Particularly since this seems to be precipitated by a Calacanis tweet, the guy who fires people for any or no reason. Not exactly an example of loyalty.
I'm guessing the reason for the entire post is actually that while Calacanis is okay firing someone, he gets angry if anyone leaves his company for a better position. There was a kerfluffle over that yesterday in various parts of the net (someone from his company sent a 2-weeks notice, and he blew up, firing them and telling them they had their last day and never set foot in the office or email his staff again). I'm guessing his tweet of 23 hours ago is due to him still being pissed at someone jumping ship from Mahalo.
Edit: It came to mind that there's a perfectly capitalist way of solving the problem, for companies that really do hate the idea of someone leaving: sign an employment contract with time terms, rather than hiring at-will employees. :)
I doubt there's many employers willing to spend the money it would take to lock someone in.
(Because you certainly didn't expect me to agree to that clause for free, did you? No, you're going to pay. And the sooner you lock me in, the more you'd better pay if I can't even evaluate the job before the lockin starts.)
There might be some people who'd take it, since it also means guaranteed employment for the same period: an employer couldn't fire you without documented good cause that'd stand up in court. But I agree that it'd probably make hiring in a startup/tech sort of culture harder, since this isn't a culture where there's that much value put on the can't-be-fired aspect (the job market is good, so you'll just get another job).
Well, what they do in (at least parts of) Europe is have a written contract with a 2 month notice period. That goes for you and the employer. If they fire you they still have to keep you employed until the end of the notice period. And it doesn't make changing jobs worse because everyone has this and works it into their hiring process.
anecdotally, ironically, I interviewed with mahalo.com (Calacanis' company), while I was working for a startup in an office about 2 blocks away in Santa Monica. They offered me a job, but I declined, as it was a 15% pay cut or so from my current position.
Yeah, anecdotally, I've found that if your company is doing things that the general public (or at least, the peers of your employees) considers vaguely sketchy, it's best to counter it by getting a reputation as a great place to work. Zynga is a decent example: there is plenty of negative press about it, but none of the negative press is about working there, since by all accounts they treat their employees very well.
I had a think about this on the train on the way home, and here's the formula that I've come up with.
Assuming that your employees aren't clueless (ie. know their market rate) and are free to leave (eg. not family members or H1-Bs), then you'll see significant employee churn if:
$ < $market x -------------
It seems to hold for most of the cases that I can think of.
Apple, for example, has a high asshattery factor (Steve Jobs) and market rate (they want awesome people) but also has a huge cool factor to balance it out somewhat (I heard they pay ~1.5x market).
Banks, Traders, Insurance companies, etc. have low cool factor, so they have to make it up with large salaries and perks and not be too toxic to work at.
In the case of Mahalo, it seems like they have a large asshattery factor (Calcanis is an overbearing idiot who will post nasty things about you on Twitter), and cool factor < 1 (spammers) and (it seems) they pay below market rates, so it's not suprising that they're seeing lots of "job hoppers".
A prior employer looked good on paper, and on Google; in fact, I went into the interviewing process very skeptical of their industry in general, and came away with a surprisingly positive vibe about the organization and what they were trying to do. The employees I spoke with were top-caliber folks; asked smart questions, and had good answers for me as well. The interview with the owners was fairly typical and high-level, nothing out of the ordinary.
So, I came aboard. The principals had just left for an extended sabbatical (they departed shortly after I interviewed with them). Morale seemed excellent when I started, and there was a great deal of interesting work to be done. When they returned, the mood changed very quickly, and it didn't take long to understand why.
I spent enough time there to do some interesting things, and help them over a knowledge slump during an infrastructure forklift, but it quickly became apparent that the owners and I had different ideas about how people should be treated, and how businesses should conduct themselves. My personal google-fu failed me on this one.
I showed myself the door to take a position that I would have never otherwise considered taking, knowing full well how that would look on a resume, but also knowing I didn't want to continue contributing to their bottom line.
(I have a few items on my resume I do not enjoy discussing in an interview, and I've had to add this one to the list: being vague or evasive suggests you're hiding something, but any real explanation just invites the idea that you're the kind of guy who doesn't work well with others. But, such is life.)