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My Time at Snap (medium.com)
481 points by tsm 13 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 247 comments





We have all worked for a "John" in the industry. The big systematic problem is that after being fired from Snap (probably after already collecting massive paychecks and a hefty chunk of equity), he will go to another big tech company and impress them with his resume and bullshitting skills. They will hire him and deal with his antics for a few years, while he ruins more people's careers, then he will move on. Rinse and repeat.

Also a 10/20/30/40 vesting schedule immediately stands out as a red flag for me. 25%/year vested quarterly (with a 1 year cliff) has been standard in the industry for a very long time. I would't trust a company to have my best interests at heart when it is massively beneficial for them if employees quit after 1-2 years (which is already about the average tenure at most companies of that size).


> We have all worked for a "John" in the industry.

Agreed. But since so many middle managers are twits isn't it incumbent on the employee to learn a set of skills to deal with Johns?

Managing people is hard. Being a good manager is really hard, which is why there are so few of them.

Rather than rail against how terrible Person X is as a manager I feel like it's more productive to say, "Unless I start my own company there's always going to be some clueless middle manager above me. How do I deal with him/her effectively?"


> Agreed. But since so many middle managers are twits isn't it incumbent on the employee to learn a set of skills to deal with Johns?

It's much easier to simply find a better job without a John, or where you're shielded from John.

(My name breaks this analogy a bit.)


I don't think it's easier, because:

a) It's hard to identify a good manager ahead of time.

b) People change; circumstances change.

c) Your team and manager will change sooner than you expect, especially if they are a good team or manager.


d) Constantly changing jobs every time some jerk floats into your circle doesn’t speak well of your character or look good on your resume.

true if only you put real reasons on resumes.

“The growth opportunities communicated to me when my tenure began never materialized.”

Who stays anywhere more than 2-3 years now anyway?


I largely agree with you.

My current manager where I work is pretty cool. We get along pretty well, and I don't mind working for them. However, I think my manager's manager is...umm, well, let's just say "not very good at their job", fairly close to the "John" in this story.

If my current manager quit or was fired or died, and I had to work for their manager, I probably would quit before I learned to effectively work with "John"; the job market is pretty good for engineers right now, why the hell not?


These are multiplier soft skills. For example, we already know that a people manager that can manage brilliant people with otherwise toxic personality defects is worth a lot, but we have yet to explore the worker that can manage up a people manager with toxic personality defects. I personally only encountered this kind of a manger once, and was fortunate that I could transfer somewhere else in the same company quickly (the guy only lasted a year, but it would have been a hard year....).

Personal relationships with "Leadership"

25/year used to be the norm, but is less so these days.

Now more and more are moving towards a heavier backloaded vesting schedule. Schedules that are 10/20/30/40 or 15/25/25/35 are more and more common at big tech co.

It can make sense as well, if it takes you a certain period of time to ramp up, once you've ramped up you contribute more value and they want to retain you more there. Yes it is a mechanism to lock you in, but it's not wrong to see why the employer would want to do it. Though yes, you can also get stuck in crap work because they know they can get away with it. Then it's up to you how much you want to deal with that.


On some level that makes a lot of sense. If you're several years from IPO (or expected acquisition), 10/20/30/40 won't do any harm to people who stick around until the stock has value, and it helps keep short-turnover employees from eating away at the total stock.

Flat vesting sort of implies that four 1-year tenures are just as desirable as one 4-year tenure. And if people can get a better cash-compensation raise by switching jobs, then staying 4 years is probably less profitable than staying 2-3. (Of course, companies could also cure that by making internal raises competitive with job-transfer raises...)

Although I do find .../30/40 a bit stranger. If somebody leaves at 3 years, you save 15% of their stock compared to flat vesting. But if the extra stock gets them to stick around, they're obviously going to leave after 4 when their effective compensation plummets. It's not obvious to me that pushing employees with no long-term intent to stick around and claim more stock is a winning move.


From my reading, Snap was already public when the author joined. Is that right? I've heard that 25/25/25/25 is the standard at most of the public tech companies.

on "John", the article said "The problem with John was not just that he was misinformed, but that he was misinformed and highly motivated."

I'm reminded of this quote:

"I divide officers into four classes -- the clever, the lazy, the stupid and the industrious. Each officer possesses at least two of these qualities. Those who are clever and industrious are fitted for the high staff appointments. Use can be made of those who are stupid and lazy. The man who is clever and lazy is fit for the very highest commands. He has the temperament and the requisite nerves to deal with all situations. But whoever is stupid and industrious must be removed immediately." - General Baron Kurt von Hammerstein-Equord


I immediately thought of that quote as well.

I’m on a 5/15/40/40 vesting schedule. I think it’s fine because it ends up being the same TC but more cash heavy. Tech stocks have been stagnant my tenure so I don’t mind that much.

Can you elaborate? I know Amazon has this extremely unequal vesting schedule. Are they now doing yearly comp targets and bringing you up to that target with cash?

Amazons “signing bonus” is just a way to equalize the total compensation over 4 years. It’s paid out monthly in the second year which doesn’t make it much of a bonus. This is as someone with 1 year of tenure. After the first two years folks get stock refreshers.

Every year money lose value due to inflation. If we assume 10%/year returns on average, the tricky vesting schedule saves the company 10%. On top of that, a big company deals with statistics, not individual employees: if on average an employee stays for 3 years, this saves another 10%. The best comp package is when you get the entire amount upfront and can invest it into some index and bonds.

As of Feb 2018, Snap does 25/25/25/25 with monthly vesting and no cliff. Ironically, it’s probably now the best scheme in the industry.

> They will hire him and deal with his antics for a few years, while he ruins more people's careers, then he will move on. Rinse and repeat.

He'll eventually be fired -- with a golden parachute, no doubt -- after reports of sexual harassing women emerge in the media. He'll go under the radar for a few months until the media storm and Twitter mob find something else. He'll reemerge in a new startup, promising to have changed after "much praying, reconciliation, and meditation," and move on. Rinse and repeat.


He sounds like a horrible boss but I’m not sure why you added a hypothetical sexual harassment charge to his already long list of bad traits.

The real problem we have is that there are many highly competent sexual harassers in workplaces and these issues get swept under the rug specifically because they’re good workers.


> I’m not sure why you added a hypothetical sexual harassment charge to his already long list of bad traits.

Because in this hypothetical situation, John was known to use his position of power to harass women.


That is why my personal rule is to never take options. I'll take the pay and invest it on my own.

Stock options allow you as a layman to access an investment with a risk profile that is normally only available to the kind of high net-worth, well-connected individuals who do angel investing.

This isn't a reason to always participate, but it is one of the many reasons that lots of people do.


That vesting schedule is just openly designed to avoid giving the employee their equity. Salaries better be good.

On the one hand I recognise a lot of the teams and work issues this developer had. But reading between the lines it seems like this dev wanted it all, equity without commitment, weeks of remote work without formal agreement, a quick cash out over adding value to the company...Seems very entitled to me. It looks very one-sided as well. Everything had to come from the company and its management, nothing from his side.

This does come across as an inexperienced developer with a high opinion of his own worth, and rather clueless about how organizations work. I actually came away with a good impression of Snap from the description. Even the supposedly nightmarish engineering director could, from another angle, possibly be seen in a good light: Insisting on proper analysis and design before a project commences, taking a deep interest in the technical part of the project. The author disagreed with a bunch of points and that might have been enough for him to lose all respect for him.

In the end he gets bored with his actual work and lets himself be hijacked by some line function to develop internal tools for them, outside of the purview of any manager. Unsurprisingly he ends up an organizational orphan. Which means no one goes to bat for him to squeeze in several weeks of remote work, which sounds like a pretty outlandish demand to my ears. To think that the fact that some random person once 'approved' it makes any difference just goes to show the naïvety. Obviously he didn't get it in writing from someone able to make that decision, and that's the only thing that matters.


> Even the supposedly nightmarish engineering director could, from another angle, possibly be seen in a good light: Insisting on proper analysis and design before a project commences, taking a deep interest in the technical part of the project.

In what world is it a good idea for an engineering director to take a deep interest in technical details of a project? Suppose that the director was right and author was wrong in ~all of their disagreements, but just that the author was simply telling the truth about two things: the director spending two weeks doing design mockups, and intervening to specify the type of a database column. This makes the director somebody who is (a) not doing their actual job, and (b) probably nightmarish to work for no matter whether you are a "low performer" or a superstar.

You cannot be an effective manager and simultaneously maintain enough engineering context to make good technical decisions. If you want to be involved in detailed technical design, you need to switch your career track back to IC. And if you are running a company and you want either good technical decisions or high morale among your engineers, you can't tolerate managers playing at being engineers instead of doing their actual jobs. (With something like a manager maintaining a small low-priority internal tool, or doing a rotation onto an engineering team for a week to refresh their intuitive handle on the state of the codebase & tooling but no expectation of being a net-positive contributor, being the exceptions that prove the rule.)


Good managers are good leaders, which means they sometimes need to teach. There's nothing wrong with an engineering manager teaching someone about the proper type for a database column as an exercise in actual leadership and mentorship of their development team.

But forcing you to change tests from using sqlite to mysql because of int vs smallint is an overreaction. If I was to prioritize moving tests from sqlite to mysql, over getting functional requirements done, I'd be nuts. Especially if the tests catch 99.9999999% of issues. Its very unlikely to have an issue with this type of thing. That's not a good manager, that's a moron.

Couldnt agree more with this and having experienced something similar I will never work for a micro manager again.

I do think that an agreement to work remotely for (cumulatively) multiple months of the year is pretty exceptional.

That being said, in what world does the Eng director look good? Insisting on using SMALLINT (and thus necessitating a change away from SQLite in development) is just terrible, and an Eng director who is halfway competent should realize that such a requirement is patently ridiculous, or at the very least know not to stick their neck out if they know so little about the subject at hand. I'd be furious if my Director of Engineering did stuff like that.


> equity without commitment

The guy was perfectly willing to stay for the long-haul.

> weeks of remote work without formal agreement

Taking people at their word is "entitled"?

> a quick cash out over adding value to the company

The guy was faithfully performing all the duties assigned to him. Is he drinking the company kool-aid and devoting his life to his company? Thankfully no. Your employer is not your family, nor is it a cult.

Is the author naive? Maybe. Opinionated? Definitely but with good reason - the director was later fired, how often does that happen. Entitled? I see nothing of the sort.


> Maybe I could get a high equity offer, and if the stock turned around I’d stand to make a large sum of money. If it didn’t, I could quit in a year or two and go somewhere more stable.

If this is the intention of any of my candidates coming in and they call this "real commitment" to work for my company they would not pass the phone interview. Seriously?


> If this is the intention of any of my candidates coming in and they call this "real commitment" to work for my company they would not pass the phone interview

There is a very easy way to filter out candidates who want to leave in 1-2 years. Structure your equity vesting so that there's minimal vesting for the first 2-3 years, with a sizable severance package to protect against involuntary termination. I don't understand why you would give someone 30% equity after 2 years, if you're then going to begrudge them leaving.


The Amazon way of vesting which is 5-15-40-40, those who stay past the 2yr mark have generally made a commitment to the company and its culture.

He had a gig where he could come early, leave early, and work remotely instead of taking vacation. With the potential for life-changing money. He left because they made him follow the same rules as everyone else. He thought oddball office space management was worthy of hundreds and hundreds of words in an essay. He said more about himself in this piece than I dare say he meant to.

That said, the short stories might have worked in an unreliable-narrator way.


Not meaning to pass judgement on the author, but I agree that the literary value of this article holds promise!

To me, there was something vaguely Dostoevskyan about this piece. There's the dithering nature of the conversations described (never addressing the point, always going in circles), the incessant references to people by their acts of intrigue and rank (is the "associate director" today's "titular councilor"?), the general absence of content describing the "real" work the characters are nominally paid for, except as an accessory to some greater plot point that circles back into the previous two themes.

I guess that medium-to-large-sizd tech orgs are good on the path towards becoming a labyrinthine, 19th Century, Russian bureaucracy! I hope that some comparable literature emerges from such fertile soil .


> I guess that medium-to-large-sized tech orgs are good on the path towards becoming a labyrinthine, 19th Century, Russian bureaucracy! I hope that some comparable literature emerges from such fertile soil .

Things that happen in Silicon Valley and also the Soviet Union: https://twitter.com/atroyn/status/1014974099930714115


I don't see any entitlement here. Author perform all his duties but he didn't get what promised. He joined company after very serious considerations. This trade-off might not be big for you but it was for him. Author might be at fault few times, but remote work was his explicit condition. In whole process, it is author who lost everything and nothing happened to organization/HR. This is completely careless attitude. Sadly this is global issue. Thats why having everything written out in agreement is very important. 'Queen of the office' is inspirational Korean sitcom on these cults, must watch -

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_nEoPIGIOTI


> He joined company after very serious considerations

He joined the company despite being aware of many red flags, just because he hoped to endure the shit until he could cash out. These are considerations, but not really what I'd call "serious" in a professional context.

I'm pretty sure there may have been lots of broken pieces at Snap (the stuff about condos as offices can't just be made up, and is insane), but what I can read between the lines is that he brought a few new ones along himself.

The remote work thing is something you either get signed by the company, or is a personal agreement with another person (and nobody else is bound by it). It's fine to be naive and make that mistake at the time, but to then insist on it in a post like this? That's not naivete, that's a massive disconnect, and you can expect other parts of his story to be similarly out of sync with reality, either by omission or by distortion.


I agree. And his “Low Performer” review and denying the remote work request are obvious attempts to manage him out the door which worked.

Denying remote work is a common policy even in cases when nobody wants to manipulate you anywhere.

It's really not hard to imagine that a gentlemant's agreement is not upheld when said gentleman is not around to push your agenda anymore.


The only thing harder than working remote is managing a remote. It requires the combination of a super disciplined high performer and counter intuitive communication strategies, both of which are rare and hard to pull off.

This is 100% what I was reading between the lines and it become more and more clear as the article went on. This WAS a low performer that the company was trying to manage out the door.

Great read ... but the one thing that stood out to me is a LOT of remote time that doesn't seem to have been agreed upon in advance, such as in the hiring contract.

At first I just read that time was needed "around the holidays", then that somehow was 5 WEEKS of remote time, then there was Easter time in Florida, then there was additional "weeks" during the annual summer trip to Florida, then there was an anniversary trip ... etc

Unless this is specified in the contract I can't see justifying what there alone amounts to ~11 (?) weeks of remote work.

I'm only saying this as someone who has been through many on-site jobs with remote-allowed, and is currently working as a fully remote senior engineer.


It says in a few parts that this was agreed on at hiring. Should probably also be in writing, but that doesn’t excuse them from deciding not to honor one day.

Actual it seems like, he agreed with customer ops manager about conditions, but HR didn't assign him to customer ops, but to another engineering department.

So basically, such an important thing for him, he should have confirmed about the conditions with the new manager at least.


Once again highlighting the importance of getting anything important written down in a verified document. After a conversation with anyone about this sort of thing, send an email outlining your understanding to the decider and push for confirmation it's accurate.

They might still not honour it, but at least you'll have some sort of leg to stand on.


I've had one or two horrible work experiences like the author's. The last time it happened was bad enough that I sat down and wrote a long article very similar to this one, explaining all the things the employer had done wrong, and all the ways in which they'd made my life difficult. It made me feel much better to write it, and I read it through several times, nodding to myself at all the important points. Then I deleted it and got another job.

There seems to be a valuable lesson for OP about the cost of not playing ball here.

Assuming OPs side of things is mostly true it sounds like:

- OP was working for a bad director, one so bad that they eventually got fired - Instead of placating this director and pretending to take their concerns into consideration, OP fights back more than other teammates (reading between the lines of the quote "However, given that I was far from John’s favorite (we never openly came into conflict, but I didn’t put the requisite amount of enthusiasm into jumping through his hoops to really get onto his good side)" here) - The director gives him a very poor performance review, that seems to have had serious impact on OPs career, team selection possibility, and personal finances, despite the director eventually getting fired

It just seems like a very high price to pay just to be able to tell yourself that you're not putting up with bullshit.


The philosopher Diogenes was sitting on a curbstone, eating bread and lentils for his supper. He was seen by the philosopher Aristippus, who lived comfortably by flattering the king. Said Aristippus, "If you would learn to be subservient to the king, you would not have to live on lentils." Said Diogenes, "Learn to live on lentils, and you will not have to cultivate the king."

Except our intrepid hero didn't want to live on lentils, did he?

He signed up specifically for a large amount of money in form of stock - live-changing, in fact. At that point, you have to accept that never compromising is not your winning strategy - because the people handing out the money want something in return, and it's not your charming personality.


Right. Spend 5 minutes flattering the king, and benefit from the outsized rewards from it.

Spend 5 minutes flattering the king, and benefit from the outsized rewards from it.

Sure. The first time. But the king isn't stupid. He'll make you more and more subservient until eventually you'll be flattering him for bread and lentils else you'll be put in prison. People in power do that a lot.


The great thing about business unlike monarchies is there is always more than one king. Go find another one.

In this story it sounds like the king was kind of stupid. And if the deal is no longer good, just walk away, but now with more options than OP.

The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand is largely based around this topic as well.

Giving up who you really are can be a very high price to pay just to be able to receive some (more) money.


People are both complex and can change though. Maybe we should give up our worst aspects as we grow and learn. Figure out your core essence and protect it; identify the accidental and be open to alternatives.

I know that as my experience has accumulated i care about a few things more and all things a lot less. O also better understand life is a spectrum of many different perspectives, versus the black or white zealot i was in my younger days...


[flagged]


I think Ayn Rand and her writings were a pox on modern life and it is unfortunate she is held in regard by anyone, let alone intelligent people...

However, living off social security wasn't really ironic given that she viewed the social security payouts as reimbursement for the (what she considered unjust) payroll taxes she had been forced to pay.

Also, being selfish was central to her philosophy so this was in keeping with it.


I see this perspective a lot - having only read The Fountainhead, I don't understand it at all, and suspect this is largely based off her other works (including Atlas Shrugged)?

My interpretation of The Fountainhead was as I described previously - the importance of staying true to who you are, even if this results in missing out on riches (or goes against popular opinion).


Personally, I agree with your summary of the Fountainhead.

If you choose to read Atlas Shrugged, however, her opinions start to get more extreme and unsettling.


I actually managed to read _The Fountainhead_, and found it enjoyable enough, without realizing it was supposed to be a libertarian manifesto.

I usually bring this up to give people a baseline in explaining how loud the preaching eventually got in the _Sword of Truth_ series.

_Atlas Shrugged_ is one of the few books I couldn't finish once started; the characters were just too obnoxiously stupid.


I read fountainhead years ago (and I couldn’t finish atlas shrugged also) but I recall reading about architects was way more enjoyable than about some railroad tycoons.

He did play ball. He played ball for month after month, even as the cost of playing ball kept ramping up and up and up. Eventually it became higher than he could stand, and he started showing symptoms of mental health problems. At that point, he wisely left rather than end up with full-blown depression.

When you are dealing with people such that what they want is not for you to get a job done, but to humiliate you for the pleasure of wielding power, there is no fixed cost that will qualify you as having played ball, no bargain such that you can keep your side and trust them to keep theirs. The cost will always keep going up. The only questions are when the endgame will be reached, and what you will do then.


I can't really judge from the outside, but it sounds like maybe he played the wrong ball-game a little bit. He overdelivered technically and underdelivered politically. This is still absolutely a problem caused by John and not the author, but it sounds like there might have been an easier path if he'd spent a little more time working John's ego and a little less time delivering technically.

As a facts-driven engineer, i can relate to being incredibly annoyed by a John and finding it distasteful to spend time with a person like that. It’s not just that it’s a bother to get through, it’s physically revolting and I find it hard to not get flustered at having my time wasted this way. If delivering politically means kowtowing to a John, I just can’t bring myself to do it and can totally empathize with the author.

Good point. If you are going to try to stick it out in that environment, focus less on the tech and more on the politics. If your geek instincts rebel at the P-word, think of it as Defense Against the Dark Arts.

I worked with a "John", with the added bonus that I was expected to be the hatchet man telling developers that they couldn't use any language features introduced post Java 5 or that they had to restructure all of their solutions in line with the latest edict. Thankfully we had some very good teams who saw exactly what was happening, and were able to schedule a round table so we could talk about how this was both demoralising and causing things to go extremely slowly. (At one point "complying with edicts" was taking up 80-90% of engineering effort).

The net result of the big round table with every senior dev in attendance was "John" spent an hour trying to deflect us from the topic at hand, 30 minutes pretending to listen to us, then within two days it was back to, "I want you to tell the teams to go back and rename all the DTO objects they've created".

In the end I just left. There's no point fighting that kind of environment. Someone hires "John" and is happy with what they do.


I haven’t worked with Java in over a decade. What is the rationale for not allowing newer language features? Thanks in advance!

> What is the rationale for not allowing newer language features?

"They aren't proven"

"They aren't mature enough"

"They are bloat"

"They make the code too complex"

"They don't scale"

"They are slow"

"They make it hard to read the code"

"The language vendor might pull the plug on them"

"They have bugs"

"They aren't any easier than <MY_WAY>"

If you read between the lines, people that object to new language features are almost always doing it for a single reason, which they may not even admit to themselves:

"I'm not a competent enough developer to understand the language feature, so nobody should use the feature"


In this context, the rationale was little more than this being the last version in which "John" had done significant day-to-day programming, and therefore felt informed enough to interfere with on a daily basis. My personal take was that a lot of the negative behaviour was being unable to "let go" and accept no longer feeling like the best programmer in the organisation.

It's called workplace bullying in the UK.

When I started my career I put up with it for the money. About 7 years in I walked out (quite literally) after the most amazing amount of verbal abuse I've seen delivered in an unjustified tantrum. One of the best memories of over 30 years in tech.

"It just seems like a very high price to pay just to be able to tell yourself that you're not putting up with bullshit."

That would be funny if it wasn't so sad. 'Specially given the recent events/news about Stalman.


High price? He got to keep his professional integrity and self dignity. He's an SV tech worker - He will bounce into something else. It's not as though he had a special needs kid on a ventilator to care for, while working in a job where there was no equivalent for 100 miles away.

That was LA.

OP didn't really stand up for himself - most of his complaints are because "John made me do it". Even a good director would dislike an engineer whose explanation for technical decision making is "X made me do it". OP appears to have no technical leadership IMO so the moral of this story is if you are going to be a spineless peon instead of a technical expert then at least be a placating spineless peon.

"The problem with John was not just that he was misinformed, but that he was misinformed and highly motivated."

Oh yes! This rings so true with me.

One of my biggest bug-bears in IT are the leaders who have the gift of the gab and know how to BS their way through life. They have that personality that allows them to talk about any subject and people will listen assuming that they now what they are talking about.

If they know how to use those skills for the betterment of a project then they are fantastic people. In other words listening to the devs and using their skills to manipulate the higher ups to get more time and resources. Usually it works the other way round though by ignoring what the devs say and forcing their own will upon them.

For example by insisting on switching to Scrum 9 months in to a 12 month project that had been happily running on waterfall up to that point.


> One must beware of anyone who is stupid and diligent -- he must not be entrusted with any responsibility because he will always cause only mischief.

Perfectly describes our friend John.

The rest of the quote is quite interesting too:

https://en.m.wikiquote.org/wiki/Kurt_von_Hammerstein-Equord


> When I say that it was a bedroom, I don’t just mean that it would be identified as a bedroom on the condo’s floor plan, I mean that this room had a fully made up bed crammed into it next to the conference table and video conferencing unit.

That's hilarious.


I would make it a point to sleep for the first 30 minutes of any meeting.

Seriously, that thing would be booked 24x7 at my company. Being able to lie down while on a call would make things so much more relaxing and productive.

Too risky for falling asleep.

I believe the fact that you might fall asleep when you simply lie on a bed at work indicates that there are some timing issues in your daily lifecycle.

Normally i’d agree, but they had 2 hour sprint plannings.. for a sub-team..

‘Foundational promise’

I love these as a new mgr - new guy shows up, I know nothing of their unique ‘foundational promise’, I have no idea if they can contribute or work well with team, I put some effort in to get them going, then they start sending long (they are always WAY too long) emails about being special cased over 20 people who I’ve known longer and have worked harder for me. I check with HR and a hard pass. I’m not considered humane for failing to give someone I’m paying lots of money to lots of remote work time. And I know what remote work time is like when an employee is visiting family - even though they are “working“ it takes them hours to respond to slack.

I don’t mean to be harsh, but if you look at compensation rates - your manager does get to call the shots at least a little in return for money they are throwing at you.

And yes, if a top performer keeping you is pretty high up on list. 20 reports is too many though - def not a great sign in my book.


> even though they are “working“ it takes them hours to respond to slack.

Interesting, I feel the opposite. The longer it takes me to respond to someone’s messages, the more real work I am actually getting done because I’m deeply focused. The days where I quickly reply to everyone are usually the most unproductive.


I think it depends on the team and your role. In many cases, much of your value comes from being a team member, not a lone wolf, which extends beyond your personal git commits. Sometimes being available to answer questions, remove blockers, review a proposal, etc., is simply more valuable to the team than you plugging away on a ticket for four hours in isolation. In other words, while you might feel more productive because your personal output in git is higher, your impact on the team's progress might actually be lower. Of course, this can also be taken too far to the point where you're always being distracted and can't do any substantial coding. The right balance depends on what the team is trying to accomplish.

I agree - but my own experience is remote workers working at home etc -> can have very high productivity.

Remote workers on vacation / traveling / visiting family -> low productivity.

That said, overall situation -> totally reasonable to bail out for the employee, clearly not a good fit overall. But for the last, new manager - they may not have had a good impression of employee given employee was themselves not treated properly by company before and the expectations they brought were out of the blue for new person.


I find it interesting how split the HN comments on this story are. Half seem to think this guy is an entitled low performer chasing high compensation, and the other half relate to him and feel that he was treated unfairly by Snap.

I’m not sure what that means.


I suspect this is a story of two low performers colliding and causing problems for each other. "John", the director of engineering, was fired, probably for some of the reasons the author points out. But there are also many signs here that the author wasn't performing up to standards, was difficult to manage, and had very high expectations and wanted special treatment.

Seems like both can be true. Author could be entitled and annoying to manage, and the manager could be showing his worst side to this crummy employee.

Maybe that there's a lot of jealousy floating around that someone dared to look out for themselves. I suppose that's usually reserved for companies.

The author is seemingly stuck at the end between the work flexibility the stock payouts. I'm curious as to why the author didn't consider a third approach-- just go do it anyway and see if there really was a way forward to get both.

> ...the workload we had mostly kept us working separately on our own tasks with little room for interaction. It wasn’t uncommon, for the first part of my time at Snap, to get up in the morning, drive to the office, go through the work-day in the same room as two other people but rarely speaking to each other, and then drive home...

Sadly, I find this to be all too common in the industry. It’s super isolating and depressing when you work alone on projects and aren’t in an environment that fosters socialization and team-building. Forming those bonds is what makes people happy to go to work everyday and work hard. Managers should do more to prioritize interaction and teaming up on projects when it makes sense.


This actually sounds like a near-perfect setup to me. Get it, program, get out. If I want to socialize, I'll do it outside of work.

What a horrible working style.

You can be very productive while being social as well. In fact, the shittiest projects have consistently been those where people don't communicate and communication includes a human factor, starting at the most basic level.

Why? Because fundamentally we are social animals and opening up to this circumstance will allow meaningful, project-related communication at a much more useful level when you previously connected at a human level.

I find it exceedingly weird when you have next to no interest in the people you work with for 8+ hours every single day.


I agree with you, but it's unlikely to convince the other camp. How about purely selfish reasons though? There is a finite limit on what a single developer can accomplish. By definition a high performing team requires excellent communication , and you don't just shrug and say that's managements problem. Team output will dwarf anything a single rockstar could ever hope to produce. Developers should Read mythical man month about the requirements of scaling up; the challenges are not technical, they're all about communication and visibility.

I'm on the same team as you - that's why I can't really work remotely - but let's acknowledge that it's a personal preference. People are different, much more than we can usually imagine. You can't tell another person, whom you really don't know that well, what she can or cannot do; and different projects require different people and different models of communication.

I acknowledge it, yes. And I should be more thoughtful of people with. for example, heavier levels of introversion than me.

A really good setup would likely be something that respects all sides on the spectrum - people who prefer to be quiet and working in solitude should not be judged for it.

Neither should people with more social approaches be dreaded by the introverts. That would be ideal. In essence, we need a system that is able to integrate all preferences and make use of them in the most productive way.

Thank you for reminding me that I should be more considerate.


It think that we already have this system, it's called capitalism. Different companies have different internal cultures, some are for lone hackers in individual cabinets or remote locations, some favour giant open floor plans with constant communication. That's what culture fit is mostly about for me: most aren't better or worse, they're just different.

Keep in mind remote work doesn't mean isolated, individual developer unless it's a very small project or you're doing it wrong. I object to the characterization in this thread of all casual coworker interaction a being social and meaningless to the work. This view is just plain wrong. I know many here will disagree and say they are on big projects with remote teams that don't socialize; if that's true and you're delivering work than I've got to believe someone behind the scenes is doing extra work to hold it together.

I'm exactly the same way as you, it feels really depressing to sit next to people for 8 hours and not know anything about them. It just feels fundamentally wrong to me and I work so much better when I know my coworkers. I'm currently looking for a new job, partly because of this, but I'm not sure the best way to ask about this in an interview. Do you have any tips or questions to ask?

It may sound like it but I can assure you that it's not. Humans are social animals and when you have to spend 8 hours a day, 5 days a week in a setting with little to no peer interaction, it'll start to wear on you.

The first month is awesome. Complete freedom & autonomy, then the depression starts kicking in.


You certainly can assure me, but that won't do much.

I've been doing it for 30 years, I know how I like it.


The distinction is going to be whether you have a rich social network outside of work. Stack up immediate family, extended family, a handful of close longtime friends, church, a softball team, a couple of hobbyist groups, and a volunteer board, and your half dozen colleagues you were randomly assigned to work near can seem rather superfluous.

On the other hand, you take a bunch of young people straight out of college, collect them from around the country and the world, drop them in a new city without any social network, lean on them to work 50, 60 hour weeks, and suddenly socializing with your coworkers becomes very important, especially if you're single, not very religious, and not very outgoing. The alternative is complete isolation and sad phone calls with friends and family thousands of miles away.


Man, this really resonates with me, basically my situation right now. I love my job and my colleagues, but I basically have no close friends outside of work in my city since moving.

One piece of advice is to not focus on making close friends. They're important, and it's really nice having some nearby, but it's not really any easier to make a new close friend than to start any other long-term relationship.

Instead, just focus on (a) meeting as many people as you can bear and (b) establishing membership in a few groups with regular activities.

The latter is more straight forward, and can accomplish the former. There are lots of options: signing up for a sports league, taking classes (art classes, exercise classes, continuing education classes, whatever), going to a board games meetup group, joining a volunteer organization, join a church (or whatever) if you're even mildly religious. Friendships, like all relationships, are built on shared interests and repeat interactions.

You can also meet a lot of people without joining any groups, although it's easier if you're the sort of naturally sociable person who can strike up a conversation with anyone you're around for more than two minutes. Besides the obvious (go to places there are people, talk to them), or the "run for political office" strategy (it gives you a reason to go and introduce yourself to a few thousand people in your area), there's also the reverse strategy, where you establish a routine.

Pick a few activities to do yourself, and do them on a regular, predictable basis in public. Go for a walk or a run every day at the same time, on the same route. Go read at the library or a park a coffee shop at the same time every week. Go to a farmer's market every weekend. You don't need to schedule your entire life on a recurring basis, but by just keeping a regular schedule you will make yourself more visible, familiar and approachable to the people around you, and they'll feel comfortable saying "hi" or introducing themselves.

While meeting lots of people and joining a few groups can lead to finding a few close friends, it's also a big help in itself in alleviating the isolation which comes with moving to a new place. You'll be surprised at even the difference that just introducing yourself to a couple hundred people makes. Suddenly, everyone around you isn't just one flavor or another of "stranger"; you know their names (or at least, some of them, depending on your memory for names and faces), and they know yours. You've been introduced, so now you can wave or say "hi" or comment on the weather without it being weird.


You're wrong.

I did this for over five years (I was working as the only dev on a project, PM gave me 100% autonomy), it's just fine. Work is for work, not hanging out.

I would have liked to work on a team for that project, but not because I needed to socialize.

Humans are social, but I socialize outside of work.

Very early in my career I was working with other young engineers and I wanted work to be a social place too. I learned from that quickly, there's much too many downsides: you don't get to pick your coworkers so sometimes they end up being not great as "friends," you realize that work relationships are incredibly shallow because no matter how much time you spent socializing once one of you leaves the company you never see each other again, trying to turn the office into social hour interferes with work, it's probably best my coworkers don't see the same side of me as my friends.


> Humans are social, but I socialize outside of work.

I see this sentiment a lot and I don't get it. You are spending more time with your coworkers than anyone else. I'm not saying you should find your best friend in the office, but enjoying your time with coworkers seems like a good thing. Maybe the definitions of socializing are different. I'm not talking about after hours drinks or philosophically debating for hours. I'm thinking chit chat, jokes, having shared strife reaching a common goal, feeling better for having worked with them, and generally enjoying the 1/3 of a day you spend with them. Professional and friendly. It also so happens that the majority of people I work with I would likely make time to see outside of work from time to time. Non-work socializing is different and more fulfilling, but you have much less time to squeeze that in outside of weekends, which are also squeezed for time when you have a family.


Throw regular parties at home with people you know outside from work. Don't talk shop.

What the heck are you talking about, that sounds perfect. Work colleges suck.

I've been in the situation without any colleagues to speak with for years and still love it. We are all different.

Personally this slides from a near-perfect setup to a completely-awful setup once I need to leave my house and drive to an office (or luxury condo, apparently) to do this, for literally no reason.

I'd also reckon a typical remote team probably has more of the routine social interaction some other comments here describe as personally beneficial than this arrangement.


> Forming those bonds is what makes people happy to go to work everyday and work hard.

No, not really. It depends of your personality. Some people are more than happy doing pure work tasks. It’d be a mistake to think that everyone likes the same environment.


This would be a perfect setup for remote work. Working from Hawaii, near people you love, overlooking some nice bay, working on independent taks. Way more attractive than working at FAANG, squeezed in noisy open-plan offices preventing one from getting those tasks done, then stuck in traffic and paying top prices for a single room with roommates.

Yes, maybe it is just me, but that does sound like a good work environment. I do not call myself socially awkward, but at work, I want to work! Getting stuff done.

I want to work! Getting stuff done.

Me too! And I find it much easier and faster to get better stuff done when on a team with smart and creative people rather than locked away trying to solve everything on my own. Working with smart people who know things I don't is inspiring and makes me produce better work, and hopefully they can gain from my areas of expertise.

It doesn't even have to have anything to do with socializing per se. I don't need to know about your kids or what you did on your weekend and we don't even have to eat lunch together or go out for beers after work. But for me having someone I turn to and say "Hey can you take look at this thing, I can't get it to work" and having them understand what I'm trying to do and say "Have you considered this different approach, here let me show you" is a key to me getting my best stuff done.


I don't think anyone is arguing against that sort of team/co-worker interaction.

Several people in this thread clearly are. "Work colleagues suck", "I want 0 colleagues" etc. Some people apparently do want literally zero human interaction in their work.

Few will argue against having work-related interaction. That's fully expected.

It's the socializing part that's not everyone's cup o' tea.


You don't get to have one without the other though. That same conversation with Bob at the end of the day when you talked about crappy 90's VR in movies is when you find out Bob is writing an emulation library at home for the turbo graphics console and knows everything about low level graphics. That sticks with you when 3 months later you hear in the hallway about a new visualization project that needs skillet people. This happens thousands of times over.

It's the socializing part that's not everyone's cup o' tea.

Socializing exists on a continuum. I hate with a passion any sort of company wide or overly organized 'fun' events, but I would still love to have a few colleagues to drink coffee with while casually chatting about what they think about the new features in tensorflow2.


Yup, amen to that.

Exactly, thank you.

Agreed. It's a sign of functioning project management. Excessive team decisions and discussions are a sign of dysfunctional project management.

Decentralized decision making is key to reducing coats of delays on getting things shipped. Teams should be part of the project management, have an understanding of business priorities, and be having discussions and making decisions. This is functioning project management.

> Forming those bonds is what makes people happy to go to work everyday and work hard.

Definitely not. I want 0 colleagues.


Tough break. I also spoke w/ a Snap Recruiter around the same time as you, and was offered that ridic amount of equity- they were talking about 600k for L5, or over 1m for L6. I felt like this was a huge red flag that their equity was bullshit. And that vesting schedule is an obvious scam. Reading Glassdoor is nothing but stories like this one. Sorry you went through it. None of this surprises me, Snap Leadership seems like nothing but jerks.

its 25/25/25/25 with no cliff and quarterly investment as of jan 2018

1M per year?

1m over 4 years in RSU

So 250k per year in stocks + up to 200k in salary + 40k annual bonus. 500k total. That's a really solid result for someone with 10yoe in the big tech companies, top performer. Solid, but nothing to shout about.

There are many types of "John"s out there. I worked for a John who was a highly accomplished engineer. It doesn't make it any better to have someone constantly micromanage you knowing that they are technical, it only makes it worse because you have to think to yourself "he might be right". But the thing about micromanagement is that it doesn't matter if the micromanager is right or not, it simply kills employee motivation to know that any energy and thought they put into their work is likely to be overruled based on a whim.

> it only makes it worse because you have to think to yourself "he might be right"

Seems a self-defeating statement. Thinking isn't wrong. Neither it is that someone else is right.


I didn't say either of those things.

Tangent. How is it logical to deprive people from access to a booth just because people in a wheelchair can't access it? That's like banning computer screens because blind people can't see them.

Because when asked nicely to design accessible buildings very little was done, it required legislation that seems counterintuitive at first, however, if you design for all from the outset, then this is a non-issue. The internet needs to learn this too.

Yes but if there's an accessible alternative then where's the issue? In this case the offices had conference rooms that were wheelchair-accessible.

Sure this means able-bodied people had twice as much access to something but hasn't that always been the case? Like, if you can walk, you can take either the stairs or the ramp to get into a building.


Literally in the next line he says that the conference rooms were always booked and not really an alternative (which is pretty standard in any office)

That's a different issue now isn't it? Access is provided but not guaranteed. You don't see cities with bike lanes forcing those lanes to be clear.

I don't think it is a different issue. The object of the exercise is to allow disabled people to participate on an equal footing. A few nominal concessions that aren't sufficient to achieve this does not do that.

I don't think blocked cycle lanes are a good point of comparison as they don't fulfil their intended function when blocked.


>You don't see cities with bike lanes forcing those lanes to be clear.

Yes, you do (if I understood what you mean correctly): https://www.chicago.gov/city/en/depts/cdot/supp_info/bicycli...


If the accessible alternative isn't really an alternative then I don't think that's a different issue at all.

There was a short movie about this, it's called 2081.

Berkeley had a bunch of great online computer science courses that got taken down because some opportunistic ADA lawyer sued them because the free content wasn't "accessible enough" (and the university couldn't justify the enormous expense of making it accessible given that they earned nothing from it).

You've missed out quite a lot.

The ADA was passed in 1990, so it was in place a full 17 years before Berkeley started adding video to the web.

The university strongly agreed with disability accessibility law. They put policies in place to make sure content was accessible. They offered free support to professors to make content accessible, and they required professors to sign documents saying "I have made this accessible". People lied by signing these forms when they had not made the material accessible.

If they hadn't lied, and had made use of the free support when creating content, the material would have been accessible from the beginning, and the university would not have been dumped into the massively unlawful position they were.

This wasn't some "opportunistic ADA lawyer", it was the inevitable result when hundreds of employees lied about accessibility.

Pages 3 and 4 https://news.berkeley.edu/wp-content/uploads/2016/09/2016-08...

Here's the list of statements that people said they'd done that they mostly had not done:

1.I have reviewed and implemented edX’s “ Guidelines for Creating Accessible Content.”

2.All PDFs attached to my course follow the University of California Office of the President recommendations.

3.I have reviewed and implemented applicable guidelines into my course from the Web Accessibility team’s resource “Top 10 Tips for Making your Website Accessible.”

4.All mp3 and mp4 files in my course have been submitted for transcripts for SubRip Text (SRT) files.

5.All video and audio in my course have accurate captioning available to users through the edX HTML5 player


Why was it inevitable?

What's the point of removing content because its not accessible to some small fraction of the population? Is this meant to punish the professors who signed something they likely didn't fully read? It seems that it's punishing individuals who would find this information useful.


It forces organisations to comply with the law.

What's the point of a law that can just be ignored with no consequences?

> who signed something they likely didn't fully read?

I'm always surprised when I hear this. Signing a document to say you've complied with the law when you haven't complied with the law is a pretty big deal. Maybe I'm missing some context, but you should read the things you're signing.


So did you fully read the lengthy Medium TOS when reading the article?

Because it sounds like this accessibility document is also a fairly similar piece of boilerplate.


If I was reading Medium as part of my employment then yes, I would have read the ToS.

If you're saying that Berkeley was paying lip-service to accessibility by having boiler-plate that faculty didn't really need to comply with, well, that makes the situation worse, not better.

"We tried but we didn't account for human factors so we failed" is much better than "we didn't really try, we just pretended, because we wanted to give a good impression without actually making any changes".


Fair enough, I do read every license for any code I use at work.

However, I would certainly think that "we wanted to give a good impression without actually making any changes" is probably closer to the truth. I doubt Berkeley as an institution really cares about accessibility; it sounded like a good thing and policies were enacted without a lot of thought given to the ramifications. If multiple professors signed off that their courses were accessible, then it certainly strikes me that this was a low priority that was largely ignored.


Well "logical" just leads us down a weird path here. Is it "logical" to hire disabled employees at all? It's a lot of work to make your office accessible, so the "logical" answer would be to only hire able bodied people.

Thankfully the world doesn't actually work that way. We make buildings accessible because it's the right thing to do, and because society has decided that excluding people (who are already greatly disadvantaged) is wrong.

Rules like ADA aren't designed to make the most logical sense, they're designed to work. If you don't mandate the shutdown of the inaccessible booths then the company has very little incentive to fix the problem.


> We make buildings accessible because it's the right thing to do, and because society has decided that excluding people (who are already greatly disadvantaged) is wrong.

Is it the right solution though? Does it make sense to spend 1% of GDP on something that helps 0.5% of the population (I'm making up numbers here)? Is this really the most cost effective solution? Wouldn't it make more sense to e.g. give disabled people a Basic Income (social support) enabling them to not work, instead of forcing every employer to spend time and money on making the workplace accessible (even though 99% of that effort will be wasted)? It might be cheaper to hire 2 musclemen to carry a disabled person around, rather than renovating each historic building to add ramps and/or elevators... Yeah, I agree that there are non-monetary effects as well (people socialising and/or feeling useful) but there's probably decent solutions for those as well...


Does it make sense to spend 1% of GDP on something that helps 0.5% of the population (I'm making up numbers here)?

Some not made up numbers for you:

Roughly 15-20% of people self-identify as handicapped. At least one study suggests that up to 60% of the population has some degree of impairment and would benefit from more accessible design in the world generally.

This fits with my observations. Most people who are only mildly impaired actively distance themselves from the label as it is stigmatizing. People only embrace the label of being handicapped or disabled if they need so much accommodation that it is worthwhile to put up with the bullshit that goes along with having a stigmatizing label.

See also:

https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=19815635


More than that, we all become disabled. It's just a matter of time. And some are more aware of that than others, based on the comments I see in this thread :-)

The lead of UX at my company likes to say that everyone becomes disabled temporarily once in a while. You ever want to watch a video in public but forgot your headphones? Ever lose your glasses and have to go a few days before your replacements come in? Ever try to open a door while also pulling a cart with heavy items?

Accessible design ends up helping anyone who isn't at optimal ability at that very moment.


The study in question is about accessible technology, as in computers, not accessible design “in the world generally.” From your link:

https://web.archive.org/web/20090423084630/http://www.micros...

> In the United States, 60% (101.4 million) of working-age adults who range from 18 to 64 years old are likely or very likely to benefit from the use of accessible technology due to difficulties and impairments that may impact computer use.


I'm all for "more accessible design" as it also correlates with "easier to use", but otherwise I think you're making my point for me. Do your family members with dysgraphia (difficulty writing) benefit from ramps, larger phone booths and hearing-impaired accessibility features?

Lots of people benefit from ramps. For example, people pushing a baby stroller. People who walk with a cane. People who walk with a permanent limp but don't yet need a cane (like me).

Public phones are going the way of the dinosaur. Most folks have a smartphone these days. I feel like that's largely irrelevant.

Hearing impaired accessibility features in, for example, computer-based games came in very handy when we were homeless and spending our entire day at a library where you needed to either keep the sound off or wear headphones. None of us can wear headphones due to health issues that promote ear infections, so we just kept the sound off all day and relied on the visual cues intended for deaf or hearing-impaired people.


What if those disabled people want to work, though? Why should their opportunities be limited to basic income when you and I do not have the same limitations? Would you not find being carried around by two musclemen to be humiliating? Are these musclemen accompanying you to the toilet?

As you admit you're making up numbers... is there any evidence that these costs are killing businesses? Snap could most certainly afford to do it without thinking twice about it.


Let's say the place had no toilets, so they build some and you go in and it's just stand up men's urinals.

So you politely point out this won't work for you, they're breaking the law and frankly, making you feel very excluded, and they're like:

"Meh, women. We'll get around to it. But yeah we'll put some signs up in the meantime. You can use the ones in the building down the street. Thanks for pointing that out..."

It's not just about the design competence or legal compliance, it's the principle.


I think everyone would agree the women's bathroom should be built, yes.

What's confusing is why you'd close the men's bathroom until the women's bathroom was built?


I purposely didn't put that in - I was trying to convey the righteous outrage that would be felt.

The point is you think about this up front.

The reason you would require the functioning facility to be closed is to make it clear to the business and all others there are consequences for this incompetence and lack of care.


May as well burn down whole building and start over as a consequence for these injustices. Why aren’t you proposing that?

Also, the example is absurd because urinals wouldn’t satisfy all restroom needs. Men don’t defecate in the urinal. It’s even in the name.


You are perhaps poring too much over the detail.

I've no idea how you get to burning the whole building down, my rationale for conveying the importance of respecting standards, legislation and plain human decency was pretty clear I think.


The rationale I see here is that 'disrespecting' standards means we should cut off the nose to spite the face.

Why didn't you decide the building should be burned down, rather than just closing the offending restrooms? Or if not burned, closed temporarily? Or, per your example, what is the difference if they leave the restroom open but specifically disable the urinals, letting people use the sinks to wash their hands?

Where exactly is the line that you draw on what should be sabotaged to rectify the injustice? Is it just do whatever the legislation says? Does following "legislation" always equate to "plain human decency" and does that rule apply 100% of the time in the past, present, and future?


Please, just consider what I actually said, these excessive scorched earth situations are kind of bizarre.

The reason you would require the functioning facility to be closed is to make it clear to the business and all others there are consequences for this incompetence and lack of care.


Sure, I still think the consequence qualifies as cutting the nose to spite the face.

Although I don't get why you think you're entitled to come up with a hypothetical scenario but balk at entertaining any questions clarifying it or related hypotheticals. But anyway, agree to disagree.


In contrast to opinions of employers or employees, laws are the result of the democratic process. The process itself might lead to imperfect results due to populist election campaigns, lobbying parties, and lawmakers funding the next golf party by making the actual legal text a bit complicated, but it's the closest approximation of general consensus we currently have.

That being said, once it's law you have one thing to do and two options:

- you have to follow the law

Besides that, you should embrace what your fellow humans might have thought when bringing in this legislation, enabling you to either:

- Help you understand and embrace it - Vote differently in the next election (or, sadly but truly bring in your net worth to lobby towards your opinion to greater effect)


Well I think my hypothetical was a parallel the OP might have more empathy with, rather than your extreme extrapolation.

To be clear though: I think directing the booths be rebuilt to standards was acceptable; burning the building down would be excessive.


The point is to compel compliance by outrage of the majority group.

You don't see a problem with part of the workforce not given equal tools and opportunity to be able to do their job as well as others?

Well now no one has those tools, so from a business perspective (even without going into how many people with disabilities are in the workforce) having part of the workforce with more access to a tool is better.

Well the ADA doesn't exist for the benefit of the business - quite the opposite in fact.

Well then it's clearly in the best interest of the business to comply with the law as soon as possible.

This also seemed weird to me. From the tone of the article I was expecting that they never even replaced the phone booths or something like that. But it sounds like they were replaced within a month, which seems fairly prompt considering they weren't essential items

I'm making a website that gives free kittens and Bitcoins to anyone who has a HN username starting with a letter in the second half of the alphabet. You can't use it, which is a shame, but it would be wrong to deprive half of HN free kittens and Bitcoins, right? I mean, fairness is all well and good, but everyone likes a free kitten. I'm really sorry I can't make a website that everyone can access, but that would cost more so I'm not going to bother.

I think I can guess the point you're trying to make, but you did a pretty bad job making it. There's literally nothing wrong with your example.

There's literally nothing wrong with your example.

You may believe there's nothing wrong with arbitrary discrimination but I don't.


Your posts discriminate against everyone who can't read English. Unreasonable discrimination is the problem.

EDIT: granted, writing posts in English isn't arbitrary, but neither is installing small booths, there are good space-utilization benefits to it; it's unreasonable, because those benefits don't trump accessibility to people in wheelchairs.


Why would it be a shame? Life has always been unfair. Even if you were to make an accessible version of the website, people with no internet access wouldn't be able to access it so how is that fair? You can't really enforce "fairness" because it's subjective.

In this particular case however, the office had wheelchair-accessible rooms so I don't see why the booths had to be accessible as well when they serve the same purpose as the rooms.


For the same reason there's not a whites only restroom.

How do you not understand that if your business offers something, it has to be accessible and available to everyone? Otherwise, it's discrimination.

> Life has always been unfair.

And laws like this ensure the world doesn't become even more unfair.


Wait... You can definitely do that.

And this is why companies offer you stock on a vesting schedule that keeps you around.

The author knew it would be a shitshow before they even started. But took the job because of the stock. Started at the job, found it to be terrible. Stuck around... because of the stock. And so on. Meanwhile, your bet rests on the company, which you now know to be a badly run shitshow, beating estimates and turning a healthy profit. Surely you know that isn't going to happen. At a certain point you're making a life decision based around the hope that stock market investors are too stupid to see the obvious. Then scale that thought process up to an entire company, and you wonder why the place isn't functional.

I do have sympathy for the author, no-one deserves to work in a miserable job. But that's why we have the option of quitting. Stock vesting fundamentally affects that.


Regarding the attractive stock vestments: in my opinion you need to avoid like the plague, anything that makes it hard to walk away from your job at any time. You need to be in the driver's seat for your life and career. Otherwise you're just going to become miserable FAANG engineer cattle through one mechanism or another.

Good on this person to walk away like that.


Attractive stock vestments are potentially what will make it possible in the futures to walk away at any time...

>He did tell us to use the word “epoch,” but not before explaining what the word meant and that it was not, in fact, the same word as “epic,” to a room full of native English speakers. He then proceeded to opine on what he thought the Latin roots of the word might be, which I’m convinced to this day he was making up on the spot.

"epoch" actually comes from Greek :)


It would've been lovely if someone had directly interrupted this "John" anytime he attempted to expound extensively after being asked a minor clarifying question. This sort of person shouldn't be tolerated, not even by employees.

Trouble is has that he seems to be in charge of their bi-annual reviews, which is actually rather solid leverage.

Every dev team I've been on has always had one person that readily answers any minor or rhetorical question without missing a beat. I thought they were universal but maybe I have just been lucky.

There are enough threads comparing the OP and john mentioned in the article. I'll not get into details on that. OPs experience does echo a few of my colleagues, who kinda got screwed in the end. A few things I have learnt from other peoples mishaps is that

1. Always be Coding. Keep solving interview / LeetCode problems if you want to pursue SE role. You never know, when shit hits the fan and you're asked to leave. Not being prepared to give interview in a short notice will hurt a lot in the future.

2. Spend the first 90 days understanding team dynamics, culture, execution. I rather observer the first few days and play dumb as apposed to show off my skills, even though I know I could do a hell of a better job that the other guy.

3. If I dont like things going smoothly in first 90 days you should gtfo. I was in teams before, where there were soo many gaming types folks (I personally dont play video games that much) and barely a culture of reading or discussing tech papers. I pretty much realized its not my place and I need to gtfo.


Sadly we have all worked with John. In my first job, 15 years ago, I was preparing for a test for masters program. The test was on a Saturday at 8am in a town 4 hours away. My manager thought Friday night 7pm is a good time to schedule a meeting about what we are going to deliver in next 6 months. Meeting went on for 2 hours!

Why do people do this? Every (functional) place I've worked tacitly acknowledged that Friday afternoon was essentially for low priority tasks; most employees are starting to mentally check out after lunch.

Who enjoys meetings enough to want to call one @ 7pm on a Friday? That single event would be enough for me to be starting to email recruiters, it shows that the manager not only has no respect for their employees but is clueless; since it's fairly unrealistic to expect that meeting to be productive.

Unless it's a political move to try to force through some unpopular change in a meeting that nobody is paying attention to, which is another deeper level of red flag.


Why would you agree to participate in a 7pm Friday meeting?

This was when I was 22, just out of college at my first job, so did not realised at the time that you can say no to requests like these. Now a days I follow a short Friday routine, get in early (7am) and leave by 1 or 2pm as after that most people tend not to work and I would rather be home.

> trying to figure out how to rework my long-term financial plans around the hole Snap had just blown in my projected income made me feel ill.

Maybe don't make long-term financial plans around a company that's obviously unstable?


Yeah buying a house in Florida, years before he was planning to actually move there was an interesting choice.

Wow, nothing like a massive whinge to start the day! Don't take a lot of pleasure in saying it, but am highly suspicious of the author's role in all this. While there's no doubt John plagued our friend's life (as are Johns' wont); how said friend played everything else, the relationship handling, the motivation (!) ... culminating in this ego-driven, embittered rant. I mean, the situation definitely sucks. But my biggest takeout was how stacked with shit hires the whole big tech scene must be. It sounds like a bureaucratic hr tetris nightmare, where all you're getting is these equity-driven, self-absorbed shapeshifters that don't stack together because its not in the job description. And then it all implodes. I don't know, maybe there was something constructive between the lines in there. I just couldn't find it.

I'm just amazed that developers have the confidence to lambaste former employers in such a public, toxic and hostile manner.

If I was hiring for a developer position and Google'd Marko Tupper's name, I wouldn't even agree to meet with him based on this article alone. Why would I want someone so ego and drama-driven on my team?

I won't even leave negative reviews on Yelp or Google Maps out of fear of reprisal or future employers finding them.


"out of fear of reprisal"

You say this like the reprisal is unfair immediately after admitting you would do the same.


"Marko Tupper" is a pseudonym, per the Medium user's profile.

Even as a pseudonym, it's so specific that I'm sure that a lot of people at Snap and around the area probably know who it is. I mean taking months to work remotely in Florida is something I would totally hear second hand about someone, because it sounds awesome.

It's a pseudonym.

So, if you're not a "Tetris piece" that stacks well (i.e. bends the whims of your superiors at the expense of your private life and mental health), then you're a "shit hire" ? Yes, that situation sucks, but not for the reasons you imply.

Not to poke the emotional strawman, but tetris is an hr game. I think the point was more about motivations, desperation and loud, unproductive whinges. Also worth noting that your shit hires (imo. this includes the author and his manager) could be my unicorns ...

In my experience there can be employees who will always whine no matter of the circumstances. Also always blame others and the leadership.

One day, when the vests run out, I’ll write an article about my time at AWS...

It’s not nearly this bad but there are some stories that are worth telling.


Can we please stop calling publicly traded companies "startups", because they are not.

Oh, John, there you are again! How do you manage to be in so many places at once? Which reminds me to ask: which firms have implemented the "No Asshole Rule" well?

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_No_Asshole_Rule

Here's a list by the author from 2012, FYI: https://bobsutton.typepad.com/my_weblog/2012/02/the_no_assho...


Maybe the truth is somewhere in the middle. And a mandatory disclaimer that I have not walked in the author's shoes, and that I am considering his description as what happened.

Two things that stood out for me:

1/ If a director of engineering is not able to run a sprint planning meeting or is grossly inefficient at that, what was the reaction of other devs at Snap who were part of the same meeting. More than likely, if they see that as the state of the managements, were they looking for jobs too?

2/ Is there a point in having engineering teams where there is no regular interaction with the manager?


Although it certainly sounds like this guy had a really negative experience -- for lots of reasons that were not under his control -- I'm smacking my head at some of the stuff.

First -- when it comes to stuff like remote work (especially since he was first told "no, you can't do that" when he first explored switching teams), that's all stuff that needs to be in writing. Period. I don't even think this is a hard concept or something you need to learn from experience -- it's just common sense. If you are promised something that is outside the norm or what is official company/department policy, you get that in writing. If you can't get it into your contract, it needs to be at least in email communication with the hiring manager -- but you should really get that into your contract.

The second thing is the whole way he switched teams. Obviously there was something super sketchy going on there (and in retrospect, was the first sign that Snap was trying to manage him out), but that's a massive, massive red flag. For his own performance reviews/bonuses/reporting stuff, the idea that he would technically report to someone else while actually working for a totally different team just doesn't make sense. I understand needing to get away from a bad manager, but this was maybe the worst way to go about doing it, because it offers the employee little to no protection if something in that super sketchy scenario breaks down (which is exactly what happened).

Third, although I'm not going to call this guy "entitled" -- I do take issue with some of the work ethic stuff. I understand the hell that is unproductive meetings, especially meetings that don't involve you or that preclude you from doing what you actually need to do to get done. I have significant experience managing requests/meetings from higher ups that impede on getting your actual work done.

If you're called into a last-minute 2 hour meeting and it means you can't leave on time to avoid traffic, in my opinion (which may be unpopular), the adult thing to do is to stay late and attend the meeting -- paying only as much attention as is necessary. Yes, it sucks to have to leave the office late (and potentially hours later if you need to avoid traffic) -- but barring any sort of preset appointment or obligation, stay in the damn meeting and find a way to avoid having to be in the next one. Not to belabor the point, but the way you get a Low Performance review is to skulk out of a meeting and literally hide from your boss as you sneak out of the building.

Anyway. I do hope the author has found a place that is a better fit for them.


I wonder if some of the disagreement in this thread over whether the narrator was being reasonable is really disagreement over the productivity of remote employees.

I saw the author's request for extended remote work as entirely reasonable, but I work at a company that has an extremely generous and flexible remote policy, which I love and take full advantage of (working from home several days a week). I now believe that engineers can be at least as productive remote as on-site. Thus, denying his request to work remotely felt, to me, a little petty.

I've worked at companies in the past that discouraged remote work. I think back then, before I'd tried it, I would've seen his insistance on working remotely as a little lazy and entitled.


Remember, centi-medium posts often have two sides to the story.. this person describes one incident with "John" based on a biased, self-reporting and frankly not a great story either: actually seems to portray the author in a bad light even with his one-sided story.

Hmm, the council thing sounds kind of cool actually - I wonder where they got it from? The Venice Beach work location sounded kind of nice too.

On the other hand, I do share the frustration with being stuck doing "team-building" stuff that you hate. In most of the cases when I've had "team-building" or mandatory "fun" activities for work, I would have preferred to stay home and sleep. It's also hard to let your hair down when there are bosses around who have the power to fire you or determine your rate of pay.

The biggest problem seems to be bad/micromanaging boss "John."

I concur with the overall point about working remotely being great and often much more productive than working in the office.


> keeping an eye out for John like an awkward combination of James Bond and Pac Man.

instant classic


Life changing amount of money for dev tools and a smattering of HTML/CSS. Right.

Money is more a function of algorithmic interviewing and negotiating ability than technical stack.

Unlikely in a well-run company, but apparently Snap isn't one.

>you could walk around miles of Venice Beach streets pointing out unmarked office after unmarked office as you went along. A seemingly empty storefront here, a nondescript house there, the top level of an apartment building over that way.

Is that legal in that area?

I lived in a townhouse association where someone started the company out of his house. Eventually he started hiring and it didn't take long for everyone to notice his employees were taking all the parking. Fortunately the city had zoning laws and he chose to move when push came to shove.


We prefer the term "disruptive", not "illegal".

No, they said the company was keeping a bed in the conference room to "comply" with zoning regulations, essentially pretending the office was also someone's house.

It seems like it would be pretty easy to sort of "discover" it wasn't true. In my case the cops just parked outside and recorded people parking and going in and out for a bit (only after the dude balked and denied he was running an office).

Fortunately the guy in question didn't put up a fight after that and promised to move / did.


Yeah, it's such a superficially obvious "hack" that zero regulators would fall for it.

Zoning regulations might just be unenforced unless someone complains. I mean, when was the last time the town just showed up at your house for a regular audit to check you're using your house for it's zoned purpose? I've never heard of that.


I have not worked at a startup but I love the juxtaposition so many seem to have of very developed culture practices (council) and otherwise very undeveloped HR/facilities practices.

If you don't have something on paper you cannot expect it to be enforced. Next time you should make sure you have your remote weeks written and signed.

I see how the issues could be a "no deal" for the post writer. However, I have the impression that software engineers forgot that we are exchanging labor for money and it is normal to put our heads down sometimes. Let's stop with the "drama" when every single of our requests are not attended.

Wow, he stuck to his guns on not sacrificing his values over financial fear - much respect!

> As someone who’s usually pretty good at chewing over a problem until I can find an acceptable solution, being trapped in a situation where there was no acceptable solution was miserable, and I still couldn’t stop chewing.

Eek, uncannily familiar with this feeling.


I read quite a bit of the article, and a lot of it seems like ungrateful whining. It seems like the author found something negative about everything. It must be difficult living such a comfortable life.

Why do engineers have such a hard time influencing or standing up to 'Johns'?

cause he does the performance reviews, that determine your comp.

"Stand up to bullies!" is a cheerful thing to say from the safety of your chair. Not so nice when you're the one the bully will pound into the dirt for standing up


TLDR: Rich man takes bad job to get richer. Shockingly discovers he’s unhappy. Writes 2500 word medium blog post about it.

That was a really good read, consider writing more articles like this one, you have talent to keep things interesting even for such a long text.

And then everybody clapped.

Act I - The Offer:

I knew what I was getting myself into. There were red flags, but I chose to ignore them for the sake of a huge equity offer.

Act II - Council:

Snap starts every employee’s onboarding off with some real hippy type of shit. The aforementioned hippy shit can continue into your regular employment if you so desire, which I did not.

Act III - The First Months:

For the first ~1/2 year at Snap, I was mostly isolated on a handful of projects where I became the sole maintainer, and rarely got to interact much with other engineers or my manager.

Act IV - The Phantom Resident:

When I worked for Snap in Venice, we occupied a beach-front condominium with a likely fictitious resident who supposedly slept in our “conference room” to meet zoning requirements.

Act V - Moving to Santa Monica & ADA Semi-Compliance:

The Snap Santa Monica offices were pretty standard big tech office fare. Miniature “phone booth” meeting rooms raised the ire of building inspectors over ADA compliance, and the company implicitly encouraged employees to continue using the non-compliant facilities while replacements were acquired.

Act VI - The John Months:

I needed to stay until at least the following February to vest the first 10% of my stock grant, but it was proving difficult to keep going. A friend on the customer ops team, Nate, offered to have me transfer over and work on their projects full time, and after receiving assurances that I would be able to travel around the holidays and work remotely I jumped on it.

Act VII - The Team Change Switcharoo:

I went through with the team change to customer ops, but for HR purposes I ended up technically reporting to an engineering manager on a different team. Nate, who was going to become my manager under the original plan, didn’t take this news well, but I didn’t mind. The work on the new team proved enjoyable and the stock price even started to recover as I began vesting my stock grant.

Act VIII - The Beginning of the End:

I got a hatchet job of a performance review from my time working for John, and Nate left the company which put me in a tricky situation. I ended up truly joining the team I was technically a member of, and began integrating more into their work alongside my own.

Act XI - The End of the End:

Remember the agreement I made with customer ops about working remotely around the holidays? My new team decided they weren’t going to honor it, and didn’t let me know about that until just a few months before I was planning a trip.

Act X (The Finale) - Dealing With The Fallout:

I couldn’t find any way around the predicament I was in, and had to leave the company. Despite some minor depression symptoms I managed to find a new job and walked away from what would have been a life-changing amount of money.


My thoughts after reading roughly 75% of the article, I couldn't finish it:

I noticed three things:

* This developer is focused around me me me, everything has to revolve around him

* This developer is probably hell to work with

* There was a huge cultural mismatch between him/her and Snap

These were my thoughts while reading the article with some comments after every tl;dr. I wasn't able to finish the article because it felt very whiny and egocentric.

>tl;dr — I knew what I was getting myself into. There were red flags, but I chose to ignore them for the sake of a huge equity offer.

At least the author has a lot of self-awareness.

>tl:dr — Snap starts every employee’s on-boarding off with some real hippy type of shit. The aforementioned hippy shit can continue into your regular employment if you so desire, which I did not.

To me this sounds pretty great? Who doesn't want to work in a team in which there is "real" team bonding? People bond over time and shared experiences. I feel like the author is really cynical and is unable to see the benefit from this. I have worked in dysfunctional teams where it's every man for himself and I prefer the opposite by a large margin.

This screams to me that there is a huge cultural mismatch between the author's ideal place to work and Snap Inc.

>unfortunately the workload we had mostly kept us working separately on our own tasks with little room for interaction. It wasn’t uncommon, for the first part of my time at Snap, to get up in the morning, drive to the office, go through the work-day in the same room as two other people but rarely speaking to each other ...

Then maybe ... talk to each other? The author is literally blaming the workload for being unable to socialise with this coworkers -- in the same freaking room. Take out 10 minutes of your time and have coffee, there is a reason those teambuilding activities exist. But I'm giving the author the benefit of the doubt, so let's continue.

>tl;dr — For the first ~1/2 year at Snap, I was mostly isolated on a handful of projects where I became the sole maintainer, and rarely got to interact much with other engineers or my manager.

I empathise with the author because I too have been in the same situation.

>tl;dr — When I worked for Snap in Venice, we occupied a beach-front condominium with a likely fictitious resident who supposedly slept in our “conference room” to meet zoning requirements.

OK I have to admit, that is really weird and possibly illegal?

>tldr — The Snap Santa Monica offices were pretty standard big tech office fare. Miniature “phone booth” meeting rooms raised the ire of building inspectors over ADA compliance, and the company implicitly encouraged employees to continue using the non-compliant facilities while replacements were acquired.

Understandable but an annoying situation. I don't fault anyone for using the booths even with an Out of order sign ... as a developer I would rather have someone use the booth than not use it, phone calls suck.

>The first indications that something was amiss came from just getting introduced to the project by the other engineer already working on it. After showing me the Github repo where I could check out the code, he pointed me to an enormous design document for what was, at the end of the day, not an overly complicated project. When I asked him why he’d put so much effort writing out an extensive design document for a project whose architecture would probably change significantly by the time it wrapped up, he gave me what would become an all-too-familiar reason: John insisted.

Author sounds like a hellish developer to work with. He is bouncing from "let me just stay here for 4 years and cash out" to "I know this better than anyone else". Engineering director writes big document to align everyone and this developer wants to do everything on his terms.


[deleted]


I'm not sure it is fair to link to someone's LinkedIn profile when we have one side of the story here and even that author did not identity him and wished to remain anonymous.

It also feels like a mild form of doxing. Not sure I'm ok with this.

Agreed. Looks like it was removed, good choice.

It is a bit disturbing to see a new account just drop a linked in profile like that.

Anonymous stores like this are great, but I really don't want to see the IRL profiles and etc for folks who don't have a voice or wish to stay anonymous.


I’ve worked harder for less. Kids are so entitled these days.

Prior to the first day of boot camp they flown us to an airport in San Diego, everyone gathered at the USO lounge on the opposite end of the airport to wait for everyone else flying in.

At midnight, a bus rolls in to the parking lot. Everyone was told to line up in a formation, head forward, arms straight and down to the side.

The bus door opens and out pops a drill instructor with the vigor of a tasmanian devil, barking out orders. Everyone got loaded into the bus in orderly fashion and was told to to put our heads down, cradled between our legs. The bus drove around for what seemed like an hour. Later I found out the camp was next door to the airport.

Upon arrival, the bus stopped, the bus driver got out and the drill instructor got out. We were left to our selves, with no instructions, no understanding for ten minutes. Then came an imposing man with a wide brimmed hat with a voice that sounds like a frog inhabited his throat.

He proceeded to say in a frank manner we are now to disembark off this bus and make our way outside to find a pair of gold foot prints on the ground. We are each to line up on them and wait for further instructions.

After the last person has gotten off the bus and when everyone was situated, we are then told the meaning of those foot prints. It is a tradition passed on through history, whereby someone before us had stepped on those foot prints prior to starting boot camp and there will be people after us to step on those foot prints.

From there we entered the gates thus began our journey to become United States Marine Corps, an organization with a history of over 243 years.

tl;dr -- Every organization has whackadoo indoctrination.


> Every organization has whackadoo indoctrination.

Nope. Just whackaddo organizations. I'd argue the Marine Corps is included in that, but at least they have the excuse of needing soldiers to be able to depend on each other for their lives. Snap... not so much.


Imagine being dunked into a tub of water as your indoctrination. And yet - churches (and other religious organizations) have had high member retention for centuries!

I applied to Snap a few months ago and was insta-rejected which was the first time (and only) that has ever happened to me. I was interning at a FAANG for the third time, going into my senior year at a top school with a good GPA, and looking for a full time job. Not sure which requirement I didn't meet.

It's probably because they were bleeding money at that moment and weren't hiring anyone outside super unicorn seniors, but they didn't want to update their job descriptions

Yea, I've worked at a place that had job ads out despite having no plans on hiring on the grounds that "someone really amazing might apply". They never did.

There are a lot of strategic reasons to do this:

1. Internally you'll feel like you're growing still even though you aren't

2. Externally to investors same feeling

3. You will collect resumes in case you want to fire up hiring again quickly




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