The fact that you are paid does nothing about the ennui. You clearly never held a no-show job before.
I think what you can do is influence the culture of a company and reap the rewards, having done the devops transformation in two difference companies that were deemed unfixable (both more than 4 offices and 3k people) I feel it is very doable! It just takes time and it is not an algorithm you can learn and apply blindly.
- Model the behaviors you want to see.
- Thanks and recognize others when they do the behaviors you want to see.
- Use your Comment and Reject buttons when formal processes ask you to sign off on behaviors you don't want to see.
- Propose initiatives to influential people you trust and identify as likely allies.
Of course if you're wrong about having the political capital, and especially if your own manager is not on board, swimming upstream can be dangerous.
I read comments on another blog whereby one commenter thinks he is a guy who can use his girlfriend's name as if everyone should know that is who he is talking about like he is on a first name basis with the crowd.
At 200k per year, you can buy Obamacare which is 6k per year and for an individual 6k max out of pocket.
So many people are fooled into thinking their companies health insurance is worth something beyond 12k/yr. And that 12k is firefighters union tier.
I followed exactly this practice - immediately left crappy places -> kept strong clients. Took myself from $40K/year to $500K/year (not tech BTW so this is I think a bit harder than in tech).
Here is the kicker - some of the terrible places I left later called and specifically requested me. I literally burnt NO bridges. I would just apologize and say I didn't think I could meet their standards / expectations at that time and wanted to be prompt about letting them know so they could find someone new. And the reality - they are pretty friendly departures if done early - no time for crap to build up.
Quick things I don't recommend off the top of my head
* Having multiple bosses on a project
* Having responsibility but no authority
* Being asked to deliver stuff with no data / dependent on too many others you don't have control over.
Things I didn't mind.
* Bosses with high standards. If they were willing to pay, I'd be willing to live up to those. Even if I thought they went way too far with it cost / benefit side. I learned a lot from these folks. Some examples.
Me: You could pay someone $20/hr to do this work.
Them: We want you to do it.
Me: I charge $200.
Me: I'm busy, I can't help.
Them: What would it cost to help.
Me: 150% my normal rate and I'd have to work weekends only - can you open the office on the weekends and have support staff in on the weekend to help me?
At the time I thought these folks were nuts, but they both went on to do really really well (and in one case I turned out to be absolutely pivotal in that).
* Working onsite - remote work is hard to see
But the bottom line - some consulting clients are not worth having, just move on. I never ever complained. I would make a few suggestions, give it my best shot, then moved on quickly if needed. In all but one case the tough ones imploded later. One case (that called me back) actually took my suggestions on my way out (you might consider restructuring department X like follows) and got 10x bigger.
Funny thing - govt work is very interesting. You can see how a Shadow IT setup comes into play if you work for govt.
It took me a bit to catch on to the right approach and had to learn along the way (wasting time forever with a folks who were set on doing it their way into the ground and learning from clients doing a good job).
But what happened is once you focus on clients that work well with you (and you with them) then the reputation value just goes through the roof. It looks like everything you do "works" - but half of that is you are picking clients ready to make it work?
Now of course I have lots of different stress - you can grow too quickly - and even with staff can fall behind your clients now high standards - so a quick fall is possible. People paying premium $ expect a good result not unreasonably - especially if they themselves are delivering on a high level. No one minds if you screw up and are getting paid $25/hr. In some ways I miss those days. I def went out drinking a lot more back then.
I just read this and I can say, I worked with a company that was roughly this but multiplied by 0.25. Main product that never worked but sold as if it did? Check. Weird investor schemes? Check. Sales people lying about the product, or the customers (as if the company had them, instead of a string of noncommittal POCs)? Check. Sales people having no clue what the product did, and just selling the bullshit they invented? Check. CEO rotations? Check. Someone getting entangled in what looked like a different version of Nigerian Prince scam? Check.
I can 100% believe everything the author said, because I've seen a lite version of it. And if all you know about a company comes from their website, press, conferences and their salesmen, you'll never realize how rotten things are on the inside.
Who hasn't? You will find the points of that bullshit bingo in any company with some degree on severity, even more so in a young startup.
A good portion of the article is the author realizing that stock options are shit when the company isn't doing as well as they claimed. (Welcome to the club!) Another portion is the author realizing that they don't like working on an open source project with a BDFL that they perceive to be resistant to input. And then they complain about the sales people doing a good job, because they are selling what makes the company money instead of support contracts for what they work on.
In the end, if I were to consider working at the company, nothing of that would tell me if it were a good idea or not.
But you're right, honestly the only thing I really learned about that experience was I should have just quit sooner. That's really all there is to it.
This is very toxic and can be very depressing and when I see posts like this I salute them because everyone who reads this will think twice before working for that company.
First step toward being able to participate in fixing anything is being able to reflect on what is going on and being able to learn from what others in similar situation did or did not do.
Let's footnote a coupleo f his "Story of Pivotal The Employment"
To contribute to Redis
> All My Work Is Owned by Another Employee? What?
The primary redis maintainer, not a pivotal employee?
> Let’s Organize Instead of Being A Hobby Project
Let's misrepresent the philosophical position of the OS project maintainer on the best way to move the project forward.
> Two Days of Work to Clear 4 Years of Issues Ignored By The Creator Because Laziness
A bunc hof those issues have fundamental problems that the creator explicitly drilled into and explained (https://github.com/antirez/redis/pull/1906#issuecomment-5145...)
The response by antirez is professional and reasonable.
What I also found odd in that section was that the poster apparently started a product strategy discussion with his coworker over Twitter.
It's an open source project, sure, but that doesn't strike me as a healthy approach.
If Pivotal hired someone to contribute to Redis who then wasn’t actually allowed to contribute, that’s even more silly.
Can't comment on what non-services teams are like at Pivotal but the services organization is pretty spectacular.
Pivotal's got problems just like every other organization does, but this guy seems to be mad as hell and blowing things a _bit_ out of proportion.
Overall, the org looks decent on Glassdoor.
Anecdotally, Glassdoor will often remove negative reviews for paying employers by giving flimsy excuses like "They are against the 'Community Guidelines'" (something that's so broad it's impossible to hold them to specifics). The "features" they advertise for paying employers are all above-the-board though.
Every company has problems and you don't have to stay there even if you hate everything under the sun about them. Perhaps he was too focused on hate-watching his company's culture to even think about quitting.
I'm also surprised he isn't more concerned with anonymity. I know if he applied for an open role at my current company, based on this post he would not be hired.
But... that all sounds like a lot of responsibility doesn't it?
What's more responsible than pushing code to a high-profile project? Responsible for the product's performance, security. Responsible for what the customer sees and experiences. Responsible for keeping their data safe and guarding the company's reputation.
Responsible enough to be allowed to work independently from home.
Responsible enough to travel the world representing the company in-person.
Being responsible for product's performance and security means something completely different then "having commits". Having commits does not make you accountable for either nor able to influence either. Except maybe by making it worst - if you work on part of the software that is actually influencing either.
I can fix tons of bugs in open source software without having responsibility for anything. The fact is, modern software development is oftentimes factory where you get task, you do task and then forget about it all. If you had not done the task, nothing grave would not happen except that you would loose job over time. And that is all there is to it.
If he's pushing to Redis he's responsible for the integrity of probably billions of dollars worth of data. That's a massive, international-scale level of responsibility, in the name of his employer. That's huge responsibility!
He also uses the word "fraud" ad nauseam. One place I worked actually used Pivotal Tracker, and I found it worked pretty well from the end-user perspective. Wasn't ground-breaking software or anything, but it at least worked. I could see my tasks at a glance a lot easier than with, say, Basecamp.
Just another person with an axe to grind.
I love PT and I've used it for 6+ years at my last two jobs.
Generally speaking, if an individual was a remote, WFH, IC employee whose manager didn't even talk to them for a year, they probably don't have the working knowledge to do much critiquing of the company at large.
It should also be noted that Pivotal was acquired by VMware for ~$2.7B.
Points like this:
> At the other end, you have employees who create your products being treated like unwanted interns because development and engineering isn’t given recognition for generating revenue. Obviously only sales and executives are money makers. Developers are just an unneeded, low skilled, interchangeable burden reducing your profits because they have non-commission-based salaries. Why not just fire all your developers then sell what they made without fixing or improving anything—wow, infinite profit!
Coupled with him making $220k/yr in salary (no mention that I saw about equity) doesn't seem to gel. The entitlement is strong with this one.
This doesn't mean much. Both Pivotal and Dell were controlled / belonged to Dell at the point of the acquisition, so this was more of a Dell-internal restructuring than an acquisition on the open market.
That said, I agree that the OP is way over the top to be taken seriously.
IIRC Pivotal’s stock price collapsed, it didn’t seem to have much of a future as a public company, and so Dell consolidated it into VMware to save face.
I'm guessing that's what OPs referring to when he says that the customers and investors were the same, probably most of their customers were other Dell companies.
And stupidity. He is already behind $50,000 for refusing to sign off his rights to tell his 'story'. Maybe he feels there is a market for his skills (and to your point, um, attitude) for his take on things. (There isn't)
And the idea that there is no potential blowback from the company because of free speech means he is simply not aware of what a willing and able (financially) adversary can do to you if they want (using legal or other means). Company could decide to go after him just to send a message even if no chance of actually winning or collecting or other tangible benefit.
Edit: and I didn't catch the audio clip at the end until just now! Wow. What is this guy thinking??
Wow. I don't know you, but going by nothing but that statement, you sound as privileged and entitled as he is.
You'd need to know what sales were earning before you resort to name calling.
The world isn't zero-sum everywhere.
Am I being a bit dim or did they immediately contradict themselves here?
I did do a lot of FOSS work during that time but ultimately I started feeling depressed. I'm not a live to work person, but I do want to feel like my work has some sort of meaning, even if that meaning is just "building a product that people use".
Having my contract not be renewed (insourcing to China) was the best thing that could have happened to me. I got a new position where we moved at a decent pace and I was contributing to something real, and I felt way better almost immediately.
Sure the agreement was one sided, and maybe it even had questionable legal basis and would be unenforceable, but guess what, so do many other contracts consumers sign every day, and those don't usually net us $50k!
If the author had another job lined up already, the severance package wasn't worth much of anything -- it only paid out until he had a new position. So, probably closer to passing up $0 than to passing up $50K.
Still a bit of an annoying personality. If you know you won't get any $ from the severance package, just send a "thanks but no thanks" message to the person off-boarding you. Don't harass some poor corporate lawyer 2 years of out law school with inane demands for preferential terms on the severance contract for an individual contributor.
I took a paycut but the world is totally different when you enjoy your job.
I am home from deployment working at the same employer, one of the biggest and most profitable companies in the country/world. This employer is one of the best employee friendly companies I have ever seen and pays well. I still hate it. It’s not really the employer I hate, but working in corporate software.
If I could get any other job at a vaguely similar income level I would take it happily, even if it’s digging ditches or shoveling shit, and this is even though I really enjoy writing software. Corporate software is grossly dysfunctional.
* In software I am frequently surrounded by people who are afraid to do their jobs - https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=22478996
* It could be that I am frequently surrounded by people who lack confidence because they have no idea how to do their job - https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=22412477
* Or maybe software just allows people to be less than competent because there is not an agreed upon definition of competence. Maybe software is a blue collar industry with an identity disorder - https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=22391509
* If you needed an example of that identity disorder: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=22360326
* It seems other developers have similar observations - https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=22345702
* Often times it’s easier to do nothing, because when you try people cry - https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=22194297
* Since there are not industry defined norms and ethics you too can attain a do nothing job recognizing the bias that goes into hiring and manipulating it to your favor - https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=22164138
* For the longest time I had incorrectly thought the corporate software directly encouraged incompetence in a highly competitive way. A HN comment convinced me it was just mental laziness - https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=22116659
* Sexism is just a symptom of that bias and mental laziness - https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=22098101
* If you want examples of mental laziness in practice - https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=21965539
* Everyone in software is an engineer right? https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=21905285
* People actually seriously trying to justify being paid for other people doing theirs jobs for them - https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=21885691
* If you actually do your job you might fail, so better play it safe - https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=21884188
* Blue collar work work, as evidenced by the expectations - https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=21739708
* Originality is scary - https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=21417450
I guess you meant greatest but I love the idea of greasy envy. (Apologies for the diversion.)
I found that what he did - his job description as he put 'Matt as a service' - to be reasonable.
Support, bug fixes, documentation, and development. It would be nice to see more companies have someone completely own a small piece.
Often when I contact developer support, I talk to someone who clearly does not know anything about the product I'm talking about. It would have been nice to talk to Matt at that time.
Conversely, having the developers directly talk to customers gives them more visibility to how their products are being used. This is both fulfilling and enlightening.
> Previously (December 2017): Pivotal Empolyment 2013-2016
What the author is talking about is a real issue - there is a very significant portion of enterprise (and b2b) software that basically adds little or no value compared to a competitor. Often the money is made by leveraging relationships with contacts in large corporations who frankly won't notice the money is missing - and for a plethora of reasons are more incentivised to push for buying something than to actually see the company succeed. I've personally seen sales organisations pay hundreds of thousands to external contractors when we had more competent staff literally sitting waiting to be asked to do the work. Even then, there's a hell of a lot of software out there that isn't difficult and isn't interesting, so the defining feature of who provides it is what their sales organisation looks like.
The result of that dynamic though, is the engineering organisation can be crap- because they're not where the company derives its value. Which might not be what an software engineer wants to hear, but it's true. (as an aside, find out what sales folks are paid at your current job - it's probably more than you).
I stopped reading right there. I really don't want to hear someone in this situation complain. Suck it up or find a new job - take a pay cut if you're really that unhappy. I've worked for shitty companies for a fraction of that salary.
Hell, It's taken me over 15 years to get to a salary even within spitting distance of that amount - and I've never been able to work from home.
I wish he had taken the $50K. We would have all been better off!
(As noted in the article, the $50K severance would have been tied to a non-disparagement agreement.)
I think sometimes developers have drink so hard the kool aid of changing the world and all that, and if is not happening, then get sad. But why?
Maybe because I have a long time in this industry, but this is what I do: If see an opportunity to improve things (without need to convince others) I do. If need to convince others, and succeed, great. If not, but the environment is okey, I keep going.
I think a lot of people just have no perspective. I'm fond of this movie scene:
If you're a strong developer and willing to live in certain areas -- at least for a couple years before you're trusted enough to go remote -- you can make $200K/yr. It's mostly just a matter of telling yourself you are worth that much, applying to companies that pay that much, and not being afraid to be on the job market every few years.
This is where I got lost. I worked at Pivotal from 2014 to 2017. There's a lot I can say about Rob Mee but this is just a bizarre and wrong attack given that he 1) Founded Pivotal labs and lead it through the EMC Acquisition, 2) Was responsible for creating a first-tier services company with a name to rival Thoughtworks and a reputation that to this day bumps my resume to the top of many recruiters' lists by virtue of just seeing "Pivotal" on it.
Edit: Quote from one of the prior posts in this "series".
> Future employers judge you on your past employment. Having any extended tenure at Pivotal on your CV is a negative mark against you.
I have absolutely not had this experience. None of my former coworkers have had this experience.
On the other hand, people who write blog posts like these... might have this experience.
His rants are mostly in sales. Engineer ranting about sales is like Sales people saying Engineers are pointless. (Btw both are very common perception). Now that I’ve done both ends I can share that sales people are doing that for a reason. At the end of the day, high end sales are all politics and you need to be good at the game.
This type of rant is what interns do.
Funnily enough I've worked in a company that did just that, they developed a TV software that puts ads on the streaming of soccer games and the software was 5 or so years old with no software team. They had a person who did support and was there for a long time and would always have 2-3 developers on the payroll who wouldn't stay more than their probation period. I left within 2 weeks but the company owner was very rich and seemed pretty OK with how things were...
i have this nagging feeling that we have tons of issues, and overly complicated systems created today because very talented and smart engineers are being giving the most mundane tasks to do on a daily basis...
Is this meant to be disparaging? it’s actually above average (of 10%).
Note that at each finding round, and as needed if you make too much money (don’t spend money fast enough to require another round), you allocate another chunk. The 13% isn’t fixed for eternity.
That’s like the first paragraph. It’s already clear author doesn’t understand how companies work.
Although the post is emotionally-charged,it's totally on point.
Admittedly the article is a bit rant-filled, but I have also heard other people say Pivotal is (was?) a bit weird, especially regarding taking pair programming a bit too far (another blog example: http://mwilden.blogspot.com/2009/11/why-i-dont-like-pair-pro...)
I am a bit surprised at all the criticism of the author and saying that "I wouldn't hire the guy because of this post". Consider the asymmetry of power between employer and employee. Companies often put up self-praising blog posts describing their perfect hiring process and how great they are, but often they are a big messy hairball inside. In the US, people very rarely work up the courage to criticize them, because they have mouths to feed, health insurance to pay, and can't afford the expensive lawyers to combat the large companies' legal teams. So we should encourage those who speak out, or at least not punish them more for doing so. In fact, I think the only reason this person is comfortable doing so is that they have probably enough left over from that 220k/year to be comfortable speaking out.
It's good to work thru your feelings, but for many people feelings are a luxury, having access to opportunity to improve yourself in anyway is a privilege.
You can easily work for a decade at some companies and contribute absolutely nothing if you know how to play the politics.
Author reads as overly entitled and arrogant imo.
If I were in his position, I would've kept taking the paycheck without complaints, but once I was no longer there, I'd definitely consider writing something like this.
There are some jobs that are like this, but they are very few and far between. There are far more companies that claim to be like this when really it’s just a convenient excuse for treating their employees poorly.
The reality is that if you care about your craft a tiny bit more than average, you will most likely end up feeling that you are overpaid for trivial work, that you could do so much more for the company, that your coworkers and hierarchy are apathetic to things that do not directly affect them (and will seek to avoid any change as much as possible). The more you stay in this situation, the likelier you are to burn out.
If you are that kind of person, then you need to GTFO and start your own thing - have your own skin in the game - or accept that that’s the reality of being a mere employee. That doesn’t mean that you can’t do good work, btw - just that you’ll have to find your sources of life fulfillment elsewhere.
Damn, I've never read a better articulation of how I feel at work haha. I'm in cybersecurity and the box checking "just need to get through the next audit" mentality is RAMPANT.
See all this incompetence revealed across the entire economy and governance in the wake of COVID-19? Apathetic people ticking boxes is a big component of the cause.
But with regard to the rest of your comment, absolutely. This guy is a knob.
Imagine going down to your local watering hole and lamenting about your circumstances that “stuck” you in your $200k job. Probably a pretty good way to get punched in the face.
On the contrary, when my friends/family complain about employment I'll usually ask them why they stay. While sometimes people just want to vent (and that's totally okay) there have been various instances where they realized that their notion that they need that particular employer was flawed and they've been able to move on to other gainful employment.
While the idea that people should just leave their job is overused and probably unrealistic for some individuals if you stop saying it you may miss a chance to help someone realize that they may be their own best bet for getting out of their current plight and move forward to something (hopefully) better.
I don't think this applies when you are pulling down nearly a quarter of a million dollars a year - then I think you probably have quite a lot of freedom to just walk out the door anytime you want.
Not if you're living in a major city with wife, kids, and a mortgage.
There are some crazy boring jobs out there that will absolutely be fatal to any real passion and some people want to see where that takes them.
This guy got a huge salary in a market with tons of demand while working from home. There was no particular urgency to leave, so he could have casually looked. It also seems like he would have stayed there if he wasn’t let go.
And from the look of it was still writing about it years later.
And that is not taking into consideration in demand skill set that could land him another like job with relative ease.
I don't often go for dismissive, but cry mich ein river.
That should be "cry mir ein river". You want the dative case, because you are requesting that the river be cried for you.
With that said, I picked that particular version of the phrase from zero punctuation. I did not intend for it to be grammatically correct.
That's not shady, to me, it is a common practice and does take advantage of the accounting practices that different stakeholders use. This is what all of tech is doing with VC portfolios. That startup that delivers lunch to your startup, do you think that was random? It is an incestuous movement of money around VC portfolio companies to merely print higher revenue numbers so they can sell them one at a time for 10x those revenue numbers.
Pretty much nothing is organic, so I can't make a distinction for this particular practice. The market can bare it.
Honestly, it should be a more common practice for market participants to be taking pseudo-activist roles in their investments. Just because you are used to passive investments - and probably can't do anything else - doesn't mean it is the best strategy for your portfolio.
Not making any opinion about the other problems with Pivotal, just pointing out how this section isn't validation for the complaints.
And depending on what the "pseudo-activist role" entails, that could be a massive conflict of interest. If a person at Company A is steering business toward Company B because they have an investment in Company B, that could easily conflict with their obligations toward Company A.
> so I can't make a distinction for this particular practice.
was meant to be a rebuttal to this
> just because it is common doesn't mean it's not shady.
so I think you walked right into it.
> If a person at Company A is steering business toward Company B
and that's company A's problem
With no second thought on any outside life factors.
It is possible to make $220k/year and also be unhappy. Deal with it.
Beyond a point, money won't increase your happiness. Riding out a terrible job where you're underutilized and overpaid because the job pays well isn't "grit".
It's dishonest. It's opportunism. It's cowardly.