>If you quit, remember that they will have forced you to sign an NDA and a non-compete.
Not really likely considering there is a huge revolving door between all the major tech companies. There is also a risk I get hit by a car on the way to work.
>You will probably be much happier at a small to mid-size company. The “dream job” megacorps have sold you on is just good marketing.
Actually I've worked on interesting, highly used stuff at megacorps in mature work environments, and was paid much more than most random small companies would. The concept of a "dream job" doesn't exist, neither in big companies or small companies, IMO.
>They could hurt you, and they could make you hurt others.
I could just leave and get another job at any time. I don't understand why this author is so paranoid.
Part of the issue is that media companies have darlings and enemies that they don't really cover proportionately to their offenses, IMO (for example if Google even considers doing any business in China - uproar. But Bing actively sells out Chinese users to the Chinese government and nobody cars, because right now Microsoft is a media darling). And the media doesn't write about smaller companies doing bad things usually, unless they are particularly bad, because they fail the "who cares" test.
There is also an inherent chaos that comes with companies with hundreds of thousands of employees - bad people will get through hiring and do bad things, people will make very high impact mistakes, things become uncoordinated. So for me personally I try to think of companies in terms of badness-per-capita and whether the rot is coming from the top (Facebook) or is seemingly "random".
- These companies aren't monolithic. If you object to say Google's monopoly on advertising, you can take a job on a team that has nothing to do with it, like image compression.
- If you disagree with the company's practices, you might have more impact by changing the company from within than trying to compete with it.
This is the part you missed. You can’t easily walk away from that.
Reductio ad absurdum.
There are zero jobs in the world without a dark side. Or as you say, "blood on their hands". Even the tiniest non-profit, village bakery might accidentally source ingredients from exploited farm workers in 3rd world countries, or pay tax dollars which goes into US war efforts.
The only reason we're having this conversation is because it's trendy to shit on FAANG companies. For any other case people would rightly say you're holding them to an unreasonable standard.
Having been there, too, and knowing many others who have had similar experiences, I don't think you fully understand what it's like for most people working low-wage jobs.
>There are zero jobs in the world without a dark side. Or as you say, "blood on their hands". Even the tiniest non-profit, village bakery might accidentally source ingredients from exploited farm workers in 3rd world countries, or pay tax dollars which goes into US war efforts.
There is an important difference. The bakery accidentally sourced those ingredients - and I'd expect them to change if it was brought to their attention. Megacorps deliberately and cognizantly engage in the behaviors we're discussing. Everyone is required to pay taxes, so that point can be dismissed. We are accountable to our country's misdeeds, but in a much different way and with a much different approach for addressing the problem. You can change your employer (as a tech worker enjoying excellent mobility) much more easily than you can change your nationality.
FWIW I'm from the UK so things might be very different here.
> The bakery accidentally sourced those ingredients
So your argument is about intent, rather than just the final effect? So what do you think about the tech workers who believe their job puts out more good than evil into the world?
I work on healthcare tech and the above calculus works for me.
Yeah, it's different. One obvious difference is that you don't have the threat of preventable death or debilitating injury bankrupting you overnight.
>So your argument is about intent, rather than just the final effect? So what do you think about the tech workers who believe their job puts out more good than evil into the world?
No, it's not about intent, it's about accountability. You can only address the problems that you are aware of. If you're talking about unreasonable standards then it is unreasonable to hold someone accountable for problems that they're not aware of.
And if you believe your job to do more good than evil, and I disagree, then that reflects poorly on my opinion of you. I do not hold the ignorant accountable, but I do hold the irrational accountable.
1. The shareholders, who care about growth and potential future profits
2. The pampered employees
For the first group, I don’t think they will effect much positive change (from time to time some massive fund like blackrock will say that companies should have better corporate governance, and positive environmental and societal effects, but this is purely words and won’t affect their investments. Other investors want to invest in ESG funds of “good” companies but they also want those funds to have the same returns as the S&P500 ...)
For the second group (who are also likely shareholders but only to a minor extent), I think they have a lot of power to hold these companies to account, otherwise they wouldn’t be so pampered. So I think it’s an important question as to why they don’t succeed in doing this at all. I suspect many employees either don’t care or think about ethics at all, or don’t particularly object to what the company does. Being charitable, they may nor care because the issues concern parts of the vast business which are not so close to what the person works with. Others may just not know about many objectionable projects (surely the company would be motivated to keep them relatively secret if internal backlash seemed likely.)
But there also seem to be many employees who do find out about these things and care and complain. The energy seems to be dissipated entirely by internal discussion or meme boards (people can post “company is doing X and it’s awful” and nothing will change but maybe the poster feels like they’ve done something now) and the few instances where someone tries to do some kind of workplace organising, gets fired, wins some money in an unfair dismissal suit, gets some media attention, and goes to work at a think tank or something, hence no longer posing a threat to the company.
Perhaps one reason people don’t organise around such issues is that they feel some kind of embarrassment about it—they have this relaxed pampered lifestyle and high pay, so they would look silly to be complaining about it.
Whoever benefits from this value/excess value can behave unethically with it: is it evident that Bigcorp will behave (on average/net) more unethically than Smallco?
If you work for Bigcorp and act to help them behave more ethically, are you making more of a difference than you would elsewhere?
I say this lovingly, as someone who has actively chosen not to work for Bigcorps because I find them unethical. It's not always immediately obvious that the alternatives are more ethical. A smaller company might do more harm and face less scrutiny.
Smallco is certainly capable of unethical behavior, and I would encourage you to critically examine your both prospects and the companies you end up working for. But, for most values of Bigcorp that anyone could name, there's clear evidence of ongoing unethical behavior.
>If you work for Bigcorp and act to help them behave more ethically, are you making more of a difference than you would elsewhere?
Definitely, and I would support anyone who is doing so. But this isn't easy, and the typical software engineer plugging away is almost certainly not doing this. It takes a lot of hubris to presume that you, an engineer worth .00075% of your employer's revenue, can exert the necessary influence to cause substantive changes in unethical behavior. Perhaps if megacorp tech workers collectivized, it would be more realistic.
Yeah, 'cuz they're big. They have a ton of people working at them and some fraction will do unethical stuff. I'd be surprised if the actual rate of unethical behavior was higher than average (barring fundamentally corrupt orgs like Enron or Theranos).
This slightly missed my point:
Bigcorps engage in a lot of behaviour, some of which is evidenced to be unethical. Smallco engages in less behaviour, which is not evidenced. You have no way to judge if it's more unethical.
And I'm sure we could make a much better argument for it if we substituted Bigcorp and Smallcorp with actual options you were deciding between as a prospective employer.
I've worked at small companies that did flagrantly unethical things. I've worked at small companies where my work was meaningless, I was unappreciated, or colleagues were unfairly forced out. Big companies don't have a monopoly on doing "evil" stuff. If anything their evil gets called out more frequently due to their size.
I don’t blame people for working in a BigCorp. You gotta pay rent or mortgage. I’m wary of the uncontrolled power they hold over humanity and the prestige we associate working for them. These two together can be lethal.
I hope you continue to explore other places in the design space, but calling people evil because you disagree with them makes people disengage. It makes you look like just another zealot screaming his viewpoint into the uncaring masses.
Some of the stuff megacorps are doing is so unethical that we would use it as a grandiose example for the purpose of debate. If there is a point at which it's acceptable to call behavior out as unethical, and we aren't there yet, then I don't know where it is.
Is a city bad or good? It is both. Complexity is unavoidable. Different experiences in a large corporation happen.
I've personally seen counterexamples to every single point you've made, and they are not isolated.
Your failure to acknowledge that points directly at the most obvious bias -- your own.
I've worked at small smaller companies and actually had the opposite experience. Way more NDAs, way more issues with HR (at a megacorp, it's true that HR might not give a shit on a personal level about outcomes when there's issues. I'll take that over the situation where HR is a blood relative or close personal friend of someone involved in an issue). This sort of vague apathy is awesome--I can make code contributions to a team I've never met and they're happy to accept them. At smaller companies I've worked at, crossteam collaboration was a lot more difficult because everyone had a little fiefdom they wanted to protect.
Even though I don't think (reasonable) NDAs are that big of a deal, I had way more of them at a smaller company. A bigger company is much more vertically integrated so they aren't necessary. And it's not like I'm gonna impress people at a party by reciting proprietary Xilinx datasheets.
That's not what I said. I said the following:
>This post wasn't written for you[, a person who already works at a megacorp. The article is written for an audience who is considering a job at one.]. People who have already drunk the kool-aid [i.e. already works at a megacorp] need a much different approach to break their cognative dissonance[, a natural human bias which makes it difficult to critically examine oneself].
I annotated it here for clarity, but I understand that my comment relies heavily on context for this interpretation to work, and I understand how that would cause you to read it differently.
For the record, I also disagree with a lot of what was written in your post as straight of factually wrong. My manager's manager's manager's manager does know my name, for example. I do work that I choose almost entirely, my work has direct and meaningful impact on a problem I personally care about a lot (my friends and family care a lot too), and I've been able to be one of the primary voices involved in pushing an entire org of hundreds to change a major strategic approach over the last several years. I've never been asked to sign a non-compete.
There are problems with major companies. They aren't for everybody. That's fine. But telling people that they are just blind for disagreeing with you is just awful.
I worked at a megacorp in big tech for many years. They do not have non-compete clauses (and I'm in a state that allows them). I also never signed an NDA with them. People leave them all the time after disputes and not one that I know of suffered after they left. You contradict yourself in talking about how hell bent megacorps are in making money, and then talk about them spending 100x your salary on lawyers to go after you. Sorry, most "you's" are not worth even 10% of your salary to go after. You leave, and both you and the company move on.
> They could hurt you, and they could make you hurt others. Don’t fall for their propaganda.
This is definitely true, but as the GP said, it's quite simple to leave if you this is the concern. While there, I interviewed for an internal position that involved work for China that sounded to me like part of their mass surveillance program. I don't really know if that was the case, but it was trivial for me to decline their offer.
And I've found plenty of non-megacorps involved in hurting others. They merely do not have the scale that big megacorps do.
It sounds like you're conflating Internet companies, and FAANG, with megacorps. Most megacorps are not one of these.
Some people do get to do very interesting work, although broadly speaking, you are correct - you are most likely going to be a cog in someone else's dream job.
They occasionally do invest in people. They gave a coworker $50K to get an MBA (which cost a lot more, but they did contribute a nice sum), with no strings attached. He left soon after getting the MBA. They really shouldn't be this nice.
As for autonomy, it does seem independent of size. My last job at that company had quite a bit of autonomy. I got to pick the tech stack. Work wasn't assigned to me - I had to go examine the needs of the department and propose solutions - make prototypes and if it seemed useful then make it into an internal product.
> You will probably be much happier at a small to mid-size company.
Compared to where I worked, most of these companies in my area have some combination of these:
1. Pay less (and I don't get FAANG salaries - perhaps 60% or less)
2. Work you as much if not more (my life in megacorp had good work/life balance - and when it didn't, I'd simply do an internal transfer).
3. Are less stable. I spent 10 years in the megacorp. Most people I know working at medium sized companies simply did not have the choice to spend that much time there.
4. Are more at the mercy of market forces, often making it equally unlikely you'll get to do cool work. The need to pay the bills is greater.
I've found that there is almost some sort of conservation law at work. As an example, most small companies where I find average people do real interesting work get paid pennies (as in, many of them could qualify for food stamps). Ditto for work/life balance. A friend worked a tech job in a medium company where he'd routinely go home at 3:30pm. Pay was average, but he had to pay almost all of his insurance (quite a bit for a family of 4). He nevertheless was happy with the compromise of a lower salary.
I'm not doubting tech companies exist that let me work in my city and are better on all these counts - just that they're harder to find and get into then big megacorp.
Not all big megacorps are FAANG - in fact, most of them are not. Do not extrapolate from outliers.
Sorry. It didn't address the concern.
> I know of people who suffered after they left, and a cursory internet search will turn up many more stories.
All outliers. How many people leave a company in frustration? And then how many does the company go after? A tiny fraction! Not even 0.1%, which would be huge. I don't think I can find even one case for the company I worked for. It's not a small company - definitely makes more net revenue than Amazon, and comparable to at least one other FAANG.
> There is no contradiction in what I said, if spending 100 units on a legal battle for a single employee would save them >100 units on the next employee (or as a consequence of an unfavorable legal outcome), then it would be worth the cost.
The conclusion follows the premise, but the premise is extremely rarely true.
> You were generating revenues which financed the project even if you didn't directly work on it.
I never understood the desire to compartmentalize and draw boundaries only where it is convenient for you. Just because it is within my company makes it no different from a medium sized company providing services to another company who is involved in evil, even if those services are not directly related. If you work for a payment processor and provide services to my company, then your own logic would make you as complicit as I am. Your service is helping my company in its business, which raises our revenue, which is funding evil. Why am I complicit just because I am an employee, and not you because your company is providing us a service? We're both providing services to my company. Why draw the boundary only to within the company?
And at the end of the day, this is a hypothetical. I do not know what that technology was being used for. Surveillance was merely something I could imagine it's used for. I chose not to get into the business, but the decision was the equivalent of "Do not go work for any company that makes video cameras, or components for video cameras." I would never suggest anyone follow such standards.
Regarding my 4 points, you missed the point of me listing them. I didn't say all medium companies follow those - I said they usually are some combination of those.
I'd happily work for a medium company that has the positive attributes you speak of. I just have trouble finding them, let alone getting hired by them. I'm not at all anti-medium size company or pro-megacorp. When I apply to companies, I generally get a higher response rate with megacorps than with medium sized companies.
Occam's razor. If you have actual studies/statistics to support your case, I'll be happy to reconsider. But I'd wager I know a lot about the company I spent a decade at than you do.
You will have little to no meaningful autonomy, impact, or influence.
This is pretty much by definition true if the place you work at hits a certain size, you become an ant in an anthill, hyper-specialized with no meaningful holistic task.
Life is too short to move things in and out of protobufs for a living, I'd rather live in a garage like a broke college student and have some agency in a five person company and see an entire project through and do interesting work rather than fixing the pipes on some gigantic monolith.
I read that Airbnb blogpost recently about moving to react native and back and I can only imagine the amount of hours of human life that were wasted in meetings alone makes Kafka's novels look harmless, why do people do this to themselves.
this pretty much is my dream job; everyone's dream doesn't have to include having visible user-facing impact or being part of product development. also the work-life balance is great; i get to put in my hours at work and actually be able to make plans that involve leaving at a reasonable time, which was not the case when i worked at a startup.
Any big tech co worth its salt acknowledges the outsized impact a single engineer can make and rewards them appropriately. The important thing here is defining "impact" and "influence". As a standard L4 / SDE-2 engineer, you can have enough impact to make a company like Amazon several 10s of millions of dollars year in and year out. Sure you can't change the strategy of a trillion dollar company, but very few people can claim to have such an outsized impact and still complain about it. It might be adding some prime badges here and some ads there, or improving a recommendations algorithm by 1% but given the scale at which they operate, a 0.25% win in conversion rate because of an idea you've had / executed is enough to drive 10s of millions of dollars in top-line revenue. In terms of technical impact, L4s generally have a fair share of interesting problems to work on - reducing latencies, saving fleet costs, solving recurring bugs are all well rewarded.
- As a Sr SWE (~5-6 years of experience) - you're expected to have an influence on the direction of an entire team. You have input into setting OKRs and idea generation is expected for this level (especially at Amazon, not as much at G from what I've seen).
- As a Principal Engineer - your influence has to stretch across an entire org.
You can vaguely say "oh but I don't care about making my employer gobs of money or solving somewhat interesting problems" but then you'd have to define impact in engineering terms.
FWIW as a non-yet-Senior-SWE at Google, I have input and influence in OKRs both for myself and others on the team. This depends a lot on the particular work though. I work on internal infra, which is driven less by PMs and external market things, and much more by engineers proactively identifying areas for technical improvement and user pain.
This is really just dependent on whats important to you. If spending all your waking hours in front of a computer writing commercial software is how you want to spend your life than sure work at a small company that will become your identity. Or write plumbing, get paid well, and live a well balanced life, one thats not dominated by work.(I think the language to describe the scenario emphasizes the spin on the scenario)
More than 1/2 of your awake life is spent working. So better make sure it is fulfilling.
It all goes back to what the OP was saying: it depends what’s most important to you.
This size is much smaller than a megacorp, though, at around 100 people you'll either have very little user-influencing work or you'll be working on such small features that they won't be very noticeable.
Lots of money.
The FAANG "megacorp" was my absolute favourite job. I learned more, had more impact, made more money, and boosted my own career further than anywhere else I've worked.
Large corporations are not the Evil Co. from your Saturday morning cartoons. Yes, they have immense power, but from what I've seen unethical behaviour and treating employees like shit are more common in non-tech or smaller, dead end, companies.
It might be a different experience joining when the FAANG is already at 30k people though. More protobuf engineering and less "hey let's try this completely new thing."
I was not able to use my creativity and problem solving and it was soul killing. I am now back in Small-Mid Enterprise and I love it. I get to design solutions from the ground up, sell them to other teams and build consensus then slam through development and implementation. So I guess my lesson was, never join a megacorp again- people are expendable there and there is no value placed on their individuality.
But there can still be one area to innovate on! It's usually not productive trying to reinvent everything anyway. Pick one thing, and excel at that. There are enough of those challenges also at bigger companies. Maybe not at every team, but there is likely enough internal flexibility that one can find a suitable team.
And really, inventing the 100th iteration of a custom CI or RPC system at a small company isn't that exciting either.
1) is what you do core to the business?
2) is the company a growth leader? QoQ, YoY, market share, revenue etc.
3) is the company innovating organically
2) and 3) have a fairly big effect on culture. People are busy making shit happen, there's enough exciting projects and career advancement opportunities going around. There's no risk of downsize (firings) so there's less politics it's more about how well you produce.
At some point the company gets too big. Organic growth slows, reorgs happen culture slides, "A" player's leave and it just perpetuates.
Once company can no longer sustain the growth shareholders demand organically, the culture and quality of job experience slides. That's a good time to bail.
When you joined, it wasn't a megacorp, and when it became a megacorp, you had become the "tenured staff" I referred to in my article. Your experience was not the same as the target audience will have.
Secondly in 2004, the company mostly only did search on the internet, advertising on search terms, and adwords, whereas nowadays google do all sorts of things all over different industries.
The google of today is much larger in terms of employees, market cap, and size than it was in 2004.
The company rankings, seem to correlate by how much they spend on ads and recruiting campaigns.
But what's strange, to me at least, is that FAANG companies also dominate those list - despite the fact that they only have very small satellite offices here in my country (in Scandinavia), where they work on quite niche products / problems.
I always found it a bit curious, when talking to highly motivated and talented young people in tech, that basically dream about joining companies like Microsoft, knowing fully well that they'll be working on some Office 365 feature - probably fixing bugs.
Microsoft, on their side, can pick and choose among talent - because they'll get run down with applicants either way. They could hire good students with Master's Degrees, make them janitors, and still it wouldn't even dent their reputation - because kids will blindly follow lists as mentioned above, and the dream of a prestigious employer on their CV.
The amount of respect I afford these people is inversely proportional to the amount of time it takes them to say where they worked or went to school. Went to MIT and don’t ever manage to bring it up in a conversation and I have to learn it from someone else? Massive respect, but they usually mention it in the first 30 seconds.
Plenty of xooglers will tell you exactly what they thought about working at Google. You will hear all types of opinions when you do. Cachet simply isn't a factor for most.
Apply Occam's razor to the stories that xooglers tell. Are they all lying and "covering up"? Or is the diversity of opinions you read about real, and reflective of the experiences of that writer?
I'd go with with real.
This is what I don't understand about people working for a company that builds silos or walled gardens. You always know that one day you are not working for that company anymore and you will be outside the silo/garden, and the company will effectively work against you (or against your entire profession) in ways you perhaps did not anticipate.
These companies pretend they have an "engineering" culture. But the policies of these companies show very little of that. When do these engineers wake up?
If you don't sell your stock to live, wealth accelerates in a hurry.
The comment has been couched in weasel words to pretend like it's just talking about the parent comment, but the content of the message is aimed directly at the person behind the screen.
("Abusive" seems like another example of exaggeration for effect.)
And I'm working with really nice people.
Maybe it's my imposter syndrome speaking, but I always think that I've pulled a fast one by getting this far in my career without being exposed as an incompetent.
Certainly, there's someone X levels above me who doesn't know who I am and doesn't care, but that really doesn't affect my life.
You very likely won’t be happier at other tech companies, because despite promises of career growth, autonomy, greater responsibility and company mission, it will just be the same ruthless corporate shilling, just with worse hours, worse vacation, worse pay, and worthless lottery-like equity.
I urge a lot of caution. The only reason to work at a startup (all other constraints like visa issues, geolocation preferences, etc., being equal), is because you have absolute faith in the core business model.
Choosing to work at a startup because of the technologies you will supposedly use, the seniority of the role you’ll supposedly be given, the fun-seeming optics and kid-like atmosphere, lack of dress code, etc., is a massive, massive mistake - not because those preferences are wrong, but because startups absolutely don’t fulfill them. They just pay lip service to it.
For 90% of employees, the choice is purely between medium-corp and mega-corp, based on your relative appraisal of work/life balance and compensation.
It would be great if this were different and the charismatic nature of startups really did offer offsetting benefits through learning, autonomy, etc. But that is just across the board a total false promise bill of lies in startup marketing to bait & switch tech workers they otherwise can’t afford on the basis of market compensation.
Pros: I feel much less like a cog in a big machine at the smaller organization. My pay went up significantly because they actually wanted some of my unique skill set, and just before the end of the year I got a project of importance from the R&D director, with the VP of product development explaining the longer term importance of the project. My manager is pretty hands off, so I can totally get away with building my skills when he thinks I'm working on short term projects -WFH helps too ;)
Cons: more variation in people. The megacorp had more standard cooperative folks, but I think some people I work with now are trying to protect their fiefs at the expense of my work. I'm slowly learning to do their jobs though hehehe...
At the megacorp (a big name you've heard of), I was in a huge side office. They made some nice sounding efforts to train me, but my time was billed by the hour (standard in the industry), so every hour learning something was an hour i had to make up later. I was moved between random projects with vacancies, so when I did learn something I'd have to shelve it for months or years until the funding situation or other variables aligned. My own ideas: there was a way to get funding, but it wasn't much and nobody above the director level cared if my idea worked, even if it impressed the company's anointed experts. I was an experienced engineering hire, was there for a few years.
I'm pretty happy with my new job! The industry is renewable energy, which makes me feel better than my old corporate jobs on the oil/defense side of the moral spectrum. I got lucky! We'll see how this goes. At the old job people came and went a lot, so I have reason to believe I can go back if the new thing flames out.
My two cents.
- salary and perks are nice
- people are smart
- people are understanding
I don't solve interesting problems, mostly just run of the mill internal tools web app.
The only downside is that I can't do it remotely (this will be an onsite job, after this pandemic ends, said the management), or from another country. I'd love to just go to another country (my country of origin, or my wife's country of origin) and work there, but with US salary.
I'd love to have financial independence, spending time with my families which live apart from me. Thinking of starting my own, but SaaS software is extremely competitive and risky, and probably won't be making money.
Btw I see a lot of hostility among the comments. I myself actually appreciate the post, thank you for the author. I do think a lot about ethical concerns when applying to companies, and I'm happy to have found one that I have no problem with.
it's easy to say money isn't everything. but you don't really need to work very long to retire with that kind of money. if you're single (even in the bay area) it should be relatively easy to live a fairly cushy life on 100k$/year spending. that means you can pocket 180k$/year in savings. if you invest it, and the stock market returns 7%/year on average, you will be a millionaire in 5 years. it's one of the lowest risk ways for a young engineer to accumulate wealth. definitely within reach to retire in your early 40s, depending on how much money you want to spend.
 no investment is guaranteed but the stock market has been very reliable in the past with a long enough timeline.
The goal is to make so much money you can save it, and retire early. Or if you're doing the family thing put your kids into a fantastic college. I have no qualms about working on a product which is absolutely boring, and I have no real influence over.
If they tell me to stare at a wall for $400 an hour I'll be the best wall starer .
life to work and work to live are both perfectly valid approaches.
I do feel it is important to own your decision. if you chose money, don't complain (too much) about how boring your job is. if you chose passion, don't complain about the pay. most people get neither.
I think it's best to just settle for a healthy medium between the outlooks of "who cares as long as I'm paid" vs. "my job is my life and identity".
 Bullshit Jobs by David Graeber is a great book on the topic.
I taught myself Python a few years back and greatly increased my income.
I don't expect any job to improve my skillset .
Then you are working in the wrong place. Learning python is a basic skill that almost everyone is capable of doing at my workplace and it is heavily encouraged.
However I found that working for a Fortune 500 company to be both rewarding and comforting. I have been doing it for over two decades. I see the winds of change all the time but I also see incredible people I would have never met otherwise, new technologies that only were present because being so large we had teams for everything, and the opportunities expanded when working with large vendors who did not just ignore us or take us for granted.
Are there issues working in a company which probably lost more in a backroom than they pay you. Sure. The key is knowing how to manage yourself and know the boundaries of your environment so that you don't because replaceable cog.
You think megacorps are bad, well have you considered the gargantuan that is your Federal or State level government. Here are countless agencies and officials who supposedly are there to look out for you and all the others but no one actually holds them to that. You can try but you are not going to get far. Hiding behind Sovereign Immunity and even Qualified Immunity; which applies to all officials not just police; when they do something wrong or even illegal. Play side games with grant money to fund each other or writing contracts to hire friends and family for big money. No, corporations when they get large can be a threat to you if you work for them but government is a threat to everyone but who do you run to first and point fingers at someone else for them to act upon?
This is Hacker News. This is an appeal to hackers, software engineers, tech workers - not government workers.
Corporations are not evil. They are a byproduct of this environment we live in. If I have an issue with the OP, is that he thinks his ideals as some sort of divine atheistic moral code we should follow. Morals are subjective and relative. It's dangerous to try shaming people because you think your ideas have some kind of "higher morality". That's basically what religion is, and it ended up killing (and still is) lots of people.
Since then my preference definitely shifted towards smaller companies so I can get more experience working on greenfield projects.
What is the biggest perk, to complement the big salary? My colleagues. I worked with really amazing people, and learnt a lot from them.
Did I end up in the only few good spots at the company and spoke mostly with people in the remaining good ones? Statistically unlikely. I'm aware there are rotten parts, but I don't think it's the majority.
Megacorp is easily the best. That pay of nearly $500k/year is actually really really great.
Retiring at 50 instead of 60 is pretty good dream job.
This is the highlight of the article to me. We software engineers are paid a lot of money and gifted many cushy benefits to ignore the negative impact of our work. Just read some of the other responses in this thread for examples!
My question to those who feel this way: do you need that second property? That new car? If you were less insulated from the negative externalities, would you make the same choice?
Not all of us are driven solely by a paycheck. I know I could be earning 2-3x times more at a company like Facebook, but I chose not to because I want to sleep at night. As I have gotten older I've started to learn what actually makes me happy verses what I am told should make me happy. Endless consumption and unfettered capitalism do not make me happy. I can achieve the standard of living that keeps me fed, sheltered, entertained, and saving for retirement without working for a megacorp that hurts people less privileged than myself.
Because they pay you that huge salary. That sounds like a pretty good reason.
Hell I'm a mid-career engineer and I'd spend 40+ hours of my week moping a lake if they paid me that much.
I generally agree with what Drew is saying here, but it's important to remember it's not just the business's size. It's the mentality and values. A "lifestyle business" that isn't dedicated to growth at any cost may be less likely to leave a trail of bodies behind it, but petty mundane evil still exists in mom-and-pop shops. It's all part of the same capitalist system, from top to bottom.
It's very difficult to maintain any values when your life depends on submitting to capitalism, and I think picking on specific entities within capitalism may be a distraction. It's easier to make choices based on your values if e.g. leaving a job doesn't mean losing your healthcare during a pandemic. Only systemic change can meaningfully prevent the evils of megacorps, rather than shuffling around who is doing the harm that capitalism incentivizes.
I do think you should avoid working for evil megacorps, but perhaps it's not the best use of your time and energy to vilify people who feel that doing so is necessary. It may be better to help e.g. unionize those workforces so they can organize to e.g. hold Amazon to their climate commitments.
Some of the stuff covered by the MSM sound horrific.
I also have chinese colleagues who brought up some interesting points- namely that Uygurs and certain communities had more privileges (especially wrt one child policy exceptions) that are simply being revoked now.
A lot of the “reports” in MSM also reference Adrian Zenz  who these colleagues claim has an anti-China agenda.
In this age of disinformation, I just don’t know who to trust.
The same as any other nationalist regime will tell you: "if you are against the regime, you are against the nation". And it has been proved, time and again, that the majority of citizens buy it.
I have absolutely no problem simultaneously enjoying the products sold by megacorps (Apple in particular) while also believing I would likely want to curl up and die if I had to work there. I can't stand anything even remotely approaching office politics and corporate culture and have worked freelance most of my career. I most definitely want to keep it that way. =)
Disclaimer: I work at a megacorp, but as someone with 25 years in companies of a variety of sizes, I think I have some perspective.
Early in my career I worked as an IC at a non-profit, a small tech company, a startup (that went from 15 to 200 to 75), and some other medium/large tech companies. I'm currently a senior engineering director at a FAANG.
If I had a time machine and could do it all over again, I'd absolutely start by joining a FAANG. I'm actually a bit jealous when I compare the T3/T4 experience to what was available to me. They're able to learn from & work with some of the best in the industry. Their ability to advance is based largely only on themselves. Sure, I had a lot of autonomy but it's also a lot like learning the piano without a teacher. You make so many mistakes that you don't know you're making.
Likewise the tech-stack is pretty good. Not perfect (by any measure) but heads & shoulders better than what you'll find at most places.
And the variety of problems is hard to beat. Work at a company that does X, your only choice are going to be problems relating to X. Get tired of working on something at megatech? Transfer. If you're good, teams will be thrilled to have you. A lot of your knowledge will carry over, and so too, your reputation.
Now do megacorps care about you? Well, as much as any company will. To be honest, I don't think any company really will "care" about you (at least in how I care about family) and I think it's disingenuous for the author to pretend otherwise.
Both megacorps & smaller companies do care about you in a sense of wanting you to do well. But if push comes to shove, both will lay you off if financially they're forced to. I learned the hard way at the startup. Not because I was laid off, but because I had to make the list of people to layoff in my group. It really, really sucked as we felt like a family. I really admire that the CTO saw I was struggling and talked with me at length about it. I learned as a manager at any company you have to be willing to do these things for the good of everyone overall, and the best you can do is be fair about the decisions and be humane to those let go. Is that caring? My family would never do that. And if that's caring, that's exactly the same mindset I see in megacorps.
Obviously megacorps aren't perfect, but if you apply the same standard to them & whatever other option, I think they stack up pretty well.
"Blood on your hands" - oh boo-boo.
Blood washes out.
Life can be very rough. It's certainly not fair, that's for sure. But there are many more possibilities and new perspectives waiting to be discovered and explored.
We are limited by our current frame of mind and past experience. If we strive to continually break through these barriers, we will never stop surprising ourselves at what we find and learn. The universe is a vast and incredible place. It is can also be quite scary and dangerous, this is true. But deep within all of us is an unrelenting urge to work together to face these dangers and overcome them. If you stop for a minute, I'm sure you can feel it.
My best wishes to you :)
The breathtaking presumptuousness and pompous assumption that my life viewpoint is holding me back is...amusing, honestly.
I mean, you have your kid get cancer, then tell me if you wouldn't take a "blood on the hands" job like...working at Facebook?? Then tell me if my life experiences limit my views, or are perhaps just different than yours.
I'm held back by my viewpoint from joining a cult. I don't see this as a loss.
That's worlds apart from what you wrote above. You said you would work for the devil himself. We weren’t talking about Facebook. Also, being overburdened with crippling medical bills for your dying child would obviously complicate the moral calculus.
> The breathtaking presumptuousness and pompous assumption that my life viewpoint is holding me back is...amusing, honestly.
Fair point... But I didn't have much to go off of. Look at what you wrote. It doesn't come across well.
This is what the internet was supposed to be. HN is the only place I've found that is still like that.
I hope FANG employees recognize themselves in this paragraph. Where you work matters.
Autonomy/impact/influence. This is maybe true, depending on things. My manager^4 knows who I am. As does my manager^5. I've interacted personally with both of them. I've openly criticized both of them. I've openly criticized other VPs. It's possible that I'm on someone's shitlist, though at this point I doubt it.
In term of impact and autonomy, I set most of my own goals at the 6 month and 1 year scope, and have influence with my leadership on defining our long term initiatives. I have the autonomy to work on a pie in the sky project that takes up 30-40% of my time that has no chance of being valuable for months, and only a potential for being useful at all. I came up with this, from the ground up, myself.
I think I've had an above average experience. But the idea that everything interesting is already taken isn't true. The idea that nepotism runs rampant also isn't particularly true. One thing I'll note about larger corps, especially G and FB, is that managers get more training on how to be managers than at most other companies, this means that they'll encourage you to set career goals, and work with you on figuring out how those can happen. This can include helping you move to other teams. Again this isn't universal, bad managers exist, but I'd hypothesize that the median manager at FAANG is less shitty than the median manager at a smaller but still billion dollar company.
The H1B abuse stuff applies, as far as I know, significantly less to FAANG than other tech companies. If you include contractors/vendors this can get murky though.
I don't disagree about HR not being particularly friendly at megacorps. But you're not going to have a particularly better experience at a smaller company. If you antagonize a smaller company, it may still end badly (and I'd argue there's a higher likelyhood something you do will get taken personally).
Arguments about gig workers and unethical behavior by the company apply as much, if not more, to smaller companies like Uber and Lyft (and Doordash and and and). And ultimately reduces to a sibling of the "no ethical consumption under capitalism" argument. We certainly shouldn't throw up our hands about such things, but if you try to self-host your server, you're still purchasing components that probably involved dangerous cobalt mining and there's a good chance that you'll be using more energy than if you ran in a datacenter in the cloud.
There are indeed many other companies. But that doesn't mean that small companies are better. Is Uber-under-Kalanick more ethical than Amazon? Is Uber-today more ethical than Google? Is Square more ethical than Microsoft? Sure, maybe, but I don't think the answer is so blatantly obvious that these conclusions can be drawn so strongly and with so little nuance.
The core argument here seems to be that since big companies are large, and they do bad things, they're somehow worse than average because they are big. I'm at least somewhat receptive to these arguments, since things like monopoly concerns come into play at some size, but trying to blame individual employees for choosing what is ultimately a much better deal for them when the problem is that the company is (maybe) too large isn't a great approach.
Heck, for a particular ethical individual, the concrete ethical impact one could have by working at a FAANG as opposed to a smaller company is probably larger, you're betting on the influence you'll have in the small company being comparatively greater than the influence the small company has compared to the big one. Maybe that's true, maybe it's not though.
And the whole time, the big companies are on average treating employees better than small ones.