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GitLab Made $10.5M in Revenue with Every Employee Working from Home (inc.com)
833 points by janvdberg 70 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 418 comments



I interviewed with them when they were at 40 remote employees (as far as I can recall). Sadly, I lacked the chops they were looking for. But I was thoroughly impressed with how passionately they spoke about their remote culture. I've been remote now for 10 years with 3 different companies, and I'll never go back to an office unless my family is in dire straights. I hope this article gets play, and I hope to see many more like it in the future. Working remotely is still undervalued and niche, and I'd like to see more companies get up to speed and become open to it.


Do you have a home office or rent office space? If home office, how is it being around family 24/7? What's the optimal remote working setup in your opinion?


I have a small family, and a "home office". My wife works and I take care of the infant. My home has an open floor plan where the kitchen and living room are one in the same, and that's my primary workspace. I'm not a fan of a dedicated room, and I work solely on a laptop - long ago rid myself of elaborate stationary setups, I enjoy taking my laptop into multiple rooms, even outside. When the wife gets home, work typically stops. I'm a night owl and she's an early riser, so I'm not working when she's around in the morning, and I like work at night after she falls asleep. We also have two dogs, which are a JOY to have around during the day.

Having the kid and dogs around, combined with occasional errands and household tasks, provides the exact right amount of distraction and interruption I like to have. I typically only work in 2 hour increments, and then tend to another responsibility, or purposefully head out to do something for an hour. Breaks in the day keeps my mind fresh and oddly enough, allows me to focus more when I sit down to work.

As for what the optimal setup is - that's incredibly personal and subjective, and everyone needs to figure that out for themselves over time.

Some generic advice would be:

- set at-work time limits - set off-limits hours where you do not work under any circumstances - find a comfortable space (that can be anything from a coworking space, to the living room) - find your perfect "white noise." it can get really quiet at home. having something in the background can help. I personally like to keep netflix running, or a movie streaming.


Out of curiosity, how do you set boundaries with your employer?

One thing I've struggled with in the past is employers who seem to expect 8 hours of solid productivity a day if I'm remote.

When I was in the office, it was easier to say "well sorry, I've followed up twice in 3 days on issue x, and unfortunately you got back to me after I'd left for the weekend".

When I'm remote, since there is the flexibility to stop and start work, but that seems to come at the expense that when doing work that requires collaboration, someone can delay responding on something that's a block, and then there's some pressure to "make up" for the "unproductive" time. You don't get any good grace for "being present" and there's less of the social aspect. (If I had downtime in an office, I might make some tea and ask a coworker about their kids/hobbies, a random slack DM feels intrusive)

How did you handle this issue? Did you just establish "core hours" you are available?

I've encountered similar issues in non-remote workspaces, and it's something I'm keenly interested in. I am not a lazy person, but I desire a delineation between "work time" and "personal time", and struggle to set that boundary without seeing my career struggle.


A couple of things jump out to me. The first is that "hours" is a terrible measure of productivity. I find that I work best when I actually sit down and write code about four hours per day. Some days it's more like six, and occasionally it'll be even more, if I'm in the flow and have a clear path worked out. Even less often, I won't be able to focus and will instead putz around most or all of the day doing "soft work" - answering emails, reviewing small PRs, etc. The trick to this that I've found is to find an employer where you're evaluated in a way that makes sense. Story points work OK most of the time, but overall progress to goal is even better. To find a place like that, you have to evaluate the team you'll be working with. To keep it, you'll need to make strong ties to your team members and learn their rhythm. Your work schedule needs to work with theirs, whatever that might be.

The second is that you have to set expectations early, and stick with them. If you want to work set hours, then state that. Don't be easily accessible outside those hours.

Personally, I'm almost always available if something needs done at work, but very rarely have to jump up and do something immediately. It's rare that I want time completely separate from work, but when I do I just let my team know in Slack that I'll be incommunicado and it's not an issue.


>A couple of things jump out to me. The first is that "hours" is a terrible measure of productivity. I find that I work best when I actually sit down and write code about four hours per day.

I totally agree. However, the issue is being "engaged to work" as labor lawyers put it. If I am waiting for you to give me the information nessecary to perform those two hours, it can be a block on my day.

For example, my ideal day would involve waking up, doing some head down work for 2 hours, and then using the rest of the day to do more rote tasks - having meetings, reading up on technical developments, working less brain intensive stuff like tweaking some automation scripts, or anything else that can be done knowing someone might pop in with a question or concern.

But if instead I wake up, find no responses on 3 separate issues, sit through a long meeting skype meeting, then am frequently "pinged" for questions throughout the day as I attempt to do productive tasks so I can't take some "me time" and 8 hours later, someone responds on the core issue I need to work in... I think this illustratates the issue I and other remote workers often face.

>The second is that you have to set expectations early, and stick with them. If you want to work set hours, then state that. Don't be easily accessible outside those hours.

This is a good suggestion, maybe my issue was that the specific employer I'm thinking of did not have a good culture. I tried to set that expectation but got strong pushback from my manager that as a salaried employee I do not have set hours.

>It's rare that I want time completely separate from work, but when I do I just let my team know in Slack that I'll be incommunicado and it's not an issue.

You don't have any set times/days?

For example, I don't want to be inflexible - if I don't have evening plans I don't mind answering a slack query while I Netflix, but what I fear is if I do that sometimes, it sets a precedent I must do it at all times.

For me, having set times where I am "not at work" is very important, and I actively am thinking about how to set those boundaries without being a burden. I'm not a religious person, but maybe I should try saying Sundays are a day of rest for me...


> for questions throughout the day as I attempt to do productive tasks so I can't take some "me time" and 8 hours later, someone responds on the core issue I need to work in... I think this illustratates the issue I and other remote workers often face.

This is how my office life is..


This is how 90%, if not more, of all jobs are.


The sad irony of my situation. If given the right scope of work I can be productive almost 100% capacity (ie. it's almost like flipping a switch for me to get into 100% flow).

Except I work on a very large project. So my tasks are so much smaller and less significant than I could handle, it probably takes 50% of my capacity just to figure out how to work productively and efficiently. So regardless of my productivity I very rarely let myself work more than 8 hrs / day.

It's sad that in certain environments you're literally just not going to be "allowed" to work at your full capacity at any given point in the day.


I think this is almost without exception true in larger companies. There’s just so much communication that goes into doing pretty much everything.


I struggled with the same problem, the 8 hours of solid productivity a day is a killer after working remotely during several days. My solution for that is the Pomodoro technique, I wrote an article about that, hope you find it useful: https://medium.com/@marcochvez/how-i-get-my-workday-done-in-...


Sounds interesting. Maybe you could summarize here in addition to linking to your blog?


> I have been working remotely for two years and I struggled setting my own schedule. Sometimes I ended my day feeling unproductive or wondering how I was spending my time without being aware of what I accomplished.

> One solution to my problem is the Pomodoro technique, which is a method to break down work into intervals of 25 minutes.

> A study (that helped me to figure out that question) reveals that the average worker is only productive for 2 hours and 53 minutes per day, the remaining time is spent in activities unrelated to work (checking social media, reading news, discussing out of work activities with colleagues, etc.).

> Taking the 2 hours and 53 minutes as base, that gives us approximately 7 intervals of 25 minutes, although in practice I’m doing 8 to 10 intervals. This could vary per person and the type of work, but at least we could consider 7 as the minimum. Also I found out that writing down consciously what I’m going to do in my next interval helps me to create peace of mind about my productive time, because at the end of each day I finish with a task history that justifies my work.

> After a few months using a spreadsheet and a Pomodoro timer I was looking for a solution to integrate these tools seamlessly, Despite trying different and complex Pomodoro apps I decided to create a simple and minimalistic solution named Work & Flow


Do you have toddlers too or just the infant? I have a 3 year old at home and I work from home 2 days a week. It was fine when he was an infant but now I have to work either from Whole Foods or the library. It is challenging. I can't just get up and go to the bathroom and leave my stuff. If I try to work from home my 3 year old son demands my attention. I am desperate for a secure place to work from. I was hoping Lifetime Fitness would put one of their new co-work offices in my location but that may be a long time out. I'm just curious if you have plans for when your infant gets older. Maybe I am doing it wrong but there is 0 chance to work when I am in the house with him.


I’m also calling foul here: there is no way I could ever work in my office if my toddler was in the house without another adult supervising. Even if there is, the best I can do is lock the office door and hide from him...

One of my friends does nanny share and can work in his basement. That would work well, but you still have to be in stealth mode around the kiddies.


Wait, you're saying it's easier when they're an infant? Uh oh. I'm in trouble!


Once they're mobile, it gets many times harder. It goes something like this:

- Newborn to ~6-9 months: not mobile, and not too demanding either (especially early on)

- 6-9 months to 3 years: mobile and constantly trying to hurt themselves

- 3-5 years: mobile, mostly safe, but not understanding what "no" or "I'm busy right now" or "I'm on the phone" or "I need privacy" means; also not napping anymore, which means you lose that daily couple hours of bliss

- >5 years: gets progressively easier as kids begin to get independent and (somewhat) reasonable

Of course, this timeline is different for every kid.

We have four kids ranging in age from 1-7 years old. I work from home, but rarely am I in charge of taking care of the kids (right now, for instance, my mom is watching them while my wife runs errands). On the occasions where I am solely responsible for them, I consider any work I get done to be a bonus.


You've got such a great mom to help you out in this way.


We're incredibly fortunate to have family nearby that is able and willing to help.


Much, much easier with just one infant. I have a 5-year-old, 2.5-year-old, and 6-month infant at home. I'm considering keypad locks for the bedroom and office. I take calls from the closet or from the inside of a car.


Put whiskey in their drinks and you'll be fine


Infants are a dream compared to toddlers. Apart from when they need to be fed or changed, infants do practically nothing and don't have to be watched constantly.

Toddlers, on the other hand, are little balls of pure energy that get into anything and everything they can touch.


Ha, I see others have written great responses to this already. I have heard not all children are difficult. I personally can't imagine such a thing, but I have one of those "spirited" children. The comment below from syedkarim about putting locks on the doors made me laugh. I tried that with limited success.


Yup, between 1 and 5 they’re mobile and active enough to require constant engagement but mostly not self-reliant enough to find it themselves. It varies a lot based on the child though.


Much easier if the infant isn’t fussy. Kids have “features” that light up every few weeks.

It was hardest for me around 3... my son just wanted to play all of the time.


I'm sorry but I don't understand, are you saying that you are able to do your work at the same time as taking care of a baby?


It is completely impossible to have a real full time job and take care of a child at the same time unless yours happens to sleep the entire time. If this was possible all those moms could just work from home! I can barely work at home without locking the door if children under 5 are in the house and there is another adult taking care of them.


Yeah, this is weird. I would be very surprised if the company doesn't have some sort rule against this. I started working from home a few months ago and as part of the agreement there is a clause about not being the primary caregiver of a dependent child while working.

I'm not sure how you could get much of anything done attempting to do that.


Lol. I find that to be quite something. I couldn't fathom attempting something like this. Every time someone distracts me I spend another 15 minutes or so getting back into the 'zone'.


People wonder why people look down on remote work, when someone is 'remote working' by being a primary caregiver to a baby.....


I've tried to do this with my six-month-old. (I don't plan to work if I'm the only adult in the house, but occasionally my wife needs a break...) It really only works if the "work" I'm doing is being on a call that I don't really need to be invited to.


I imagine this varies based on the child. How are you finding working and being the primary carer of an infant?

Do you have any particular strategies for getting work done, and somehow keeping your child safe, entertained and developing?

I've got a 6-month old daughter, but my wife doesn't head back to work for another 3 months. I'm a bit concerned about my productivity once that happens.

I absolutely love spending time interacting with my daughter, in my free time. However, I presently find it near impossible to work when I'm the only carer around, unless she happens to be asleep. Hopefully that changes in 3 months and she's capable of short periods of independent play - but I'm not quite sure what to expect.

I've worked full-time at home for approximately the last 5 years. So I have very much got that down pat. Unfortunately, I can't work on a laptop anymore, as I developed RSI doing so a few years back (was working long hours, my own fault). I've also got two dogs which I love having around. However, once my daughter can walk (and harass them) they'll have to be mostly separated from my daughter. They're 50kg, so any small mishap would be a large mishap - can't take that risk. We've got a fully fenced acre out back so the dogs can't really complain!

I'm also a night owl, its 4:30 AM here and I'm pushing Docker images to ECR ;) It's quite strange how much more efficient I am working at night. I've tried all sorts of things to work on a "normal" schedule. Running on the treadmill in the morning, going for walks at lunch etc. No matter what, when I really need to get work done, I fall back into a night routine - even though I'm putting in the same total hours.

How do you manage being a night owl and being awake to look after your child during the day?


I don't know how the GP poster is doing it, because it is practically impossible to be the primary caregiver of an infant or toddler, and be able to work at the same time. Don't fool yourself into thinking you will somehow manage, and I suggest you start discussing options with your wife for when she heads back to work.


It's alright, we're not totally naive. My wife is only heading back to work part-time, and we have baby-sitters lined up for 75% of the time. For the remaining 25% I'm fully expecting that I'll be working catch-up hours in evenings.

However, I was holding onto the hope that I might be able to get some work done with my daughter in the room, and was genuinely curious about the parent post's purported success.


I've been remote for ~6 years now. Started working remotely when I had my first. I have a dedicated office, but now there are 3 of them.

Oh, the noise noise noise noise.


I have a nice permanent office setup but the past few years I've taken to working on my laptop in various places around the house a lot of the time. Not sure why. I still need my desktop for certain tasks (like photo editing) and sometimes the dual monitors are really useful. But for day-to-day work, I usually just use my laptop.


Your advice is so simple and yet something I had never thought of- "set no work hours". Do you blog or have any other advice? You seem to have a lot figured out.


What type of it job is this? Software dev? Says admin? cots config ?


Context: Not OP, but I've been remote for ~7 years, with varying different types of home working environments. My latest position offers me the ability to come into the office, and work from home, depending on what I'm wanting.

I've found working from home without a dedicated, private space to be more harmful than helpful. I've worked everywhere from couches to shared office desks. My wife and I used to have an office together, though we don't work together. At times she'd be browsing reddit, gaming, eating, whatever. I found that to be very distracting. People coming and going was an interruption.

With that said, we've recently moved and bought a house. Much larger than I wanted in the past, but it has two dedicated offices for us. I've found that to be massively beneficial. I now prefer working at home. I can close the door to isolate myself from distractions.

A small note to all this. I do play computer games on my off time, in my office. For some this can be a distraction, as this office space isn't strictly for working. For myself I've not found it to be a problem at all. I switch between my work machine and my gaming machine, so perhaps that's related - I don't have entertainment staring at me.

Coupled with my work location, is my work hours and how that affects my mindset. I can choose my hours with my employer, so I choose very very early. This means the first thing I do when I wake is grab coffee, and work. Clean, focused, not distracted. No entertainment before work. I've found that once I do something entertaining, it seems to pester at me. Productivity after entertainment seems more difficult for me, especially for mental tasks. Work seems less interesting, I wander more, etc.

Anyway, these are just some of my thoughts on the matter. Your milage may vary.


>I've found working from home without a dedicated, private space to be more harmful than helpful.

Absolutely! Requires a who different level of discipline. Not just for working, but also not working. At home I have trouble turning it off, at dinner I’d be inclined to go check on this or that.


I just started working remote - I have a separate office, but it's not 100% for work (I have a 3D printer and other fun distractions in the room). I was a bit concerned at first with having a clear separation and that it being a "work" space would ruin it's appeal during off hours, or I'd be tempted to play when I should be working. I found that not to be a concern by only doing work on my work computer and only doing everything else (except personal email and light browsing) on my personal computer. I have a docking station and plug in one or the other to set my context. This seems to work well, but only time will tell if it's sustainable for me.


Not OP but my remote setup is a home office on a separate floor from the family. The kids are in Jr High / High School but they know they aren't allowed to bother me during work hours once they get home.

The separation from family is important. I get the benefits of working from home: complete control over my environment, no pointless small talk, no time wasted driving 90 minutes into the city, etc. But I also get the full benefit of having an office to myself without interruptions.

I imagine this would not work if I didn't live in an area with cheap housing. I'm in suburban Atlanta.


As a fellow Atlantian, can't agree more about the traffic benefits. I don't have a remote job but live close enough to my work place (~2mi) to avoid the grind with the bad traffic we have in our city.


There isn't a generally optimal remote working setup because every remote worker and their situation is different.

My "remote office" is in a corner of my living room that also doubles as a kitchen. It's in the middle of everything, which some people might find distracting, but is just right for me. You see, I've done my time in high-pressure, low-focus, fast-paced financial environments, so being in the middle of my family while I work is stimulating and rewarding.

I normally go to the office (a few miles away) when I have more than one meeting to attend. This allows me to keep my work chatter away from home, where others might be distracted by it.

All this to say that the onus is on you to make sure that our setup fits your personality. Look within yourself for clues on how and where to work, then make it happen, and be mindful of changes over time.


There are situations where being around family 24/7 is much better than working in an office.

I've been the following type of jobs 1). Office job in a distributed team where I got along well with the people who were in the same office. Worked from home 1 day/week. 2). Office job where there were team members who were a drain on my sanity 3). Crammed Open Office 4). Work from home, first with a corner in the dining nook with my desk hidden behind a small divider. Later with a dedicated room. Always with a sit/stand desk and a keyboard/mouse/monitor connected to a laptop.

I'd prefer 1 if I only had to go to work 2-3 days/week. I don't miss 2 or 3 at all and I'd much rather have my family interrupt me with something unrelated to work than colleagues who completely disrupt my work. Working from home can be lonely and sometimes demotivating, but it's a lot better than feeling completely drained from 2 or 3.


I worked from a home office and our children were grown and out of the house. My wife came in a few times to ask for this or that while I was "at work." I explained to her that when I was in the office I was "at work" and should not be disturbed unless it was something important. She understood and the interruptions stopped. She'd wait until I "came home." I never had a problem with an employer that didn't respect my privacy.


We (Aptible) are distributed-first. Many of our team members really appreciate the flexibility the remote culture brings and use it to spend more time with their families.

Shameless plug: We're hiring - https://www.aptible.com/company/


Totally OT, but I'm see a lot of companies use lever.co for job applications. When you look at one of their application forms, there's nothing about privacy or what they will do with applicants data. Granted, many applicants' will not provide information beyond what they have posted publicly on sites like Linkedin, but it's a bit disconcerting not to see any explanation of what they will and won't do with applicants' data. I skimmed their privacy and TOS pages but they seemed to be focused on their direct customers.


Bingo. Reminds me of this hilarious rap song about remote life as a dev https://youtu.be/ZAW1LBJE-w4


>I interviewed with them when they were at 40 remote employees (as far as I can recall). Sadly, I lacked the chops they were looking for. But I was thoroughly impressed with how passionately they spoke about their remote culture.

I had a similar experience with Zapier. I loved how everyone seemed to love their remote culture, how they have blog post after blog post about remote work life, how they'd get together a couple times a year for a working 'retreat' but I apparently didn't fit their culture.


The GitLab compensation calculator seems really odd. At least personally, when I saw it, it drew almost all of my attention away from the mechanics of the role and towards trying to game this thing in order to get paid comparatively well.

If someone takes a job with a London postcode and then moves a few hours north, what happens? Do they just get docked in pay?

Do you trust them to tell you they've moved house even though they're going to lose tens of thousands a year in income?

I'd considered applying in the past but don't really feel comfortable with the fact that it's not really 'remote' because if I actually live where I want to, I'd get paid peanuts.

Evidently it works for them, but to me it looks like some weird way to push everyone into the expensive cities.


>London postcode and then moves a few hours north, what happens? Do they just get docked in pay?

Apparently, stupendously, yes (based on what apparent employees in this thread are saying)

>Do you trust them to tell you they've moved house even though they're going to lose tens of thousands a year in income?

It's in the contract. I would absolutely lie to them, I would 1:1 fiscally motivated to do so.


The whole thing baffles me.

I dunno. I'm sure it works if you just take jobs without caring what you get paid.

Maybe that describes most of GitLab's staff. It's a cool product, so it wouldn't surprise me.

The mental overhead of maintaining a London postcode just for the sake of it I think would have me looking elsewhere (and I live in London and have no intention of leaving). I'd be wondering about where they draw the line, and whether if I move two stations out they'd try and dock my pay or whatever.


Yea, theres a massive thread above us getting into the weeds about like, the very nature of capitalism, but for me it boils down to a simple issue: I think it's unfair that I get paid more than my equally productive colleague, just because I happen to live in SF and he happens to live in Indiana.

Also nearly entirely defeats the purpose of remote work. I'm into it cause it'd be dank to pull a San Francisco salary while chilling in Vietnam and paying 200$/mo for rent.


I don't really care about "fairness", it's more that the process seems to be so convoluted that I imagine a ton of people just not bothering.

The application process for GitLab, for me, seems to be:

1) figure out the highest paying area I have access to (visa or whatever)

2a) actually move there if I have to or it happens to be where I am, or 2b) get a postbox or rent a studio apartment pointlessly

3) actually apply for the job and potentially get it

4) if at any point I want to move, figure out how to do it without anyone finding out because otherwise I effectively lose my job (the UK salaries outside of London are comedic)

(as an aside I'm not convinced this "your rate will be reduced" stuff is even legal, I imagine it'd be considered constructive dismissal)

Contrast that with an on-premises job (you can move, the commute length is your own problem) or a real remote job (completely unrestricted).

Again, it seems to be working for them, but it looks really odd from my perspective.


> I think it's unfair that I get paid more than my equally productive colleague, just because I happen to live in SF and he happens to live in Indiana.

I mean you can extend that to it being unfair to be paid less because you didn't get competing offers; they have nothing at all to do with how good of an engineer you are or how productive you will be.

Sadly supply and demand are what drive prices and I guess in this case incomes.


But the Indiana engineer has plenty of other remote jobs they can apply for, I see tons on stack overflow every day. Gitlab isn't the only one.


The labour market, like any market, is primarily governed by supply and demand. Worker productivity is a much smaller factor in determining salary.


Do you actually make more, or just on paper? You can't just disregard the difference in living expenses.


The salary for a "Senior Expert" developer in London is 100K GBP.

The salary for a "Senior Expert" developer in "Everywhere else in UK" is 60K GBP.

You would make more money overall by renting a 1 bedroom flat in London, leaving it completely empty and telling GitLab you live there.

Yes, even accounting for tax.


You could sublet that apartment too to recoup some costs.


I mean, this whole thing is arbitrary.

You could just get a postcode. Ask a friend to take mail for you. Get a flat share and use it as a pied-a-terre. And so on and so forth.

Who knows. They can play the code golf, not me.

(I love GitLab. Their hiring is just odd.).


if you have nothing else to do in your life, yes you could do that


Yeah, who wants to make money? What a waste of time.


If you really think it's unfair then you would have moved to Indiana to downward adjust your salary. Sounds like posturing to me.


Why does the solution to "something is unfair" necessitate me equalizing the situation on my own? That's some cronyism right there. That's like... I dunno, apologizing to my boss for him firing me for taking a sick day.

The arbiter of the unfairness is the company policy. That's who we blame, not the employee who happens to benefit. They are no more to blame than the person who doesn't benefit. The causal relationship simply doesn't exist. I'm actually curious about the reasoning you applied to somehow pin the duty of responsibility to the employee that benefits?


That does not resemble any definition of fair I'm familiar with. I think it's unfair some children are born blind - I'm not going to remove my eyes.


Companies should get away from this as soon as possible. It is essentially the same strategy as off shoring your dev work except it is distributed.

I would be happy to have my salary based on the value I bring into the company rather than based on where I happen to leave.


If you can answer the question how to measure that value for any given pair of worker and company, I don't think you will need a job anymore. :)


One of the corporate advantages of 100% remote is the business can pay your team whatever their local market rate is, this is usually a lot less than SF, Seattle, NY etc. Additionally, you can often avoid paying certain benefits if your team member is outside of the US.

This is a huge competitive win for organizations who are willing to organize around remote work. I personally am not sure how I feel about salaries weighted in such a way, partly feel like people doing equal work should be compensated equally since they contribute equally. On the other hand, potential employees are free to accept of turn down an offer and the market will continue to adjust accordingly.

Full disclosure; I've noted elsewhere on HN that I turned down an offer with Gitlab at the final stage because they adjusted the geo-compensation calculation in the late stages of the interview which made the position fiscally uninteresting. I swear I am not bitter :) - I just think that this aspect of the employment strategy is interesting and worthy of dissection as it is probably something we will see more and more with remote positions.


IMO a better advantage is that you can hire talent from anywhere, without the caveat that they have to uproot their life to join your team. Paying local market rate is shitty (generally) and reduces your competitiveness against other remote employers that don't try to squeeze 10-40% off employee salaries (which is most of them, FWIW). Not to mention, how could you possibly make 10m rev/employee but with a straight face worry about them making 20k 'too much' because they live in Iowa or something!?

I wouldn't even bother applying at Gitlab because I know they won't pay me competitively. Pass!

TLDR: "can pay local market rates" only works if you're the only company to ever offer remote work, and you have to compete only with other local market offers. Which is a fantasy in 2018.


They made $10.5M in revenue _total_, not per employee. It's quite possible they are still not profitable, in which case $20k per employee would be a lot.


They have some 350 employees. That's $30k per employee per year. They are most assuredly NOT making a profit or anything near it.


>and reduces your competitiveness against other remote employers that don't try to squeeze 10-40% off employee salaries

Well, duh. Google paying its engineers X instead of X + 100,000 reduces its competitiveness against other employers too. Doesn't mean they should raise salaries by 100k across the board though. Companies pay what they must to attract the workers they need, why would they pay more? They're in most cases not a charity being run for the benefit of the employees. And for remote work, being remote is usually a huge perk for the employee so naturally it comes with a shortfall in somewhere else, such as salary.


Sure I agree with your general point, but other remote companies WILL pay more.

I've worked for 3 companies remotely over the past 6 years. Every single one of them, including being employee #8 or so at a seed-round startup paid more than the max Gitlab would pay me for a backend role. Like, in 2012, as employee #10 at a bootstrapped startup, I was paid more. Gitlab pays crazy under market, end of story.


GitLab's rate calculations are really off for a few markets... Phoenix, Austin and Atlanta come to mind there. Software Devs do var above the mean income in the area relatively speaking than in other cities.


> charity being run for the benefit of the employees.

Whose benefit then?


> hire talent from anywhere

> try to squeeze 10-40% off employee salaries

I guess you're talking about anywhere… in the US.


Companies can try to do that. I've worked remotely for 5 years and always inquire about compensation up front. If they try to pay local market rates, I decline to interview with them. When you're working remotely, you need to view yourself as being competitive with candidates that are local to their SF / Seattle / NY offices and demand the same compensation as a local hire. This further reduces the pool of companies willing to hire you, but if you have the time when looking for a job it is definitely possible.


Buffer is mostly if not all remote and they adjust salaries based on employee location. Their salaries are open for everyone to see as well.

https://open.buffer.com/transparent-salaries/

It looks like GitLab does the same thing


Yep, and in both cases high CoL markets they are paying low and in low CoL markets companies that don't do this are paying much higher. At the end of the day you aren't going to draw "the best" of employees by paying local market rates.

Buffer's is hilarious, mostly because they are claiming Seattle and Boulder both have "average" cost of living. So they are still favoring employees, but the low CoL people are being paid way more than the high due to their garbage CoL calculator.


Which SF tech company pays SF market rates for say someone living in Poland or Ukraine ? Haven't heard of that.


I live in the US and can't speak to that, sorry.


The 100% remote company I work for is based in Chicago and pays Chicago market rate for all positions regardless of where you live (I live in South Dakota). I find that it's generally fair and a plus to both the company and the employee this way.


I've heard that's the policy of Basecamp as well. It's a more equitable solution by far than these other companies, enabling the employee's strategic selection of their place of residence.

Compensation models at Gitlab & Buffer strike me as being creepily paternalistic in pursuit of some misunderstanding of egalitarianism. Who wants to work for a company that's keeping tabs on where you live to make sure you don't get too far ahead of your peers?? Sounds like something out of a digital age Atlas Shrugged.


Fellow remote working South Dakotan here.

Current employer tried to pull the local salary adjustment. I wasnt interested. In this market I think it's fairly easy to negotiate which I did.

Remote is an OK perk, but not worth a massive pay cut.


what's living in south Dakota like?


It's also BS, though, because if you hire someone in a high wage market they will frequently move. Unless you have a very well communicated policy of readjustment, it ends up with grossly unfair outcomes to employees and dysfunction within teams.


In a "traditional" pay model, nobody knows what anybody else makes and everybody gets what they negotiate for. Presumably candidates' cost of living would factor in to what they ask for.

But automatically and transparently paying people based on their location is weird to me. If Bob has chosen to live in a place where houses are insanely expensive, or if Bob has chosen to drive a luxury car or keep a pet elephant, those are Bob's decisions. None of them mean that he contributes more to the company.

Also, since a company has non-infinite funds for salary, paying Bob more to live in SF inherently means that the company either pays less money to Alice in Arizona, thereby incentivizing her to quit or move to SF, or else doesn't hire Carol.

> One of the corporate advantages of 100% remote is the business can pay your team whatever their local market rate is

What if instead you framed it as "we can offer almost-SF rates to people all over the U.S., which makes us one of the top choices for every dev outside the big cities"? That's a huge talent pool to take your pick from. Seems like a competitive advantage to me.


Do they also sell their product with differential pricing in different markers? Does the product price also use a COL adjustment? If not, then why not? That does mean adjustments to salary based on location is not really a fair game.


I agree. The distributed company I work for moved all developer salaries to the same pay-scale this year (basically, SF rates) regardless of where they live. There are 18 people on my team who live all over the world and the only thing I take into account when deciding their salaries is how valuable they are. We used to apply slight percentage adjustments for each city, etc, and it was a huge waste of time and felt very unfair.


> I turned down an offer with Gitlab at the final stage because they adjusted the geo-compensation calculation in the late stages of the interview

If you took the job, and then moved, how would they know?


Because they're not paying you in bitcoin or by brown paper envelope. There's federal, state & local city tax reporting for each employee, W-4's to fill, W-2's to mail, health care providers to setup (different in each state even within the same company), 401Ks etc. Unless you're going underground not only from your employer but also the tax authorities.

Now if you maintain your high-cost address but go tripping around the world, perhaps they wouldn't find out for a while.


Gitlab is offering much more than the cost of local taxes as a bonus for maintaining a "high-cost" address. And your federal taxes would be almost entirely refunded; they'd be withheld normally but you qualify for the foreign earned income deduction based purely on your location during the year.


Skipping over the little annoying facts that fully remote work is not some secret strategy, and that no Fortune 500 company (as an index of success) is 100% remote, let's just do a direct comparison of competitors:

- GitLab is 100% remote and, according the article, was most recently valued at $1 billion, 350 employees, and has an unknown/hidden (or I can't find) number of users.

- Github has a headquarters and also remote work, and was recently acquired for $7.5 billion, with 800 employees and 31 million users.

So...is remote work a secret? Did it lead to a comparative success over a competitor offering similar services but a different organizational strategy? Not really, not even close, no.

More accurately, we should say GitLab has so far managed to make remote work a success for themselves through leadership, organizational culture, and some other actually secret ingredient, which is where the real story lies. Lots of remote companies fail. What has GitLab done right? Sadly, this article only skims the possibilities.


Github also had real trouble with their cash flows. MS bought the popularity and the current and future projects that are hosted there (probably overpaid for all that).

Now - why remoting would work better for the company (off the top of my head): 1. next to zero office-space rental costs 2. you're going shopping for talent in the whole world and you can hire regardless of visas, eligibility, etc. I.e. you hire better talent, for less money (they don't need to pay outrageous rents for SF/London/Munich/Dublin/whatever) 3. You get happier employees (they don't get to see their families once every six m onths or so) 4. You get easier on-calls schedules 24/7/365 if you get a few ppl on different timezones 5. You get diversity from day 0 and local eyes in almost all markets that you care to sell anything 6. You _have_ to document more and better since you _have_ to work with tickets 7. You make your meetings worthwhile because your time matters (and you're not valued or paid according to "chair-time" that can be filled with boring nonsense meetings so that you can coast through the day)

There's a bunch of other advantages in other areas (ecology, general economy, tech, etc) but since the focus is on what's in it for the company I won't go into these.


> MS bought the [...] current and future projects that are hosted there

what? microsoft doesn't own any projects hosted on github other than their own


It's pretty clear the GP was using that in the sense that one often refers to acquirers buying customers, not in terms of actually buying IP of the projects.


Exactly.


I think they meant projects like Electron which are owned by Github IIRC.


Gitlab is also 3 years younger as a company, and Github had a undeniable first-mover advantage in the space.


GitLab the open source project was started in 2011. GitLab the company didn't start until 2014. GitHub is 6 years older than GitLab.


On the other hand, GitLab didn't have to do any UI work to start with, they just appeared to copy and paste GitHub.


Huh? It doesn’t look the same at all, or at least it doesn’t now or at any time I used it.


Today they have their own identity, but when they started GL was basically a clone of what GH was at the time.


I'm sure the fact that they pay near zero in office rent/leases helps such companies with cash flow.

You're also likely to get more productivity form employees that don't have to spend 2-3 hours per day traveling. I found myself working a full 8-9 hours when working from home, whereas if I was traveling to the office I'd be looking to duck out after 6-7 hours. The 3pm slump is a drag and I personally dread the commute home. Those few extra hours mean that I can squeeze out more code.


I'd like to point out that my comment mostly referred to the article's original title, which was click-bait referencing GitLab's "secret" to multi-million dollar "success." Spoiler alert: the "secret" was remote work. I took issue with calling their organizational structure of 100% remote work a secret strategy, and with calling their current revenue and valuation a comparative success or that they could be directly attributed to their remote structure.

The updated title is much more informative, accurate, and devoid of click-bait hype.


Github is also the first mover and the dominant player in the market.

It's silly to try to say the differences in their success are based on remote work or not.


These sorts of articles always excite me that more places will be moving towards remote work, and hopefully using Gitlab as an example. In the past I've had some not so great experiences with remote work.

I've had two remote gigs thus far and the first was pretty horrible. On-boarding took a month (to receive a machine), and I frequently went days without hearing from anyone. There was zero communication even when I attempted to create meetings to talk (since pings were never replied to). It pretty much felt like being on an island - especially when most of your co-workers had worked together for anywhere from 2-10 years. Remote culture didn't really exist at this job.

At my current job it has been great - we use Slack to communicate and there is hardly any radio silence. Before starting, I was told we work to live not the other way around. I received my machine and ~actually~ had an onboarding process. It feels like I'm a part of a team (albeit small) and that makes a world of difference when working remote.

The one thing I haven't fixed yet is being on a routine/schedule. It isn't the best to work, sleep, and relax in the same room every day, but I've been working out of the house more lately which has seemed to help.


Getting out of the house makes all the difference for me. Public libraries are a wonderful resource, most have quiet common areas and rooms you can reserve for meetings.


I have found that if I don't make it out of the house I am not nearly as motivated as I am when working from a coffee shop or similar.

For me, it's mostly been coffee shops and places to eat. I might start going to a university library that has many free meeting rooms, but that's the closest "large" library near me.


Having a hard start/stop time and your personal "office space" helps a lot. Try putting something on your schedule around 4-5pm, such as working out or going for a walk. It'll certainly help you disconnect from work.


What is your current company?


I realize they are growing fast but isn't it a little early to declare success (as the title seems to) when you're generating $10.5 million with a cost structure that includes 350 employees?


Totally agree that those numbers would make an outsized burn rate. The team member number is from a different date than the revenue number. Our team member number is public on https://about.gitlab.com/company/team/ (currently 383). Our current ARR is multiple times the number cited.

We're not profitable but on some months we're cash flow positive. We don't aim to be cash flow positive until 2022.


Considering Gitlab’s revenue model, how come you’re only cash flow positive some months?

I’d assume both income and employee count is mostly steady, unless you’re hiring people just about as fast as cash flow is increasing?


Income as in revenue is steady. Cash flow has more variance since people pay for GitLab one or more years upfront.

On average we have negative cash flow since we're investing the money we raised in growth by doubling incremental annual contract value every year.

But in some months we have a few large orders that push us to cash flow positive.

We could be cash flow positive every month but that would at the cost of our rate of development. Right now we're focussed on making GitLab a single application for the entire DevOps lifecycle. That means we have to make a lot of progress every month https://about.gitlab.com/2018/10/22/gitlab-11-4-released/


Servers and Data Centers cost money... operations scaling, advertizing, etc.


That's exactly what I thought. $10.5M yearly revenues with 350 employees is rather bad.


Yeah. I'm not trying to be a downer, but these numbers are not good. I'd expect to see them closer to $50m in revenue. I know they pay their employees very little, so perhaps that's how they're able to keep a high headcount, but even so, seems really off balance.


Please see Sid's comment at https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=18443014. The numbers are from two separate points in time.


Fair.


$30K/yr revenue per employee. Hmmm.


I hired over 250 engineers at Elastic in 4 1/2 years and helped grow the team and most worked remote and now I'm a Big believer in distributed teams. It worked great at Elastic and now hiring some remote engineers at www.timescale.com

My personal experience in recruiting since 2004 for Engineers, is that some markets like San Francisco, NYC are so so competitive and super expensive to hire, it makes a LOT of sense to think about have completely remote teams or partially remote. There is a lot of technical talent beyond the major markets.


How do you manage to sort through all the resumes you must get? Please say you put them in Elastic and have a Kibana dashboard to sort the keywords you want to the top, that would be too awesome :) I had someone internal submit my resume about a month ago but haven't heard a word. I imagine it part of it must be due to the volume of resumes you must get.


I don't want to berate the fully remote work culture, but $10.5M is small change. Unless we have a multi billion dollar company proving this working model at scale, I will remain skeptic. Also, it is hard to know whether being remote is actually detrimental to Gitlab, considering they are unable to match the success of Github which has physical offices


Why does it only matter what is successful for multi billion dollar companies? Most people don't work for those kinds of companies.


DigitalOcean.

edit: not fully remote but almost, and increasingly


Unless this has changed recently, DigitalOcean has a physical office in NYC, so they are not fully remote. When I interviewed there a couple years ago, they said more than half of their engineers were at that office.

Edit: Based on their job postings[0], it looks like they have physical offices in at least NYC, Cambridge, and Palo Alto. I'm not sure what the ratio of remote to on-site personnel is these days, but DO is definitely not a fully remote company.

[0]: https://www.digitalocean.com/careers/#anchor--current-openin...


I've always been impressed with how far GitLab has come. At my previous job we switched to GitLab during the period where GitHub felt like it wasn't improving.

While I think GitHub has picked up the slack pretty effectively, I still think GitLab offers a very compelling package. I didn't use the Kubernetes integration, but we definitely used GitLab CI and registry, and a lot of other features that GitHub didn't or still doesn't really have an equivalent for.


What many of us fail to notice is not how small revenue is for 350 employees but despite of that - company exists and they are doing really well with the product. Im sure there will be many examples of similar numbers to be found which do not have remote and those companies will be burning a hole for remting real estate and infrastructure.


Article says that they have ~$10.5M revenues with ~350 employees. That works out to $30,000/employee.

That's really not very impressive. I'm sure this puts them pretty deep in the red (assuming their employees make a good amount more than 30K/year), although they are obviously still in the growth stage. Still, it seems a bit early to be touting this company's success as a remote-first organization though.


We've been running TMC (my latest venture, now 10 years old) as a 100% remote company since day one. As of late though it starts to feel like a less-than-ideal solution for the longer term. Our customers expect a company that is more conventional and some of our colleagues have said rather explicitly that they would like to collaborate more closely in an office like setting. What with the rents in and around Amsterdam so far not having an office was one of the advantages we had over competitors.


Out of curiosity, is there a reason that your customers want a more conventional setup other than perception? How about those colleagues? Are there legitimate reasons to collaborate in an office? For the latter, maybe the best solution is renting a conference room for those sessions that really need to be in person.


Our work involves quite a bit of interaction with the customers and they are all rather very conventional companies themselves.

We do the 'rent a conference room' so frequently now that it starts to approach renting an office.


I remember reading that they pay developers based on where they are located so for example developer from SF would get 140k while developer from Minsk would get 50k. Is it still true?


Looks like that is still true. They’re pretty open about their model of location-based pay [0]:

"Market rates for roles are different for different regions and countries. We pay market rates instead of paying the same wage for the same role in different regions."

[0]: https://about.gitlab.com/handbook/people-operations/global-c...


When I was looking for a new job a few months ago that was still the case, and caused me to totally avoid Gitlab - the numbers on their site were not competitive for the market I'm in.


Yeah, aside from the question of whether local on-premise market rates where employees live are an appropriate guide for payment in the global remote market, the formula they isn't actually driven by particular jobs actual local market rates, but by a theory of how market rates should vary by CoL and other factors, so they are often unreasonable even if you accept the premise that remote work should pay based on the market rates of the worker's locale, rather than being a distinct and non-local market of its own.


I know i'm in a minority opinion here, but to be honest I think it would be totally fair for an employer to pay everyone the same regardless of location in the US (as long as their not forcing you to move to a more expensive city - if they force you to be in a more expensive city, then they need to pay up), if it's a remote company. I know it may sound harsh to some. But, think of it this way, it will encourage more companies to become remote, thus opening more doors for people and allowing more people to work remotely. After all, a low salary in a low cost of living city is usually better than a high salary in palo alto, considering the enormous delta in living costs and taxes.


There is the "fairness" argue for this ("it doesn't matter where the employee is, they create the same clause for the company") however with taxes etc. being different it isn't equal on that level, and whether it is really fair that people in different locations get different value is a complex philosophical question :)


Low salary in a cheap city is almost never better. Your expenses will look very different but at the end of the day, engineers in Palo Alto are left with likely 5x the cash in their pocket than those in a cheaper city. I think the value of the leverage you earn with that larger savings is underestimated by many people.


The whole idea is extremely tone-deaf. If programmer a in SF gets to save 10% of their salary per month, and programmer b in wherever gets to save 10% of their salary... well... it's a huge savings and wealth disparity. I get it, your rent is high, but why does that mean you deserve to save 10 times as much as someone elsewhere? And everything you buy on Amazon still costs the same price. Your cars cost the same. Etc.


That only works if you are single, and live in 200 sq ft studio (which by the way will run you 24K per year after tax dollars). Then you can save and get ahead.

If you have a family of four you will almost ALWAYS be significantly worse off in palo alto. Even if you rent, The average 4 bedroom in palo alto is about 7k per month if your lucky which comes out to 84k which is about 130k in pretax dollars. Day care for 2 kids is about 60k per year. You'll need at least 225K just to scrape by, with no eating out, no vacations, etc..


Still seems to be true, even within countries the discrepancy is pretty bad. They give the formula, but don't have a calculator, but you can use their "Move" calculator to estimate it:

https://about.gitlab.com/job-families/move/

Someone in London who is on £60k would get £35k if they moved to Bristol, or £30k in Brighton. Definitely a lot lower than market rates.


The adjustment seems overly aggressive. Salary is proportional to 0.7 * Rent_Index + 0.3, where Rent_Index is normalized to be 1.0 for New York City - so basically they're adjusting salaries as if 70% of your spending goes to rent. They probably should use an index that's a bit less aggressively weighted towards housing costs.


We ran linear regressions to see which factor was more statistically relevant between Cost of Living, Cost of Living with Rent Index, and Rent Index. We chose rent index from Numbeo based on those evaluations, which expresses the ratio of cost of rent in many metro areas. Since we are using San Francisco salary benchmarks, we divide by 1.26 to normalize the rent index to San Francisco. We multiply the Rent Index by 0.7 and then add 0.3, so the sum would equal 1 (i.e. we pay San Francisco rates in San Francisco).


So where does the 0.7 and 0.3 come from?


Yeah, if you want to buy a new car or iPhone in Minsk, it's going to cost you the same as in SF (and maybe more).


Yeah, I posted about this above.

The London salaries are passable. The other ones are comedic. You can commute to London from Brighton.

Basically you're just forcing your employees to live inside the M25 for no reason. Or get postboxes / fake apartments and lie about it.


seems like they moved the calculator to the individual job postings, e.g. https://about.gitlab.com/job-families/engineering/backend-en...

and yeah, they have some weird artifacts in their location calculator, e.g. in Germany it doesn't recognize the second-most expensive city as as a region, and thus classifies it as "everywhere else", the lowest level.


In my case, Massachusetts is one region with a probably somewhat reasonable adjustment relative to San Francisco. But that's one number whether you live in the most expensive part of the Boston metro, a far-flung suburb, or somewhere rural or semi-rural in Western Mass, which covers the range from one of the more expensive cities in the country to a fairly rural part of the state that is probably starting to approach Midwestern prices.


Yeah I think that's still true and they have a salary calculator somewhere. I don't know why you'd hire SV programmers when your entire company is remote. They're easily double the price of anywhere else and not twice as good.



All I see is a formula. Is that the calculator?


What is the actual usefulness for github (or gitlab) in a company setting?

In my free time, sure, I can browse github, search for projects, snippets of code, maybe raise some issues or fix something, but where I work, we do have github accounts but I don't think anybody uses the actual interface. We just store our repositories, and then use a git client to pull/push and view the changes, and Jira for tickets. Isn't the value of the product lost in this case or does github offer more than what meets the eye here? I mean, I would guess a simple server would be enough to store the repositories.


So this is mostly about Gitlab EE/Github Enterprise in an enterprise setting:

1. Control of your data. You get to keep your code on your servers and don't have to worry about Github themselves being breached.

2. PR workflows to enforce code reviews. Also a central place to view them. Also it links to JIRA so you can go from a ticket to a code review.

3. Finding internal clients (more useful for big companies were you might not know all of them). "Hey, there's a security bug in InternalLib 3.5 and we need everyone to update to 3.6. Who's using it?". Hey, who owns/uses "m-asd-indexer.dc1.mycompany.com".

4. Familiarity. Most devs these days are at least aware of how open source github workflows work, as opposed to email + patches or other approaches.

5. Global search. "Oh, hey, InternalProcessor 4.6 is doing something odd when we call internalDooDad.foo(bar) . Let's go search for that and figure out if we can understand the behaviour". "Hey, we've standardised on service X for access control, how have other projects integrated it?"


How do they help with #3?


I find it useful when jumping into a repo that I don't normally clone, for linking to a specific line of code within a file and creating a discussion thread around that line, and for making quick fixes to eg string content during a shared PR workflow.


There are a lot of workflow tools that make your life easier as a developer. Indeed you can cobble them together from other tools (Gerrit, for instance, for merge requests) but having a vertically integrated suite developed by a single vendor for a bunch of small workflow improvements is really nice.


I find it useful for:

* Discoverability, in case you work in a company with thousands of repos

* Having discussions with multiple participants over a merge request

* Sometimes for communication its easier to provide a url pointing a given file/line, where someone can click and immediately see what you're talking about


GitLab is a bit nicer end-to-end that GitHub. Their issue tracking is more feature-rich (closer to JIRA than GitHub) and I find it works well for planning projects in small teams. It also has features such as a Docker registry, CI/CD, and Operations.


Does anyone have any more information on what sort of structure, organization cultural things can be put in place to help a company function fully remote?


Hello, Community Advocate from GitLab here. Thanks wjohnsto for sharing a link to our Handbook.

I'd love to share our "All Remote" page as well. https://about.gitlab.com/company/culture/all-remote/.

There you can read how remote work is changing the workforce, how it changes the organization, advantages for employees and organizations and what did we learn about remote working.

Additionally, our blog page is the great place to learn about our culture and remote working at GitLab https://about.gitlab.com/blog/.

Here's the list of our blog posts I would recommend. This may be a really interesting read for you:

[1] https://about.gitlab.com/2018/10/18/the-case-for-all-remote-...

[2] https://about.gitlab.com/2018/05/17/eliminating-distractions...

[3] https://about.gitlab.com/2018/04/27/remote-future-how-remote...

[4] https://about.gitlab.com/2018/04/17/remote-work-facilitates-...

[5] https://about.gitlab.com/2018/03/16/remote-work-done-right/


Thank you for making these available and being so open.


You are welcome!


Thanks for sharing this. A quick suggestion though: you might want to limit the number of links you share in a single comment, as these 2+5 seem a bit too much for me, and they might look like you're trying to publicize your company a tad too much.

Or, from a slightly different perspective, they might look like you're trying to say as much as possible about the company you work for, instead of focusing on providing value to your readers.

To be clear, this just as a simple suggestion, based on the perception I had from your comment and from my personal experience (former tech evangelist at Amazon for 6 years, trying to give you my 0.02 to make you succeed in one of the hardest jobs in the world - I've been in these shoes :D)


Hey Simone, thank you for the feedback. I really appreciate your thoughts and your advice make sense.

It's amazing to see people from various communities helping each other with simple tips, we call that a small iteration :-).

I never expected this thread will grow this much. At the moment of posting my comment, the thread was almost empty and my intention was to share as much of valuable information to captaindiego. However, it turned into a reaally big thread and the context of my comment probably turned into something else for later viewers.

Anyway, as we always try to stay transparent I left it as it is. Thank you for your great opinion, I'll consider your words when posting a comment next time.


While I agree with the suggestion, the way you tried so hard to be non-confrontational about it made it a little bit nauseating :P


You know? You are actually right. And your suggestion to me is very valuable. Thanks for sharing it.


1) Everything gets a ticket to track it. Managers can't track "time in chair" so they need something else to track to know if you're doing your job. 2) Daily talking stand ups work really well on my team to just chat and get some "people" time in. 3) If it is a "some people work in an office and some are remote" situation, then ALL meetings need to be done on teleconferences. And, when the call is over, the meeting is _over_. No follow up chit chat about the meeting with between the people in the office. Some companies go as far as to say that you need to take those meetings from your desk rather than the conference room as it is really hard for the couple remote people to keep up with the non-verbal messages that can get passed around.


GitLab actually has their entire handbook open: https://about.gitlab.com/handbook/


I don't have anything myself but Zapier has this resource https://zapier.com/learn/remote-work/

They also have some remote work blog posts in their blog https://zapier.com/blog/


Submarine piece? Lots of successful startups grow into large companies or exit without being remote, and remote startups fail just as easily. GitLab's success is arguably because of developer disenchantment with Github, as well as Gitlab giving more away for free than Github (VCS, CICD pipeline, etc), regardless of employee location arrangement.

Also, what is "success"? Taking $150MM (EDIT: corrected) in investment and not showing profitability [1]? I am not against the startup underdog story (a rising tide lifts all boats). I am against marketing fluff.

[1] https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=17224425


I agree 100% that being remote has nothing to do with success.

However that link points to Github taking $350M, and they had been around for a few years before they took their first VC $. Until September, Gitlab had been pretty light on the funding, relatively speaking. (about $150M total, and that's after a $100M round in September)

https://www.crunchbase.com/organization/gitlab-com#section-f...


> Also, what is "success"? Taking $350MM in investment and not showing profitability

That's an odd thing to say. Most companies that take investment aren't profitable- that's kind of the point of taking VC: you want the cash in order to greatly grow the business more than if you were sitting within profitability the entire time. There's a difference between "unprofitable" and "choosing not to be profitable".

What's more, GitHub wasn't profitable the last ~5 years or so, from the day they took VC. But they sold for $7.5B, so it doesn't seem that Microsoft has a problem with their "unprofitability". That's how many solid, foundational companies are created.


Taking investment is not success though. Maybe one day Gitlab will exit (most likely outcome). Maybe one day they'll be profitable. Those days are not here, and that would be success. That has not occurred yet.


Also, their business model is “GitHub, but cheaper”.

We now know what GitHub was worth, and it puts the lie to inflated valuations in this space. When $8Bn is a huge deal for your industry, it gets hard to sell higher valuations with a straight face.


I'm curious how you came to this conclusion about GitLab's business model? GitLab is pretty clear on the homepage. The business model is to compete in 9 different categories, only one of which is GitHub. (GitLab pricing is also higher than GitHub which makes sense when the offering provides more the functionality.)


Gitlab is absolutely not higher than GitHub, unless you ignore all of the people who are running self-hosted Gitlab for free.

GitHub makes most of its revenue from the self-hosted market. GitLab is burning this market to the ground.


GH Enterprise pricing is $21 /user/mo [1]

GL Ultimate pricing is $99 /user/mo [2]

[1] https://github.com/pricing/enterprise [2] https://about.gitlab.com/pricing/#self-managed


I doubt that - GitHub makes most of it's money from SaaS market I'd have thought.


Many, many stories in magazines and newspapers start with a PR pitch. There's nothing especially noteworthy about it. It's how lots of stories get started.

To your broader point, I expect both extreme butt-in-seats and extreme remote are one of those characteristics you can map to successful and unsuccessful companies and you can probably find just about any pattern you want to find. (And of course most companies are some sort of blended model depending on company and function.)


So we're in agreement this is a non-story? "GitLab's Secret To Saving On Office Space Expenses (EDIT: And Wages)" would've been a truthful (albeit less sensational) headline.


I don't think it's so much saving on office expenses. They also get access to a lot of talent, and yes, sometimes for less than if they were in the Bay Area. This isn't an especially original story; it's been written about before. But it is still interesting for those not already in the know that you have fully remote companies.


    > Also, what is "success"? Taking $350MM in investment and not showing profitability 
As far as I can tell (from our investor data and what not) and without sharing anything sensitive/confidential, we (= GitLab) are doing just fine financially.


I wasn't commenting on your runway (which at your burn rate, should be roughly 2 years), but this news piece's definition of success. If you had held your product up as your achievement (regardless of profitability), and not the fact that you're remote, I would've said nothing as the product is (mostly) solid.


Last year i switched from totally remote to totally in-office. (From law to defense.) Now I cannot even access my work email from home. It is great. Bosses never expect an email to be answered immediatly. Sometimes i have shifts where i must man a paticular desk for certain hours, but mostly i set my own schedule. We have a gym, including a pool, in the office that we are expected to use on company time. Even going to the dentist is on company time. It is a unique office culture that i never expected. Until i got here i had no idea how unhappy i was while working remote.


> Bosses never expect an email to be answered immediately.

Sounds like wherever you were working before was doing it wrong.

I work remote and no one ever expects immediate email or slack. It is because the whole company is remote that this is the case - you can't have this type of expectation when folks are in every time zone across the globe.

Although I love remote, it's not for everyone. There's a lot to be said for perks like gym, dental, etc. It's really nice that you found a good fit!


At least in case of GitLab, many of this is allowed (or even promoted) to do during company time. For example, if you go to the dentist for one hour you don't need to somehow make up for that. The same goes with Emails: the remote first culture means basically everybody fully expects it to take at least several hours before they get a reply.

In other words: I think this is more about the company, and less about remote versus non remote.


How is tax on salaries handled in a situation like this? Seems like it would be really complicated.


For a few countries (The Netherlands and The United States for example) we have official entities that employ people. I for example am employed by the Dutch entity, meaning my salary and taxes are handled like any other Dutch employer.

Outside of these countries we employ employees as contractors, meaning they have to do the taxes and such themselves if I'm not mistaken.


They probably just use ADP.

Benefits are most likely more complicated to handle than payroll. May be hard to find competitive plans that cover the entire country.


I imagine they just use an outside payroll firm, many large corporations use companies like ADP (the one I work for does).


10.5 million in revenue with 350 employees? Anyone see a problem?


I responded to the other thread about this in https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=18443014


Yes, not sure why nobody is talking about that? I guess the plan is to be acquired soon.


Juxtapose this story with Amazon "charging" their HQ2 hosts $48k per employee [0] in tax credits. For being such an efficient company on the surface, they sure have a long way to go in finding efficient ways to expand work environments. GitLab might be on to something.

[0] http://www.fox5ny.com/news/48k-per-amazon-hq-job


Is $10M supposed to be impressive or something? They have 350 employees. The article is good but I don't understand why the title is written like that.


Good for adopting the culture of remote working and making it work. But not sure what they'll do if I joined them while living in a big tech hub and then move to smaller cities. Are they going to enforce a pay cut? But nothing has changed, I was remote then, and I am remote now.

It should be based on the value that the talent brings.


Their employee handbook is clear on that: you need to inform them and they'll offer a you a new contract at the reduced rate.


I imagine a huge benefit not covered in the article is fewer HR issues. I work at a growing software house and there are lots of guys who simply have no clue how to interact with women in a healthy manner.


I lived in an area where a lot of people were contracted to work for the US Army in their bases in Afganistan, Iraq, etc. for support roles (kitchen work, IT maintenance etc) with 6 months deployment, then a month free and 6 months again.

It was kind of a work that attracted many people from many different nationalities and their pay level was adjusted by average income in their home countries. So their expenses during the deployment were the same but the amount they would bring home was as much as 3x different for the same role.


Were the original 9 remote as well? Looks like the original two were remote - I just wonder what the composition looked like when they "hit it big".


Yeah, we were all working remotely from the start. We never had an office.

We moved in together for a few months during YC.


If my memory serves me right, yes. Some of the early employees did work/live together for 2-3 months during Y Combinator if I remember correctly, but apart from that everybody has always been remote.

Source: early-ish/current employee (#28 I believe, not exactly prestigious).


So my follow up was/is - is this remote setup in fact their "secret sauce"? Seems like being a part of Y Combinator did more for their initial success.


I think there is no single "secret sauce", instead it is a combination of many different things. This includes being all remote, because it does drastically affect how a company operates.


Is there no HQ at all? Even for the executive team?


There is no headquarters, even the executive team is remote. Many of them live in the Bay Area (where Sid, our CEO moved) but our VP of Product, for instance, is in Portugal.

IThere is a boardroom dedicated to GitLab where board meetings happen. But even for each of those, there is a zoom bridge for remote executives to join: https://about.gitlab.com/company/visiting/


Nope, there's only Sids house in SF that has a few desks for when people want to visit _something_.


At an average cost of $150k fully-loaded (rough guess), they're losing ~$40m / year. Not sure that warrants a victory lap.


Nice headline but don't run to your VC just yet....

$10.5 MM revenue split 350 ways is $30,000 per employee.

I mean, nice to have revenue and growth but we're a way from being able to trumpet that from the roof-top yet. That EVA is roughly in line with many small service business which don't require $100MM infusion of venture capital....


Their actual current revenue numbers are a multiple of the $10.5M stated here.

The $10.5M is just the last known publicly known number.

An employee clarified here: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=18443014


That employee is the CEO :)


"Today, GitLab's 350 employees across 45 countries use video calls and Slack chats to stay constantly connected."

Interesting that they don't use Gitter for chat. Perhaps they will be transitioning towards using it? GitLab acquired Gitter in March 2017; perhaps the article didn't get this detail correct...


They integrate Mattermost into the Omnibus....


What’s interesting in this piece for me is not the remote working but that they raised $145.5M and generate $10.5M


You can see a comment from our CEO related to this here: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=18443014


My thoughts exactly. I can't believe they're bragging about it…


IIRC their revenue last year was 6 figures. That's very impressive growth for a somewhat crowded space.


I'm a big fan of remote working and I like github but it needs to be clarified, its "every employee working from home" and not 10.5M per employee.

Dang can you have a better headline- "gitlab made 10.5M by being 100% remote-only"


So, one could rent a mailbox and VNC, maybe even a sleeping pod, in the most expensive neighbourhood in the world and then use the pay boost to live like a king somewhere really cheap.

Do they visit addresses to make sure you live there permanently?


You think your coworkers who actually live in that city and have real expenses wouldn’t rat you out the instant you slip up and they find out?


I was initially reading this as "GitLab Made $10.5M in Revenue for Every Employee Working from Home". Now that would truly be a remarkable number as most major tech companies are <$2M/employee.


One thing I don't like about Gitlab is their salary formula. They dock you in pay if you are in a lower cost of living area.

First, I think I should be paid based on the value I bring to a company, not my location. Otherwise, aren't we subsidizing those who choose to live in an expensive place like SF or NYC over those who are happy with a smaller city like Portland of Austin?

Second, while many cities have growing tech scenes, SF and Seattle remain fairly unique job markets. If you're outside those cities, you may have less expenses, but you also lose out on networking and may find it harder to find your next job (if for no other reason than the fact nonremote companies will shy away from relocating you if another qualified candidate is local).


> First, I think I should be paid based on the value I bring to a company, not my location. Otherwise, aren't we subsidizing those who choose to live in an expensive place like SF or NYC over those who are happy with a smaller city like Portland of Austin?

Employees are never only paid based on value. If that was the case, janitors would make great money, since having a clean work environment is very important and valuable.

What you're missing here is leverage. Janitors don't make much money because most people are capable of basic janitorial tasks, and thus they have little leverage in the job market because they could be easily replaced.

In the case of Gitlab, employees in hotter job markets have more leverage because they could more easily find a high paying job where they live. People living in weaker job markets don't have that. Gitlab is paying the former group more precisely because they have more options.


I get that it's normal for companies to pay local market rate for talent, but if the entire company is remote then what is "local" really?

I don't see any problem with them paying someone in Canberra less than they pay an equivalent person in SF, but I think it's disingenuous to make it about "cost of living." Someone with kids and a mortgage has a much higher cost of living than someone without (in the same location) but do they automatically get paid more?

The local (tech) job market determines what the workers will accept, not (as others have noted) the cost of rent or beer.


Its not about locality, its about paying as little as possible to get the people you want. If you want someone from Podunk Kansas you could easily pay them a third as much as someone living in a major metro but yours will still be the best offer they have.

Hopefully this equalizes out over time as more tech companies can properly adopt remote workers and thus even out the employment field away from centralizing in a few specific cities but we are a long way from that.


> Hopefully this equalizes out over time as more tech companies can properly adopt remote workers and thus even out the employment field away from centralizing in a few specific cities but we are a long way from that.

I used to think that way, but in, like, the late 90's/early 00's. "Surely as internet access and software tools continually improve, remote work will become better and more common, democratizing blah blah blah."

Instead, while the internet getting better definitely happened, the pay differential and clustering effect in major tech hubs only increased.

As for why that would happen, I have a few different thoughts, but I think the gist of it is that the internet getting better spawned huge internet giants like Google and Facebook, and organizationally it's still an advantage to have people colocated so they went with that.


Thank about that. This thread starts by saying it’s unfair to pay based on location and a given person provides the same value from anywhere, yet the worlds most successful companies choose to hire in the most expensive locations. Programmers in SF must be more valuable or companies wouldn’t hire there. In fact wages are high because of demand for that location itself not justness the cluster of talent there. As a remote company owner who hires in both North America and Asia, Timezones matter a lot. We have some incredible devs in Asia who I’d pay twice as much if they moved here. It’s not about living cost, it’s about opportunity cost for both sides. Salaries are a negotiation, and location matters to the extent the parties involved say it does.


“Programmers in SF must be more valuable or companies wouldn’t hire there.”

Or, that’s where companies are and they’ll take what they can get in the area because they like having warm bodies in the office rather than dealing with better qualified remote workers (like practically every company)?


I think it's a mix really. I think there are a lot of founders who really believe that SF developers are worth the 2x (or more!) markup. Personally, I don't think it's true at all -- in fact, hot markets tend to attract people who want money, not people who are talented.

On the other hand, non-collocated teams are challenging and if you have very little experience running a team (as many young founders do) it might be wise to hire locally -- at least at the beginning. I think a lot of founders also probably underestimate the amount of time they'll need to get off the ground. So if they have $5M, it might seem OK to have a burn rate of $2M per year (I'm using pseudo-random numbers). They'll think, "If we can't get another big round in 2 1/2 years, then we might as well move on to something else". So they are willing to pay the money.


It's funny, isn't it, the way that tech hub salaries continue to increase, with many companies willing to hire remotely only if that means low-priced offshore talent, and yet there are plenty of people in the US who offer a middle ground compromise but are generally overlooked. Like yourself, I really thought we'd be farther along in remote work acceptance by this point. While I've been a remote worker since 2005 as a moonlighter, freelancer, employee, and small-business owner (IE: have been through different experiences) it's still very challenging to get companies on board with remote work, despite the cases studies like GitLab.


>If you want someone from Podunk Kansas you could easily pay them a third as much as someone living in a major metro but yours will still be the best offer they have.

Not anymore, someone will be following the "locality doesn't matter mantra" and will outbid you. What you are saying might be more true for entry level or very generic skill sets. But if you are hiring top talent, you have to offer the same best offer everywhere, because if you won't then someone else will.


> I don't see any problem with them paying someone in Canberra less than they pay an equivalent person in SF, but I think it's disingenuous to make it about "cost of living." Someone with kids and a mortgage has a much higher cost of living than someone without (in the same location) but do they automatically get paid more?

Only one of those two things correlates strongly with market wages, though. But you may be right that it may be more transparent to just say "cost of labor" rather than "cost of living".


Thank you, "cost of labor" is precisely the point.

Just say "we pay the local market rate where you live" and if that's true, you won't have any problem with your offers. If the developer in Canberra expects a Mountain View salary they will presumably explain to you why that's in your interest, and you can be convinced or not. Everyone else will be OK with the local market rate, because markets.

Publishing your "Canberra Disadvantage Index" doesn't seem likely to get you anything but people complaining on the Internet.

(Though I do wonder what GitLab would do if they find someone in Canberra they really want to hire and she already makes a San Francisco wage. My guess is they hire her and ask her to keep quiet about the salary.)


Why not move or at least rent a po box/number to give the impression you work at a high pay location?


I see the PO box question every time this discussion comes up.

For starters, you'd have to be okay with living a lie to your coworkers and putting your career at risk if you ever let the facade slip. You can't ever talk about local events at the virtual water cooler. Do you live in the same time zone as one of the high-cost-of-living cities? If not, you can't ever mention what time your kids go to school either. Is your employer ever going to fly you out to conferences or all-hands meetings? They're either buying your plane ticket directly or expecting to see a receipt; good luck explaining why you never fly out of your "home" airport. Does your employer report your earnings to the IRS? If so, you'll likely be committing some sort of tax evasion or at least having to submit a ton of corrective paperwork each year. Do they provide insurance? You'll have to explain to the provider why your address isn't what your company thinks it is or else risk voiding your coverage and/or committing insurance fraud. And so on, and so forth.

All in all, it's probably doable, but very few people would consider it worth the effort unless they are pathologically inclined towards fraud in the first place.


Right, it'll actually manifest in just not applying at all.

Bear in mind though that, for example, in the UK there's a differential of 50% for living 1-2 hours' train ride out.

I don't even know if towns I've previously lived in and commuted into London from would be counted as "London" by their calculator.


Locally is in that case all opportunities you have available at your location. If you can get remote job that will pay better than GitLab than you can negotiate easily. In that case probably you don't have better options if you keep working for that company.


>Locally is in that case all opportunities you have available at your location. If you can get remote job that will pay better than GitLab than you can negotiate easily. In that case probably you don't have better options if you keep working for that company.

Or you work remotely for a year at a lower salary, then leverage documented experience excelling at remote work to get hired in a higher paying remote role.


Value tends to scale with scarcity, economics 101. Gitlab doesn't have to pay people higher salaries for living in HCOL. All it should care about is talent level, which should favor hiring talented people not in HCOL.


> Value tends to scale with scarcity, economics 101.

By this reasoning, you'd expect to find the most "valuable" baseball players in areas devoid of professional baseball teams.

Something tells me you didn't completely think this through.

Gitlab is willing to pay high salaries for people living in expensive areas for essentially the same reason Google's dev offices are mostly located in expensive areas.


> By this reasoning, you'd expect to find the most "valuable" baseball players in areas devoid of professional baseball teams.

Why? Scarcity is dependent on demand. Something that absolutely nobody wants will never be scarce, even if the quantities of said thing are small in absolute numbers.

If there is no professional baseball team, presumably nobody needs a professional baseball player, and thus professional baseball players won't be scarce at all, but rather infinitely abundant and pay will reflect that by trending towards zero.


Baseball players move to where there are teams.


And programmers tend to move where there are tech companies.


Less so. If you want to play in MLB (and you do, because that's where any of the money is) then you have to move to where there's an MLB stadium - the team isn't going to move to you.

Whereas, there are many more software companies that pay roughly the same wages all of the world, and companies offer remote work, which will reduce the differentiation - but not eliminate it.


That's why I said "tend to move", yes.

> there are many more software companies that pay roughly the same wages all of the world

The jobs with the really high salaries (and arguably the most exciting coding jobs) are disproportionately located in a handful of major tech hubs.


>there are many more software companies that pay roughly the same wages all of the world

I question whether there are many companies that, aside from executives or other high value employees, pay similar salaries around the world. I imagine at least some pay comparable salaries across the US--or at least salaries that don't completely follow CoL--but pay Indian or Chinese developers what they pay Bay Area ones? That seems unlikely at any scale.


Most players drafted are not from big cities with professional teams. Most are from smaller farming communities, poorer countries, etc. The reason is big city kids have better options with higher success rate compared to more rural kids.


Programming is unique in that you don't have to be physically located in same place as others to do work. It's no brainer why GitLab is targeting this "hidden" talent pool.


Yes and no. I’ve had the opportunity to try some state of the art telepresence/teleconferencing kit. Stuff that they visit your office before they decide if they’ll sell it to you and then do a custom fit-out of a suite. Imagine the swankiest private cinema, x10, and another one on the far side.

It doesn’t hold a candle to a bunch of guys in a room at a physical whiteboard, for the sheer collaboration bandwidth. Fully-remote has its use cases, but it doesn’t cover all use cases.


I agree.


If a bunch of companies started setting equal salaries for remote work not dependent on location, then over a long period of time the workers with the desired talent level would migrate to areas with low cost of living and start applying for those jobs.

The issue is that today the people with the desired talent level are likely to have already moved to a HCOL area because that's where the highest concentration of available work is. You have to compete with the other jobs they could take that are scaled to the HCOL area.

Turns out popuplation migration is not instantaneous, spherical, or frictionless.


Following your logic, the value of someone in a high-demand market like SF or NYC will be higher, because it'll be much harder to find someone to do the job for the same low price as someone in a non-HCOL area. I mean those willing to work for the same price as a LCOL engineer in a HCOL area are very scarce, so they WOULD contribute good value on average if only you could hire them. But you probably can not, and I agree with the comment above yours.

Maybe compensation/bonuses/promotions are the proper way to reward those who have proven their added value.


"employees in hotter job markets have more leverage because t"

No, cost of living does not imply hotter markets for software developers.

Vancouver, London, Hong Kong, Moscow are very expensive with not tons of devs, and devs are lower paid.


They use a "rent index", "hot market adjustment", and "country factor" to account for that, I think.

> Vancouver, London, Hong Kong, Moscow are very expensive with not tons of devs, and devs are lower paid.

True enough, but rent correlates with tech salary pretty well within the US at least, where I'm guessing most of their employees are.


> In the case of Gitlab, employees in hotter job markets have more leverage because they could more easily find a high paying job where they live.

That's not real leverage. Leverage is provided by the minimum salary demands of the cheapest alternative supplier of labor that provides an adequate substitute. That you can walk away from an offer isn't leverage if I have someone else I can hire for the same salary and get the same benefit from employing.

Location has no relevance (it may be that desirable skill correlates with location, but then paying for that doesn't require a separate location adjustment.)

Now, for on-premise worker a worker in a higher CoL area may have more leverage because the minimum demand substitute workers is higher, but that doesn't apply to remote work where the employer can hire people from elsewhere.


But if everyone is working from home, you'd have access to the whole market, thus finding a same candidate without this leverage ?

(please excuse my english)


But you wouldn't have access to the whole market, because you'd be missing out on people in the major tech hubs. And as it turns out, much of the best talent in the world is clustered in those tech hubs.


But the candidate doesn't have that many options so they have to put up with what they can get. It's thw law of offer and demand.


That's not really true. As a remote developer, my employer is evaluating me against all other remote developers and their compensation. I'm evaluating my employer against all other employers offering remote positions.

Sure, the employer has more power in that negotiation, but it's not like there aren't others out there.


Your English is good. :)


You only have access to the subset of the market that offers remote employment.


"Market" in this context means employees, not employers. The subset of employees completely disinterested in remote work is presumably much smaller than the subset of employers disinterested in offering it.


> employees in hotter job markets have more leverage because they could more easily find a high paying job where they live.

But... couldn't any dev easily just move to San Francisco? This isn't 1900; it's easy to move to a new city.

Maybe we should start a service that lets everyone receive mail in SF, so you can put a SF address on your resume.


Is it really that easy?

I live on the east coast. My family lives within 30 minutes of me. My closest friends live within 30 minutes.

Moving would require leaving that behind. That's not (emotionally) easy for myself nor my family.


It's easy now that family life is no longer held to the same high esteem as it once was in American culture and we have traded our real, face to face, immersive, relationships for digital ones. (I've heard all the apologetics for digital relationships being "real", so you need not reply to this with them)


[flagged]


Maybe so, but please don't post unsubstantive comments here and especially please don't break the site guidelines like this.

https://news.ycombinator.com/newsguidelines.html

jimmy1 69 days ago [flagged]

Since this isn't being flagged for some reason I am not going to let you get away with posting a garbage useless reply for free.

Depression is on the rise. Suicide is on the rise. We have all these "freedoms", society has made all this "progress" and our youth is sadder than ever. Explain? More divorces, more disconnected families, more violence. Offer your theory than the easy trope.

You might have your theories, I have mine. Doesn't make it horse shit and I stand by it, so unless you have something constructive to say, you can shove it up your ass.


Personal attacks and invective will get you banned here, regardless of how wrong or unfair another comment was. Please don't post like this again.

https://news.ycombinator.com/newsguidelines.html


The time of easy moves to California was decades ago. Sure, it's physically easy to travel to SF, but moving is a different beast.

Not all devs are in our..."tier" so to speak. They're not picking up full relocation packages or even a few grand upon signing to make the move easier. They'll need cash in hand to get a place.

Funding a move is hard enough as a new grad without many possessions.

It gets even harder (unless you keep sharp enough to get paid relo) to move as you add vehicles, maybe buy instead of rent a property, and gather stuff like furniture.

That's before factoring in how some people have social ties to their current town. SF is good for well-compensated mercenaries or the few lucky people that got to grow up there.

I find it ironic how you point out someone else as tone deaf elsewhere in this thread.


I'm an east coaster that moved to the west coast for 8 years as an adult - and I have a large number of friends who have moved to the bay area from the east coast. As in, I could literally name fifty of them.

Is it expensive? Sure. But it's still pretty easy to move if you don't have a family tying you down. Moving anywhere is a pain, but people do it.


> But... couldn't any dev easily just move to San Francisco?

No, someone not already working at SF wages quite likely can't easily just move to SF.


Moving to SF is definitely hard and expensive...which is why larger companies regularly move new hires out to their HQ and then do all sorts of things to make moving easy.

I’ve seen companies that’ll reimburse all moving expenses, offer an upfront cash moving bonus, provide temporary furnished housing for the first couple months, and, if necessary, help handle immigration and other legal details. Sometimes companies even provide a moving consultant that the new hire can delegate tasks to like hiring a moving company or arranging for their childrens’ school transfer.


>What you're missing here is leverage. Janitors don't make much money because most people are capable of basic janitorial tasks, and thus they have little leverage in the job market because they could be easily replaced.

Janitors often make more than you think (both in terms of compensation and benefits), because while their job is easily replicated, they also require a great deal of trust.

I think this concept can extend across all jobs - you're not just paying for skill. If someone is dependable and trustworthy, it might be worth paying a small premium to keep them around versus an unknown quantity.

Every time an employee who might have stayed if that had a slightly higher wage, you run the risk of a toxic person coming in.


> Janitors often make more than you think (both in terms of compensation and benefits)

Government janitors, sure, because the government consistently pays above market-rate for low-skilled positions and under market-rate for high-skilled positions.

But in the private sector, I'd have to see some data. I'm not saying they all make minimum wage, but I don't think it's good money.


I can't speak for other governments, but the US feds use contractors for most facilities work, not direct employees.


In what sense do I have more leverage living in London vs. Manchester?

I can just move to London.

Pay differences across visa barriers might make some sense. Within a country it's just odd.

It's effectively saying 'go and live in London, or we'll pay you less'.

The barrier of entry to 'live in London' is about 6k a year for a flat share. Way less than GitLab's pay differential.

(It's actually kind of funny that a hack would be to subsidise someone living in London, have that registered as your address, and live in a place with a lower cost of living in a nice house.)

Well, guess I'm never working at GitLab now. Oops. :P


> I can just move to London.

But it's more hassle, and it would mean giving up your current friend network, may be a burden on your family, like if you have kids, or your spouse already has a good job. Someone already in London doesn't have to deal with that. Ergo, they have more leverage.


It's a remote job.

I get a small flatshare and do the Mon-Fri working thing. (Loads of people do this for on prem jobs because homes in London are small and/or pricey. You get the train in on Mon, stay till Fri, and go home to your big country house).

Then I stop doing the commute because it's a remote job and this is obviously silly.

Basically it seems like this whole thing rests on arbitrary rules set for no reason.

I can't figure out how working for GitLab in a northern English town would work at all and why anyone would apply when they could rent a postbox (or even an entire flat) in London and come out way ahead.

If the differences were a few grand it'd be different. It's more like half the money for living a couple hours north on a train.


Not everyone can up and move that easily. So it does make a difference in reality.


Our reasons for paying local rates can be found on https://about.gitlab.com/handbook/people-operations/global-c...

Paying the same wage in different regions would lead to:

1. A concentration of team members in low-wage regions, since it is a better deal for them, while we want a geographically diverse team.

2. Team members in high-wage regions having less discretionary income than ones in low-wage countries with the same role.

3. Team members in low-wage regions being in golden handcuffs and unlikely to leave even when they are unhappy.

4. If we start paying everyone the highest wage our compensation costs would increase greatly, we can hire fewer people, and we would get less results.

5. If we start paying everyone the lowest wage we would not be able to attract and retain people in high-wage regions.


These are remarkably dishonest and bad reasons.

1. This is meaningless.

2. This is FAR more a factor of lifestyle choices than CoL. I've lived in extremely high and extremely low CoL places and there is not a big difference. I have a $1500 mortgage instead of a $1700 lease. Maybe apples are 20c cheaper a pound?

3. "It's better if we pay you less, really!" PS Other remote employers pay significantly more than you.

4. Pay people competitively for the role instead.

5. Pay people competitively for the role instead.


Paying people competitively is exactly what they are doing. They are paying exactly as much as they need to to hire the talent they want.


Sure, but what I can't fathom is why they would pay more to hire a dev in SF or NY when they could easily hire a better dev for the same price from somewhere else. Allowing remote work is a big benefit from the employee perspective, so I can see why they could get away with paying less than certain other employers, especially if they're hiring people from areas with less competition from other high-paying employers...but why would they then throw those savings away by hiring someone from an expensive city and paying them a premium when the whole company is remote anyway?

They claim they want a "geographically diverse team", but without saying what benefit that brings them, that doesn't really explain anything.


> hire a dev in SF or NY when they could easily hire a better dev for the same price from somewhere else.

Hiring is hard. Sure there may be a theoretical "better hire" outside of the Bay Area, but if they have someone in front of them who seems like they would do a great job and wants to work for them, it behooves them to hire that person now, even if it costs more. The cost of not hiring them is probably more, in lost time and productivity.

Maybe as they get bigger and each individual role becomes less critical, they can start to focus their recruiting on areas outside of SF. But right now, given that the founders are in SF, it's probably a lot easier to recruit people here.


They can get a "geographically diverse team" without paying anyone in NYC or SF.


So why all the dishonesty? Let's just write that (or nothing at all). That could be respected.


I suppose that's inarguable, even if by definition.


I think that's not true. My 800sqft apartment in Berlin in a "hip area" is 1k EUR all in, London or SF would probably be 2.5x that. Essentially to live in SF my salary would need to atleast double to have the same standard of living.


No, your salary would need to be 1500 * 12 to have the same standard of living. I did napkin math a while back, and someone on 100k in SF, after taxes and rent will still end up with more than most developers in the UK gross.


Nah that is the same stuff as with story about Nigerians hired to train AI on pictures. If GitLab would be paying everyone the same they would make trouble for themselves and people that they hire. Having gangs of people in low wage countries that you feed with money is not recipe for healthy company.

It is the same with factory workers, ideally you should pay them all the same and as much as you can. But when you start doing it all kinds of problems pop up like it is not sustainable because people want more, and factory does not earn as much. Then they strike and factory goes bankrupt, no more work.

If you will get concentration of people from one locale it is big risk for remote company. If company at some point will have to pull out from that locale because politics/taxes change for instance that is huge risk for those employees.

Social justice is not as easy as "give people because they deserve".


2. Counter anecdote: I went from $700/month (80,000 JPY/month) to $3,050/month in rent for essentially the same size/location/convenience by moving from Osaka to NYC.


I just want to re-iterate what everyone is saying and also state that I am a very good developer that removed myself from Gitlabs recruitment pipeline as soon as I found out I would be getting paid 89,000$ based on your algorithm because I live in a very low cost of living area. Despite the fact that I was currently making 140,000$ at a non-remote position in my low cost of living area. I was genuinely shocked/surprised when I found that, and confused that a company with a good reputation for software could have such a massive disconnect on wages.


Thanks for voicing the disparity. We want to pay at or above market so this big of a difference is concerning to me. As we state on every page that has our calculator, we would love to hear from people when we’re far off.

Can you maybe share what position you where considering and in what metro are you life?


> we would love to hear from people when we’re far off

... Oregon... entire state is same modifier?

I can rent a 4 bedroom house 2 blocks away from the university in La Grande for $1200/m.

I can rent a 3 bedroom house 2 blocks away from the university in Portland for $3900/m.

Does not compute.


I agree Portland should probably have its own index.


We are working on our 2019 iteration of the compensation calculator currently, which will create additional metro areas, one of which will be for Portland.


>We are working on our 2019 iteration of the compensation calculator currently, which will create additional metro areas, one of which will be for Portland.

It doesn't speak well that you need to be told which metro areas to add.

The US government had to address a similar issue and came up with a handy list of metro areas:

https://www.opm.gov/policy-data-oversight/pay-leave/salaries...

I find it a little odd that you would be so adamant about your compensation algorithm and not do basic due diligence exploring what others in the space have done in the space.

HN commenters shouldn't need to tell you what metro areas are missing - you should have proactively identified them.


This was for a position generically titled "Software Engineer" if I remember correctly. I am in the Houston metro area. I have just re-run the calculation today and gotten the response of 103-108k or 98-103k depending on my opinion of myself but this was about a year ago. I also believe the calculator may have changed since then as I remember putting in a number of "years of experience" which has since been removed.

The disparity is slightly decreased since I last run it but still a bit out of touch from "at or above market" in this case.


I haven't applied to Gitlab, but I work remotely for a Bay Area company, and I earn more than my local market rate.

My local market (Montreal, Quebec, Canada) _severely_ underpays. It's common for people with 5+ years' experience to be making under 60k CAD (50k USD), if not way less. Because of that, many of the city's best devs either work remotely, or they move to Toronto, or New York, or the Bay Area.

When you base your salary calculations on local market rates, in very-low-market-rate areas, you're looking at an artificially lowered pool. I'm not surprised people balk when they find out how low you pay, because in their mind they aren't competing with local onsite developers. That isn't their market.

Also, there are many benefits to working onsite that don't appear to be factored into your calculations. Not all remote workers can work comfortably out of the home, and so there are office rental costs. Many onsite jobs provide things like free lunches, as well. It's possible these things are factored in; if so, it might be worth mentioning them here: https://about.gitlab.com/handbook/benefits/

EDIT: Removed a complaint about #3, as I saw from another comment that I misunderstood it. I still disagree with the premise - if I was unhappy at my current job, there are plenty of other remote companies that pay well, and even if there weren't, I'd gladly take a pay cut to do more fulfilling work - but it doesn't strike me as condescending anymore. Just ill-informed.


Number 3 is pretty rediculous. I don't think I've ever seen another company try to claim that they are doing employees a favor by paying them less money than their peers.


The issue with number 3 is for the employer, not the employee. GitLab doesn't want demotivated/unhappy employees to stick around: they want them to actively look for other opportunities and leave. Sounds reasonable to me.


>The issue with number 3 is for the employer, not the employee. GitLab doesn't want demotivated/unhappy employees to stick around: they want them to actively look for other opportunities and leave. Sounds reasonable to me.

Ironically if you paid a high salary but allowed people to work in a low COL area, this wouldn't be an issue... because the workers could aggressively save for retirement and semi-retire fairly early in their career.


But you want unhappy employee to leave in 2-3 months or ASAP not sticking for couple of years to earn his FIRE. I would say after 6 months you get to know quirks of company up to that you might still be oblivious to bodies in wardrobe.


That is exactly the reason. I updated the site https://gitlab.com/gitlab-com/www-gitlab-com/commit/5833b6f0...


> Number 3 is pretty rediculous. I don't think I've ever seen another company try to claim that they are doing employees a favor by paying them less money than their peers.

I've heard it used in the context of US government work. (They simply don't want people who are "in it for the money"). I don't know if that's based on studies or just a feeling.


Huh? For government jobs, people are in it for the healthcare and the pension.


> Huh? For government jobs, people are in it for the healthcare and the pension.

Pensions don't exist anymore, you get a savings account (403b IIRC) w/ some % matching contrib


He did not claim that. It's bad for the company, much more than for the employees. Unhappy employees who stay for financial reasons tend to negatively impact culture, quality and speed.


As a company we don't want unhappy team members.


Thanks for explaining your reasons. I've been in a golden handcuffs situation (clawback clause on a meager signon/moving bonus that I wouldn't be able to pay back) and I thought the same thing: why would they insist I stay on when I'm most definitely moving on and won't give my best in the remaining time?


Thanks. Mind if I link to this comment from our handbook?


I don't think you understand the motivation it's not a favor for employee it's a benefit to the company they don't want people who don't want to stick around purely because they pay highest wage for a given market.


Number 3 is one of the most reasonable on the list...it's strange you think someone in SF or NYC would ever sign on if they would be paid the exact same as someone in podunk, MT despite the CoL differences.


> Are reasons for paying local rates can be found on [URL]

Did you mean "our" or "their"? If you're a Gitlab employee, please explicitly state that when making comments about your company on HN.

>Paying the same wage would lead to... A concentration of team members in low-wage regions, since it is a better deal for them, while we want a geographically diverse team.

Weird, since it looks like you don't pay a ton in SF compared to market, and IIRC don't offer stock or large cash bonuses ala Mozilla. So if I had to pick between SF and say, Portland, I'd probably go with Portland since you don't seem to ramp up enough in SF. Basically, your salaries do the opposite of what they intend.

I also took a look at the salary tool, and it seems to lack nuance compared to say, the GS payscale, which differs based on granular localities. I see many states with wildly varying costs of living that only have one "compensation factor" that would have multiple regions on the GS payscale.

In fact, it looks like most of the points are pretty flaccid except for "If we start paying everyone the highest wage our compensation costs would increase greatly, we can hire fewer people, and we would get less results."

"I don't want to pay a fair wage because I can get more people with less salary" isn't a super compelling argument for workers.

Edit: added italics in quotes for readability and corrected a spelling error.


> Did you mean "our" or "their"?

He's the CEO.


I meant our. I edited my post to update.


> I meant our. I edited my post to update.

Thanks, and sorry for being harsh in my original reply, I should have couched my language to be less accusatory.


We do offer stock options.

Do you mean this pay scale https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/General_Schedule_(US_civil_s... ? It would be interesting to see if that would improve our date. I don’t think we have to go more granular than metro area, or did you mean something else?


That definitely changes the calculus :)

As for payscale, I meant the locality pay tables:

https://www.opm.gov/policy-data-oversight/pay-leave/salaries...

The federal government aims to have everyone at the same grade and step to make roughly the same (adjusted for cost of living). Sounds similar to your goal.

To aid that they broke the USA into a group of metro areas.

You could look at the locality tables, and if there's states that have multiple entries on the GS payscale, adjust accordingly in your algorithm.

For example, Pennsylvania would have a low rate if you're in a small town like the capitol, a medium rate if you're in Pittsburgh (home to CMU) and a higher rate in the east near Philadelphia. Your model (IIRC) had one COL value for all of PA.

Similarly, you could look to the US State Department's per diem table to find a list of international localities that should have their own calculation. Many organizations rely on it. When I traveled on business for a multinational, they used the State Department Per Diem rates to determine what is a reasonable amount of money per day to give:

https://aoprals.state.gov/web920/per_diem_action.asp?MenuHid...

While the per diem rate itself may or may not be useful, a list of cities that should have a unique value for COL is a useful piece of data in itself.

To be honest, I'm surprised that nobody with input to the algorithm used either data source or a similar one - I don't know if say, Canada or the EU do their own calculations or leverage the US federal govt's. I know a few multinationals that use the federal guidelines for setting per diem costs rather than spend the effort calculating that in house. But the general idea - that a larger entity had to tackle this issue long ago and published their solution... I think it's a useful data source.


To put it more succinctly: I agree you should do it by metro area. But you don't - several states have a singular value, or only a value for one city in the state. The above post has some sources you can peruse on identifying metro areas that need to be assessed in the algo.


Being in Poland, it's hard for me to even consider working for GitLab if the salary for a backend engineer tops out at 25k PLN / month pre-taxes, pre-social (that's $80k/yr for a true expert). Berlin companies are willing to hire mid-to-senior remote employees in Poland for that amount.

It's not about the idea of a salary calculator, it's about the ratios that you set. Not everything scales linearly and while you could absolutely live in a total dump and consider nearly 100% of the salary "disposable income", in order to live at a similar level to Western Europe, the expenses start increasing rapidly.


Working for a Berlin tech company that is looking for backend engineers. If you have deep experience with Golang or PHP and willing to relocate, let me know ;)


1, 2 and 3 are just theory not truth.

There are many counter examples of companies paying equal regardless of the location and:

1. Not everyone lives where it cheap. There are many factors when choosing where to live: Friends, family, emotional attachment to a place, ...

2. That's linked to 1, if they choose to move somewhere expensive that's on them, not imposed by the company.

3. Not true, someone unhappy isn't going to stick around just because they can make more money.

...

At the end of the day the main goal of paying less where the cost of living is cheaper is to increase the company profit. It's 100% reasonable but masking the reason behind some "fairness" bullet points is BS to me.


#3 is absolutely true for certain classes of employee.

If you live in Omaha where tech salaries for the best of the best top out at $70-80k, but you're making $175k at Gitlab, it's going to take a lot to get you to leave.

Honestly the thing that bothers me most about all this "fairness" stuff if the implication that business is supposed to be fair in the first place. Salary negotiation is a leverage and your/the company's BATNA. That's why software developers can make $200k in certain areas and janitors make minimum wage. Yes, value provided to the company has something to do with it. Yes, scarcity of skill has something to do with it. But all those just flow into the equation of leverage and BATNA and you come out the other end with a range, and where you fall on that range is largely just your negotiating skill and whether or not you're willing to negotiate in the first place.


> If you live in Omaha where tech salaries for the best of the best top out at $70-80k, but you're making $175k at Gitlab, it's going to take a lot to get you to leave.

That being said, if you live in Omaha, and working for GitLab, you're going to need to be executive/director level to be making $175k. FrontEnd manager? $110, tops. Security manager, $130, tops.


>The issue with number 3 is for the employer, not the employee. GitLab doesn't want demotivated/unhappy employees to stick around: they want them to actively look for other opportunities and leave. Sounds reasonable to me.

I disagree. If I was making 175k in a city like that, I would probably work for a few years, then semi-retire. Maybe take a nonprofit job, do less hours and consult, or work for a local university with low pay but good work life balance. I wouldn't just ride it out for 10-20 years if I didn't enjoy the job.


You can't even semi-retire on a few hundred thousand dollars.


> You can't even semi-retire on a few hundred thousand dollars.

If you're mid career and had aggressively saved prior to acquiring 400k, you could totally take up some sort of minimum wage gig to pay for insurance while your nest egg goes or take a nonprofit job.

That's my definition of "semi retirement", maybe yours is different.


Either you don't have any dependents or you and I have very different ideas about retirement. To me it sounds like you're only talking about the "RE" part of "FIRE".


> Our reasons for paying local rates...

With all due respect, this is b.s. Your company does this because it can, and because developers stuck in second and third tier cities (or countries) have little choice. It is blatant exploitation and a black mark on your company.

Edit: On closer examination, your third reason simply translates to : we are your best/only option right now so deal with it, this is borderline unethical practice.


Golly, y'all are cynical assholes. They provide a list of reasonable justifications and you just pounce like you're out for blood. "this leads me to the conclusion that you are unethical as well"? Really?


Literally all jobs scale to local rates. Look at any of FAANG. They all scale with local rates.


At the risk of over flogging this issue, let me state this. Employees are hired for the value they bring to the company and the point of remote work is that geography is irrelevant. FAANG paying 'local rates' does not make it right. It simply means FAANG is as exploitative as other companies. Consider the other end of the spectrum - international expatriate workers. These folk have great leverage and they get paid multiples of the local wage. How do you justify that ?


Contrary to the theme of vitriol expressed by many comments here, I understand the line of thinking and it's fairly reasonable. However there's a big blind spot in this policy: markets have qualitative differences that affect perceived market rates. In SV there is high supply, high demand, and companies are relatively good at evaluating talent; in short, talent is more liquid and it's less of a market for lemons. In cities with lesser tech footprint companies aren't as good at evaluating talent, less good at leveraging and there is less difficulty retaining employees, so average wages are depressed.

However top tier talent can be hired remotely, and will generally be worth well above market in less sophisticated markets. When I first looked at your salary scale a few years ago when I was living in Oakland and the discrepency between SF and Oakland was absolutely ridiculous. I assume that has been fixed, but even as someone who might accept your SF pay, I know my worth, and would not consider working for you in any other region. I'm sure you'll find some good talent that doesn't know their own value, but you'll miss out disproportionately on the seasoned talent.


Are you seriously considering an employee's PERSONAL life for setting their wage??? That's bananas!

That's like saying that I'll work for free cause the boss wants to buy his wife a new ferrari.

Bottom line is that you pay market rate for the programmer. Whether he is programming out of a cardboard box in slum or working in a golden palace in Switzerland, it should not matter cause to the employee, your personal life does not matter. Any body that hears any of these reasons during a salary negotiation or raise should immediately look for work elsewhere. I know I would.

Granted, I do believe there is wiggle room for personal reasons("I just had a baby" etc)but gitlab should be paying employees based on the value they bring the company and/or market rate.


Do you calculate the rate with accurate inputs for the specific candidate's location, or do you use the rough categorization of living areas that's in your online calculator?


> Do you calculate the rate with accurate inputs for the specific candidate's location, or do you use the rough categorization of living areas that's in your online calculator?

My major criticism is they have some states where there is one rate of pay for the entire state. Oregon being the most egregious - it's my understanding the difference in COL in Portland versus a rural area in Oregon (or small town like Eugene) is a lot.


These are good reasons and I’d find them fairly convincing as having thought of unintended consequences.

I don’t work at Gitlab, use it, or anything.


Wow, most of this is such bullshit.

> 1. A concentration of team members in low-wage regions, since it is a better deal for them, while we want a geographically diverse team.

Wrong. You are assuming that people only care about maximizing disposable income. That is plainly incorrect. The vast majority of people won't move to a 3rd world country with a much worse standard of living, language barrier, uproot their family's life, have safety issues and what not, so that they would have potentially 2x - 5x spending power. The reality is cost of living around the world differs, but not to the extent that this influences a large number of people in an organization into switching countries.

> 2. Team members in high-wage regions having less discretionary income than ones in low-wage countries with the same role.

Wrong. And, also, WTF. It is also not your place to determine people's discretionary income, who do you think you are - their mum? a slave owner? A TV, a Macbook, a car, fuel costs about the same everywhere in the world, because there's a global market. That's true for pretty much everything but rent and food. And you're also completely unaware of various tax rules in countries that may give long-term benefits / short-term tax hikes that end up fundamentally changing earnings and lifestyle. Not that any of that would be your business, but if you're going to do that using this justification, you need to do extremely detailed and sophisticated research. Otherwise, your social equality goal will definitely backfire.

> 3. Team members in low-wage regions being in golden handcuffs and unlikely to leave even when they are unhappy.

Wrong again. Any employee can go work for another company that hires remote workers. Most of these companies don't adjust salaries to some perceived cost of living factor, so, in effect, you are making yourself incredibly uncompetitive with this practice. For instance, I am extremely good at what I do and I command the global market rates that reflect that. Therefore, I would never consider working with Gitlab.

> 4. If we start paying everyone the highest wage our compensation costs would increase greatly, we can hire fewer people, and we would get less results.

That's the only actual reason. If you paid competitive rates globally, you'd spend more money.

> 5. If we start paying everyone the lowest wage we would not be able to attract and retain people in high-wage regions.

LOL, let's pretend that's a thing you could do even if you wanted to. In fact, if you could pull it off, you'd do it.

To sum it up, you just lost a lot of people's respect on here by giving a bullshit answer to a serious question. You should've told the truth, people generally respond well to honesty. It is not unreasonable that a startup (or, indeed, any business) would want to reduce costs as much as possible. This BS response, that tries to make it seem like you're doing everyone a favor by not paying global market rates, is just a turn off for most intelligent people.


> To sum it up, you just lost a lot of people's respect on here by giving a bullshit answer to a serious question. You should've told the truth, people generally respond well to honesty. It is not unreasonable that a startup would want to reduce costs as much as possible. The BS response is just a turn off to most intelligent people though.

It was lose the respect of these people here - or his employees who they have to justify these policies to.


2) is super reasonable, I think. Almost all jobs will do 2.


Well said.


> 1. A concentration of team members in low-wage regions, since it is a better deal for them, while we want a geographically diverse team.

"low-wage regions" includes roughly 98% of the land mass of the world. That sounds like a silly reason.

> 2. Team members in high-wage regions having less discretionary income than ones in low-wage countries with the same role.

Which is how capitalism works.

> 3. Team members in low-wage regions being in golden handcuffs and unlikely to leave even when they are unhappy.

...at this point I surrender to their illogic.


1. Excludes basically the top 100 cities in the world. Ruling out talent from New York, London, Paris, Tokyo, Hong Kong, Los Angeles, etc. seems pretty significant.


But it doesn't materially impact geographic diversity. Does having an employee in the London suburbs instead of the City of London suddenly make for a weaker team?


> Our reasons for paying local rates...

With all due respect, this is b.s. Your company does this because it can, and because developers stuck in second and third tier cities (or countries) have few options. It is blatant exploitation on and a black mark on your company.

Gitlab is an otherwise admirable company with a fine product. Consider correcting this policy asap.


Disclaimer: GitLab employee here.

I am not going to argue about compensation or how we do compensation at GitLab, but I must say:

> second and third tier cities (or countries)

That is really hurtful to say. Personally I would never want to move somewhere else "just for the money". People happily living somewhere else than SV and being happy without SV compensation is a real thing, believe me.


Another thing I don't like about Gitlab is their interview process. They are the exact kind of puzzle-gotcha-question asking interviewers that are looking for a particular right answer that get ridiculed on here quite often. They asked me a question about prototypical inheritance in javascript, I gave what I thought was a very thorough, in depth answer, except it wasn't the type of answer the non-technical phone interviewer was looking for, who was just looking at a list of questions and answers on his or her sheet.


I live in rural Arkansas, and work remotely. My salary is adjusted for cost of living - I don’t make as much as I would in the LA area, where my employer is located - but I’m fine with that. It gives companies incentive to hire remote devs, and I make far, far more than I could locally. Even assuming I could find the same work on-site here, I’d be making a little more than half what I am now. Everyone wins.


This would more or less destroy one of the main incentives that the company has to hire remote employees: that they are more affordable. If every employee is paid at a SF market rate, then there is little benefit (other than office space, which is a fraction of the cost of labor). Market differentials for pay are pretty standard in any company with multiple locations.


That's not what the article says, or hints at:

> The biggest advantage to an all-remote team is obvious: Your hiring pool is gigantic, and you don't need to convince top talent to move for you.

So the impression is, we hire you not because you live far off in Romania, but because you're really talented and we need you. That's some nice marketing hype, of which this article has plenty. I get it though, those people making tons of money at the head of the company, marketing, PR and all that, are making those money for a reason. They know how to spin stories. It's their job. And it's a legit job.

So I agree with you, but I won't expect that to be the official line.


No, the reason why the company is making the money is that the founders had a good, well executed idea for a product. They put their effort to go against the GitHub Behemoth. They have managed to put together a great team, the team building the product for which their customer pay the money.


Sounds like a side effect of an all remote workforce is that salaries regress towards the global mean.


What if every employee were paid at the Austin rate?


Simple, you'd never be able to hire the talent from the cities with the highest concentration of the best talent.

(this is not to say there isn't amazing talent anywhere else, but not paying market rate for SF/NYC based engineers is an easy way to never be able to access the largest chunk of the best engineers in the country)


Then those in SF would be significantly below the poverty line?


Then people in SF or NYC would probably leave.


>I think I should be paid based on the value I bring to a company

People (like everything) are paid based on how much their replacements cost, aka supply curve meeting demand curve. I'm not sure how any other pricing mechanism would work.


Under this theory, if their replacement can come from a cheaper place than silicon valley they should get payed a lower rate than silicon valley employees.

I think the more accurate description is people are payed the amount they could get if they moved to a different company.


It's not a theory, it's how any market with voluntary buyers and sellers work. It's slightly more complicated with wages being sticky, but if Gitlab can get someone in Mississippi to work for half and get the same results as someone from SF, then they should (and do) do that. It's why manufacturing moved to China.


Location is not a non-issue. What you are saying is only true if the company doesn't care if its employees are colocated or not.


Salaries are negotiable. Anecdotal evidence: I don’t make Silicon Valley money, but I make way over local market rates because I don’t accept anything else. When a prospective employer asks for your salary requirements, you need to aim high, and be willing to walk. It helps if you can afford several “Nopes” along the way. I always ask for well over what I currently make. It’s worked out well enough for me.


I guess it's a sign that the demand for remote workers are still low enough that it has not pulled up the income of remote workers that much.


Good point. I agree with that.


Just ask for your pay rate when negotiating. If you don't like the offer, then don't accept it. But yes, they might take advantage of the fact that not many companies, relatively speaking, go on full-remote. So you don't have many options if you live far off in forestland.


Could you not equivalently say that pay is boosted for those living in areas with a higher cost of living?


It's almost everywhere the same for remote gigs. I guess a way to "trick" that system is to find a remote gig as a tourist and then go back where you want to live originally.


I like Basecamp's pay structure: it's static. It's more based on the role itself, and the value that role brings to the company. You're not penalized for living somewhere with a low cost of living.

> Our market rates are based on Chicago. Chicago isn’t the top of the market — you’ll find higher rates in Silicon Valley or New York — but it’s not far off either. So whether you live in Tennessee or Arizona or Alaska or Illinois, we pay the same.

> This means everyone has the freedom to pick where they want to live, and there’s no penalty for relocating to a cheaper cost-of-living area. We encourage remote and have many employees who’ve lived all over while continuing to work for Basecamp.

Source: https://m.signalvnoise.com/how-we-pay-people-at-basecamp-f1d...


So basically nowhere with a higher cost of living will work for Basecamp - fine, and they will be substantially overpaying anyone outside of Chicago.

That's fine, but basically it changes who you will hire.


I'm not sure that's atypical though. Or companies make smallish adjustments based on location. They don't seriously try to compete with Facebook or Google on SV salary, know some people will work for them because they didn't get an offer from one of those companies, or prefer to work for someone else. Some people from those areas will take the job anyway and they're fine with not focusing on hiring developers in those geos.


They then followed up six months later (December 2017) by raising that to the top 10% of San Francisco salaries:

> It started to increasingly seem like an arbitrary choice, and if we were going to make one such, why not go for the best and the top?

> That’s what we did. Starting 2018, Basecamp is paying everyone as though they live in San Francisco and work for a software company that pays in the top 10% of that market (compared to base pay + bonus, but not options).

Source: https://m.signalvnoise.com/basecamp-doesnt-employ-anyone-in-...


All that marketing text (and among the other docs in the linked Github repo) and they never actually say what their salaries are other than the vague indication that it's the 95th percentile for Chicago.


While I disagree that cost of living adjustments are wrong, you are likely dodging a bullet by choosing not to work for them. This company generated $10.5 million in revenue with 350 employees. That’s revenue of just $30K per employee. Since most employee salaries are likely near or above $100k, that means they have a very high burn rate. Investors won’t subsidize them forever, so it’s probably not the best place to work.


During 2017 they had between 130-170 employees but I agree that the amount of revenue for that period makes me think they started scaling without finding product market fit. $10m in revenue for that size of company is very, very bad.


Investors won’t subsidize them forever, so it’s probably not the best place to work.

They are counting on an acquisition. The question is who. Microsoft has Github so, Atlassian (and merge with Bitbucket), IBM or Oracle are the most likely.


I can't even imagine the dumpster fire this would turn into post-IBM or Oracle acquisition.


Google is more likely and already a significant investor.


I doubt Google would buy GitLab. It's an exceptionally bad fit.

GitLab's customers are primarily people who want to on-site host, and part of the SaaS marker (though I'd guess that's mostly gone to GitHub).

Google don't do Enterprise offerings well - they don't ship software.

GitLab is the pinacle of doing everything moderately well - they explicitly prioritise "Breadth over Depth" - https://about.gitlab.com/company/strategy/ - aka doing every 20%, and leaving the bugs and the missing features to the community.

Google are on the overhand fond of polishing something endlessly so they don't have support requests for it.

GitLab's source code is all opensource - Google's source code almost none of it is open source.

(BigTable, Bors, GFS, advertising stuff etc etc).


I think you may have been down voted for the negative tone, but yes, 10m is really not great and I'd imagine the bigger investors are putting pressure on to improve. I'd be curious to know the net income or some sort of forcast.


This is wage economics 101, people have a visceral reaction to any evidence of unfairness. The same issue occurs in a slowing economy, where in an efficient market you would want to reduce costs by reducing wages, but in practice this is impossible. What happens instead is people never get a pay rise, and inflation reduces their effective wage. Nobody minds this latter option at all, despite the fact it is materially the same thing as a wage reduction.

I'm surprised Gitlab makes their policy explicit, it must create a lot of issues for them eg the reaction here. No doubt other companies achieve the same thing (because at the end of the day, it reduces costs), they just do it in less obvious ways.


Tbh I think it's weird when remote employees demand hq market rates. Where it the incentive for the company? You can hire talent from anywhere? Many of the best people are not willing to work from home, it's not for everyone, so I don't believe it's such a huge plus. Also why should you earn twice as much as your neighbour who is equally qualified and brings the same value to his/her employer? You will also have much more disposable income that onsite workers. All of that doesn't seem fair. If this was the case shouldn't big tech companies pay the same salaries globally for onsite workers as well? They don't, not even close.


The military provides COLA (Cost Of Living Allowance) to its members to make it bearable to live in more expensive areas. It's a different situation because they send you where they want you. It would be a hardship to send people to an expensive area they coudln't really afford and have no real say in being there.

But it makes me feel ambivalent about your critique here. It makes me feel like it is maybe more complicated than what is contained in your reasoning, which means the "right"/best answer isn't necessarily obvious.


Do you get a raise if you move to an expensive city? What if you say that you moved and you just rent an address there?


> Do you get a raise if you move to an expensive city? What if you say that you moved and you just rent an address there?

Their company handbook says you must have moves approved, and it requires multiple levels of management to approve a move to a higher COL area. Looks like IIRC, only your direct manager needs to OK going lower.


Your salary is set based on the amount another company would pay to poach you. The value of a stock is what someone will pay to buy it from you. The value of your car is what you can sell it for. Etc. It has nothing to do with unmeasurable intrinsic values.


There is a correlation between salary and COL: you living in a COL makes you less competitive, as the price of you living somewhere else is paid, everyone in that COL area also wishes to get the same job.

Nobody gets paid on value, its not how exchange works.


Not really, I was offered a job in London for £110k, but I live in Wales where living costs are at least 3x lower, so I make less than 50% of that.

If you want to make more money (on a paper) and pay more taxes, move to places with higher living costs.


Employee pricing is mostly cost-based pricing, not value-based pricing. You need monopoly-like situations to charge by value-based pricing and a monopoly-like situation is difficult to create by a single person.


If you moved to the most expensive city and lived in a box with a laptop would they increase your salary?


In fairness, the bigger issue is that they're paying way below market in SF to begin with.


Seems like a good way to negotiate/ save money to me.


> First, I think I should be paid based on the value I bring to a company, not my location.

If it's wrong(and illegal) to pay people differently based on their race or gender, I can't see how it should be alright to pay people differently based on their cost of living. There ought to be a movement to outlaw this practice.

EDIT: Before you reply, note that I no longer think my argument is good.


> If it's wrong(and illegal) to pay people differently based on their race or gender, I can't see how it should be alright to pay people differently based on their cost of living.

It makes no sense to equate location with immutable characteristics like race or gender. People can move to a new city.

> There ought to be a movement to outlaw this practice.

State and municipal minimum wage laws would be neutered by such a law.


it's wrong(and illegal) to pay people differently based on their race or gender

It was not always the case though. Good luck convincing people with moral arguments when it goes against their financial interests. Even cutting away the PR bs would be a major win.

https://elsajohansson.wordpress.com/2017/09/13/what-does-a-w...


> I can't see how it should be alright to pay people differently based on their cost of living.

Insofar as local CoL correlates with race and potentially other protected characteristics (religion seems likely, for instance), there's a pretty good “disparate impact” argument that it would be presumptively illegal if challenged under US federal anti-discrimination law.


Are you kidding me? No one ever said "all markets are created equal". There is a very real difference in cost of living and local economies and competitive opportunities for employees in different markets. There's nothing you can do to fix that. This is where "equality of opportunity" and "equality of outcome" diverge.


As someone who works remotely from a low COL area, please do not outlaw this practice. It's the reason remote workers like me are extremely competitive, and if you outlaw this practice on my behalf, I will be in a worse position.


> It's the reason remote workers like me are extremely competitive

Do you mean that you're able to compete because your location(hence, your salary) makes you a better value than someone who lives in an expensive region? That makes sense to me. Perhaps my viewpoint wasn't very thought out.

> As someone who works remotely from a low COL area, please do not outlaw this practice.

I have neither the power nor the desire. :)


> Do you mean that you're able to compete because your location(hence, your salary) makes you a better value than someone who lives in an expensive region?

Exactly.


Probably because geographic location is not an intrinsic, fixed part of who are you, and is not a protected class either.


If race was something people could change at will, would you be opposed to racism?


No, why would you? It would probably be seen as somewhat rude but harmless at worst, similar to e.g. making fun of Rick and Morty fans or making fun of people who dress like it’s still 1969.


> No, why would you?

I would because it's discriminating someone by their identity and not necessarily their merits. By your reasoning, does is it only rude for Christian employers to discriminate against Muslims, for example? Someone can declare themselves to be of a religion they don't actually believe, but that doesn't mean that we should accept a society that fractures itself based on arbitrary lines of identity. Would you want to live in a society where you have a public race, a public religion, and a public gender while being intimidated to hiding your private identity for the sake of employment or so much as eating at a restaurant? (assuming one could change those things at will)

Perhaps there shouldn't be specific protected classes, but I do not agree that the mutability of a person's traits should open them up to systematic discrimination.

Being a Rick and Morty fan or dressing unfashionably are generally not considered valid identities by most people, although I'm sure many who have such interests would say those things represent their identity.

Anyway, I'm sorry for dragging race issues into a thread about GitLab. xD


If it could be changed freely at will I would be against it being a protected class.


Maybe it’s not wrong to pay based on race or gender

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