I don't know if the severance package is good or not, but it seems generous and it gives employees who aren't aligned with the company an easy way out.
Aside from the combative toxic environment they generate, they are also often the source of disgruntled rogue employees that will generally behave improperly, misrepresent coworkers, leak documents, raise alarms about operations they don't understand, and generally draw the company into litigation.
In a highly sensitive market like crypto, you don't want to gain unnecessary regulatory attention, and activists like this will be the first to testify against the company with their biased interpretation of internal operations.
They're just poison. In the best case scenario, they are just a huge distraction - and in the worst they will cost you 10x their salary in legal drama.
It’s tempting to think of this in terms of Democrats vs Republicans or right vs left, but that’s not really the domain of the most problematic employees. The most problematic employees are the ones who have given up on the notion of reasonable debate or disagreement and instead have become convinced that the other side is committing acts so terrible that fighting them at every juncture is the only acceptable thing to do. Strangely enough, the “other side” isn’t just far-right or fad-left people, it becomes centrists, or people who don’t vote, or people who don’t want to engage in politics at work.
When you’ve reached the point where a small handful of employees are fomenting outrage at their company for not putting a BLM statement on the company Twitter account, for example, the situation has arrived at a “with us or against us” false dichotomy.
Generally, the only way to win with politics at the office is to not play. However, when one side decides that not playing is equivalent to being evil, everyone is forced to play. When everyone is forced to play by a handful of disgruntled employees, everyone loses.
Paying to remove these people from a company makes a lot of sense. If you don’t do something to remove them, the people who are sick of being dragged into political debates at work will slowly diffuse out of the company. The hyper-political employees are a loud minority, but the people who just want to do their jobs and remain professional are very much more common. Don’t let the tail wag the dog.
I think most business owners would say this is not at all sensible. If someone is a troublemaker you don't normally pay them to leave. You fire them. Brian is being very generous here, almost inexplicably so except for the fact that they're based in the Bay Area. Most CEOs would tackle it in two phases:
1. Tell people they may not attempt to bring social activism into the work place.
2. Fire anyone who keeps doing it.
Payments wouldn't enter the picture!
By using the carrot instead of the stick, you protect yourself somewhat from these disgruntled employees tanking your public image.
There was one manager in particular who really tried to do the right thing in supporting this employee. The manager convinced the marketing folks to make a pro-BLM post on LinkedIn, but then this employee got upset that it had not gone far enough and was too weakly worded. A good friend of the employee and former coworker at this company actually called out the company in the comments of the post on LinkedIn for not taking a stronger stand. The manager also convinced the executives to have the company donate money, and this kicked off a broader giving back initiative where they wanted everyone to vote on causes that the company could support in various ways. This caused even more backlash, because it had now lost site of the BLM focus and become a broader thing.
By the end, the company was just cluelessly walking on eggshells with no idea how to not make things worse in their attempts at support. The employee was extremely frustrated, struggled to regain any level of respect for the company and stopped really performing in their job and ended up leaving a couple months later. I still very much believe nobody was in the wrong here, nobody involved was a bad person or even an insensitive person. It just proved to be very difficult to navigate this situation, there were too many ways for it to go wrong and the company didn't handle everything absolutely perfectly and so they just made things worse.
Anyway, in the end I'm very convinced that everyone, including the activist employee, would have been much happier under the model as stated by Coinbase. And even if this person left or had never joined this company to begin with because of that policy, the result would have been very similar in the end, but without the weeks of frustration and stress and lost productivity all around.
This just doesn't strike me as reasonable. The employee was in the wrong. Clearly. Just because the thing you support is a moral and good thing to support doesn't mean you get to foist your activism upon everyone else around you. I care about endangered species conservation - but if I did what this person did and held the organization hostage to my demands I'd be looked at sideways, and rightfully so.
It's not that there's no place for activism in the workplace, it's just that the line should be drawn at the point where it starts harming the organization as a whole.
I honestly do not understand why people socialize at work. Can someone who holds a contrary viewpoint shed some light on why this is so common place in corporate environments? My guess is that it has to do with various kinds of personalities.
I also just happen to share similar interests/perspectives with my boss, and we trust each other a lot. I count him as a friend instead of just a coworker.
I only talk politics obliquely, and tend towards analysis and hearing what people have to say. I try to come off as friendly and tolerant of other perspectives, and my conservative coworkers tend to return the favor.
They released a statement. Kind of a milquetoast, bland statement, but still unambiguously supportive of BLM.
But not supportive enough for some employees, particularly those of color. Lots of complaints, and a lot of non-racial issues started boiling up to the fore as well. They've since amended and re-released the statement to be stronger, and included statements for battered women, Native Americans, and a full-on separate statement for at-risk immigrants.
It's utterly paralyzed the organization -- and is totally unrelated to their primary mission -- and will likely lead to at least one lawsuit. It sounds like a manager or two may be a rebuke or termination as well.
I ultimately agree with the parent and OP -- create a safety valve or squash the discussion, because there is no way to function as an org if you're 10 minutes from screaming at, or stabbing, or suing your coworkers
This. And like another commenter pointed out, it's not unique to one side or the other. Anyone who defines their entire existence in this left/right dichotomy is suffering from media-induced mental illness.
Your company should be 100% political activists, but (at least during work hours) they should be focused on advancing the mission of your organization.
Even within activist groups you have the exact same problem that Joe is talking about, e.g. at some point in the 90s Adbusters went from lobbying against advertising to just generally supporting any leftist cause. And that's why every highway (except in Vermont, Alaska, Hawaii, and Maine) is still lined with billboards 25+ years later. The only way for an organization to accomplish its mission is to actually focus on solving the specific problem they're trying to solve, not to get distracted by trying to fix every random problem that exists in the world.
There are reasons that might work badly, though. Without the org continuing to generate political pressure, public awareness, or money, the originally-achieved goal state could backslide. But ... change is inevitable. Perhaps at that point you try and get the org back together,; if you can, you can, otherwise you accept the world has moved on.
Easier said than done.
Growing up, politics was private outside of the family dinner table. Any dedication to an injustice or a good cause was done through donating or volunteering. No yard signs, no shouting, no blaming.
I understand that dramatic actions bring attention, but I just hope that we can start focusing more on doing our own part and leading by example rather than preaching and focusing on how much others are doing. This goes for everyone on the modern political spectrum.
It's a nice thought, but my mother in law has original presidential campaign pins and bumper stickers from as far back as the early 60s.
> leak documents, raise alarms about operations they don't understand, and generally draw the company into litigation
and it was actually a case of misguided political activism rather than legitimate whistleblowing? I suppose maybe in slaughterhouses or animal testing laboratories, but definitely not with tech.
> In a highly sensitive market like crypto, you don't want to gain unnecessary regulatory attention, and activists like this will be the first to testify against the company with their biased interpretation of internal operations.
It is very difficult to not read this as "sometimes crypto companies need to break the law to make that cheddar, and you really don't want any of these radical 'companies should obey the law' activists getting in your way."
Assume good faith https://news.ycombinator.com/newsguidelines.html
A conservative guy who generated headlines because of being discriminated against because he voted for the GOP?
Also some sort of whistleblower who got fired for speaking out against anti-union activity (but may have been a personal / non-union issue)?
I would like to see more mission focused companies.
They can help the societies they are in with some unilateral initiatives like Netflix did with helping capitalize banks in certain communities, without discussing it or changing the focus.
I fully support what Coinbase is doing. It seems very fair to all sides.
Here are quotes from my feed:
"The path to an IPO is to purge Black and Brown people from Coinbase ... this is very unbecoming of a federal contractor"
"Over a dozen diverse crypto industry leaders [are] calling it out as racist."
"Sweden took 60 years to admit its neutrality policy was racist. How long will it take Coinbase to do the same? Being neutral is a position in support of the status quo - it always has been."
"Coinbase's CEO's recent statement of neutrality is unacceptable and complicit."
An out of context comment unfortunately adding to the gradient of the same context: "IBM's first computer sold to Hitler. Ford converted cars to tanks sold to Hitler. Why???"
The people posting are all identifying as black, in San Francisco Bay Area, and using their platform in support of black communities.
What's going on is that there is more context than Brian Armstrong's post, there is the context of what actually occurred within Coinbase amongst Coinbase's employees, something I have an incomplete picture of. And I think all of us miss that.
I like Brian Armstrong's post - in isolation. People with more context don't like it, and are galvanizing support against this very quickly. That's too bad. I hope Coinbase gets their IPO.
Do normal people actually believe stuff like this???
Extremists abound on the internet.
In other words, exactly the toxic group of people that this is trying to remove from the company.
It should be clear that this isn't "just" trying to be mission focused, that was very eloquently written and timely, but it is failing because it is a reaction to internal issues which wasn't clear to the rest of us. And as such it has stirred a hornets nest that also no longer wants to keep things inside the company.
Many of the people it has stirred are also people that have been fighting for more inclusivity and also identify as part of underrepresented groups. People that feel like their voice isn't loud enough because they are so few inside the companies. This doesn't represent everyone in underrepresented groups, only that there is a significant overlap in the goals of inclusivity and people that want the company to be more welcoming by speaking out against inherently political nationalism, which the company doesn't want to do.
I'm not offering any solution only observation.
The latter is the more visible one and being targeted by this, and in my opinion rightly so, because that behavior (attacking others) is toxic and helps nobody.
In my experience, there has never been a shortage of people with practically no information communicating very strong opinions online?
As a Swede, I... don't even know what they might be misinterpreting here!
I have no idea why you should apologize for that.
Sweden apologized recently about their neutrality was not that neutral. They maintained favorable trade conditions with Berlin as well as granted land access for military incursions.
Despite this, Sweden still did an impressive job of allowing in many refugees from persecution. Its diplomatic representatives were instrumental in assisting the persecuted throughout Europe during the whole war. Anyone interested should look up, for example: Raul Wallenberg and Count Folke Bernadotte.
Sweden had nothing to apologize for during the war, and especially given the much more evident racism of other states like the U.S, which explicitly forbade many refugee jews from entering U.S soil during the Nazi persecutions and expulsions of the 1930's before the war. The writing was on the wall in dripping red letters, but Roosevelt simply disregarded it to please certain voters. At one point in 1942, when presented by Polish resistence agent Jan Karski with a whole eye witness narrative of the massive German extermination program against the jews in Poland, his first question to the Home Army solider was about the Nazi treatment of horses and cattlein the occupied territory!
I also have no opinion on that direct quote which is in quotes. Go find and ask that other person, on LinkedIn, why they wrote it in the context they did.
This is undeniably true.
You just have to read what the activism says. It says everything is racist, sexist, etc and that in every situation you must try and identify not if things were problematic but how they were. And then “do better”, etc. so it’s impossible for these people to separate their beliefs from their jobs.
It’s far beyond politics and more a religion than anything. It would be as if a very Christian employee made it their goal to point out everything that isn’t within Christian morality and protesting the company to comply with the word of god.
I believe this is a result of the fact that Americans have turned away from organized religion in recent years (note: I'm not religious myself). There seems to be something deep inside of most people that requires a shared spiritual experience. Wokism has emerged to fill that need.
>Finally, our parasite will employ a strategy of politicization, insisting that everyone in a society be involved in the contest for political power. Since our memetic parasite is already bound to one or more political factions, politicization leaves no one with the option to ignore it, and simply live their lives. Neutrality is not acceptable. All those who are not actively infected, and who do not openly endorse the parasite, are by definition its enemies. And they will be crushed. The safest thing is to play along, and raise your children in the faith - even if you don't really believe, they will.
>At this point we've established, at least to my satisfaction, that
>(a) there is such a thing as Universalism;
>(b) Universalism is an educationally-transmitted tradition that works just like any theistic religion, and is best understood as a descendant of Christianity;
>Universalism, again, is a mystery cult of power. Its supreme being is the State. And all of the Universalist mysteries - humanity, democracy, equality, and so on - cluster around the philosophy of collective action. Christianity has been a state religion since Constantine, of course, but it always also included magical and metaphysical mysteries, which the advance of science has rendered superfluous at best, embarrassing at worst. So Universalism, unlike its ancestors, is not concerned with the Trinity or transubstantiation or predestination.
> One day in March of this year, a Google engineer named Justine Tunney created a strange and ultimately doomed petition at the White House website. The petition proposed a three-point national referendum, as follows:
1. Retire all government employees with full pensions.
2. Transfer administrative authority to the tech industry.
3. Appoint [Google executive chairman] Eric Schmidt CEO of America.
It's also weird how he's aware of the oversimplification involved in classifying birds and bats in the same category, and then he immediately goes off and says the equivalent of "both a birds and planes have wings and a tail, therefore planes are a subset of birds". While that statement can be true from a certain point of view for certain uses ("can this thing fly?"), in the end it's just a bad analogy and bad reasoning.
Which is all not to say that the point I think you're driving at from your selection in that article can't be correct. I would agree that post-religion, people will pick up causes to fight for and act in ways that are reminiscent of fundamentalist religions, but that doesn't mean the fundamental truth is that they're all variations of religion. The fundamental truth is some people just enjoy picking up causes that let them justify bad behavior. This used to include religion a lot more in the past, and now that humanity is moving beyond it, we're discovering new ways to justify the same old behavior that we've always had.
On some of the troop carriers going to Vietnam, soldiers starting fighting each other along racial lines; in response, the US military started a major initiative to promote racial tolerance in their training of soldiers and in their personnel policies. Similarly, according to my theory, the leaders of the other major institutions of the US realize that the performance of their institution depends on the different races getting along or at least not openly fighting each other, so they will exhibit a weaker tendency to push against a radical belief system that prioritizes racial tolerance than their counterparts in more homogenous countries will.
Also, starting with the Puritans of England, the western Europeans that chose to emigrate to the US were on average more religious than those who chose to remain in western Europe.
One in four of Australia’s 22 million people were born overseas; 46 per cent have at least one parent who was born overseas; and nearly 20 per cent of Australians speak a language other than English at home
I think the key differentiator, is Australia, Canada and Britain have parliamentary democracies.
But on the street they were just generic white christian Aussies who were out to slam a few beers and grab a chick parm. Not generic Anglo, but still very white and very western.
Unless said leaders have an interest in curtailing the institution's function or scope, in which case causing the institution to perform worse, or even fail in their mission entirely may be their intent.
For example, they might subscribe to an ideology that questions the legitimacy of the institution, or they may have previously been a leader in an industry the institution is supposed to regulate.
The atmosphere during the Brexit debate is/was absolutely fierce. The remain side has fundamentally a cosmopolitan-utopian worldview and the brexit side a nationalistic one (radically so compared to the orthodoxy in London and metro areas).
In other parts of Europe they're experiencing a severe decadence in culture and media because of the creeping monoculture of wokeism. They're having existential debates about their very national ideas, people don't want to have families anymore, nobody wants to defend their country and so they outsource this work to the US, while Russia and especially Asian powers have nothing of this whatsoever. Eastern Europe is caught in-between because they don't believe any of this but they don't have the size or clout to stand up to the soft economic power of Western Europe and the real power blocs elsewhere.
Out of the so-called West, the USA strikes me as by far the least decadent, and I'm not American. This feels to me like end-of-civilisation times as described for ancient empires. America pushing back presents some hope.
The UK presents us with a good example what happens when you spread enough fear, nationalism and protectionism. From here it seems like "end-of-civilisation times" for a once great nation that has lost its power and importance and is failing to find a new way for itself, while it tries to clinge on the status quo that is running through his hands. I think the (probable) hard Brexit will tell us quite quickly who's right on all of this.
The rest of Western Europe seems to understand that the times are changing and our cultures are getting more diverse and that this will lead to conflicts which have to be solved.
Eastern Europe, joining the EU with a strong background from its UDSSR times, wars and whatnot else, has problems adapting to "the Western Europe way". You see this especially with Poland or Hungary which have strong nationalistic, traditionalistic tendencies with "strong leader persons" at their top. But I think they'll also fail once people from the newer generations are getting more and more in charge.
edit: And the US... Well... The jokes are writing themselves.
The EU gamble is going nowhere and this is a crisis that will affect us all, regardless of Brexit. It is what it is. Europe is decrepit and best case scenario is managed decadence into a third rate bloc. Russia and EE are screwed too, of course, but not because of self-doubt. Asia and the US will shoot ahead. But that's not really a prediction, it's been happening for a while.
Russia's fertility rate is pretty much on par with rest of Europe if not lower.
Same goes for Eastern Europe. Not to mention many Eastern European countries are no strangers to overtly left wing leadership.
Meanwhile in the US the 90s boom was kicking off and the US was exploding into global hegemony. Why protest and fight the man when communism was collapsing and there was more to gain from getting on board the winning team.
In other words, the trend dropped off externally and internally there were a lot of reasons to assume that history was in fact ending and to jump on board with MURICA and FREEDOM.
The cynical side of me sees it as America being transformed into an economic zone instead of a country. This is just what a religion looks like when you're binding people together in one large brutalistic finance zone.
My understanding is that we have had secular societies before, eg. the Soviet Union, China, which explicitly try to reduce practicing religion. Did this same kind of "new semi-religion appears to fill the void" event occur in those societies? Is it the particular "holy sacrements" that the west has adopted that is unique? Or are we unique in even having something arise the "fills the religious void"?
They were very secular and extremely violent and even evil (making shows out of drowning believers etc).
As much as the Catholic Church has something to answer for with the witch processes around here etc, they are small guys compared to the secular/atheists of the French Revolution.
Same goes to some degree for USSR and to a large degree for Khmer Rouge.
Anyways in case you are right it probably makes GPs point even stronger: when established religions are chased away quasi-religions - and often extremely dangerous ones - take their place.
Eventually as the new converts temper their zeal as it hits against reality, but if it's a wave it can make a society do crazy things.
> While 83 percent of respondents who make less than $50,000 dislike political correctness, just 70 percent of those who make more than $100,000 are skeptical about it. And while 87 percent who have never attended college think that political correctness has grown to be a problem, only 66 percent of those with a postgraduate degree share that sentiment.
From where I stand, it just means treating people equally and not being an asshole.
ETA: In considering all the worries of modern living, I have never once been concerned with using the wrong words for a group of people. Am I really the exception? It seems easy to call people by the terms they prefer. Not sure about which terms to use? Then I just ask.
I am struggling to see the burden of being "PC".
Change of innocuous and unrelated terminology in source code and documentation without any technical justification. No shortage of those examples throughout the industry and open source.
The acceptable term is something like allowlist/denylist/blocklist.
As far as speech codes, they seem very mild. I would not even call it an inconvenience. Are people mad that certain phrases are now considered slurs and not welcome in polite society?
Ex. it is no longer appropriate to call someone a "retard," even in jest. Is this a problem?
I'm still not understanding the meat of the objection to "PC".
However, slice it up by income and education. Middle and especially upper-middle class people are generally for it much more than everyone “below” them but even they don’t like it.
From politics, republicans hate it a lot and democrats mainly hate. Except 1 group. Progressives love it with about 30% of them against it. They are the only group that likes it.
It is elitist and no one likes it. Except the far left. Yet we are all forced to live with it.
I'm still struggling with the objection here, but this is ridiculous.
It's ok to say "black". Is that hard to figure out? Ask a black person and they will say it's fine. The term "african-american" seems more nonsensical than anything -- not all black people identify with Africa.
As to the rest, I don't care about popular opinion, that doesn't inform my world view. Still waiting to hear about the burden of "PC" because I have yet to hear a compelling case.
And I have never once wondered whether or not I should call someone a "jew".
Political correctness doesn't appeared to be defined. I assume if you asked people their opinions on concrete events versus a nebulous concept the results would be quite different.
This is all intentional. “People/Person of color“ is an entirely different thing. You need to understand the hierarchy here and why it’s important to concepts like intersectionality and thus social justice.
You should read the actual work and come to understand they mean what they say and the “language game” being played isn’t really a game as critical theory understands the power of language quite well and is ready, willing, and able to indoctrinate useful idiots to propagate it.
It’s all in their literature. I’ve read it.
Obviously teasing an actual mentally retarded person by calling them a “retard” or the above terms is cruel and in poor taste, and worse. I don’t believe almost anyone would though.
It seems like there aren't a lot of examples to choose from.
I have personally never heard of this concern, and as you mention it doesn't seem particularly taxing. I would like to understand better the consequence of misusing (or using) blacklist/whitelist. I very much doubt the fallout would be severe.
- "master"/"slave" terminology in databases and such; most recently, even the "master" branch in source trees was deemed impious, and GitHub will be renaming it by default to "main" on new repos starting tomorrow
- there was a recent case where the author of RuboCop (a linter for Ruby, a pun on RoboCop) faced a lot of pressure to rename it because, I guess, cops are now considered verboten (!?): https://metaredux.com/posts/2020/06/08/the-rubocop-name-dram...
- adding codes of conduct to all public-facing projects, most of which are taken directly from the Contributor Covenant (a safely orthodox choice); this isn't a naming thing, but is pushed for in a similar way by similar people
But since woke people are corporate, authoritarian and dystopian, I can see why they would object to the name.
https://www.nytimes.com/2020/08/05/realestate/master-bedroom... ‘Master bedroom’ is racist now.
I completely agree that none of these rules are individually taxing and that the consequences of breaking them are unlikely to be severe. But when taking everything in aggregate - the sum of all the rules I know about, the concern that there could be new rules I don't know about, the tiny but not unprecedented chance that I could face severe fallout - the net effect is stifling. Again, not the most important problem in the world or even the most important problem I personally face, but still a problem.
I recognize that it's also a non-neutral political slogan, and that modern speech conventions require people to avoid saying things that sound like controversial political slogans. But that's precisely the problem! I have to keep up to date with all major partisan controversies, a task I generally find quite miserable and pointless, in order to know which new phrases I should avoid!
It's hard to defend insulting a person's intelligence, regardless of the word used. A better example would be referring to something inanimate like a company policy as "retarded". Even better is the purging of words like "master" from software. Or actors having to apologize for their Halloween costumes. It seems like every major comedian is complaining bitterly about political correctness lately, save perhaps for certain partisan ones.
I would argue it's a Reformed Protestant thing. Reformed Protestantism is the religious scaffolding of American culture.
Probably because the work these companies do is frequently political.
Let's be clear: What Coinbase is saying is, we the founders, who set the company's mission, and are doing so with a clear political view (rooted in libertarianism and so forth), are allowed to use the company to further our political ends.
But the staff? Sorry, you have no voice.
Maybe that's fine. The clear message to staff is: you are either onboard with our mission, or you can leave.
But let's not pretend companies and workplaces are apolitical. That's, at best, deeply naive.
Frankly, I wonder how much of what we're seeing now is due to the destruction of unionized labour, which were organizations explicitly designed to channel the political views of employees into collective action. Absent those structures, a) you get this bizarre perception that the workplace is apolitical (it's not), and b) staff no longer have a path whereby their views and values can be channeled and expressed.
Politics, as much as we all hate it, is engaged with everywhere in business.
Choosing to be apolitical is effectively a form of political engagement, usually resulting in a vote for the status quo and/or the pursuit of money eschewing engagement in difficult questions in society.
This can be argued about whether it is moral or not, or even if a company has much of a choice in the matter (There are many entrenched companies that do "immoral" political things that are near impossible not to engage with as a business), and this is not unique to coinbase, but it's not somehow withdrawing from judgement on morality when you say you are "apolitical", and you still should be judged on your politics and lack of engagement in society.
Let's not be naive here, any larger company, even the most "apolitical" company still has large influence, uses services, and makes decisions that are politically charged.
That said, it's not all one direction where all political activism within a company is great, but eschewing all politics is not doing so at all.
I think this brings clarity to the work relationship, as "the power to direct the political mission of the company" had been previously an unstated, unnegotiated axis of the terms of employment. People are now learning that this need to be crystal clear upfront.
What do the investors think? They are free to usurp the founders if they feel that Coinbase is not paying proper homage to social justice.
Investors invest in companies based on their perception of the value of a company, and that perception is of course coloured by political views.
Heck, we have an entire financial movement called Socially Responsible Investing, something which is nakedly political and a clear acknowledgement that politics cannot be, and has never been, divorced from business.
I find it infinitely more strange to think that workplaces can be apolitical at all. Choosing to work for Palantir or Coinbase or The Gates Foundation or Amazon is (in part) a political decision. It may not be a conscious or intentional political decision, but it's a political decision nonetheless.
How could anyone think otherwise?
One hundred percent this. There is a reason Coinbase is one of the few companies to take a stance like this.
The company's foundational value is literally based on the notion of state-free finance. They have no incentive to do anything to allow their company to be steered into engaging with conventional politics. In fact, they benefit from taking strong stances that maintain the status quo if the status quo furthers their own mission.
So, yeah, Coinbase is indeed very mission oriented.
Which other Silicon Valley company is doing this?
The extended window for exercising options is something I haven’t encountered before. I’d be curious to hear if others have seen it offered elsewhere.
I wonder if the real goal here is just reduce headcount.
Maybe I'm reading too much in to this.
Besides, I'd expect the "true believers" to find some way to outright brag to future interviewers they parted ways with Coinbase over moral / ethical objections.
Easy money. Not much to read about politics in the decision of getting paid for nothing.
On the other hand, it's a good move because it keeps things neutral. These annoyed employees should just take it and leave.
So now you've created/agitated a population of disgruntled employees; this will tend to cause problems. Paying a generous severance is enough to lift most of these employees over the "activation threshold" and is (in my opinion) the correct good-faith way of managing the situation; it's saying "no hard feelings if you don't agree with this direction, and we respect/value your contributions thus far."
Regardless of whether you agree with the object-level mission statement, I think that, having made the decision, this is a good example of strong leadership; it's important that everybody is bought in to the company mission, and you need to proactively filter out folks that aren't. But at the same time, you need to do so with respect; it's not necessarily a black mark for someone to no longer be a fit for the company or role, as both company and individual can change over time.
This is the same sort of idea as when you part ways with an exec after a strategy shift (e.g. pivot from B2C to B2B; replace your consumer-facing head of sales with a B2B veteran). It's not necessarily the case that they aren't doing a job, just that they aren't a fit for the role as it now stands.
You can't say "We won’t: Debate causes or political candidates internally" (quoting Armstrong) but simultaneously say that anyone who attempts to enforce that would be viewed negatively. That would imply that Armstrong would view himself negatively for enforcing his own rule.
Selecting for groupthink^W mission is pretty important in the business of cryptocurrencies. Reduces chances of anyone having a different moral stance that would push them to become a whistleblower. It might even be a way to prevent employees unionizing. Any disagreement about policies is political, free speech is political, so this is perfect to pre-emptively censor every criticism.
If what Brian Armstrong is saying here was considered the norm, this article wouldn't even be on the front page.
The role of an employee is to deliver value to the employer during their working hours. The role of the employer is to provide an income to the employee. It’s insane to think that the role of the employer should be to further the political objectives of the employees. By that rationale, having any interaction with any party who’s politics are different from yours in any way is conformism.
Not taking a position is, by default, choosing to uphold the status quo. When the status quo is unjust, it's choosing to uphold injustice.
That's fine, just own up to it. Hiding behind "I'm apolitical" when you're a loyal foot soldier for the current system isn't a good look.
This argument can't be taken as honest or sincere, because with absolute surety I can guarantee that horrific injustices took place today that you have absolutely no concern about at all.
When somebody presents this argument, they are not honestly advocating for justice. What they are actually saying is that "by not adopting _my_ political views, you are acting out evil". Part of any person's political world view is how they choose the issues that they consider to be important, knowing that they only have the span of their short life, and the means of their limited resources to address the problems in the world. You have no right to demand that somebody make the same decisions in this respect as you do. It is absurd, it is hostile to the notion of free democracy, and it is a standard that no living person could ever meet.
And all of that is before you account for the fact describing something as an injustice in the first place is quintessentially an opinion. This sort of thing reminds me a lot of the psychology of warfare, where soldiers are systemically taught to view the enemy as animals who lack humanity. It has a terribly toxic influence on society. Your ideas no longer need to compete on their merits, because the people who disagree with them are the enemy, and the enemy is less than human.
> You have no right to demand that somebody make the same decisions in this respect as you do. It is absurd, it is hostile to the notion of free democracy, and it is a standard that no living person could ever meet.
Well said. It's sad that activists are anti-liberty in this way. It undermines their campaigns.
I had a professor in college tell an entire class the first day - "nobody really cares about you except your family and maybe some friends". You could see the shock to a lot of the students who had been coddled and told how awesome they were their whole life. Once you accept that concept, you can learn to be more effective in communication and not expect things from others.
Most of these activists have no tact.
Neil deGrasse Tyson says in his MasterClass that his father taught him that it's not enough to be right. You must be effective.
The world would be a much better place if everyone followed that.
Unless you mean a critique of the notion of justice in general, that seems to be a bit reductive. Accusations of "injustice" in most societies typically don't stand on their own; they're accompanied by evidence, which is debated, and an ethical stance, which is also sometimes debated. But injustice isn't some Hitlerian discussion-ender; it's an idea and a value set, always selectively applied, just like "fairness", "equality", "utilitarianism", or whatever. It's not like invoking the devil in church.
I'm not GP. I've no clue whether they were being honest in their statements or not, or how they'd choose to back them up, but: at what point is an accusation of injustice not an "opinion", or a "toxic influence on society"? When one person believes it? Ten? Some percentage of society? Some magistrate? When you agree with it? There's no general answer to that question, so saying "they said it was unjust, that means that they're dehumanizing my position and making me into the enemy!" is somewhat silly.
The fact is that every person in the world gets to choose for themselves which issues they consider to be most important to them. They each get to choose which issues they devote their time/attention/money/skills/resources/etc to.
When you account for the total number of all injustices that take place everyday, any person will only ever be able to concern themselves with a minuscule portion of them. By not concerning yourself with a particular injustice, you are in not automatically supporting it. A failure to intervene does not make you responsible for the actions of every other person on the planet.
Somebody who says this is not saying “why are you not concerned about every injustice on the planet”, they’re saying “if your concerns don’t align with mine then you’re a bad person”. Unless they consider themselves a champion of injustice, any person who repeats this is necessarily a hypocrite.
We live in a deeply interconnected world. Most actions, even studied inaction/uninvolvedness, have repercussions on lots of other people--complex repercussions that have to do with privilege and affluence and race and gender and all those other hot-button issues that people get up in arms about. We call that "political".
Now, nobody's making you be an activist (someone who puts a ton of time towards advancing one of those causes). Nobody's making you care. You're free to do whatever you want. But choosing not to care doesn't make the repercussions of your choices any less political.
It weirds me out when people get prickly in response to that pointing out that basic reality, because it sounds very much like "I don't want to acknowledge that my actions have wide reaching consequences."
What you should/shouldn't do about that reality is a separate question: opinions range from "don't tell anyone what to do" to "sell all your belongings in service to $cause right now". But accepting that basically everything we do in an interdependent society is not just tangentially but fundamentally political (yes, even refraining from discussing political topics at work) isn't a super contentious or extreme claim.
Nobody takes that position because they’re concerned that you’re not considering the injustices some random far away people, that neither of you know about, are currently experiencing. People only take that position when they want to bully/guilt/coerce/intimidate others into caring about the same issues as they do.
If taking no action against an injustice is equivalent to supporting it, then the history of humanity has been comprised entirely of absolutely despicable people. Because for every injustice that you have taken a stand against, there is an essentially unlimited number of additional injustices that you have fully supported by virtue of never even knowing they occurred.
The reality is that actions have political consequences. You interpreted that as a requirement to track every possible consequence of your actions. That's a deeply false dichotomy, and is commonly used by people to avoid having to confront discomfort from the more immediate political consequences of their actions: "you're saying I have to worry about everything that might possibly happen as a result of what I do?!".
Nobody's insisting on that. That's a cop-out that allows people to say they're "apolitical" when what they really mean is "apathetic to the political consequences of their actions". Which is fine, sure, but, per the original comment, it's a bad look to not acknowledge that there are consequences when what you mean is that you are not interested in them.
What the "everything is political" folks (and the social justice folks, and the BLM folks, and unions, and environmentalists, and missionaries to a lesser extent, etc.) are saying is that you should care about a given set of specific consequences of your actions.
Whether you choose to agree to learn/care about some of those specific consequences, or none of them, is up to you. Whether you choose to associate morality with action/inaction (i.e. the difference between "taking no action against an injustice is equivalent to actively supporting it" and "taking no action against an injustice is equivalent to allowing it/passively supporting it") is up to you.
Like, there are plenty of things I don't give a shit about. Maybe I should, maybe I shouldn't. But I don't for a minute pretend that the fact that I don't care about those things means my actions don't affect them in potentially extremely influential ways. Denying that is Bugblatter Beast of Traal logic.
(Speaking of which, what have you done to fight the status quo? Why not more? Why have you not consumed all of your time/money/attention on it? What level is necessary to be considered not-complicit in the status quo?)
Coinbase is full of shit. Cryptocurrencies are a political statement themselves. The policy is just an excuse to eject employees with any moral compass, and signal that Coinbase won't out people with abhorrent anti-social views. It's not a surprise that it comes from a business that is borderline illegal, and adjacent to scams, extortions, and money laundering. They've found a way to treat employees as obedient dumb cogs, and have them feel smart about it.
I’d love to work at a place like this. It looks like a “get down to business, cut the bullshit” place. And I’d quite like to chat with coworkers and make friends regardless of our political viewpoints. It’d be interesting.
"coinbase engineers walked off [in June] because brian wouldn't say "Black Lives Matter," he posted it so they'd get back to work, now he's having an executive "YOU AREN'T THE BOSS OF ME!" meltdown* about it"
"this looks a whole lot like the play certain advisors tell CEO's to run when they need to extend their runway. whether or not they backfill the people who leave will tell the tale. guess it's time to watch linkedin."
Erica's theory that this is a way of trimming payroll while eliminating personnel Brian sees as problematic seems to fit all the facts about the pressures Brian and Coinbase are feeling right now.
While I'm not sure this will turn out to be a bad thing for the world, it's a lot clearer why now & why Coinbase with this in mind.
But then she starts to over-speculate about Armstrong's emotions without any basis and tries to frame him as an unstable person. All of this simply because Armstrong posted about his company's mission.
How would she feel if talking about her company's mission resulted in execs from other companies tweeting about her "having a meltdown", simply because she has a different political perspective?
Unprofessional, ideological, dogmatic, crazy-lady
And on, and on, and on. She tweets so much it's kind of sad. Practically none of her tweets have anything to do with actual engineering. It's all identity politics and other leftist nonsense.
If you think its "leftist nonsense", then that's just your opinion.
She is entitled to tweet whatever she wants to from her personal twitter account. Do you think its reasonable for her to follow your idea of how a Director of Engineering should tweet?
1. The literal meaning of the term or its original definition.
2. The core ideas proposed by the group or by whoever defined the term.
3. The real actions of people who feel identified by a group or people who use the term.
Many times we have misunderstandings because we are thinking about different layers. Also, these differences in meaning are often astutely used to manipulate and tergiverse things.
Examples of terms with different effective meanings depending on the layer: blm, antifa, alt-right, feminism, neoliberalism, capitalism, communism.
One obvious example being the use of "all lives matter" and "blue lives matter" to reinforce the false interpretation of "black lives matter" as meaning "only black lives matter," when the phrase more correctly means "black lives matter as well."
Or the way that "fake news" has been re-appropriated to refer to bias within mainstream media, rather than literally fabricated stories and memes posing as news on social media and the web.
Or ask a feminist and a redpiller to agree on what "toxic masculinity" actually means.
Funnily enough, I interviewed at Coinbase not that long ago, and almost joined the company. I am glad that I did not, this would have made me quit. One of the things that one of the interviewers mentioned was the openness and transparency of the execs. I wonder if these draconian measures will make these employees think twice about working at such an institution.
> Definition of draconian
> 1 law : of, relating to, or characteristic of Draco or the severe code of laws held to have been framed by him
> 2 : cruel also : severe
Maybe we should roll back anti-discrimination laws in the workplace too? I'm sure CEOs find that to be a hassle…
Perhaps every company can offer severance packages to workers who don't want their rights taken away? Don't like the 40 hours work week? Here's a severance package. The rest of you are now required to work 60 hours. Etc. etc. etc.
This kind of behavior is a textbook example of how rights in practice are eroded.
To downvoters: in the past, the LGBT community was asked to "hide" their identity at work, literally, by pretending to be cis at work. This isn't any different.
Imagine offering a severance package to all LGBT individuals today. If that would horrify you, think again about what Coinbase is doing (and why).
"We create job opportunities for top people, including those from underrepresented backgrounds who don’t have equal access to opportunities, with things like diverse slates (Rooney rule) on senior hires, and casting a wide net to find top talent."
"Fair talent practices: We work to reduce unconscious bias in interviews, using things like structured interviews, and ensure fair practices in how we pay and promote. We have a pay for performance culture, which means that your rewards and promotions are linked to your overall contribution to the mission and company goals.
Enable belonging for everyone: We work to create an environment where everyone is welcome and can do their best work, regardless of background, sexual orientation, race, gender, age, etc."
"Of course, there are exceptions here around internal employment matters, whistleblowing, etc. And we want all employees to feel safe disagreeing on the work itself. Candor and debate are core to a healthy team, where it is safe to disagree. We consider these to be related to our mission."
c.f. North Korea, a communist totalitarian state that calls itself the "Democratic People's Republic". Their words say X, their actions say Y.
This isn't hard: you shall know them by their fruits.
"There are many unbanked and underbanked people in the world who have no ability to get a loan to buy a home, or start a business, so this kind of technology has enormous potential to improve the world over time, even if it is still early days."
"I greatly admire Apple as a company, and think they build amazing products, but their restrictions on the app store, in particular around cryptocurrency, are not defensible in my view, and they are holding back progress in the world."
The way that Coinbase puts pressure on Apple is the same as what Coinbase's politically-active employees are doing.
Coinbase’s mission is to create an open financial system for the world. This means we want to use cryptocurrency to bring economic freedom to people all over the world.
Yes, because he is the CEO of HIS company, with an app on IOS. Not just an employee and he never asked his staff to agree with his position and tweet about it. At coinbase right now, some people want HIM to talk about "Black Live Matters". It's like employees in IT in US don't understand the concept of subordination and think that a company is a college campus... or maybe the problem is that too many companies thought they should be like college campuses, and not a business.
It got relatively little discussion because it set off the flamewar detector (http://hnrankings.info/24610267/). Normally we'd turn that off in such a case, but we missed that one.
Also: don't miss that there are multiple pages of comments in this thread. That's what the More link at the bottom points to. Or click:
how often does it get triggered?
That's my least favorite part of HN: There's zero transparency in the moderation and a lot of it is extremely subjective.
You can disagree with how it's implemented, but it's not subjective.
dang does a way better job of addressing moderation issues as they're happening than anything you'll see on Reddit (besides perhaps tiny, niche subreddits.) And at least he's not surreptitiously changing people's comments. (https://www.theverge.com/2016/11/23/13739026/reddit-ceo-stev...)
There are lots of other moderation features -- e.g. shadow bans and automatic vote penalties -- that are completely opaque but turn HN into a strong echo chamber.
I also disagree with your point about Reddit. At least on Reddit you can easily track what was removed (there are entire subreddits dedicated to tracking what's been removed by moderators) and many subreddits provide explanations of why content was removed.
Every time I click "vouch" I wonder if a counter is being incremented on my account, or if a record of things I've vouched is being kept for moderator perusal. A chilling effect which certainly exists outside of HN, of course.
There is. I've lost vouching privileges after the mods disagreed with my decisions. They don't tell you, either, you'll just notice one day that it no longer seems to work.
How is that a relevant comparison? Reddit is orders of magnitude larger (looks to be around 100 times more active users) and allows users to create public and private subreddits that can easily become echo chambers.
HN moderation is not even in the same ballpark as what Reddit deals with.
To be clear I'm not defending Reddit or even saying they do a good job; I'm just saying the comparison is not fair or useful.
Is comment pagination still necessary?
Reddit does it right by auto-folding comment trees once they reach a certain depth vs. upvotes.
> Reddit does it right by auto-folding comment trees
That doesn't address the "faux replies to top comment" problem unless you auto-fold at depth 1 (i.e. collapse away all replies to every top-level comment) – which feels like too much auto-folding to me.
It is a deterrence to posting a direct reply to the top comment, since there is a higher chance that the reply gets folded, unless it is high quality.
I like this idea that comments have to earn their keep, in a weighted ratio to how visible a space they are trying to claim.