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Great article about the promotion process and the employee dynamic at Google. It very accurately summarises much of why I quit there so quickly after coming in via an acquisition.

That conversation made me realize that I’m not Google. I provide a service to Google in exchange for money.

I was very lucky to have a friend who taught me that very early (not about Google specifically, the same applies to any company). Working as a contractor just cemented it - I was sitting next to people earning half as much as I was or less, just because I was a contractor and they were an employee. Once you can see this, it's amazing when employees get sucked into killing themselves working crazy hours because they identify so strongly with the company they work for. Companies go to great lengths to promote the idea that we're all one big family, of course, precisely because it allows them to exploit their workers more easily.

Since leaving Google, I now make a software product I sell online. I have no boss, no employees and no investors. Occasionally I miss having coworkers, but mostly it's great. Freedom is really worth a lot of money, at least for me.




Thanks for reading!

>Since leaving Google, I now make a software product I sell online. I have no boss, no employees and no investors. Occasionally I miss having coworkers, but mostly it's great. Freedom is really worth a lot of money, at least for me.

Yeah, that's the thing I miss most. Not just the social interaction, but being around smart people. Within Google, it was so easy to learn because there were experts in every field imaginable. Outside, there's so much bad information floating around, so if I'm not knowledgeable in a particular area, it's hard for me to distinguish between good advice and cargo cult techniques.


That is true, and the main thing I miss about Amazon. And the very steep learning curve, I probably learned more at Amazon than during my diploma and masters studies combined. Still, they have been a very good foundation.


> the promotion process and the employee dynamic at Google

I'm (apparently) not Google-quality but I can tell you for sure that "out here" everybody else is adopting the same tactics, and it's shifting from "not getting promoted" to "not keeping your job". And then they complain that there's a shortage of "talent".


> I was sitting next to people earning half as much as I was or less, just because I was a contractor and they were an employee.

Was this still true after all the taxes, insurance, and stability factors are considered, or was this just your hourly rate?


As a contractor in the UK, I paid less tax than an employee would. HMRC brought in IR35 to try to combat that, but at the time I was contracting (early 2000's) most contractors were still paying less tax - I'm not sure if that's stricter these days.

I was in London working in web & finance at the time, so it was a fairly distorted market. I did get bitten by the dot com crash, but even so I was only out of work for about 6 months or so and that was a pretty extreme event. Realistically in the current environment job stability in a major IT centre like London is so good that contracting is pretty safe. In a more unstable market there would be a higher element of risk, for sure.


Contractors still do a bit better than employees, though HMRC keep talking about seriously cracking down on the practice.


> Contractors still do a bit better than employees

Curious if that is actually true when comparing to tier 1 banks/hedge funds full time employee salaries+bonus+retirement+healthcare.

Assume 600 GBP/day * 22 day/month * 10 months (realistically) full time work, that's 132k/yr.

From that take out accounting, illness, insurance, healthcare, retirement, travel, possibly more.

All things considered, once you get above 100k base as employee contracting becomes less attractive. Strictly as a money move that is, there's other dimensions for sure.


600 seems low - I earned a lot more than that back in the day, and that was a long time ago. A quick search of jobserve.com for just "java" found roles quoting up to 750 on the first page, and if you're any good that'll be negotiable. And if you get into even slightly niche things (Oracle Coherence, in my case) the rates are much higher.


I don't think it's very far from the reality of your full stack app developer though.

Ie. 900+GBP/day is listed rarely and for very specific/niche things.

Then, the more niche it is the more likely it is that the downtime between contracts becomes longer I imagine.

Curious what your anecdotal experience has been, to the extent that it can be shared.


Cracking down seems like a bad idea.. you lose dynamic flexibility on both sides. What would the upside be?


Its interesting that they are not clamping down a "self" employed barristers, I wonder why that might be.

I suspect IT contractors are not seen as real professionals in the British class structure


Taxes mostly and fairness towards people who are actually employed.


In the US you pay more to freelance in taxes than you do as an employee (because the employer pays some on your behalf) but you can have other deductions as a contractor. So I think fairness is not specifically a sufficient motivator. The UK can have a tax advantage for freelancing but these freelancers lose out on employment protections. Dunno..


US contractors don't seem to get anything - they seem to think getting a 20% premium over FTE is good.

In the UK you would normally expect 3x for a short 6 month contract.


Right but UK salaries are about 2-3x lower than US (at least for software engineers).. or at least they use to be.


I make 3x what I did as in house doing the same amount of work, after all other expenses.


I'm in a similar situation wrt self-employment / consulting after many years of trad. FT roles. Now making more $, and have way, way, way more control over how I spend my time.

When you wrote

> Freedom is really worth a lot of money, at least for me.

it seemed to imply you took a paycut to gain your freedom. To a degree, I would make that trade-off too. But, your point about contractors making twice [it can easily be 3x] what FT colleagues do, made it sound like you don't need to trade money for freedom, rather enjoy both. Hope that's the case for you too! If not, know that it can be!


In my case I was mostly referring to the fact that I left a lot of acquisition money on the table at Google, but it was totally worth it. I've been lucky with what I'm doing now and it's worked out very well financially, and the freedom is priceless, especially now I have a kid.


I have the idea that google enployees are paid a ton of money when they join, so why do they care so much about being promoted?


Because until you get to L5, your job is always at risk. If you spend a long enough time at the company without getting to L5 and without a really good justification, it starts to raise red flags.

Or so I've heard.


Don't contractors typically make more than employees simply because they aren't getting benefits? Otherwise I agree.




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