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How I sidehustled $72K last year, and what I wanna do next – A geek with a hat (swizec.com)
21 points by wheresvic1 10 months ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 12 comments

I've had several jobs where you had to sign something basically giving up ownership to anything you did on the side, even on your own time, and even on your own laptop. They seemed really common at large companies and back then anyway. Is that still the case? Since he said "side hustle" I assume the author has a normal job also.

This is one area where employment in California is advantageous...

California’s Labor Code, Section 2870 reads:

    a) Any provision in an employment agreement which provides

    that an employee shall assign, or offer to assign, any of his or her

    rights in an invention to his or her employer shall not apply to an

    invention that the employee developed entirely on his or her own time

    without using the employer’s equipment, supplies, facilities, or

    trade secret information except for those inventions that either:

        Relate at the time of conception or reduction to practice of the invention to the employer’s business, or actual or demonstrably anticipated research or development of the employer; or
        Result from any work performed by the employee for the employer.

    b) To the extent a provision in an employment agreement purports

    to require an employee to assign an invention otherwise excluded from

    being required to be assigned under subdivision (a), the provision

    is against the public policy of this state and is unenforceable.

It's often called an "Intellectual Property Assignment" agreement, and they are usually way more restrictive than a simple non-compete, although you need to read either very carefully.

I found out the hard way about IP assignments after I accepted a software engineer position in my earlier days, around ~2005. The centimeter-thick document arrived by certified mail. I was raging mad, called the HR director that hired me and asked why this was not mentioned earlier. She said "everybody signs them" and "it's fine".

To me, this was Not...Fine. They knew full well during my interview that I had side projects, including real software sales, real customers, and an LLC.

I immediately consulted a lawyer, who gave me multiple options/ideas other than just signing the document outright.

The HR Director, my future supervisor, and the Division Vice President I was to work under all met (this was a $700 million USD revenue per year company at the time, with 1400 employees, so not exactly small). The VP was visibly irritated and said things like "why do you even want to work for us anyway?". Things became heated quickly, and I remember inhaling one last time, grasping my chair with both hands in preparation to get up and walk...but the HR director intervened.

We solved the problem by adding an addendum to the original IP agreement doc, listing all my side projects.

I felt pretty weird on my first day on the job. :D

Side Story: A few weeks on the job, I needed a special software utility to help do my work. That same VP (who is now the CEO) made me explain to him, one-on-one and for nearly an hour, on why I needed that software. That utility cost $45 USD. Pretty sure he didn't like me.

It's still the case for me, I am going to negotiate that the terms are changed. It's ridiculous. I understand if the product I'm working on is a conflict of interest, but if it's nothing related to my current employers field why should they own it?

Because they want to own all your ideas. I think it a) ensures they don’t pass on a great idea like HP and apple, and b) means they have the best productive hours of your day since outside work is disincentivized.

Many silicon valley giants were built off of moonlighters who quit their day job to build companies who later ate that day job, and the company would much rather promote you for new work than potentially miss out.

I just posted the HP/Apple example as it came to mind, but I think a clause like that was already in place at the time and HP explicitly said "we dont want it".

IANAL, but I thought modern contracts just give the company it, and thus avoid the step where a bureaucrat can decline.

For negotiating, if it's a big company there's no way that they will negotiate that. You need to weigh whether or not what you are doing will grow large enough that they will care. If you setup a website and make $1000/mo they won't care. If you start running the next Uber while you work there, they will.

I would never sign such a thing. Negotiate. Quite often, unreasonable clauses can be removed from a contract. And giving your employer ownership over your work that they didn't pay for is absolutely unreasonable.

How does someone find so much extra time to do this all? Must take a lot of energy and razor-sharp focus.

My biggest source of complaint is that my focus is not in fact razor-sharp and I spend too much time fumbling around unsure of what I should be doing to advance the agenda.

He measured it out to 18 extra hours per week. That's pretty achievable even with kids if your work week weighs in under 50 hours and you are judicious about your time management, but it does take a substantial amount of discipline.

I tend to fluctuate between spending zero hours a week to side stuff and 40 hours a week, in phases, and while I get pretty cool work done, it's hard to make money on an inconsistent pattern.

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