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Ex-Facebook engineer mocks the culture and jokes about how he was fired (cnbc.com)
179 points by waitwhatt 27 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 53 comments


Brutal and hilarious. Good deadpan. "Without a doubt Facebook is one of the best offices I've worked in ... open office is like working in a warehouse, food is good, they have decent coffee."

Wow. There is so much stuff here on the borderline of dystopian nightmare, e.g. how he describes how http://work.facebook.com get's used as a popularity contest for decision making. It's almost exactly what David Eggers was describing in The Circle. Suddenly all those boring corporate workplaces pushing stuff in and out of an RDBMS look a lot more attractive...

I work at a place that pushes stuff in and out of an RDBMS, life is good here.

I just interviewed at a small startup, but one that has real customers and hasn't needed to raise VC money. Some customers them millions to develop their platform features, others pay them just to use the platform as it is.

No thrashing around for product-market fit, changing goals every week.

Everyone I talked to seemed so... calm. It was surreal. At my current startup job people seem to take a weird sort of pride in how frazzled and overwhelmed they are.

If you're in debt and not making money, at least you can have the decency to appear frazzled and overwhelmed...

Are they hiring?

Yes they are. All across the world.

Sadly, many of them already have (or plan to) do a "digital transformation". In a nutshell that means: Huge open space developer farms, firing old (expensive) engineers, forcing everything into Kubernetes, doing "sledgehammer agile (e.g. forced agile). This in turn leads to massive turnover.

Data is the new gold.

His other videos are worth a watch as well, so funny! Reading the YouTube comments to his vids is very entertaining

Is that an actual Facebook office? Chairs and tables that look like a Walmart closeout sale (for garden furniture)?

I crack up every time he says "I am an ex-google tech lead" in any of his videos. The subtlety of his delivery is exquisite.

In my experience of working for corporations, all of them tend to be cult-like. Office politics: bringing down others to cut ahead, cutting deals, favoritism, etc. are the norm and your work and quality of it matters very little in the long run as long as you can deliver something on time.

The difference lies in perception. Or to put it more elegantly, if you like (or at least can tolerate) that specific flavor of Kool-Aid.

This has been noticed for a while now, to the point where there are various theories as to how corporations (and companies in general) are able to persuade people not only to do a service in exchange for money, but to adopt the desires of the company for themselves, to see "a job well done", and go above and beyond, even sacrificing compensation for some time for the company. It's fascinating from a social psychological perspective; Frederic Lordon has some recent work on it.

I've worked in large corporations most of my life. Each is its own ecosystem. The top dogs use their staff as minions. The tough minions get an attaboy. The weak (normal humans with a soul) leave. It is a self cleaning/adjusting system, no need to fire anyone, most people quit for softer/calmer/humane companies.

In these large companies the #1 employee is the one who crushed everyone else on their path. No strange that many high-performers are sociopaths.

> In these large companies the #1 employee is the one who crushed everyone else on their path. No strange that many high-performers are sociopaths.

I often argue with my female colleagues who see this as an aspect of patriarchy culture since these sociopaths tend to be men. I disagree because their victims have no gender, these people simply don't care who they're mistreating. Nevertheless, I met many women who perceive it as a huge gender issue.

Although I'm not sure if what they're saying is true, it's entirely possible to be an aspect of patriarchal culture and affect both men and women. For instance, feminists argue that "toxic masculinity" is harmful to both women and men. Nevertheless, in my experience most people are averse to saying women have masculine traits; if a male is a strong leader, typically he's described as commanding, dominating, effective, strong-headed, whereas women in that position may be described as "bossy".

As such, if it is an aspect of patriarchal culture, it is more accurate to say that it is a patriarchal attitude that both men and women adopt, rather than it being something essentially "manly".

I could agree with you, but why call this culture "patriarchal"? I'd call it "animalistic" if anything. "Patriarchal" involves male/female duality and ascribes certain features to men and women that they might not currently be comfortable having. If someone is dominating, let's just call this person "dominating", not "having male features." If we go down the rabbit hole of patriarchy, in the end sooner or later someone starts accusing men for all evil, and this is one of the greatest misunderstandings of our age.

I've been following this guy for around 1 year or so. Really funny guy, the content is enjoyable more than informative. The moment he said "politics" in his last video I hoped he wouldn't be getting a visit from the activist press, now it looks like he's on the radar and at risk of getting the pewdiepie treatment

Watching a friend of mine land her dream job and imbibe the KoolAid has been very interesting...

What about the KoolAid that HN drinks against anything Facebook, Google ? Biased takes without even reading the article.

Lots of HN readers (including myself) have worked at FAANGs.

The cultural characterisation seems completely accurate to me.

Everybody plays multiple games of performative open plan activity, pushing other people to join their projects, all with the friendly face of 'make the world a better place' while counting their RSUs.


Please do not argue like this on hn.

I did not say shitty. Clearly, there are strong benefits including pay, career development, network, benefits. Everything comes at a price. They price of that is the psychological pressure of a highly politicised environment with many subtle layers which can be hard to navigate for many.

My SO works in healthcare and their job is arguably tougher in every possible dimension even though end-to-end qualification time via med school was even longer. Almost every job is compared to FAANG research scientist.

That doesn't mean I wouldn't prefer the same or slightly worse benefits without the open plan and culture.

My problem is with any issue or article about these companies is not evaluated on merit. It's all conflated with one or the other issue. There are many people happy at these companies as well and some who really like the culture.

Hacker News isn't free of the popularity contest and groupthink that its commenters try to use as issues at these organizations.

Not far much from what he's doing on Youtube, isn't? Posting clickbait titles, crazy thumbnails .. etc to get views, likes and comments to rank up.

I'm not defending Facebook nor attacking Shye, I just want to say that rules are pretty much the same for different games so why criticising one and accepting the other?

Because in one instance, it's a one-man-show, in the other, it's a giant international company?

Let us celebrate this small moment of poignant joy of him being able to give a big “fuck you” gesture to Facebook, before he realizes that the very platform that he was able to express that sentiment is actually owned by Google and he hasn’t really escaped the wrath of Silicon Valley tech companies at all. (Maybe he’s even worse off than before; his labor as a Youtuber isn’t protected by any law at all, and he can lose his job at any moment with a touch of a Google employee’s algorithm.)

I mean, I reckon he's well aware of this, given he was a tech lead at youtube

Because a programing job isn't supposed to be similar to posting videos online???

To add to what Juliate commented, one is a single person, even if he messed up at his work and was dismissed for bad performance and not for the YT channel..

And on the other side we have this CANCER called Facebook, which is managed by a gang of managers that respect nothing and nobody.

And the fun part that nobody commented (I think) is that YT is another brutal violator of everything-privacy, and YT is one main tool in their toolbox.

Edit: removed semi-foul language

Love that dude's humor sense. So cute, serious and satiric at the same time.

“It’s kind of this game for people to get as many likes and comments on their posts,” he said. “If you’re into popularity contests, if you thrive in that type of environment then you’ll probably do really well.” - Well that's exactly the game he's into with YouTube... so then why did he get fired?

Producing original content != sycophantic ladder climbing.

The means might look the same on the surface, but very different beasts under the hood.

Because a work environment and YouTube are very different places. Work decisions such as promotions, product choices, technical decisions, etc... shouldn't be largely driven by facebook likes.

He's almost as good at selling advertisements as Facebook.

I actually think the way he advertises his products in his videos is pretty good, he does it so unashamedly

Facebook ads arent placed as ironically to make them so funny. He segues from "facebook is a nightmare" to "and if its your dreamjob this company can get you the skills." All without insulting the company hes advertising, and somewhat implying that it would be better to use skills learned there to get a job anywhere but facebook. That kind of added humor through juxtaposition is not popular.

Its like that Kris Lindahl radio ad that starts "are you sick of Kris Lindhal ads? You could change the station, but wed be playing it there too!!"

Reminds me of that quote from an Edward Yang movie: "I only fear 2 kinds of people: someone who fears nothing and someone who has no shame... And I don't think you're the type of person who fears nothing." Cut to speaker getting killed by the other person.

Nothing against TechLead. Just posting because it reminded me of one of my favourite quotes.

hahaha, I love the Tech Lead is the top class master troll!

Basing on his milion videos that use "ex googler/facebook" in title to lure people, how he ain't just programming celebrity?

Why should I care about his opinion?

Check out his LinkedIn profile - https://www.linkedin.com/in/patrickshyu - from the projects he describes there, seems like he can back it up. And what's wrong with telling people you're an "ex googler/facebook"? If that's the experience you have to share, fair enough.

There's nothing wrong with telling people you're an "ex googler", but mentioning it whenever you can is quite... weird?

I mean from Youtuber that wants to get viewers perspective it's perfectly reasonable, but generally it looks not nice for me.

Here's a good starting point for understanding what's going on:


It's a running joke in the channel. "Hi welcome to my channel TechLead, with your host The TechLead who's an ex-google and now an ex-facebook tech lead"

I think it's tongue in cheek.

From what I can gather the guy is going in on satirical comedy. Specifically in the way we tend to evangelise these big tech companies and those who work for them.

Sometimes his delivery is so deadpan that I get an odious vibe from it. But it does seem that he’s not serious and is using his previous status as a part of the humour.

Some of his earlier videos did show him breaking down and laughing. He’s gotten good at maintaining his serious look after doing this for two years.

It's part of his comedy schtick. If you watch enough of his videos you realise how developed and deep his personality actually is.

There's something ironic about the criticism of Facebook internally as a popularity contest, then making $500,000/year from advertising on your popular YouTube channel.

Or to put it another way, if you work hard get a good degree, get a job at a top tech company and then find out your success boils down to the same skills you need as a youtuber, you may as well just quit and go be a youtuber - especially since being a youtuber could pay better and you don't have to pretend to add features to facebook.

Trying to be a celebrity is a very different career path than working at a big company. They shouldn't be similar.

I heard it as a criticism of deciding work decisions based on popularity, with product choices, technical implementations, etc... based on facebook likes, not real deciding factors. Which is very different from growing a YouTube audience.

What works for gaining viewers on YouTube will not work when you have to decide on highly technical manners in software development.

For one purpose likes are useful, for other purposes they are absurd.

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