It actually became an internal joke where you'd get these emails every 2-3 months saying your manager's manager's manager's manager now reports to a different manager, neither of which you'd ever met or even necessarily heard of.
To be clear, the executive team are ultimately responsible but Google has fallen prey to a lack of leadership (Eric Schmidt, we miss you) and an entrenched swarm of middle management. I honestly believe a lot of the bad ideas Google got involved in (like the DoD ML thing) sprang from over-eager VPs.
There's an old Dilbert strip basically saying that managers reach a point of constant reorgs and responsibilities churn to the point that no one is around long enough to be held accountable for their actions ("oh that was the last guy") and definitely not around long enough for anything to work.
This to me is what Google had become. The reorgs were constant and the leadership was directionless.
The transparency thing here is a big one. There was a culture of blameless and open post-mortems. This probably started to change in the Vic Google Plus era. Dashboards were locked down. There were some pretty (internally) famous examples of post-mortems people found that were subsequently restricted, essentially because they (rightly) made some VP look bad.
One of the most shocking things to me was a story from last year about how accessing such documents could retroactively lead to you being fired. As in Google docs were typically sent around such that if you had the link you could open it and these links might be forwarded to open groups. That's how a lot of things (internally) "leaked".
Disclaimer: Xoogler (6 years)
Once you hear the term 'organization' used within an organization (i.e. "project alpha is moving under person x's org") there is a decent chance that Trouble Is Afoot.
The trouble is that alignment is no longer guaranteed to be around the company's stated mission. There is a good chance that it is about territory building and poaching of internal staff and competing for important projects. And even if those aren't occurring, it's hard to prove to staff that they are not.
A strong leadership team can manage these frictions carefully and turn inter-team and inter-personality competition into results, while reinforcing and repeating the overall company mission. But to an employee on the ground it may no longer be a transparent case of "we're all pulling in the same direction".
One possibility to break through this scaling barrier might be to promote smaller organizations which assemble on-demand, akin to a film production team, and work on projects which the team is genuinely motivated to deliver. That requires a strong stated vision that a team can band behind.
The next question becomes: who maintains such projects if the initial team moves on? I'm biased but my preferred response would be that open sourcing each project can lead to sufficient community collaboration and maintenance in the case of successful projects, or in the worst case (if no adoption occurs) a corpus of code which may still provide gems of value for future projects searching for snippets of functionality.
This does not seem to be a realistic option for many Google projects, due to dependencies on internal technology and hardware scale.
aka strong unions.
There're a bunch of organizational anti-patterns that could be avoided with this scheme, too. Empire building would be disincentivized because it'd always become someone else's empire after a short period of time, and organizational politics is reduced as the players keep leaving, and you'd have to think in terms of building institutional knowledge from the beginning of your tenure unless you want everything you've accomplished to be undone by the next guy.
When you think about it, it makes a sad sort of sense at scale. Hiring mistakes mean, at scale, a good number of jobs aren't fits for the people you hired, half the people out there are below average to beginwith, and a good number end up toxic (they slow down orgs!), and over time, these folks cost more money and suborgs decay. We've all inherited WTF+NIH projects and worked with people who drain energy. So even if an org doesn't do explicit layoffs or stack ranking, and hiring committees and employees have good intentions, a healthy org should be fixing hiring mistakes somehow: it can't all be retraining / reshuffling the deck. Arguably, the numbers mean most tech companies are _unhealthy_ orgs because the high demand for engineers makes the healthy level of rehiring tough to do.
The result is toxic devs get retained and the tail wags the dog from a business perspective. E.g., I bet some of the #MeToo issues in tech, deep down, relate to the difficulty of curating a top org at scale, with very few exceptions (Netflix?)
Stack ranking was not about firing at Microsoft (or any other place), it was about distribution of bonus and hikes.
Spreading the peanut butter: https://www.compensationcafe.com/2014/03/spreading-the-peanu...
It’s called a corporate restructuring. Or they’ll just fire a few people here and there until they get to 10%. They call it “we re heading in a new direction”
IIRC, the US military follows something like that practice. It's called "up or out":
> ...the 1980 Defense Officer Personnel Management Act mandates that officers passed over twice for promotion are required to be discharged from the military.
IIRC, the idea is to prevent people who lack greater potential from hogging the intermediate positions that others need to advance.
It's much closer to term limits and the elected-office/civil-servant split in a democratic government. That has its own set of problems, but is generally fairly good at discouraging empire-building. It also differs in that civil servants generally can't transition to being elected officials (despite their qualifications, they face a lot of obstacles to winning elections), while here executives would generally be drawn from the ranks of ordinary management, keeping the ranks under them dynamic.
This system will encourage first-level managers to do everything in their power to be "passed over" every single time. I can imagine the ridiculous shenanigans they'd pull, walking the fine line between not being too competent lest you get promoted, without being too incompetent that you get fired outright. Sounds like the making of a truly middling culture: questionably competent-ish, but not ambitious.
I think I'd watch a Office Space/Silicon-Valley-type show based on this premise. The overachiever character perennially delegated to bug triage, doing endless interviews for a perpetually open position on the team and being sabotaged when they manage to put some real work in after-hours (for comic relief. In real life, they'd get fired)
I do like the idea, though.
There’s no meaningful pay differential for senior staff, so ass-count is the measuring stick.
During my time as a DoD contractor, I saw this happen.
One particular case was a mid-range officer [I'm never good with ranks so don't bother asking] who was up for promotion; it was an open secret that if he didn't get it he'd retire into civilian [and presumably commercial//industry] life. He didn't get the promotion, retired from military, and was duly replaced.
So everyone in the org wants to appear like a young firebrand and hide in the school of fish. As outliers are singled out, those who blend in well and play politically with their managers have the highest survival rate despite not being the most productive, as they devote most of their energy to not standing out.
In any persistent environment when you add pressure, you develop a counter-reaction. You can't change human behavior with simple levers, but you can bring out very human behavior by doing so.
Maybe a solution could be to make time-limited leadership positions. After you finish your time, you get another different position but you stay in the company, with the same or higher pay, so that it doesn't feel like a demotion. Permanent leadership positions will be given to those who did their best during their temporary stay. As a bonus, because these managers tried out different jobs, they will have a broader understanding of what people under them do.
It's a lot like how no ruler will ever abdicate and still remain ruler, so for millenia there was no way to remove a king short of death or coup. We got around that with the invention of the constitution and the definition of a nation-state in terms of that piece of paper, which states that the ruler is defined to have set terms and be subject to an election every so often, and if they don't you get undefined behavior.
It's pretty common for C-level executives, and CEO's in particular, to be pretty chummy with the board of directors. They're all in the same social circles.
Often the CEO of company A will be on the board of company B, and and the CEO of company B is on the board of company A, so there may even be a quid-pro-quo element.
While the CEO officially answers to the BoD, in reality there's a lot of "understandings" and "gentleman's agreements" going on. This is why under-performing CEOs seem to stick around so long.
Empire building is already dead in many ways, ping-ponging executives aren’t building empires, they are positioning for their personal benefit.
Edit to add:
What's shocking was there was a time at google where management was forced to prove their existence was necessary.
One of the problems of course is giving managers feedback. It's hard. It's ugly sometimes. It's always fraught with risk, since you are the one without typically any power in the situation.
But the true canary in the coal mine is when the good employees feel like their feedback isn't heeded, and then they leave. And they can because well, they're good. And HR, having gone through all the trouble of hiring the best and the brightest, are just walking them out the door.
If HR stands up for the employees, then that's a different story than HR being lap dogs for the powerful. Currently turnover numbers probably just sits on page 248 in a footnote of the quarterly HR report and lands on some executive's desk who may or may not care about it.
As an aside, I once told an HR director that the problem with HR is the name: Human Resources -- as in "Humans are Resources". She told me the inside joke at her company was that HR stood for "Happiness Removal".
...Or at least it used to be. Now maybe in 2020 now, "people" can be replaced with "corporations".
I don't believe I've ever seen a post on HN about how wonderful a Human Resources department has ever been, or ever treated anyone fairly. Feel free to prove me wrong here.
If you can dehumanize humans, then you can treat them like objects. It's easier to do firings or layoffs, or cut back on pay raises and benefits.
But from a production point of view, the problem is when you think that a human is equivalent to another with the same title and they are easily interchangeable.
I know you weren't being 100% serious, but I'll say this anyway: of course they can't fire those people. They'd be buried in lawsuits.
More to the point, this is the problem with bad hiring practices. A few years (or, in this case, 10+ years) of misguided hiring practices can bury you in a cultural problem that will take much longer to dig yourself out of.
It's even worse when you're talking about top execs, who can only be fired by a risk-averse/change-averse Board of Directors and will take a massive golden parachute with them when they are fired.
That's part of the cultural problem. You can't know if your culture helps or hurts because there's no control group.
Since Google is doing well financially, they'll have to conclude that their culture is good (or good enough) and stay the course. Firing VPs is rocking the boat, and any Board would be infuriated by it.
The last example top of mind is when I saw the Pixel 3a coming out with 2 months old security patch and they tell you that it going to be updated the next month (with 3 months security update gap).
The old Google would never have compromised on security to edge instability risks during the launch of the Pixel 3a. But some people wanted to play it more "safe" for themselves than for the users.
It seems Google is quickly becoming just another big corporation where people go to make money wanting to work as little as possible and keeping their job as safe as possible avoiding risks.
I am not saying it is like that in every part of the company, but in enough places that it start showing...
No wonder the founders stepped down. Who may want to see their baby and an unique culture like Google slowly deteriorating without having anymore enough power to change it.
If you want anther example, one that come to mind is Google WiFi. When I installed it for a family member, I noticed that (1) You needed to install an app on your phone in order to configure it (2) The Google account on your phone (and you needed one) was going to be the one that "manage" the Google WIFI network (3) The phone needed to have a working internet connection to be able to configure it (4) Google WIFI lacked some standard options (5) Once the Internet connection is down Google WiFI also shuts down the local intranet.
That made me think that whoever was running Google WIFI as a product probably did not know a lot about the last 20 years of how a router has been working and has been configured.
So they ended up making a few assumptions that are problematic. For example:
- My phone did not have reception where my family member lived. And since I did not have a working Internet connection I could not download the app and use it at their house.
- The family member did not have a Google account, so I had to use mine or create a new one just for configuring the router.
- I could not configure something (not remember exactly what) that any other router could.
- When the Internet is down, and it regularly happen in that area, you cannot print.
For at least 10 years, the standard home routers have been having a web UI where you can configure them. This is a pretty basic thing. How could have Google WIFI ignoring it?
People with limited tech background that never configured a router must have been in charge.
I believe it.
During my time at Google as a TVC [recent times], whatever department du jour I was in was having a reorg about once a year. I//we had about 4 different managers in 3 years.
Also, as the chairman of the board, there's no way Schmidt did not know the "DOD ML thing". For the record, I think the "DOD ML thing" is an appropriate "thing" for a US company to be doing, including Google. In fact I think GCP should accept (and seek out) all workloads legal under US law, same as AWS and Azure.
The least-burdensome solution to that regulation is to make every "Tech Lead" a director, hence the title creep! :)
Of course one can argue that Google is no longer the altruistic, everyone has value place it used to be, but perhaps it no longer wants to be. This is not necessarily a failure, just a re-prioritization of goals. For every story of someone leaving Google and blaming X, there are a thousand people eager to fill that now vacant role.
The stock is doing very well and the company is the undisputed king of search and actively targeting other industries. It appears what they are doing org. wise may be accomplishing exactly what it is meant to do.
Google generates a lot of both. It could probably double profits or more by just slashing a lot of the fat. Do they really need 100,000+ people? I feel like they used to launch amazing new products with far greater regularity when they were closer to 10,000.
BTW you say "as it is now publicly traded" as if that's some recent change. Google's IPO was 2004!
Is all the internal company discussion about people valuing and improving the culture? Or are they are just whiny self-important shits?
I literally have no idea.
(fwiw I am not and probably never will be a G employee)
Haven't worked for Google but I worked for couple large banks (Credit Suisse, currently Citi) and VP is currently synonym for line manager. You can be Associate VP without having anybody report to you, just a senior contributor.
Tech companies, not as much.
Look at that subtle off-white coloring.
The tasteful thickness of it.
Oh, my God. It even has a watermark."
At google VPs have hundreds of people reporting to them.
Things to note:
- About half Google's staff were technical
- There are ~80k employees?
- So assume 40k engineers
- Most engineers are ICs
- ICs are given levels from T3 (college grad) to T9 (can walk on water) with there being like a handful of Google Fellows beyond that (your Jeff Deans).
- Managers are M1s through M3s with M1s being baby managers. Most are M2s (equivalent to T6) who are managers of ICs and M3s (T7s) who are managers of managers (and higher level ICs).
- Higher level ICs (T7+) may well directly report to M2s or even directors or VPs but there's so few of those (~1%?) that they don't really change the math.
- In terms of rolled up head count you're looking at 5-20 for an M1/M2, 20-50 for an M3, 50-200 for a director, 150-1000+ for a VP.
- Directors have levels, D1 (T8) and D2 (T9). Sometimes you end up with 2 or even 3 directors within a management chain.
- The archetypal management chain is: CEO -> SVP -> VP -> Director -> M3 -> M1/M2 -> IC
So my opinion is the structure should ideally look something like this:
- M1/M2 average 10 ICs
- M3s average 5 M1/M2s
- Directors average 5 M3s
- VPs average 4 directors
with the following constraints:
- There is only 1 VP in a chain
- There is only 1 SVP in a chain
- There is only 1 director in a chain
- There are at most 2 managers in a chain
So 40K ICs need:
- 4K M1/M2s
- 800 M3s
- 160 directors
- 40 VPs
Now this "ideal" scenario obviously ignores some realities like a management structure built around products and infrastructure may not fit these numbers so neatly but then again some M1s could have 12 ICs while others have 8 and it all sort of works out.
I don't know what Google's numbers are here but I suspect it is MUCH MUCH higher than this.
Suppose we say that an organization has n employees and that everyone in a position of leadership leads m people. The result would be a m-ary tree whose height is roughly:
h = log_m ((m - 1) * n))
If we say that there are l levels of seniority before one becomes a VP, then anyone not in the bottom l levels of the tree is a VP.
h_vp = # of levels of VPs = h - l
The number of VPs would then equal the number of nodes in a complete m-ary tree of height h_vp:
n = (m^h_vp) / (m - 1)
(Forgive me if I made any mistakes in my math, it's been a long time since I took algebra.)
I think line manager is a generic term for the person you explicitly report to though (e.g. the one who approves your time off), not a role in specific.
every 8 ICs + 1 manager = 9
every 8 managers = 1 director = 8 * 9 + 1 = 73
every 8 directors = 1 sr director = 8 * 73 + 1= 585
every 8 sr directors = 1 VP = 8 * 585 + 1 = 4681
every 8 VPs = 1 SVP = 8 * 4681 + 1 = 37449
every 8 SVPs = 1 EVP (c level exec) = 8 * 37449 + 1 = 299593
Clearly the problem is one of the large distribution of team sizes, rather than just "have less VPs".
Before under Larry and Sergey there was an openness to ignore mission and take bets on interesting projects and to try things.
No one on the executive team has a product vision of how Google should evolve so it remains stuck working on old projects and fulfilling the remnants of it's old mission.
Here's the article: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=21935446
While this might (and almost certainly should) hurt Google's brand, I think this issue applies to any big for-profit company. I doubt that Amazon or Apple are much different.
"Why I left [FAANG of choice] / stopped using their products" is a staple of HN article titles.
But of course, none of this anecdotal evidence is proof that everything is FINE with these companies, either. Many of these complaints may be entirely justified.
- Once a for-profit company gets to a certain scale, you're going to have people who care more about profit than any original noble intentions (ex. "Make knowledge universally accessible"/"Don't be evil")
- At a certain size, no one person knows everything that's going on at the company. That makes it extremely difficult to make sure everyone is on the same page. It also makes it very hard to police everything that's happening
I think I read one from Facebook that blamed the OP quitting on how parking worked (??)
Are you trying to imply something about them or am I reading too much into this?
Ignorance of Amazon culture and practices, greed, visa issues, many don't believe it's as bad as it is until they experience it. Many use Amazon as a stepping stone because it looks good on your resume and will guarantee you an interview at most places. For the fulfillment centers folks and blue collar ops; desperation.
Retention for engineers is really low, some say as low as 12 months. So thousands work there, but many do not stay. Also the reason why their compensation is mostly in stock. They know you won't last.
This is all gleaned from friends who work there or have worked there. It's a place you want to be seen working, but doesn't work out for many.
Because they offered me more money than anybody else, and because I liked the mentor I had when I was an intern there. Not having to re-interview for a fulltime job after my internship was nice too. As to why I took the internship... because the money was good and I like ebooks. Not very good reasons, but those were my reasons.
(I've since quit, after readjusting my priorities in life.)
The Amazon department responsible for AWS is awesome to work in. Amazon, the online store, is terrible.
I get this sort of advice from all sorts of career posts. Try to avoid working at a place where IT is a cost-center, a thing grudgingly needed to support the actual business.
This isn't true. People jump between both, including me. There is variance in the culture throughout the company but the culture Amazon is known for comes from the top and is similar in both orgs.
Just because something is a meme doesn't mean it's true or true all the time.
I've been at Google full time for 5+ years and was an intern before that. The company has more than doubled in size since I've been here, so I'm not exactly old-school but I have seen change.
When I started Google felt like one company. I was blown away that I could look at any piece of code (besides Google X and parts of Android) and file a bug against any team when something didn't work. I felt proud of other team's products and I also felt responsible for them, I filed a lot of bugs/feedback trying to make random things better.
The culture was also just fun as hell. The mailing lists and Memegen (our internal meme site) were really fun to participate in for the most part.
A lot has changed now. Each product feels more isolated and does things their own way. The company is far too big for anyone to claim they really know what's going on outside their local area. The culture is no longer fun at all. There is a lot more negativity, and a lot of it is justified (you've seen the news).
However I still love the people I work with directly and what we work on (Firebase, fwiw). And one strange positive about how large the company has gotten is that I can just focus on that. I no longer get too worked up about what's going on over in far-flung teams and that's fine with me. And I don't naively participate in company-wide forums expecting a good mood. But I get to build cool things and we have more resources (money, people, knowledge, etc) than we know what to do with.
All of that is to say that yes, a lot has changed. Some for the worse, some for the better, some just different. I still think this is a great place to work and I don't plan to leave any time soon.
Google's on its way. And it's too big to fail, except it will, and we'll be shocked at the reach of its surveillance capabilities at the fire sale.
We love to cling on to what we have and fight against anything that might remove it from us. Even when we would benefit from the loss.
So it is with companies. Just because Google was an amazing toddler doesn't mean it's an amazing grown-up. Plenty of our angelic youngsters turn out to be grade-A assholes or psychopaths a few years later on.
Which is to say, the google that we knew back in the 90s and 2000s is dead, and has been for a long time.
Whether or not it was a good decision depends on who you ask. I've gotten a lot of utility out of Google's other services over the years (Gmail, Maps, Voice, Drive, Photos, etc, etc...), so I'm not going to completely deny the upsides, but lately I've been slowly migrating away from relying the Google ecosystem.
It's too much control and power in the hands of one monolith. Most modern governments have checks and balances to power that the people (users) can weigh in on. Google is beholden to its stockholders only, and the primary visionaries have moved on.
It's hard for me to continue backing the company vision at this point - since I don't know what it is any longer.
Of course all things change -- that doesn't mean something changing for the worse is therefore inevitable or less shameful
A couple of people are unhappy, out of a workforce of 100000. So what?
It also mostly seems to be political reasons. I would imagine a lot of people working for Google just want to do a good job for a good salary, not make Google a vehicle for their political opinions.
I think people pushing their political agenda within a company tend to harm the company and it should therefore be ok to fire them.
That said, I haven't wanted to work for Google for years. But I am from the opposite side from these veterans. I felt it was very unjust when James Damore was fired, and I really don't want to work at a place that distrusts its workers so much that it forces them to go through diversity trainings and things like that. I would feel "unsafe" at Google.
So for the sake of argument, if you worked at a company where one of your colleagues was being overtly racist and made another employee uncomfortable, you as a third party would feel "unsafe" by the diversity training that this person would be required to attend (likely not even only for ethical or corporate reasons, but likely also legal)?
Companies that have problematic employees solve that with management intervention or firings. Click-through or HR driven powerpoint fests have nothing to do with it.
But this attitude is telling. The vast majority of people are not racist. Actually in my own experience I never encountered someone being racist against blacks or other minorities in the workplace: only white people (e.g. by refusing to hire them into positions). Why is a company wasting time on mandatory training for everyone to rectify nearly non-existent problems?
I used to work at Google and back then it wasn't so big into this idpol stuff. Based on what I've read but also heard from the dwindling number of friends who haven't left yet (now down to only two), I would never return. I agree I'd feel unsafe in that environment, partly because idpol ridden workplaces tend to abuse terms like "racism" to mean anyone who isn't loudly and visibly loyal to idpol ideology ... people like Damore. And I don't think you can be loyal to an ideology and still maintain your self respect.
However, seeing someone being unjustifiable punished makes most of us to feel empathy and sharing their pain. It make us feel scared, activate flight and fly reflexes, anger and a lot of regions in the brain associated with strong emotions.
So for the sake of argument, the best would be if only the first case occur in the work place. If everyone share the same definition of good and bad, wrong and rights, racism, sexism, classism, and *ism. We could achieve this single mind if everyone has the same age, share the same cultural background, have the same religion, with a large dose of kinship. That way the first case can be almost guarantied with minimum risk of the second case.
I don't claim to have a recipe for converting racists. Maybe a good start would be not to hire them in the first place?
Why? Because I don't think it likely that diversity training would convince the racist to stop being a racist. It may teach the racist to conceal his racism, which from the corporation's perspective might well be good enough, but a crypto-racist is still a racist and would still make me feel uncomfortable.
Or to put this another way, how many sessions of diversity training would you need to put James Damore through before the women of google felt comfortable working with him?
It may even make the situation worse for the racist's [present and future] coworkers since now they have a wolf in sheep's clothing situation to contend with.
Indoctrinating people on why they should behave in a certain way is a different matter. And again, the insult of assuming employees are in need of such training.
That is the yearly manager training class. Even if you were only managing an intern, you had to take it every year.
>That said, I haven't wanted to work for Google for years. But I am from the opposite side from these veterans.
>I felt it was very unjust when James Damore was fired
Well, it can be argued that he was fired for similar reasons.. Are you saying that it's okay depending on which 'side' (a whole other story) someone is on?
Good point. I guess what feels particularly unfair to me is that (afaik) Damore published his paper on an internal board, after having been encouraged to state his opinions in a diversity training session. He didn't start out accusing Google publicly. Also, another bit that feels unfair to me is the interpretation of his memo as "hateful".
Other than that - I personally think companies should be allowed to fire whoever they want. Them firing Damore (among other things) just makes them a company I don't want to work for.
“ ... an internal NLRB memo found that his firing was legal. The memo, which was not released publicly until February 2018, said that while the law shielded him from being fired solely for criticizing Google, it did not protect discriminatory statements, that his memo's "statements regarding biological differences between the sexes were so harmful, discriminatory, and disruptive as to be unprotected", and that these "discriminatory statements", not his criticisms of Google, were the reason for his firing.“
This statement by the NBL just proves to me that the NBL is a batshit crazy untrustworthy institution. (Add the NBL to the list of places I wouldn't want to work for...).
I guess that is just the modern world, people have so different views (perspectives) that no reconciliation seems possible.
In any case, no need to discuss the Damore memo again, I just wanted to point out that there are different sides, and these recent articles seem to represent only one side.
FYI I erred - it’s the NLRB not the NLB - my bad.
I actually read the memo by Damore.
But OK, "batshit crazy" goes more for the "movement" as a whole. This is just crazy. Or maybe just legal weirdness?
What would make you feel unsafe? It seems like you're suggesting the answer is diversity trainings. What about them would make you feel that way?
I am stating the fact that I would feel unsafe working for a company like Google. Whether my feeling of being unsafe is warranted is up for discussion. That I have the feeling (or expect to have it) is a fact.
By the way, forcing people through diversity training is also like that: it is saying "you are racist and need to be reprogrammed". That is likewise not a good entry for discussion. Except that compared to my comment on an internet forum, it is official company policy.
I'm just suggesting you might want to take some time to be introspective. Personally, I read many of your comments as emotionally charged personal opinions rather than 'rational thoughts for discussion'.
I'm not going to invalidate what you feel, but I do suggest that you might not be effectively translating those feelings into rational discussion points as much as you think you are?
I am emotionally charged on that subject, yes - but that is after years of dealing with it.
I think Damore made a pretty good effort at putting his thoughts into rational discussion points, and it didn't help. I think to make any headyway on that topic, if it is possible at all, will require psychology, not rational arguments.
And you still won't say exactly how diversity training affects your safety. You can simply attend and listen without venturing any risky comments.
However, as I said, I think Google is entitled to do it in their own way. I just personally don't want to work for a company that doesn't employ rational thought and discussion for trying to solve problems.
I am not proposing to implement a law that forces companies to allow open discussions. I am just saying I personally don't want to work there.
Diversity training and safety - I wrote it elsewhere. It signals "this is SJW territory". In a similar vein you could say "why does a Swastika tattoo make you feel unsafe? Just don't say you are Jewish or homosexual".
Swastikas make Jews feel unsafe because Nazis kill Jews (even today).
Diversity training and social justice are not killing anyone, nor are they anti-anyone.
"When you are used to privilege, equality feels like oppression." Not sure who said that, but it seems applicable to your mindset here.
If a company publicly hires James Damore now, SJWs will probably launch a campaign against that company sooner or later, so I wonder how employable he is these days?
It's only because they don't have enough power yet that more people haven't died.
Analogy to the Holocaust: of course it is not the same thing, I was using an extreme example to make the point obvious.
Nevertheless, SJWs are not a force of good in the world. And "proactive social justice", as I said, is just a way to mark the territory and grasp power.
""When you are used to privilege, equality feels like oppression.""
That's just a lame bullshit excuse to not look at what is actually happening. Discrimination is discrimination, no matter if you do it in the name of good or not. If you prefer to hire non-white female people, you are racist and sexist. It's absurd that those same racist and sexist people then get to send normal people to diversity training and accuse them of being racist.
If you look at individuals, the injustice of the "proactive social justice" approach is patently obvious.
Airbnb is probably the most desirable non-fintech company, Uber and Lyft were in this category too before their IPOs.
Of megacorps, Facebook generally has the best new grad comp and benefits, and is therefore most desirable. Google is a close-ish second, Microsoft and Amazon are far behind due to lower comp and cultural issues (In Amazon’s case, this means terrible work/life balance, in Microsoft’s, perception that it’s boring due to enterprise culture and office locations in particularly bland suburbs).
Apple and Netflix aren’t really on the new-grad radar because they hire mostly experienced engineers.
Nothing against AirBnB, it might be a fine, solid company doing a good job. But what about them is inspiring?
Second, it seems to me that there’s more room for growth at Airbnb than other companies with similar compensation. (This is an impression with no hard evidence to back it up)
"The company has seen a decline in its job offer acceptance rates to software engineer candidates from nearly 90% in late 2016 to almost 50% in early 2019."
> Amazon are far behind due to lower comp and cultural issues (In Amazon’s case, this means terrible work/life balance, i
Radical candor time. How are Amazon new grads perceived?
Funnily enough, that fits my stereotype of how a person from Amazon would ask me.
Google is still pretty popular among new grads. Of the "Big 4" (Google, Facebook, Amazon, Microsoft), Facebook seems to have taken the biggest hit reputationally, but is also still popular. Amazon is less popular due to the perception of its work culture and not being as engineering driven/having as high an engineering bar as Google/Facebook, but is also a popular choice.
I'd say the most popular are "unicorns" that are know for having a good culture, strong engineering, and a promising financial trajectory; Stripe and Airbnb are the two that most quickly come to mind.
I’m a new grad that chose Amazon, what does the “not as high engineering bar” mean explicitly?
My sense is only a very small percentage (way less than 1%) of software developers think that proprietary software by definition is unethical. Am I wrong to think this?
There is a sizable chunk who would prefer to work with non-properietary software if only for the ability to take a peak. The likely winner by raw numbers would be the "apathetics" who go wity whatever works.
What other sense is there? Or more specifically, what makes proprietary software innately unethical? It just seems like you have to radically distort the meaning of "proprietary" or "ethical" to make any sense of the concept and at that point you are just playing with semantics and not communicating clearly.
Instead we keep getting posts on HN from companies that either go dual licenses, or completely proprietary to stay on business, or just switch business altogether.
wouldn’t that be nearly everyone? there are very, very few RMS’s in the world.
Google guy complained (a lot) about mom (upstairs) leaving her stroller in the lobby to the point where she would ask me for help carrying it up the stairs pretty often. (no problem, I had a baby and was a sympathetic southern transplant)
Mom said "I thought they were the "Don't be evil" guys"; that stuff was branding gold!
Whether technical people like or dislike, is kind of ambivalent. You know, it's how we make our money. And companies like Google are the market makers for raising salaries for the employees of this industry.
Opinions are my own.
Just looking at their hires, you can almost see the cultural shift play out.
I think it's more a failure of leadership and vision on Google's part. A symptom of the company transitioning from engineering led to MBA/Business.
The exception was their ad sales department, which under Nikesh Arora did develop a capability to build and sign large ad deals. But it took a long time because you didn't really need that for text ads, only for stuff like "rent the YouTube homepage for a day".
But for everything else they didn't really have it or care about it, institutionally.
Now look at Oracle. Weak tech, huge experience in high-touch enterprise sales. And say what you like about Oracle but they have an enormous customer base and are deeply entrenched for valid reasons. So combine Oracle's sales and relationship-oriented culture with Google's raw tech prowess and you have a potentially great combination.
It felt like a place where people worked on ideas they thought were cool. Things seemed to just happen organically without a lot of bureaucracy and management structure.
I think Larry changed that with a more top down approach with what to work being decided higher up, see social. This led to less project flexibility and more hierarchy, with managers and pms becoming more important in the org.
Coupled with the growth in the number of employees, I think where the company today is just a gradual evolution of what Larry started along with the problems of growth.
That said it is still a pretty good place to work at for a number of reasons.
But I see people do nothing but work. They start at 7.00. Work all day. Outsource family time. Scrounge for a little bit of self care time. Sleep little, enjoy in chunks of time once a year. All for a price.
Most of what we work for goes to the government. Yes, taxes go for betterment of society but because no one has a say in it, it can also go towards things some of us don’t believe in. War, for example. I can’t divert my tax dollars towards space exploration rather than bloody wars.
We need a formula for life and living. A formula that gives us true and lasting freedom.
[..] When Page became CEO in 2011, he became “obsessed” with reading about why companies fail from being too big and sluggish, Stapleton said. “It’s sort of sad that a lot of the things he was afraid would happen, actually happened.”
Stapleton, who held a number of roles close to the founders, recalled Page walking around offices with a chunk of metal that he said was from his grandfather’s auto plant in Michigan. It supposedly symbolized a point in time when auto workers felt like they needed to protect themselves against management. Page showed it as an example of something he hoped would never happen to Google.
“He always said how much Google needs to be upfront and progressive in how it handles people and processes and HR,” Stapelton recalled. “He had such an optimistic view of technology and how Google could really transform how people live and free up humanity to pursue the arts.”[..]
Relatively few people have an effective tax rate above 50%.
In the US, if you live in a high tax state like California or New York, you need to have an income (single person!) of about 2,500,000 USD/yr to have an effective tax rate above 50%. (Actually more like $2.9m in NYC)
Edit: for an EU example, somewhere in Bayern, Germany it'd be about 1m ~ 1.5m EUR to have an effective tax rate above 50%.
I suppose it might be possible to pay more than half your income in tax if you were, say, spending ten to twenty thousand pounds a year on cigarettes and strong spirits?
Can you explain how you got this figure?
https://www.gov.uk/income-tax-rates says that the rate at 100K is 40% and 45% at 150K
Once you get to £100,000/year gross salary, the tax-free allowance starts to taper away. At £100,000/year, your tax free allowance is ~£12,000; at £125,000/year, your tax free allowance is £0.
Suppose now you got a pay rise from £100,000 to £125,000. At £100,000, your take home pay was ~£66,500; at £125,000, your take home pay is ~£76,000. Your overall tax rate was ~33.5%, now ~39%. But comparing this year's payslips with last year's, you'll notice that of the £25,000 increase in the headline figure, ~£9,500 has actually made its way into your bank account. And 9500/25000=0.38. That's where the 62% figure comes from.
In practice, since the max tax rate is 45%, and employee's NI is around 1% at that point, your overall tax rate never gets past 46%. (For example, suppose you earn £1m via PAYE: net salary is ~£541,000. Overall tax rate therefore 45.9%.)
You can get approximate figures for this stuff out using https://listentotaxman.com/. If you want proper advice, you can pay an accountant.
Nitpick 2: The employer also pays 13.7% NI on top of that million-pound salary, so the actual tax wedge on the employer's £1.137m outlay is 52.4% (and would approach 53.4% at multi-million salary levels).
There is National Insurance (which is a flat 2% above ~40k).
There is the tapering of the personal allowance, which amounts to another 20% between £100k and ~£125k.
There is the stealth income tax of Employer's national insurance, which is spun as a tax on the employer, but all employers realise that they need to pay this extra ~13%, so obviously they factor that into salaries.
There is the withdrawal of child benefit for people who earn over 50k, which, again is an effective income tax on high earners with children.
Finally, there are things like the withdrawal of pension relief, which effectively increases your tax by making you pay tax on pension contributions that you wouldn't have had to pay tax on if you earnt less.
All of these can combine to an effective income tax rate of over 50%, by which I mean of the money that leaves your employer's account at the end of each month, more of it goes to the inland revenue than goes to you.
2. Sales tax: on all consumption.
3. Gas tax, utilities surcharge. Special taxes, parcel taxes etc
4. Hideous thing we have now that is toll charges. I guess it’s like a congestion charge. Which essentially means that if people have to come into Silicon Valley to work, they have to pay the toll trolls under the bridges, as it were..
It’s one thing for google employees to pay this, but imagine lower income and minimum wage labour folks shelling out money. This means that it’s effectively discrimination against jobs and businesses that can’t hire employees to pay them a liveable wage.
Often the companies are blamed, but is it really them or is it the tax hungry govt? It seems like a good distraction and make scapegoats out of workers in well paid sectors. It’s almost as if companies like google and the rest of FAANG have a complicit cozy arrangement with the govt. the more they hire, the more ka-Ching for the tax collectors.
In fact, my rule of thumb when someone is paraded as a villain..be it google or tech bros or seniors or prop 13..or anyone else, I always follow the money. More often than not, all roads lead to Sacramento. And there are a few scapegoats up front and they are mere distractions.
How can the govt bloat and red tape and inefficiencies be blamed on tech/white colour working class who pay most of the states taxes? How is it possible that public schools don’t have swimming pools and adequate funds for programs when the millions of dollars in property taxes goes to the common state budget pot to be redistributed. Modesto schools are awesome even though they don’t nearly contribute as much as they receive and don’t have the density of Bay Area cities..and yet, high earning areas are blamed for creating inequalities. It’s just odd. If you just follow the money, it’s all pretty clear that all the usual suspects just happen to be convenient scapegoats.
5. Lack of good public transport means car, insurance, gas, registration, repairs etc. it adds up.
6. Then insurance which is actually part of your salary and because we don’t have universal health care, it’s technically wages every month.
Not to mention the latest head tax in Mountain View with most of it paid by google.
One of my neighbors ..to the contempt and disdain of other non techie folks/retirees..proclaimed that after both the adults earning close to half a million, they barely live pay check to pay check with very little savings after buying a new home with their two kids in public school. Remarkable but that’s almost believable if they were leading a comfortable no scarcity life.
You can be on welfare at 45k in Oakland with 7 kids and 2 adults when you are poor and you have services and food stamps and welfare and subsidized housing. There is no where to go below. But when you are upper middle class and you have to pay for everything and what you work for is to maintain a standard of life, then 20k/month isn’t enough for a family of 4.
Most tech employees are on the receiving end of scorn and contempt and envy in the Bay Area. Sometimes even within their own places of employment by transplants from east coast who have California COLA sticker shock or young people just out of school who don’t have families. There is a lot of derision here when one is ambitious and wants to be upward mobile. It’s really strange to me as someone witnessing all this Silicon Valley upheaval as an outsider.
This isn’t my circus as I am not working in SV but it’s really odd. I don’t know what to make of it or see the sense in it. I want to believe that everyone is justified in how they feel from their perspective, but it’s hard to understand how some feel like the most productive class in SV should be the most taxed and exploited. The beauty or tragedy of it is that a large majority of their own believe that the tech working class is undeserving of their status and needs to be taxed more. Not my monkeys, not my circus..but still..its like bizarro world. Only in California. Fascinating.
Imagine you make 2.5 million/year. Why should you pay 1.25 million as taxes? Are you being taxed for being wealthy? Isn’t it punitive? What services do you receive that is worth 1.25 million?
But imagine you make 60k/year. Roads, infrastructure, essential services, public schools for a family of 4 with 2 kids does make sense. A larger family benefits more as they get more than they contribute.
Our tax system incentivizes larger families and redistributes wealth. It works if there is a healthy middle class. In CA the very rich is thin but they also support a larger proportion than other states.
When we are looking to hit 9 billion soon, it’s probably not best to incentivize rampant population growth and large families.
The point of social security is to mitigate risk, which increases fluidity in the job market. Without that, you have scores of potential successful business owners working in factories, contributing fuck all to the economy.
There's some real positives to progressive taxation too. It acts as a negative tax on risk, incentivising veteran devs to take on more low paying research positions and startups instead of lucrative consulting and big business gigs.
There's a reason almost every highly successful country has a similar tax system. Progressive taxation up to ~50% and not much higher. Because despite what people on the far-left or far-right keep crapping on about, fucking with either free markets or welfare is a recipe for disaster, you need a good balance of both to have a healthy economy.
US fertility rate is already below 2 (per woman), and overall population growth is already very low. It doesn't make sense to use population growth as a reason for anything at this point.
Also, the growth to 9 billion worldwide isn't due to US. It's mostly due to Africa. And we already know what lowers the birth rate - better healthcare, better economy and better education. Nothing to do with tax policy or wealth transfer.
Maybe migration is in order. But we can’t increase a nation or a people’s population to keep up with others out of some kind of racial purity goal.
Better healthcare also increases life span and population due to lower mortality rate.
More women are educated today than 100 years ago, yet population has kept increasing steadily.
World poverty has decreased and yet population has increased.
I think the demographic transition model applied on a per-country basis explains that quite well (and also makes clear that there is no immediate cause for concern based on population alone).
You may want to watch:
and a few other videos on gapminder.
> we only have a fixed land/resources in our planet and we must stay within carrying capacity.
There's no evidence that's the case. We do have serious environmental issues (like global warming, and pollution) but they are not directly related to "carrying capacity" to sustain the overall human population. For all we know, we know we can produce enough food to sustain the population. We know technological solutions to solve the global warming.
Look at the historical data on birthrate (click play to see it change from 1800 to present):
you'll find that the world has largely already converged to the steady state, and it's only Africa that needs to finish its transition to the sustainable state. Thus, the only humanitarian and practical way to end the population growth is to get the (most African) poor countries get better health, better education and economy, which is already in well progress.
A stable state that protects your property rights over the other 1.25 million.
If the mafia protected you from other people robbing you, then they'd be a legitimate business. It's called a security company.
All of those things were essential for you to have earned your $2.5 million in the first place without always having to look over your shoulder in case the local warlord notices your money and decides to take it.
How much is the tax rate in Rwanda?
Do you have a shred of evidence to back this up?
In reality, the situation is the opposite: places with higher taxes that pay for better government services see a declining birth rate.
Taxes pay for a social safety net and birth control. Both of those things cause birth rates to go down, not up. By contrast, large families are the safety net in places with riskier economies and poorer public health.
Someone making 2.5 million and paying 1.25 million in taxes supports the others with less benefits.
This is the first example that came to my mind. What are your thoughts on this?
I hear your emotional plea, but I can’t find logic or rationality behind it.
Data shows that lowering the cost of education doesn't increase birth rate. Otherwise Germany, which has 100% free education through college, would have a high (and increasing) birth rate.
The same is true for every country that has developed economically. Stability/security reduce birth rate.
It makes sense, doesn't it? Having a child is a huge emotional, physical, and financial burden, regardless of the cost of education. The government would have to give people an astronomical amount of money to make it feel like people were "getting paid" to have kids, and even then, I still doubt they would.
Children take an enormous toll on people's lives and bodies. As an example, the Japanese government is trying to get people to have them, and they just won't.
We need much higher taxes on millionaires.
I don’t know what to make of this pointless back and forth..
If you think someone who creates products is less productive than say...a supermarket check out employee, I have nothing more to contribute to this back and forth. Have a nice day.
Could declining birth rate be a sign of a better society that values quality of life over quantity of offspring genes? Of course, causation isn’t correlation and all that.
Perhaps if incentivizing smaller families with UBI for life will be a better policy than incentivizing large families?
Most people in developed, Western countries get free birth control (and all other medical necessities) from the government. This is funded by their taxes.
This is also true of US citizens using Medicare.
Further, taxes pay for sex education at public schools, CDC awareness campaigns, and other
> Could declining birth rate be a sign of a better society that values quality of life over quantity of offspring genes?
Yes. What I'm saying is that the "better society" part is funded by governments (especially in Western Europe and Canada): public health programs and social safety nets decrease economic reliance on children, which reduces economic motivations to produce them. Fewer children also die, reducing the need to already have "extra" children to replace them.
> Perhaps if incentivizing smaller families with UBI for life will be a better policy than incentivizing large families?
UBI may make sense. I don't know. It depends on the specifics and hasn't been extensively studied.
However, I'm still trying to understand why you think anyone is "incentivizing" large families. Who is doing it and why? What part of the government is trying to increase the birth rate?
There is no family cap for welfare. What are you going to do? Let the others starve? It’s an impossible situation.
Currently smaller families don’t get incentives. This isn’t to say larger families should be let to be destitute. I am just saying that those who dont should be rewarded.
But if smaller families are heavily incentivized and with everyone getting UBI, then the scales will tip for quality over quantity.
Your theory that changing welfare payments based on number of children will increase children is wrong.
I don’t have a theory but I proposed that if we reward parents who have small families, then they will be incentivised to maintain smaller healthier families.
It might also encourage those who want to have larger families to have smaller families.
And what do you produce alone that is worth 2.5 million?
and then the fourth 1/3 of the time you sleep
1/3 of 16 hours then..
This is going to be unpopular but I'll plow ahead regardless: no it isn't. Work is what we do to support our expensive hobbies and because we like nice things.
The cutting edge tech is all for what? It’s for everyone to have a phone in their hands..find directions..listen to music..swipe for dates etc. today a farmer in India has a smart phone. It’s democratization of tech. The world benefits. It’s a form of service where you get paid.
As opposed to being a butler for the queen of England.
It’s actually a beautiful thing. I hear a lot of grudges against tech workers in Bay Area from those who aren’t..I always point out that the world is better because a hand ful of people make lives better for 8 billion by making tech accessible.
Of course, there will be a cost for this. A price for this. A heavy one sometimes. But the goal is for everyone to live better. Imagine we didn’t have computers 50 years ago. How far we have come...
Ask the person cleaning your corporate bathrooms tonight, who doesn't work for that corporation, if that's why they're working.