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Trying something again (cynically.moe)
134 points by luu 4 months ago | hide | past | favorite | 28 comments

Makes sense to me. Good luck!

> Ironically, this sort of cross functional work is highly valued, but if you're drawn to this path, you'll find yourself doing much more cutting through red tape than real work.

I find myself in this position. I've been with my company since it was tiny (10 employees total) to now (~150). I have functioned as a generalist for most of that time and I'm somewhat divided between architecture and coordination efforts versus actual coding. The original core dev team has mainly become the backend team and we have a newer frontend team. I recently shifted from the backend team to frontend, and now I'm able to help bridge between them so I'm hoping to help avoid some of those siloing pitfalls.

On the list of things the OP wants was, "Product I believe in – alignment of the team towards a true north centered on product, Minimal levels of team toxicity"

A quicker way to find this may be by popping up a level and asking, "who do I really want to help, and then what product do they need?"

That lack of a "who," in the north star turns companies into a race to the bottom. The "why," implied by the "who" needs to be there as well, but find some people you like or admire and build something they want. It's a different class of problem than working for a large org where most of big corp products are just about leverage and optimization, instead of desire and growth.

Who do you want to help?

Yeah, this is a great point. I remember when this epiphany hit me early on in my career; trite as it was, when I focused on a human centric (rather than task centric) approach, all of a sudden, the tasks themselves got easier.

.moe is a proposed TLD in ICANN's New gTLD Program. The applicant is Interlink.[1] It is a Japanese word with a meaning analogous to both "geek" and "passion". The proposed application succeeded and was delegated to the Root Zone on 31 March 2014.


The only good thing to come from the gTLD cash grab.

I find the application description hilarious

It looks like after this post, he started working at Salesforce: https://www.linkedin.com/in/femi-agbabiaka-5b5984108/

yeah! I need to write another follow up, but the Salesforce position is pretty unique* and closer to what I was looking for in this post. It's definitely an experiment, but I'm happy with it so far.

* It's a small startup-like team with a specific mission and visibility/management backing to achieve it, which also allows me to be more of a generalist.

I've written this type of notes to myself in years past. Almost painfully similar. Looking back on them now, it was basically: "I'm not happy and I want to change things." Everything else was more or less tangential and not really relevant.

Not taking anything away from the author, just sharing a personal anecdote.

"I don't know everything, I just know what I know."

Not sure if this is a reference, but this is a catch phrase of a character from the monogatari anime series. [1]

That being said it's an interesting post. I mostly feel the same way but kind of dropped out of tech altogether after 2 bad experiences at $BIGCO companies. Maybe a startup would be a better experience for me.

[1] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hstREyXBqpw

it is definitely a reference!

Given the .moe TLD, I think it is a reference.

Just out of curiosity, what sort of work do you do now? Do you enjoy it more than your work at BigTechCo?

This has been my anecdotal experience also, working at startups.

I noticed it in the reverse direction: once $BIGCO employees (often "big catches") come to a growing-from-small-to-midsize startup, some level of political gamesmanship is introduced. If your department has a manager hire with a bad case of the politics, you and your soon-to-be ex-colleagues may be in for a wild ride.

It only makes sense that, if you extrapolate that behavior to the source where it came from, you'd see a lot more of it. There are some big companies that seem to be exceptions to this rule, but there are much more that prove it.

I feel so too. My gf, who has worked at a series of ${BIGCO}s, is a little frustrated frustrated by this: "but you could be earning more and working shorter hours" (what a laugh when you see the hours she puts in).

Yes, but I would not be happy, and while my take home is lower my lifetime earnings have been a couple of orders of magnitude higher (the sum, not most years of course).

But it's less the money than the fun.

"Good engineers move towards juicy problems. The skills that would make you successful at a big tech company are almost mutually exclusive with the profile of the best engineers I know."

This has been my exact experience while working for various SV-based $BIGCORPS

The frustrating thing is, all the assumptions here really should be true. Big corps should be the best place to do focussed, meaningful work on a product you believe in. And start-ups, with all their constraints in terms of budget, personnel, brand recognition, sales, etc. should be the worst.

I still hold out hope than some day someone will crack how to structure large organisations in a way that eliminates or minimises the politics and dysfunction while retaining the economies of scale. I feel like this will require a radically different approach, with innovative legal and technical structures to enforce the right incentives.

My big organization has good management. What the author writes about is ineffective management, which should have economic consequences, so when director asks upper management for funding, I suspect, his ineffective management will raise questions if not replacement. We have surveys what employees think about quality of management and other things. The organization participates in manager ratings. I think the quality of management is simply monitored here and can't go unnoticed. Or maybe it's not big enough? It's certainly much bigger than startup size.

I have basically only ever works at very small startups a research labs. I have toyed with the idea of joining one of the large companies. I have even interviewed and received job offers. In my head the upside would be (maybe) better pay, definitely better benefits, better on the job learning and collaboration (code reviews / mentorship), and most of all lots of new faces! All that being said I have never pulled the trigger on one of these offers. Thanks for sharing about what you have learned!

Man, this is a great read and probably the wrong day to read it :). Hit home harder than it should have haha. Have fun in your new endeavor!

>My grand experiment at working at a $BIGCO has ended. It was fruitful – I made more money than I ever have, and the name recognition was nice the first few times someone asked where I work. Despite all that I'm moving on, back into the startup world.

I checked, and it looks like the author now works for Salesforce. I wonder how the internal culture compares

Salesforce has twice the revenue than LinkedIn and is publicly traded. At what point does a startup stop being a startup?

I find this really interesting because it (almost) exactly mirrors Herzberg's theory of motivation.

The theory for those who haven't heard of it (like me): https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Two-factor_theory

I should've linked it, that was a bit rude of me. Thankyou!

My experience too. Small, tightly-focused but widely-skilled teams with at most 2 layers of management (but usually only 1) are where I do my best work.

Looks like he went to a startup, Back to LinkedIn (why?) and then to Salesforce (double why.)

i have to say i love the formatting of this blog. i miss this style of page being more common.

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