty much everywhere else is full throttle (or more accurately, pretty much done now).

According to the link given by Keverw most of the fired employees were in marketing and sales. The "Who's Hiring" post is asking for software engineers to work on server infrastructure.

That's a tough position to recruit for currently. Let's all be positive and suppose that they always had real vacancies in there :D

Because having a mass layoff is an easy way to reduce non productive people. Otherwise you have to go through a complicated process for each individual, with a higher risk to be sued.

That's maybe the theory, maybe.

In practice, in my personal experience, mass layoffs are a nightmare for everybody, and end up affecting also those not directly involved (especially since in most cases they don't know if they are until the layoffs are done).


- Many of the "productive" people will leave on their own accord for better pastures, even before the layoffs are carried out.

- The rest will find themselves with an increased workload (and the nagging feeling they should have followed the lead of the previous group).

Mass layoffs in companies that answer to shareholders/investors is almost always a way to reduce costs and to increase ROI on investment.

It has absolutely nothing to do with productivity of the people getting laid off, it's more to do with a failure of some kind in management.

How come in a right to work regimen like the states how is it hard? you can just say "we have decided to cut back marketing head count by 20%"

Right-to-work states still distinguish between firing for cause and a layoff for unemployment purposes. If you just get rid of somebody because you don't like them or whatever, that's legally considered a layoff because they did nothing wrong and thus can still collect unemployment.

If you let somebody go just because you didn't like them but you lied and said it was for performance reasons, they'll have to fight to get unemployment, and they may very well sue you for their troubles. On a similar note, if you do want to fire someone for performance reasons, you better have that lack of performance well documented.

Because of this, a lot of companies don't bother claiming cause: they classify all firings as layoffs and don't contest anyone's unemployment. I worked for a company like that once.

Exactly. That's a layoff, not firing.

There are some nuances to the terminology. Companies avoid the term "layoff" because it implies that people might be re-hired once the slowdown is over. Growing up near Detroit, I remember layoffs where the status of the laid off workers was specified in the union contract. I have not heard of this kind of layoff in recent times, outside of unionized companies.

Laypeople like me usually reserve "firing" for people who are fired "with cause." When companies fire people "at will," they often use words like "reduction in force."

Perhaps a better way of thinking about it is the consequences of being fired. If you are fired "at will," then you are entitled to things like unemployment compensation, COBRA benefits, etc. If you are fired "with cause," then you lose those benefits.

If an employee is a klunker, they will often wait for business to slow down, fire them "at will," and pay the benefits, to avoid potentially getting sued for false termination.

I might be wrong but it makes sense to spend more hiring dollars where they'll increase the bottom line (which is why they're still hiring) while reducing spending in places that are negatively contributing?

Yet, you can just get your current employees on a room, and tell them to stop doing those actions that won't increase the bottom line, and start doing those ones that do.

Obviously, people have different talents, and can't do equally well any task you ask them. But I really doubt Twitter even tried. No company tries. More likely they froze their employees tasks beforehand so they could be better evaluated.

Firing gets rid of the worst. Hiring, at least in theory, pulls in the best.

Healthy companies at scale and size equilibrium should be doing both at roughly the same rate, averaged over time.

  > Hiring, at least in theory, pulls in the best.
If you're firing "the worst", that means at some point, you hired them. Not to mention "the best" is a very vague term. How do you quantify quality? What pool of people are you selecting "the best" from? How many of them are "the best"? The first two? The first ten?

> If you're firing "the worst", that means at some point, you hired them

... or that working in your company causes a serious damage and suck out all the talent of the people before to let it go totally burnt.

Firing gets rid of the worst at playing the internal political game.

Fixed it for you.

Something I've seen at at least a couple of companies where it resulted in killing the company, and one of those was the storied Lucent (forced to sell out to Alcatel, which itself didn't fare well, evidently most of it was sold to Nokia in January this year).

The managers even made a point of telling us how their firing a particular key guy showed no one was safe. Well, the same was true of the project, which was de jure and de facto necessary for Lucent's continued existence as an independent entity, it was a media gateway, which along with a media gateway controller such as their very well received Softswitch replaces a unitary switch like their 5ESS.

(It was a very interesting project, BTW, we were working with 5ESS types in Cincinnati, and like that storied system it was a true 5 9's system, no faking it for scheduled maintenance, people expect their telecom systems to be available 24x7 absent acts of God.)

I doubt people being fired from Vine are prevented from applying to Twitter, this just gives them an eas/y/ier way to vet the good ones.


Thanks! I'm really tempted to post about the suffering, near-fraud and deceit in my company, but I figure it'll be all over the news soon.

You could share thoughts on Glassdoor, right?

I would like to find (or create) a service where we can talk about the real dirt at companies. Encouraging honest accounts without disparagment is a hard balance. Building an identity and reputation system where reviews are trustworthy is hard, especially if you also want anonymity.

Like many people, I've worked at places with big problems. In cases where friends apply, I strive to give an honest account of my experience. Different people can tolerate different levels and kinds of crazy. In most cases, I still know people at such companies. I want to offer constructive criticism in a public setting, because I think this could help companies and people can change for the better. I want them to find a way to succeed.

> because I think this could help companies and people can change for the better.

The first lesson you'd learn is that these companies would rather shoot the messenger, which would be you in this case.

>I would like to find (or create) a service where we can talk about the real dirt at companies

It exists, it's posting anonymous timestamped proof on 4chan's /g/ then saying whatever you want to get off your chest.

RIP FuckedCompany.com.

> I would like to find (or create) a service where we can talk about the real dirt at companies.

I'd be waiting for the wikileaks dumps of that service, followed by firings. Data wants to be naked and exposed.

Why would such a service hold leak worthy data?

Actually wikileaks was an unthought player. More likely (if at all) someone who sells data or just likes to watch things burn. It was a bit knee jerk on my part, as I've become much more reluctant to spread my data footprint. If the data isn't there, it can't be stolen.

I'm working on an encrypted chat system in JS, I'd lend my code and skills to such an effort.

Blind was pretty awesome when I was at Yahoo during layoffs. It's died down a bit since though.

Careful. It doesn't matter enough to risk your wellbeing.

The truth always matters. I'd rather be a truthful mendicant than a lavishly rich liar.

Mm how about a polite, forgiving person who is decently well off?

I would say that it pays to be forthright, but understanding. Granted there are exceptions.

Bear in mind that one person's "unvarnished truth" might come from a lack of experience or high expectations that are difficult to meet at scale and in a commercial environment.

There are generally a lot of tradeoffs being made in companies. A "tire fire" of php might be compensated for by testing and deployment practices or hell it might just be a fun place to work if you can live with the mess.

On the other hand, you might have "architect driven design" where everything is a diamond on paper but the implementation is 8 kinds of design pattern wrong.

Or you might have a great technical team and codebase but no actual value proposition (the funny part is that success itself invites people and pressures that unsuccessful products don't have - some of the best places I've worked had unsuccessful products but great management and teams... once success and revenue kick in, suddenly there are a lot more suits and stakeholders)...

Or you could have some kind of situation where not only is the work pointless, the organisation is so utterly dysfunctional that... you'd definitely leave if it didn't pay so damn well.

One person's "super messed up" is another person's "this is exactly where I want to work". Some people function well in less structured environments and some in more... so what is truth versus just a perspective?

(agree there are exceptions where the truth must be told. I draw the line at not getting paid...)

Epistemologically, I agree with you. What I was getting at is that if your employer is knowingly doing something unethical (again, relative, but let's hand waive that for a moment), I feel like it is your duty to report it and publicize it.

To the point of winning a lawsuit but losing everything else?

It doesn't matter in the sense that most of these disrupters are just going to disappear from lack of need anyway. They're so much spaghetti, thrown on the wall by VC to see what sticks. The lie is that most of it matters.

Its already hit the news, friend. Unfortunately Wells Fargo continues to trudge on.

Twitter is a known tire fire. When I was out in San Francisco everyone who worked at Twitter had a shell-shocked look and talked about the experience the same way they would if they'd just gone to use the restroom and found a dead body.

Honestly that seems like par for the course for the area of town the Twitter HQ is in

Can anyone actually give any details here or is everyone just gonna do the "nudge nudge wink wink" thing?

I don't know any specifics of Vine. I didn't get a whole lot of details of the internals of Twitter, it seemed to be the usual complaints about companies — "things get done for the wrong reasons", "sudden changes in direction", "bizarre politics", "only care about the money now" — but compressed into a much shorter time frame.

Vine was warned by their power users and Vine ignored them.

"the same way they would if they'd just gone to use the restroom and found a dead body."

If that restroom had been basically showing for weeks that it was going to have a dead body in it any time now. Would still be surprising, but I'd be somewhat braced for it.

RE 'prospective', did you mean 'perspective'?

I was fired from Wickr.com a few months after their layoffs.

I was fired from Wickr a few months ago. The given reason was they considered me not a Senior Android Developer and that was my title - I asked too many questions apparently. My manager indicated that if my title had been Android Developer there probably would not have been a problem. I don't care about titles really. I was hired in 2014 as a contractor for 3 months, and then they converted me to a salaried employee. I'm currently searching for a job. I'm finding it challenging to find my next job I think due to disclosing that I was fired from Wickr after a performance review and me being there 2 years doesn't help. The interesting thing is the performance review was held in December 2015, a few months after some layoffs where I was not affected but coworkers were. Another interesting thing is Wickr HR person told us that during the performance review to not expect any surprises. However, this underperformance was a complete surprise to me. I had never been notified. Personally, I would prefer to be laid off vs fired, even if it means a few months less of salary. It was very easy for me to obtain the job at Wickr. I wasn't asked hardly any technical questions and just did a phone screen, never met in person. One thing is I liked being a contractor at Wickr because I was paid for hours worked. The CTO was very insistent about us working overtime, meaning nights and weekends. I complained to him about this overtime requirement without getting paid in an email about a month before my performance review. The reason I emailed was because we were just in a scrum meeting where management was asking us for feedback on how the sprint went.

I would honestly refrain from telling people you were fired in that case, and simply state you were laid off. I would then begin to infer that something fishy was going on internally and that you're probably better off not being involved with the company anymore.

It really sounds to me like management didn't know how to deal with the situation and a "performance review" was simply their scapegoat, and not the reality of why they let you go. I wouldn't be surprised if you were performing at a high level and they were just trying to cut the team down to the originals. These things happen all the time. Good luck to you!

Agreed. If your former employer is smart, they won't say much beyond "yes, that person worked here" when contacted by any company that is looking to hire you. If they say anything that directly results in you being denied a job, it opens them up to lawsuits. (at least that's my understanding)

> If they say anything that directly results in you being denied a job, it opens them up to lawsuits.

This is the received wisdom, but not sure it happens. It might be something that happens at high levels, but it's uncommon for most people to even get a rejection letter or email in the first place, this notion of companies badmouthing you then them telling you that's why you were not hired is just... weird.

Someone would have to call/email your former company, they'd have to put something in writing (or recording) that specifically was negative about you, the company you are applying to would then need to keep a record of that, and then tell you why you weren't hired was because of that negative information.

Has that ever happened to anyone?

It feels to me like the 'lawsuits!' excuse is mostly a smokescreen to cover people being lazy, rude or incompetent at their job of actually managing a hiring process.

Here is how it happens:

You're applying at a bunch of places, some of them being internal referrals from friends of yours. After a while you notice that all of your job applications are fizzling out, so, frustrated, you start asking for feedback (especially since a friend of yours kept getting rejected for talking about SOA instead of RESTful APIs).

The answers you get aren't helpful, like "we just felt that you weren't a good fit", and in a couple of cases somewhat antagonistic.

Eventually, you hear through the grapevine that you might want to check the references you're using.

So, you get your Significant Other to pose as an employer checking your employment history and references, while they record the calls with an app.

Guess what? One of your references is actually trashing you, saying you were unreliable and a troublemaker. It also turns out that another reference just blows everyone off and never returns calls.

Ta-da! You have a recorded evidence. BIG PROBLEM for the reference that bad-mouthed you.

There's also "back channel" references. If there are some red flags but someone at the hiring company knows someone who worked with that person, they often reach out to get feedback from someone who worked with the candidate directly. Many companies do this during early stage interviews to see if they should continue. They're not official references by any means but pretty common in a small community like the Bay Area tech industry.

Cue people spouting how it's illegal for you to record a conversation.

I suppose one could sidestep it by requesting permission to record for "review with the rest of the hiring team." Probably not a good idea, though.

Confronting them on the phone is probably a worse idea, though.

Realistically, though, if you're job hunting, filing lawsuits might not be the best use of time.

lots of places in the US where recording a conversation is legal if one party of the conversation agrees to it (in this case, the party that does the recording)


Definitely make sure you're giving references who are reliable. But why would /anyone/ give a reference who would badmouth them?

Haven't you ever been surprised to find out that someone didn't like you?

It may not happen, but many companies believe it could happen. Consequently, they say next to nothing about ex-employees - only the dates of employment. If you're the company being asked for the reference there is no upside in you saying that Joe was fired - why would you want to help another company, and why would you want to risk (however infinitesimal) a law suit. This is commonly defined by policy, simply ask the last company that you worked at what their policy is for references and what data they will reveal.

Sadly that is trivial to get around these days, especially if someone at the new company knows someone at the old one.

Most professionals I know are happy to "bend" policy to give a respected colleague or personal friend a good reference, especially if that person is on the street.

If the company clams up and limits its response to name, rank and serial number, that's a huge red flag.

I've worked for places that will not say anything about you at all. Nothing. They refuse to even say if you worked there or not, instead referring you to a service they use called The Work Number or something like that.

It's really frustrating to try to look for a job when your potential employer really has a limited way of checking your references.

I get that part, but even if past employer A said something to potential B, why would B say anything to me? It's just going to involve them in something they don't want to be part of in the first place.

HR professional weighing in here :)

You are correct. It's not just "if they're smart" it's "if they're complying with the law." Former employers are only legally allowed to confirm employment, salary (yes, really), and whether or not you're eligible for rehire.

How is it illegal? Source?

Do you mean they're opening themselves up to a lawsuit by saying anything else? If so, that's different than being illegal.

What state? Employment law varies considerably from state to state, and I didn't think that's federal law (but IANAL).

it opens them up for lawsuit because they could have slandered you resulting in you losing a job opportunity. It does not mean the former employee will win but if you did say something that is grounds for the lawsuit which you will have to defend and prove what you said was all factually correct. It is cheaper to just settle with the former employee rather than pay lawyers to defend the suit even if you have 100% chance of winning. This is why no company will say anything other than yes that person worked here from x date to y date and maybe a handful of other benign facts about your employment such as your title

Most companies will answer two questions "When did Joe work here, and is Joe eligible for rehire?" This is why it's important for him to figure out if he was terminated-with-cause or not. If this was the case then he is not eligible for rehire and when a company does a background check Joe will run into this issue.

Do you have any evidence about that? We are in the HR software field and in my experience being"eligible for rehire" is not a binary fact, and even if it was it might not be at the fingertips of the person giving the reference.

This was my understanding talking to a couple of friends who were in H.R. They said their company's policy was to only let them answer these two questions. And they implied that this was similar for several other companies they worked for.

So what I'm drawing this conclusion from is definitely anecdotal.

Nobody in this world is gonna fight for you other than yourself.

Don't bring up the termination without being asked if you were fired (in which case it may be better to just admit it), when you're talking about work experience just say after working there for some time you then decided to pursue other opportunities.

Maybe 3 out 4 companies will still figure it out, but all you need is that one success.

Hand of fate is moving and its finger points to you

It throws you on the street; now what's next for you?

Your options: worthless, and you're bound by NDA

Pied Piper seems quite cushy, best update your resume

-- Iron Maiden, "The Wickr Man"

are you suggesting he apply for a job at that new compression company Hooli tried to buy?

Their middle-out algorithm doe, what a Weisman score.

> Personally, I would prefer to be laid off vs fired...

That's a distinction with very little difference. You got pushed out.

Creating a poor employee performance review is standard corporate cover for incompetent managers. Besides, who do you want on the team? Cheerfully loyal minions or the guy who gripes about overtime?

Use the Group Restructure/Company Lay-offs as your cover story for leaving and move-on.

That is definitely the approach I would use.

Something like:

"The company went through a series of restructures and down-sizing, and I got caught up in that. They mostly kept the junior staff and a lot of the senior developers were let go."


I'm not looking to sue Wickr! I am sure I was fired not laid off. I don't bring up to people on interviews that I was fired. I wait for them to ask. I have my own company, so I am even considering taking Wickr completely off my resume completely. I don't know.

First question is are you sure you were fired with cause and not laid off?

If you're sure it's the first you might want to consult a lawyer. Usually a company needs a pretty strong paper trail and a lot of evidence of you screwing up royally before they can fire with cause.

Obviously, they should consult a lawyer, but I want to clarify this point, because the parent comment can be very misleading.

If you have a specific employment contract, all bets are off and only your lawyer and the courts can really determine what is/is not a permissible dismissal.

Assuming no contract, "cause" needs vary by state, so you can't just trust the parent message. In At-Will states, most of the time, you can be fired for any reason (except protected reasons) at any time including "asking too many questions", "asking the wrong questions", "not asking enough questions", or "he/she looked at me funny and I was in a bad mood." All are perfectly valid reasons for an on-the-spot dismissal in an At-Will state.

Now where it gets trickier is filing for unemployment. This can be harder to navigate than simple At-Will rules. In my state, all of the following will be docked against the employer for unemployment compensation:

* Just felt like firing someone

* Asks too many/not enough questions

* Constant quality issues

* Couldn't actually code and in a developer role

In all of the above, it is expected that the employer either should have figured it out before hiring, or should train/retrain to address the situation.

If an employer fires you for a policy violation, then unemployment will not be charged back to the employer (and likely the employee is not "unemployment eligible"). Usually this involves a longer paper trail with multiple meetings and "official" written notice of a policy violation in your company file before being terminated. Generally, this is a CYA thing for the employer so you cannot claim "you didn't know."

Protip: If there is a bs policy that everyone violates, you can still be fired for-cause for violating it. Chances are if this happens, someone really doesn't like you and they want a good reason to get you out.

But in all cases in an At-Will state, you are still out of a job.

(PS: You notice I do not name my state. Since this is an already tricky situation, assume my state is fictitious, and the rules and experiences are equally made up. Ask your lawyer or the equivalent of your state's (un)employment department/commission/branch for how things apply in your state.)

I think you are confusing termination in an at will state with "termination-with-cause" which means that you cannot collect unemployment, and cannot be rehired by the same firm.(or maybe I'm wrong)

When someone asks if you've been fired by a previous company usually they are asking about the second. They will call the previous company and ask if you are eligible for rehire.

No, not confusing it. Your original message was WRT paper trail, which is not required in all cases.

To your message here, fired means something very specific. Though fired can be for cause or no cause. And the reason of cause matters for unemployment.

Laid off means something else.

So really, there are four categories from an unemployment standpoint:

1. Fired - policy violation

2. Fired - "incompetent" (note: in the eyes of the employer)

3. Fired - no cause

4. Laid off

Both 1 and 2 are bad for new job prospects. 3 is hit and miss from a job prospect perspective, but still generally negative. 4 has no impact.

For unemployment in my state, 2, 3, and 4 will all let you collect (and bills back to the company who terminated the working relationship) where #1 makes you unemployment ineligible.

Circling back to your original message about paper trail, #1 is the only one that companies essentially always keep (or should keep) the paper trail for in my state, because it is the only one that is needed to to defend the company in an unemployment hearing if it ever gets there. For the other categories, there may or may not be a paper trail, and it certainly isn't required.

Do most companies when contacted by future prospective employers disclose which of these 4 was the reason for termination?

Depends on who is asking, what they ask, and for what reason. Though it is generally avoided.

If it is a simple reference check (never minding why a terminating company would be listed as a ref...) then as little information as possible would be given; possibly as small as "so and so no longer works here and that is the limit of what we can disclose with them" in order to avoid a bad reference lawsuit.

If it is an employment verification firm, depending on how rigorous the verification, it may come up by direct questioning and this should be expected by all parties.

Some companies do have strict policies about not disclosing some/all details. I am aware of a few firms, that wether good or bad, have policies against providing any reference, similarly, to avoid any potential lawsuit.

Now, when it comes to unemployment, if an ex-employee files a claim, the gloves will very likely come off. If the company can avoid a claim being made against their account, that is the difference of a lot of money on a recurring basis. So in this sense, reason very much matters.

And if you have a specific employment contract (and you're in an at-will state), take a close look at it since it likely includes an arbitration clause.

So going to a lawyer & the courts might make you feel like you're going to get a resolution, but likely you aren't going to get very far.

Wickr is based in SF. CA is an at-will state.

Many companies prefer to have a strong paper trail and a lot of evidence to scare people away from filing wrongful termination suits, but he could have been fired just because the boss didn't like him without any legal repercussions.

> fire with cause

Isn't it all at-will employment? Why is a reason necessary?

Something funny is they granted me some additional stock options which I did not purchase after my negative review and before they fired me. Being fired was actually a surprise to me, I thought I had improved at least a little bit.

From this comment, I can get a sense of why you were fired.

"The reason I emailed was because we were just in a scrum meeting where management was asking us for feedback on how the sprint went."

They wanted feedback on a sprint and you complained about overtime? Pretty easy to see why you got the axe.

> Pretty easy to see why you got the axe.

What!? "How did this sprint go?" "Well, I had to work a lot of overtime to finish my work on it."

If you're the manager, do you 1) take this as a sign of poor planning or 2) fire the employee?

I mean, it depends on context, but if you fire people because they complain, you're going to lose all trust and everyone who knows they can find work elsewhere.

Yes, I liked being a contractor for that reason.

The company where I work has been going through problems and for the past few months people keep being let go. After 4 months of watching an average of 2 people loose their jobs per month, I had the idea to register dayssincelastlayoff.com. My idea was to have a 'X Days Since Last Injury' kind of image on the site that would just show this stat for various companies. My thinking was that knowing how frequently a company was letting go of it's employees might be a good metric to figure out if the management knows what they are doing. And my experience (written below) leads me to believe that a company laying off a small number of employees but doing it frequently is worse than a company that just does one huge round of layoffs.

This is the first time I've been part of a company that's going through a round of layoffs, and I understand that there are business decisions that lead to this. But the way I've seen it happen here is that instead of one massive round of layoffs (which they had as well. Fired around 8 people at the same time when the down sizing started) the management here kept firing 1 or 2 people at a time every month. From a morale perspective, this felt worse than loosing a bunch of people at once. Because this way, everybody keeps thinking if they are next. Has anyone else seen this happen, and did the company survive after this? Because what's happening at my work is that now, everybody has started looking for new jobs, because of the uncertainty.

The layoffs have stopped since the last month, so I lost interest in the idea. But just to throw it out there, could something like this ever be useful? If yes I might do something useful with the domain.

Pretty much my experience. Once one useful person gets laid off, everyone can't help but think they're the next useful person to get laid off.

And in small groups it feels personal. So now you're playing CYA instead of taking the good kinds of risks with big payoffs.

In your opinion what hurts morale more? One big round of layoff, or multiple smaller rounds?

I've only seen the later happen, and personally I think I'd prefer the first one. If you know that after that large layoff round the rest of the company is safe, I'd venture that might be better for the morale of the remaining employees.

The small layoffs are not usually done for morale reasons; they're done to avoid having to give a WARN notice [1].

Even in cases where a WARN notice is not legally required, it is a PR problem to be admitting that you're laying staff off. People gossip, they think your products must not be good, new candidates have second thoughts, etc. But if you're just firing 1-2 people a week, then (you hope) nobody notices and you can keep putting on a happy public face.


"Cut deep and cut once". Multiple rounds of layoffs is going to seed paranoia as well as hurt morale, so it's often better to over-do-it a little than end up with some of your best employees quitting because they're tired of wondering if they're next.

I've seen both in action, and while the large layoff is really nasty, the company can immediately start to look forwards into rebuilding rather than sitting in the "was it enough, who's next?" purgatory.

As an ex-cisco employee I can say with absolute certainty that I will view any large company which "cuts deep and cuts once" with deep suspicion and paranoia, and with bad memories.

> In your opinion what hurts morale more? One big round of layoff, or multiple smaller rounds?

Both hurt morale.

I've seen many rounds of redundancy and layoffs in UK companies and both the huge layoff rounds and the slowly trimming back everywhere.

With the big rounds, the "We'll only do this once so we'll do it big and won't do it again" is never true. The whole company knows it's just time but at least you can prepare.

The axe is on a pendulum and if you give it a lot of momentum and swing from a great height it will swing back in good time and take off another chunk of the company.

With the small rounds of denying there is an issue and trimming a person from each team, it feels like you are being hunted and it's easy to walk around and see that the company isn't doing enough to address whatever the issues are, it's too cautious.

The axe is on a pendulum and if you only swing it a little the cadence is much higher and it will swing often and constantly slice of a little.

The axe is on a pendulum, once it starts swinging it will swing again. It never swings just once.

If I'm understanding this correctly, does this mean no company can recover from a situation where they had to let go of people?

Companies are too cautious, too much in denial. The first cut is like a surgeon trainee making his first incision: too little, too late. Then comes the bigger cut, but its still not enough. Of course its not enough; by now the executives (who don't know what to do, who caused the mess and should be the first to go) have latched on to layoffs as the panacea to bring back the good times, the fruits of which they enjoyed but never understood. Layoffs can be necessary in a company, but they only work in conjunction with other actions, carefully managed together by leadership with vision and courage. I've watched executives argue over laying off a man that was costing them $5.00 per hour (and cleaning their bathrooms), but ignore everyone around the management meeting table.

The companies may survive, departments may survive. They'll need time to recover, rebuild, find new confidence and morale.

But... in the short-term, once cuts start they don't stop.

It's always too little too late. The big cuts are indicative of how bad things already are, the small cuts are indicative of how bag things are yet to get (but it is coming down the line and aimed at you).

Once the axe starts swinging, be in control of your situation and look elsewhere. Don't wait to let the situation dictate to you.

That's not _necessarily_ true. I've worked at a company that expanded far too fast, and laid off a sizeable number of people. They then got some serious focus on the areas that they could do well, made good money and grew more sustainably. By the time I left they were substantially bigger than they had been, sustainably profitable and had been acquired.

On the other hand, I've also been places where the cuts just kept on coming.

I worked at a place, where I was not laid off, but my friend was, on his birthday.

For me, this was a real eye-opener.

It would not have been a big deal for HR to wait another day, and then lay him off.

Another employee, also laid off, 2 days after moving out of his aunt's house and had put a deposit down on an apartment and DSL connection.

I think I left a month later right before the company imploded.

Happened to a friend of mine while he was on his honeymoon. Through a slip by management people knew it was coming. He wanted to know before he left, but they wouldn't tell him. So he ended up checking his voicemail everyday while he was on his final vacation.

Happened to a colleague of mine while he was on leave after the birth of his first child.

He was allowed to come into the office one weekend (escorted by security) to collect his things.

Welcome to fatherhood.

>but my friend was, on his birthday.

I've had this happen

good 20th.

I've had it happen too. Granted, it was kind of a bullshit zeroth job where it happened and the company folded a month later, but it still sucked. I almost brought in cupcakes to share with the company...

At banks I worked at, they did it once a year, HARD. Lots of loss of morale for two weeks after that...after which things stabilized again.

During crises, it hit in waves. That was another kind of drawn out hell: people wondering "am I next?" aren't terribly productive.

It requires a certain kind of attitude that only a small minority of all people have to keep morale high in a situation where you can be fired any second without warning instead of going through the office looking like a kid who just shat his diapers.

I went through this once. It sucks.

The company used to lay off groups of people every other Friday or so. A friend lost a job every time. Everyone knew the company was going to shut down and we were just waiting it out. It was during the dot.com bubble burst, so it wasn't like there were millions of new jobs to jump to. I finally got my Friday meeting after something like 6 rounds.

This happened at my prior job which ambush fired me back in February. I noticed that their main investors had started to back out of tech investments in general, and then heard about several rounds of layoffs since then. Friends told me about a morale drop, but they are also friends, and might have been trying to soften the blow.

Anyhow, I like your idea for dayssincelastlayoff.com.

this is often times done on purpose, for companies listed on the nasdaq or nyse, i believe they have to announce publicly if they're laying off x% (i think it's like 7 or 9%). if they're less than x% then they can totally disregard public notification which helps with morale.

Back in the first dotcom bubble, we had FuckedCompany.com. It tracked these sorts of things on a daily basis.

Ahh FuckedCompany.com

I remember when I sat in an interview for a position at marchFIRST in Melbourne, Australia. And when it came time in the interview for them to ask "Have you got any questions for us?"

"Yeah, look this is kind of awkward, but I've seen marchFIRST mentioned quite a number of times on this website called fuckedcompany.com... Is that indicative of any issues I should be aware about?"

"Oh, don't worry about that, thats just our american parent company"

"Oh great"

So I accepted the offer, worked off-site for 3 months, and then marchFIRST went chapter 11.

Should have paid more attention to that damned website.

I worked at marchFirst back in the day. Even had the chance to meet Bob Bernard. That experience shaped how I run the company I co-founded 3 years ago. M1's number one problem was a culture of spending money without any thought of a return. Which was probably really odd for folks on the Whitman Hart side of the merger. It really was a merger of two opposite cultures.

This extended back to USWeb/CKS. I might still have a shirt bragging about a $300M quarter (Though if you looked at the financials,we had something like a $50M loss).

It was like the Tres Comma club, but tackier.

marchFIRST -- it even has a Wikipedia entry [0]!

  marchFIRST was a Nasdaq traded public company whose peak stock
  price reached $52. By the time the company filed for
  bankruptcy, it traded for pennies ($0.16 on March 28, 2001).
[0] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/MarchFirst

> "Oh, don't worry about that, thats just our american parent company"

Translation: "don't worry about that, that's just the company you are applying for"

I was young and really wanted the job! It was easy to overlook the obvious

I'm making fun of their gall more than anything else. I'd probably have overlooked that too when I was young.

It's possible that you made the right decision - you were young, you got the job, you got experience on your resume.

I had Downside's Deathwatch, a simple automated cash flow analysis.[1] It's still up, frozen in time. All those "Chart is not available for this symbol" entries are dead.

In the first dot-com boom, many companies went public before profitability. So anyone could see how much cash they had and how fast they were burning through it. I just calculated how much time they had left until cash went to zero. That's the "death date" listed. It was embarrassingly accurate.

[1] http://www.downside.com/deathwatch.html

This is awesome ( i mean, there is beauty in the simplicity of it)

Any thoughts to share the code which you used to analyse edgar? :)

It's no longer useful. The SEC used to require an EX-27 schedule in SGML with useful data. They discontinued that around 2001. Years later, they started requiring that data in XBRL format, which is more detailed. You could do this today with XBRL tools, which are available.

Downside was written in Perl, in 1999. There's a system in there to parse financial statements written in HTML for humans, but it's for HTML 3.1 and was never updated.

I used to get hate mail from CFOs over this.

Well, if you have the code and an example file it would still be usefull ( as reference ). Thanks for the information!


One of my favorite sites back in the day! I remember checking it daily to make sure my employer wasn't there. Fun times! We seem to be missing that edge--that deep cynicism and unashamed negativity--this time around.

Well, as they say: "This time it's different!"

This time is different. Back in the dot com days the companies were public and so the day of reckoning came quickly. Today everyone is running on VC/PE/SWF money and so problems can be hidden for a long time.

Having said this until US interest rates rise or unless a white swan event occurs (I am Australian so all swans are black here) the music will keep playing and the everyone will keep dancing.

No doubt part of it is how these companies are funded. There's so much private money, and nobody knows what to do with it so it gets tossed at these hobby projects, and by some miracle one of them turns into a unicorn.

But there are other differences now too. You can't simply ridicule anything anymore. Back in 2000 we could point to a company trying to sell designer kitty litter on the Internet and laugh at how stupid it was and how greedy and full of hubris the founders were. Now, everyone's trying to "change the world" and empower everyone and "enable the sharing economy" and, well you can't criticize that without sounding like a big meanie. There are a lot of web sites out there that are simply never going to be businesses. They have their runway to burn through, and once it's done, they'll be blogging about Their Amazing Journey as they get acqui-hired. But when you point this out, you're just being negative--you're a jealous wantrepreneur.

Maybe this is an old-timer's "get off my lawn" rant, but I preferred it when it was OK to poke fun at things that you knew were ridiculous.

> Maybe this is an old-timer's "get off my lawn" rant, but I preferred it when it was OK to poke fun at things that you knew were ridiculous.

It came off as an old timers rant, but I still enjoyed it :)

Maybe we strayed a bit too far from the "greed is good" 80's. There's nothing wrong with starting a business to make money.

It's more pervasive than just dotcoms though. I see the same things we stuff like solar roadways or hyper loop is criticized.

Too many people mistake skepticism for cynicism.

Isn't the quote "This time... will be different!!!" And then when the corn kills him again and: "That's not different at all now, is it Steve?" https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6TMOMTtAMBI

We are all Steve and this time will not be different.

Uh, I wasn't familiar with that little tidbit of culture...

Rather, it was a reference to the fact that in the last few years, any time someone suggests that we might be in another tech bubble, there's always someone waiting to point out how "this time it's different", because now the web is mature and all the stupid startups are not really as stupid as they seem (not like in the first dot-com bubble).

Actually, it's a bit of a double entendre in that sense -- even the first dot-com bubble was rife with statements about how everything is different now, and we're in a "new economy" and all those "old economy" concepts like revenue and profit are totally obsolete. Plus ça change...

The creator of said site posts on HN from time to time, under pud. https://news.ycombinator.com/user?id=pud

Pud is Phil Kaplan. He made a few bucks on AdBright, got married and still hacks up wild ideas that mostly whiff. Plays the drums.

Can only assume this is sarcasm or some definition of "whiff" I don't know. He's had FC, AdBright, TinyLetter and DistroKid - wish I had a track record that strong with my projects!

I wonder why there isn't a new incarnation of it. Are people afraid of lawsuits?

I registered unicorngrill.com on a lark for exactly this, but I'm allergic to lawyers.

We need to see someone follow sci-hub.cc lead and put the server and public face in Russia.

As luck would have it I'm Russian.

Do you think it would take off if I would do it for real?

Should we poll the community in an "Ask HN" thread to see if people want this?

I would like it and wouldn't mind hosting it, but yeah FuckedCompany does have a better ring to it than the other names I see here. That might be nostalgia though.

I suspect there would be quite a lot of interest especially if you did not worry about upsetting lawyers.

There is also glassdoor.com but it's not specially geared towards layoffs. But you can get a decent idea of how well a company does.

Glassdoor can be (and is) easily tainted by submitting fake positive reviews. They have a policy of not letting employers remove negative reviews, but that doesn't stop the company from flooding with "it's a fast-paced work environment, so some people clearly can't handle the heat in the kitchen" style "positive reviews" to reframe the legitimate negative ones.

So, it can sometimes be difficult to get a proper read on signal. However, it seems to be among the best data source out there.

You have to appropriately weight the reviews. Some types of reviews tend to be heavy on negative, some positive. Glassdoor is the type of site you have to focus more on the negative reviews than the positive.

I've seen this happen. Some of my colleagues had written bad reviews for a company I had worked at. My employer found out eventually. They ended up flooding glassdoor with fake positive reviews, down to changing tone and typing style between posts to throw people off.

I would take glassdoor with a grain of salt.

I love glassdoor. Sometime you see high level management on there giving frank plus and minus assessments of the business, often critical of higher levels. It's not just disgruntled departures but often current employees.

> Back in the first dotcom bubble, we had FuckedCompany.com

today there is https://www.thelayoff.com/ ; well, it is similar but not quite the same...

is useful if you are working for a company with a rich history of layoffs, it allows to check for recent rumors on the subject.

is there a second bubble?

The Ontario Teachers' Pension Plan (OTPP) in Toronto, Ontario, Canada is currently laying off over 100+ (union, management and contractor) IT folks from the Enterprise Technology Solutions (IT operations) and Testing teams. All of the affected positions are being transferred to Tata Consultancy Services (TCS - India based offshoring service company), with those who are affected being mandated to knowledge transfer with TCS up to the January 31, 2017 termination date.

While there have been internal assurances that no other teams are going to be outsourced in the near future, I wouldn't recommend applying for any IT based roles at OTPP.

Full disclosure - I currently work for, and am affected by this outsourcing.

(edit - adding article for those interested in details) http://www.benefitscanada.com/news/ontario-teachers-to-outso...

This reminds me of the RBC debacle a few years ago, where they abused the Temporary Foreign Worker Program to replace capable, salaried Canadian IT workers with offshore services.

That stint hurt not just those workers but other companies that were trying to hire the best in the world, only for the feds to deny visas due to one bad apple spoiling the bunch.


This seems like a really good reminder that while actual immigration may not hurt domestic workers, poorly-executed foreigner worker programs definitely do.

Adding new employees to the primary labor pool by immigration isn't a huge deal, if you can handle population growth you can probably handle immigration. But I constantly see governments "address" fears about that with limited visa programs, which is hilariously counterproductive.

It really ought to be obvious that employees who face deportation if they leave their jobs aren't part of a competitive, efficient labor market. They're not free to ask for raises, they're not free to object to working conditions or unreasonable hours, they certainly can't leave a bad company to join a competitor or start a new business. All of which makes them great candidates for an employer looking to avoid paying market rates or treating employees decently.

It's crappy for the visa workers and domestic workers alike, and I honestly think the situation could be greatly improved by just expanding real immigration - maybe maintaining initial sponsor requirements if people are worried about unemployed immigrants, but abandoning the ongoing-sponsorship rules in favor of real green-card/citizenship status.

Yes - we've discussed amongst ourselves (those affected) about what RBC did, and how they were lambasted in the media for abusing the visas. In our particular case, TCS seems to already have a number of local assets they're involving, with most of the work to be sourced by India based teams. I'm sure OTPP is trying to avoid similar negative press in regards to abusing visas, but I've been surprised how little coverage this news is getting in general (a pension plan funded by local Ontario union based teachers firing local union based employees for offshore assets.)

I worked at RBC during that time and can add a bit of context. Rumour was the CIO at the time (Morteza Mahjour) had staked his job on reducing operating costs of the tech services & operations division by bringing in an offshore firm called iGate. I wasn't laid off but plenty folks I know were and I left anyway.

The cost savings plan turned out to be a bust, projects ran over budget or never got off the ground at all and Morteza left. Apparently the new guy is turning things around. Some old colleagues have gone back after being offered hefty raises.

Edit: also, does the teachers union know this is happening? Isn't that retirement fund worth a fortune?

Yes - the Ontario Teachers Federation (the parent body that manages the different Ontario teachers' unions) was made aware of the outsourcing shortly after it was announced in July. They questioned Ron Mock (OTPP's CEO) shortly afterwards, and voted to have OTPP reverse the decision:


Sadly, this has resulted in no visible changes to the decision.

The OTPP fund is currently at $171.4 billion (all figures in Canadian dollars) as of December 2015, with $13.2 billion in surplus funding as of January 1, 2015. Makes you wonder why they'd go through this kind of cost cutting, doesn't it?

Wow! I have a few friends who teach in Ontario, will be interested to hear their thoughts. Thanks for the background info.

Might be worth notifying personalities like Michael Geist about this and act as a voice.

While I'd agree that is a good idea, I'm already treading carefully about what I'm saying here as my employer is very explicit about employees not speaking to media outlets (everything I've relayed here is public knowledge.) I'll mention it to our local union president (Jeff Billard), and see what his thought are.

We should do something to get those people in front of Toronto startups. Mind posting about this in the StartupNorth group on Facebook? https://www.facebook.com/groups/startupnorth/

Sure - I've submitted a request to join the group, and will add a post once I've been approved.

Not technically "firing" I suppose but all of the dev org in Atlanta and SF, including myself, were laid off at athenahealth last week. Something like 120 people. Sucks.

The entire org?? Why? I recruited for a company that started a few innovation centers around the country. Part me now wonders why they needed all those devs. This was around 3 new centers that hired about 70-100+ each in mostly non tech hubs. The way tech advanced in the last 3 years I'm sure most of their work is or fastly becoming obselete.

Probably using a new platform and/or being bought.

Wow. I interned at athenahealth Summer 2015 in SF. Hope things work out for you. Did you work on Epocrates?

I was working on pop health, which is based out of Austin, but I'm in Atlanta. Job market is pretty good though and they're still employing the Atlanta people through December 30th, so I should be good. I'll just likely have to walk from the (pretty meh) severance... Nobody is hiring in late December.

What's the difference between being fired and laid off?

In the UK, "getting fired" or "getting the sack" means you were incompetent (or commited misconduct) and are sent home. For incompentance, they can only do this after a "performance review" (they have to give you 3 months to improve, I think).

"Laid off" is called being "made redundant". The company can do this much more easily to a bunch of people, but it generally has to pay them ~6 months salary and can't hire new people at the same time, for the same job(s).

Any employer being more aggressive than this will probably be taken to an employment tribunal.

In the States, I've heard you guys use the terms synonymously, but it always sounded a little weird. Your employment law is awful for employees though, by comparison.

You don't get 6 months salary, that's never been a thing. Unless there's something different in your contract, it's a week per year worked. A normal contract clause in the UK is that it's a month or 6 weeks notice both ways after a probationary period of 3 or 6 months, so that's usually a minimum.


Thanks for correcting me, clearly I've only ever heard about it from people who had been working somewhere for a long time!

You may be thinking of voluntary redundancy terms which can be very lucrative

You forgot about being 'sent to Coventry' - i.e. the company doesn't want to pay you redundancy, and can't fire you for incompetence, so you get ignored, not given any work, get put in a useless role, etc until you wise up and quit/find another job. British passive aggressiveness at its finest!

Being American. I would have had no problem with being fired aka 'you're now surplus' and it would have been far more helpful (i.e. get it over with) vs. letting me twist in the wind for a few months... or even have a hard talk with me to see if I might be useful elsewhere in the company because I was bored etc.

But the procedure they used to downsize the workforce earlier that year before that was cruel - straight out of the Victorian era...

I've heard that that practise (what a name!) Is relatively common in Japan: I've never heard of it in the UK before.

I have heard of "gardening leave" though: where you're left on full salary but kept out of the building for your notice period, to stop you passing up to date market info to your new company. (It's the only legal way I know of in the UK to implement a non-compete clause.)

I love the fact that no one seems to know why we say "sent to Coventry" as well.

Probably related to Coventry being "ignored" in WWII by British officials so that German wouldn't catch on that the enigma machine was broken.


The phrase is much older than that..

>Grose's The Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue - 1811:

>>To send one to Coventry; a punishment inflicted by officers of the army on such of their brethren as are testy, or have been guilty of improper behaviour, not worthy the cognizance of a court martial. The person sent to Coventry is considered as absent; no one must speak to or answer any question he asks, except relative to duty, under penalty of being also sent to the same place. On a proper submission, the penitent is recalled, and welcomed by the mess, as just returned from a journey to Coventry.[0]


Wow, I wonder how effective time-out was on infantrymen of the early 19th century and how often it was enforced. It seems like an analog to solitary confinement while still forcing you to be a contributing member of your armed forces.

This is actually fine by me: if you want to pay me to do nothing, that's fine -- I'll just look at it as conditional severance. As an employer, you should know that I'll be using the time to look for other jobs on my phone though.

Japan does something similar, called "chasing-out rooms": http://www.nytimes.com/2013/08/17/business/global/layoffs-il...

Sent to Coventry appears to be Constructive Dismissal under UK law


Of course it might not be worth the lawsuit.

It's almost always worth the lawsuit, it's cheaper for a company to pay an employee off than fight them in court.

The actual numbers of people who take abusive companies to court is low, just look up the statistics of companies who constructively dismiss women after pregnancies, compared to the number who actually get sued.

It's a thing to do carefully; especially in a small industry. Unless the situation is pretty messed up it's generally better to take a small hit than become known as someone who litigates against their employer.

On the other hand, full respect to anyone who stands up for themselves when the situation warrants it.

Really not going find a new job easily if you say you have been fired vs redundancy as that implies you did something wrong.

In Australia that's generally called "special projects".

No, we use the terms the same way in the US, just the protections behind them are weaker (and personally, as an employee, I'm fine with it that way).

You might be thinking of the phrase "was let go", which is just a nicer way of saying "got fired".

"Laid off" here means the same as in the UK: you were sent home because your job function isn't needed anymore, or because the company is downsizing.

> and personally, as an employee, I'm fine with it that way

You mean as a reasonably well-off employee who was lucky enough to have picked a growing field when you went to uni. On the other hand, if that field ever stops growing for any reason... you might see why people enjoy stability and the ability to plan ahead in their work life.

That's rather undeservedly flippant.

Actually I picked a dying field at uni. Well, not a dying one, but it's become very difficult over the past 10-15 years to find a job doing digital hardware design. Fortunately I gave up on that quickly and switched to software (something I was lucky enough to start picking up well before uni).

But I think that misses the point. We shouldn't halt progress in the name of job security. I'm fine with slowing progress a little; hell, even in the US it's customary (even though not required by law) to pay a decent severance package during layoffs. But I just don't get this whole idea that you're entitled to a job (and job security) just because you trained for it.

I also don't get the resistance toward retraining, aside from the obvious issue that retraining takes time and money, and in the meantime you have to feed and shelter yourself (but this sort of thing can and should be solved via social safety nets). Sure it would be easy to be able to have a single job for the rest of your life, but that's just not how life works, or should work. Things get obsoleted all the time, and that doesn't mean we should legally require private enterprises to keep paying someone to do useless work.

I do very much object to how difficult it can be to vanilla fire someone in many places in Europe. They've gone way too far with that one. Extra protections for layoffs are fine, but if someone is consistently underperforming, it should be possible to get rid of them immediately and without any sort of severance. I've been at a couple very small companies in the US where the lack of ability to do that sort of thing could have killed the company.

Some people think that pro-employee laws are not in fact good for employees.

Regardless of whether or not you agree with them, it's super uncharitable to dismiss them in this way.

Pro-employee laws are not good for employees in the success case - that you're a top 10% worker in a field that is growing and has lots of demand. The thing is, if you think about the failure case - you're a disposable cog in a field that's stagnating - there's issues which need to be solved, unless you're a staunch libertarian with a belief that people who are unable to find work should die. Nobody wants to pay for a 40yo person with a family to spend years retraining when they lose their job and can't find another, so what is there to do?

> Nobody wants to pay for a 40yo person with a family to spend years retraining when they lose their job and can't find another, so what is there to do?

That's the thing I don't get. In the grand scheme of things, it is much less costly to an economy to pay to retrain someone than it is to pay them to do a redundant job. It's even less costly than doing nothing and kicking them to the curb.

The alternative to making it impossible to fire people, is to make getting fired less of a big deal. Instead of adding friction to the employment market, implement a decent social safety net that includes provisions for voc ed / retraining.

Instead of focusing solely on prevention, work on mitigation. To much prevention can make everything grind to a halt.

> Instead of adding friction to the employment market, implement a decent social safety net that includes provisions for voc ed / retraining.

Sure, except that nobody wants to do that for some abstract reason of "fairness", so the problem needs to be mitigated another way.

Really? I thought it was that it smells a bit too much like communism.

Which seems to be gradually becoming less of a problem over time, even here in the USA.

Well, "why should I pay for my neighbour's re-education when they should've just picked right in the first place?" - if you are lucky enough to pick a field which grows for the rest of your life, and you're a reasonably good worker, you're never going to take advantage of that and so your neighbour gets more than you from the Government. Not fair! /s

Is that actually a prevalent attitude, though? I mean, it's stupid... someone else retraining is easily still having it harder than someone who "picked right". And in the end, I'd much rather help pay for someone's education than have to walk past them on the street, begging for money.

Socialism, not communism.

And systematiclly dismantling the middle class through public policy and economic upheaval does that to a country.

Full speed ahead on stronger safety nets, even if it means higher taxes.

> there's issues which need to be solved

Yes, and some people think that pro-employee laws make these issues worse.

Again, you don't need to agree with them, but you don't get to dismiss them as simply not caring.

And a in IR/HR terms a lay off is not exactly the same as a redundancy.

With redundancy the job is 100% gone, with a layoff the job may come back ie a factory may lay off the night shift - with expectation that if things pick up the nightshift will be re hired.

You are laid off when the company is downsizing, has no need for your services or cannot pay your wages.

You get fired when you fail to perform adequately at your job.

Technically none, but "fired" tends to refer specifically to when there was some specific employee conduct, e.g. failure to fulfill responsibilities, which forced the company to let the employee go. "Laid off" is a broader term that doesn't carry the same negative connotation and is more appropriate when, say, a company is strapped for cash and lets go of someone to free up money in the budget.

Being fired generally means you did something wrong wrong. Laid off means the company is getting rid of people to reduce costs or due to removing the position, for example due to change of strategy.

One generally implies personal fault, the other implies side-effect of business.

Fired - you did something wrong, incompetent (or pissed someone off) and they are doing it specifically to you.

Laid off - your group is redundant or discontinued, they have no need for you or your team/product, they're closing an overseas business unit, or culling 10% of their staff. You're in the wrong boat at the wrong time.

It has different connotations.

If you're laid off, you can collect unemployment more easily.

immediately vs 3 months waiting period as far as I recall

For California, that is wrong. You can claim right away if you are fired. The employer can dispute it however they have to prove they tried to rectify the situation. The way the system works, the former employee has to dispute the unemployment rejection if the employer wants to try to claim it was a valid firing. So if you do get fired and there was not a pattern of behavior or something that you were warned about, then you simply appeal, state your case and the judge will almost certainly reject the employers false claim.

Unfortunately, I know this by experience. I was fired for some fishy business and it was obvious at the hearing. So always file for unemployment unless you are certain it will not be granted. Unemployment also qualifies you for health insurance through Covered California.

Do you know anybody who might be interested in wiring Apache Camel up to be a Rhapsody replacement?

The NEDSS Base System has an expensive dependency on Rhapsody, but all it does is grab incoming HL7, do some transformations, and dump the result into a NBS table.

(For the uninitiated: State Health Departments are generally the users of NEDSS Base System... Rhapsody is a graphical ETL tool.)

Just out of curiosity, any reason you're using Camel for that instead of Mirth? I've been out of the healthcare sector for a few years but at one time was doing essentially that same thing to build out the state biosurveillance network in TX. Mirth was a great fit for it at the time, I'd imagine it still is.

I haven't started yet. Just putting feelers out.

I haven't evaluated Mirth. It seems like a consumer oriented product. The marketing around it is so deep that I can't find a list of it what it's not good at...

Camel appears to be basically a library. As a programmer, I find that appealing.

I'd take a closer look at mirth. It's highly capable, and I never had any major issues with it. You have a number of options for integrating with it, and I imagine those have expanded since last I looked at it. Email is in my profile, feel free to drop me a line, I kind of miss my public health work :)

I could do this. I'm not from Atlanta, but two other developers and myself have a small company, Columbia Ops, that has done a lot of HL7 work. Usually we use Mirth, but we could do it in Camel instead if you prefer something lighter. My email is in my profile.

Second plug in this thread for Mirth. Noted. And...

What about the Austin office?

Still alive! They consolidated to Watertown (Boston), Austin, and India.

I've been seeing job listings for the Austin office repeatedly for the last few weeks, so it'd surprise me if they were cutting staff there.

Sorry to hear that. :(

Whoa what?! They were recruiting me pretty hard at one point. Feeling glad that I didn't bite. :/ Sorry to hear that.

Hertz laid off nearly the entirety of their rank and file IT staff earlier this year. https://news.slashdot.org/story/16/02/13/1630244/hertz-is-pu...

In order to receive our severance, we were forced to train our IBM replacements, who were in India. Hertz's strategy of IBM and Austerity is the new SMT's solution for a balance sheet that's in shambles, yet they have rewarded themselves by increasing executive compensation 35% over the prior year, including a $6 million bonus to the CIO. http://insiders.morningstar.com/trading/executive-compensati...

I personally landed in an Alphabet company, received a giant raise, and now I get to work on really amazing stuff, so I'm doing fine. But to this day I'm sad to think how our once-amazing Hertz team, staffed with really smart people, led by the best boss I ever had, and were really driving the innovation at Hertz, was just thrown away like yesterday's garbage.

The failing business and laid off workers combined with executive compensation increases/bonuses is very much an example of why Sanders and Trump are so popular, and why candidates like them (or more extreme) will come out of the woodwork in 4 years.

I find it hard to believe Trump wouldn't, or hasn't, done exactly as Hertz has done. This seems like an all too common stratagem for upper echelons within a business to convince shareholders that the books are healing.

Trump does this kind of thing because he believes it's necessary to compete. For example, he makes neckties in China/Mexico/wherever because that's the only way one can do so profitably.

Trump is the epitome of "Don't hate the player, hate the game". While Trump has played the game as necessary in the business world, Trump claims he is running for office so that he can change policies such that offshoring American jobs is no longer economically feasible, and such that companies that do this will face punishment.

Though it seems counter-intuitive, Trump and Sanders are striking the same chord, just from different directions. There is a surprising amount of crossover support from Sanders to Trump, especially as evidence of DNC corruption against Sanders in the primary process continues to mount.

Tangential discussion: but change comes from within. There are plenty of companies out there who figured out a way to make a profit operating against industry norms, like making their clothes in the US -- Raleigh Denim comes to mind.

Trump could absolutely have (hired someone to) figure out a way to make a profit on artisanal ties. He was just too concerned with maximizing personal gain to care.

Yeah, I probably shouldn't have said the ONLY way to make money is by exporting manufacturing. But the usual way for sure.

Trump is about making it so that business as usual favors the American worker -- it shouldn't require special boutique retailers who are only ever going to be able to compete in a niche market for hyper-aware consumers.

Trump has quite a reputation for not paying his suppliers, and using tactical bankruptcy to avoid other debts.

How do you lay off lazy citizens? Well... without violating several international conventions.

Trump a politician and Trump a businessman are not the same.

I'm always astonished that companies that treat their IT staff this way don't find landmines left behind more often that destroy their infrastructure.

Really? It sounds like you're describing a felony, and one that would probably not that hard to be traced back to the perpetrator.

You're naive if you think this doesn't happen more often than not. Some shops are very good about preventing this, most enterprises are not. Drop a bunch of USB sticks in the parking lot or other common areas, someone else ends up doing the work for you.

I do incident response for a living. Disgruntled employees/former employees do sabotage their companies' networks, but it is incredibly rare. Not because most organizations are well-defended against such attacks; its because most people aren't willing to destroy their lives simply because they were laid off. Especially in a rapidly growing industry where a talented person can generally find a better job than the one they had in a week or two.

I appreciate you taking the time to post this. I'll make sure to never use Hertz again.

I've sworn off Hertz after following the whole debacle as it was unfolding.

Recruiter here: I placed a developer or two who were laid off from Donlen (owned by Hertz) earlier this year. It didnt seam like they were laying off everyone though. Might be time to check in with all my other contacts though. Thanks.

really sorry about your past experience with hertz, but it sounds like you ended up with a better deal.

your post piqued my interest because i've been a long time business user of hertz (not by choice i can assure you), and i can't say that i'm at all impressed with any of their services. probably not your team's doing, but about a year ago, i got off a 12 hour flight in sfo to stand in line at hertz only to be ushered to a kiosk where i had to do a video conference with some remote teller. this was the biggest garbage service in the world, i cannot believe they actually spent money on this solution, i ended up getting ushered back to a teller at the desk where i was already standing in line. perhaps you were in the twilight zone at hertz doing wonderful things, but i think that company is rotten and should rot in hell.

The newspaper / print media industry generally is doing abysmally poorly.


Submitted yesterday, didn't go anywhere: https://news.ycombinator.co/item?id=12834583

I've been picking up newspapers and magazines and been quietly horrified at how thin they are. I'm no fan of advertising, but I know it's how they pay the bills, and there are no ads there.

The Chicago Tribune is trying to keep their "news hole" at no more than 50%, and AFAICT, are failing. Even with the Cubs at the World Series (and the Trib pimping that for all its worth), the sports section has virtually no advertising. Most noticeable is the lack of classic retail: beer, wine, alcohol, automobiles, consumer electronics (a periodic Fry's ad excepted), clothing (with a few exceptions), etc. Some home services (windows, siding, etc.), and occasional furniture. But overall, terrifically thin.

Time Magazine as of September was similarly famished-looking.

Reminds me of running into a friend you'd not seen for a while, with a fatal disease. It's a visual shock.

I had a similar thing with games magazines a while back. I was subscribed to GameStar (then one of Germany's largest computer game periodicals) in my teenage years, and it always weighed in at about 200-250 pages. I unsubscribed in 2006 as I was too occupied with studying, but picked up an issue in 2011 from the newspaper stand out of nostalgia. I was shocked that it had shrunk down to some 100 pages, and most of the tests were about free-2-play junk. Whole sections were gone, too (e.g. hardware tests IIRC). It's like one of those childhood memories that look really bad in retrospect.

Sorry to dump on your aside, but the media arm isn't affected. The Finance/Risk news (for financial clients) division is the one being downsized, and they were profitable.

The parent mentions it, but here's the brief from their outlet: http://www.reuters.com/article/us-thomsonreuters-results-idU...

Hey, accurate info is good info, I appreciate that.

Which does though raise the question of how it is newswires (Reuters, UPI, AP) are succeeding where direct media outlets aren't. Or is it just that the pain is there but less than (in T/R's case) the finance/risk arm?

The two big TR business units are legal and financial, and both industries pay for access to information when it helps their businesses.

I worked on some of the legal products, and customers were much more sensitive to completeness and accuracy of information they could obtain than the average person with a newspaper. Even with "free" news products people would also pay for alerts.

The Chicago Tribune renamed its holding company "Tronc" a few months back. It didn't help. Gannett just declined to buy them a few hours ago. Tribune Tower is being converted to condos.

I hadn't heard of Gannett's withdrawal. That's going to sting.

I'm aware of the Trib Tower sale. Its progress dominated the Trib's business pages for about six months.

> The newspaper / print media industry generally is doing abysmally poorly.

They're not doing well but I wouldn't use the term abysmal. Print media is still declining but a lot of publishers are offsetting much of that loss with online revenue.

I'd love to see your sources on that, because everything I've seen says otherwise.

From 2013, but I'm not finding anything more recent:


"In 2012, newspapers lost $16 in print ads for every $1 earned in digital ads." A trend that's getting worse -- it had been 10:1 in 2011, according to Pew Research.

Similarly, also 2013:


And 2014: http://www.slate.com/blogs/moneybox/2014/04/28/decline_of_ne...

The latter shows a plot of ads revenues from 1950 forward, showing it falling of a cliff in 2005. Online hasn't made a whit of a difference.

Huh. Strange. They just opened an office in Toronto and posted all these dev job ads... I applied but got rejected, guess it was for the better.

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