Sometimes, I read things by CEOs about how a company works on the inside and I wonder if it really looks like that, or if it is a view from the top that doesn't reflect what it's really like.
This article, with its discussions of the upsides and downsides, is accurate to my experience and my understanding of other people's experiences. For many people, Gumroad wouldn't be a great place to work, but for those of us who want to work like this, it is exactly what we need. Very glad to be working at Gumroad and working in the ways the article describes.
Edit: Following up with a few FAQs from posts in the thread:
* Health Insurance: I'm personally lucky enough to still be covered on my dad's health insurance until I turn 26, thanks to the ACA, though for supplementary (vision, dental) I make more than enough to afford proper health insurance on the open market. Everyone at Gumroad is paid very well and should be able to afford the same.
* Regarding overtime, benefits, etc: we make very competitive rates as contractors. I sincerely appreciate your concern, though.
* On the shift from full-time employees to contractors, the company declined and was rebuilt over a period of five years. I'm a relatively recent addition, so I only know Gumroad as it is now, I cannot comment on how it was. All I can say is that it's not like Sahil went out and fired everyone and then the next day it was a bunch of contractors.
This might be true for everyone at Gumroad, but I wouldn't be so sure. You also seem dismissive (probably unintentionally) of one of the biggest problems we have in the US right now: health care and insurance is ridiculously expensive–especially for people with families who want to be self-employed or contractors.
A family of 4 who doesn't qualify for ACA subsidies is going to pay $1,400/month or more out-of-pocket for health insurance. And it goes up every year. Imagine paying 10%+ of your salary just for health insurance.
I decided to actually look at my budget from the last year and see how this compares to my costs.
In Australia I pay about ~28% of my salary in tax. 2% is for medicare, and I have private health insurance on top of that for roughly the same cost again (for dental, which isn't covered in our system because of dentists lobbying an exception back in the 80s). You still have to pay part of most costs in Australia, looking at my budget that's come out to about another ~1% of my income in the past year.
So I pay 5% of my salary for health services. It's pretty much inline with other costs like food and utilities. Doubling it to 10% would be doable, but it would suck.
It seems that the US system doubles the cost and the extra money serves as the very healthy profit margin of their private health industry. Keep in mind Australia manages to sustain a private health sector off that 5%, this isn't abolishing private health by any means.
A proper government health system could probably be even cheaper than the 5% I pay because the US has much better economies of scale. Not to mention the benefit of untying it from employment.
I'm not really making a point here, your comment just inspired me to compare the numbers and it sure is grim...
This is a common misunderstanding in Australia.
The Medicare levy, as it's called, is an administration levy, not a 'this all goes to healthcare, and healthcare is only funded by this' tax.
Originally set in 1984 at 1% and guaranteed to never to go up <tm>, it is now at 2%.
(Aside - within two years it was raised to 1.25%, then in 1993 bumped to 1.4%, in 1995 raised to 1.5%, in 1996 the Howard government set a temporary <sic> increase to 1.7% (ostensibly related to gun control costs) which did drop back in to 1.5% the following year, but in 1999 there was an attempt to bump it up again to 'cover the costs of our military involvement in East Timor' - this didn't happen, but it speaks volumes. In 2010 we suffered the regrettable corruption of 'if you earn more than ~$100k AUD you will pay an additional 1.25-1.5% unless you buy private health insurance'. Further fiddling got us to where we are now. Much sad.)
Point being it's incorrect, and quite misleading, to assert that 2% of your salary 'is for medicare', as a simple breakdown for public health shows that, per-dollar, it's somewhere in the range of 10-25%, though because money is fungible, budgets are intentionally fuzzy, and definitions of healthcare somewhat flexible, an exact figure isn't easy to determine.
> Point being it's incorrect, and quite misleading, to assert that 2% of your salary 'is for medicare', as a simple breakdown for public health shows that, per-dollar, it's somewhere in the range of 10-25%
I want to push back on this a little though.
The implication that it actually costs 10-25% of your salary is just as misleading, as individual taxes only account for <50% of government revenue . 60% if you include other taxes reasonably attributed to an individual (GST and Superannuation).
So maybe a better middle-ground would be to say it costs 5-12.5%? Even then, I'm not sure where you're getting that upper 25% figure from, a cursory search shows _total_ expenditure on health care (medicare + private together) was <10% of GDP in 2013. 
Looking at the budget, it's ~14% of expenditure 
So if we assume that all this money is fungible we could expect that ~7% of my salary, or 8.5% of all tax I ever pay, goes to government health expenditures.
Adding on my private cover and out-of-pocket expenses get me to about 10%, exactly what the OP is claiming they pay...but that was paying for _just_ insurance. The US government still spends huge amounts on health care, so a chunk of their taxes are going there too, and there is the out of pocket expenses etc.
As you say, an exact figure isn't easy to determine. But comparing the 2% medicare levy + my private health insurance to the 10% OP's US insurance cost seems pretty reasonable. They are paying more than that for healthcare out of pocket and their other taxes, so am I. The deal in Australia still seems much better than the US one.
 See Table 2: https://www.aph.gov.au/About_Parliament/Parliamentary_Depart...
 See appendix B: https://budget.gov.au/2020-21/content/overview.htm#three
I believe I was thinking - if not typing - that it was anywhere from 10-25% of the average person's income tax burden.
I found figures similar to the ones you did - around 14% of federal expenditure. There's local, as well as state, health costs, and those are funded via disbursements originating from federal budgets, but not tracked in detail in same. There's also aged care, which will come under this, much of which is semi-funded through ersatz religious groups that have their own tax avoidance schemes in place, and other complexities.
But the ~14% figure seems about right -- and reminds me that I also forgot to tie that back to OP's figures, which, prima facie, aren't too horrendous in light of that figure.
However, that assumes those insurance payments cover all (or the vast bulk of) costs for health care ... which they clearly do not within the USA health system <sic>. Copayments and exclusions appear, from what little I've heard, to be a significant cause for concern even for people with 'good' insurance coverage.
I read somewhere that dental issues are universal enough that you don't get nearly the same cost averaging that you can get for other medical problems.
When I looked into it, dental insurance basically amounted to "a payment plan for dental expenses you would pay anyway"
Also it prevents bigger issues in the future that a socialized healthcare system would have to pay for. Cheap socialized dental care basics I think is a net positive for a society in general. The poor will be more productive and create more tax revenue than the amount of money put into it.
Edit: Maybe this is part of the answer:
One more likely dies from cancer, because any treatment likely won't start until too late.
Is the increased level of care worth 7%
In Canada it's 11.5 so 6%,extra.
In Canada the waiting lists for mri and other advanced testing can be long where the same tests/operations can be done as a walkin option that day in the US.
If you have bad insurance, your options are usually to do the walkin option and pay whatever your insurance won't. That's probably more than you can afford unless you're sick enough to get a doctor to order it (which often means you've missed a critical window in treatment options). Or you can try one of the clinics, and wait for forever trying to get it looked at. Or you can do what many Americans do and ignore it, hoping that it goes away on its own.
We do have better options than other countries, but whether those doors are open often depends on your income level. Socialized healthcare does equalize that, even if it means dragging down the standard of care for the wealthy in exchange for bringing up the average.
Frankly, as an American, I think we have shit quality of health service, based on the insurance cos' red tape and restrictions and paperwork alone. Getting healthcare in this country is a bureaucratic nightmare. Maybe the docs and meds and tests are good, but the overall service is bad.
(Disclaimer that I insist on Kaiser, an HMO – I would not live in a US area without it – which is pretty good, but helping family through health issues who had "gold standard" normal PPO was... different).
If that's not indicative of something broken, then I don't know what to tell you.
People from the US go abroad for care all the time.
>“In Canada, the absence of a private system is not due to the illegality of private health care per se,” reads a 2001 analysis in the Canadian Medical Association Journal. “Rather, the lack of a flourishing private sector in Canada is most likely attributable to prohibitions on subsidization of private practice from the public plan.”
Seems fair to me.
So someone in this position now would have fewer options besides waiting their turn in the queue.
This is about extra billing, not per se about MRI. So still seems fair to me.
In any case, that shows that getting private care may not be an option in Canada.
Yup, while the system is being subsidized with public money you can't just setup something competing while taking advantage of the public system too.
Genuinely asking, since I don't know any details about her situation or much about lung ailments.
The question isn't whether it was a serious issue, but whether it had a reasonable probability of being one.
As part of his ongoing treatment the hospital scheduled an MRI every 3 months for a year, then every 6 months for 5 years, and now it's annual. The scans happen on time every time.
Waiting lists are prioritized based on urgency.
When I broke my nose, I went to ER and registered at around 12am. A doctor finally treated me at around 8:15am. That's at the Strong Memorial Hospital in Rochester, NY ~6 years ago.
Are there no private MRI machines in Canada? In many countries with free healthcare, you can still "just walk in" to any private hospital/clinic and get an MRI done.
They did however bring some under the provincial healthcare fold, so general turnaround times have improved with more scanners... And they are running more often (they weren't running 24/7.
I work in imaging, visited 100s of hospitals in Canada and mainly USA.
Would be uncommon to see a unreported list in USA with exams 24 hours or older.
In Canada it was common to see months.
These are scans performed but not interpreted by a radiologist .
So for urgent cases(like dieing in the hospital), there is hardly any wait and read right away.
But if it's somewhat none urgent (friend waiting 1 year for a MRI for nerve/back pain), you might have to wait awhile for the scan and then the report.
If you in a population dense area, you might be waiting awhile, but may get quicker service in smaller nearby towns(I had a 3 month wait for. Knee scan, went for a 2 hours drive for a scan a week later)
Our public healthcare has caps on how much a radiologist can read/get paid, so there is no incentive in Canada for radiologists go full force.
In USA they are paid per exams, and depending on case types could be reading 100s per day.
Would you mind explaining why they'd do such a thing?
Same thing for non-elective surgeries.
You can't goto a private clinic for a surgery offered under public healthcare
Basically removed being able to pay to skip the queue, some people felt it was unfair, and to uphold integrity of public healthcare...
2 good recent sources on the topic.
In my country I can see a doctor for free after a 0-4hr queue in a hospital waiting room or pay USD$10 to immediately see any of the dozen private doctors within a 5 min drive of my home.
My taxes already pay for free healthcare, but I'm more than happy to pay more to avoid wait times.
But I live in the "third world", so I understand your experience might be different.
As well, I'm basing this off not a lot of evidence other than doctor shows (which I recognize are probably ridiculously inaccurate), but I get the impression that (for those who have the right insurance) in the U.S. that testing and imaging is overprescribed, and doctors will often order an MRI when an ultrasound or a CT scan would be perfectly fine. So even if MRIs have a relatively longer waiting period, it's overall rarer that you'll need to get one in the first place (and CTs can usually be ordered fairly quickly - I had one today that was booked within a week for relatively minor symptoms)
In fact, you can view it this way: the waiting lists are long because the important things are prioritized. People who really need treatment fast are being consistently moved to the front of the queue with no option to pay to get ahead of them for people at lower priority.
My reference point is Australia, and it was awe inspiring to see how fast things moved for a relative with breast cancer.
I've also learned from friends who have family members with substance abuse issues that there are 6 or more month long waiting lists for even out-patient rehab, and for doctors that specialize in treating substance abuse. Addiction is often deadly, so it's pretty urgent to treat.
That's mostly an inaccurate myth that has persisted for decades. Despite the "High Fructose" part of the name HFCS, the balance of fructose and sucrose in HFCS is roughly the same as regular table sugar, 50/50. HFCS 90 is actually worse for you than table sugar due to it's high fructose content (which is primarily only absorbed in the liver, unlike sucrose), but it is rarely used and the taste is very sweet compared to normal HFCS or sugar.
You can easily search for tons of sources (queries as simple as "HFCS vs sugar" will give you decent results), but including one to back up what I said above:
Do you have a source for that? I don't see how sucrose from sugar cane is any healthier than HFCS, which is the same thing, just split by an enzyme.
There's chemical differences and some HFCS is a lot more fructose than sucrose. But, yeah, I also haven't been able to find any conclusive evidence that it's any worse with your garden-variety HFCS
Isn't $36000/year above the US average income? How is that even possible?
ACA is not a great alternative and I lament the fact that I pay more for health care (even if I don't use it at all) than I do for my mortgage, utilities, internet, and phone bill every month. (Midwest, LCOL).
In Germany it's 14% that is split between you and your employer, so I guess you'd have to all of that on your own if you are self-employed. Granted, you can also choose to have a private health insurance which will seem cheaper but gets outrageously expensive with ages and it is very very difficult to get back to statutory insurance.
I don't want to be dismissive, but with a full remote job why not go live in a country where healthcare is a thing? Especially if you have a family. Now that I'm writing that, I realize that it might be hard to get a Visa.
Just for comparison.
Disclosure: I no longer live in Germany _but_: In Germany, 90% of people are insured via the mandatory public health insurance system (do a Google translate on https://www.bundesgesundheitsministerium.de/gkv.html, which is the official federal health ministry website). That's 70 million people out of ~83 million in an estimate of 2019 according to Wikipedia. There's still a bunch of different companies that provide coverage under this public system. I remember ~15%+ depending on which company you went with for health insurance. And that's the _public_ system.
You can play around here if you want: https://www.brutto-netto-rechner.info/. I plugged in 70.000EUR per year (which is reasonable for a senior dev depending on city (i.e. this is way more than I was paid in Frankfurt 10 years ago but we're talking different level and 10 years ago ...) but you'll get less even as a senior today probably if you're in some "flyover state" equivalent of Germany.
Where it says "Rentenversicherung" that's your pension.
Where it says "Arbeitslosenversicherung" that's your EI.
Where it says "Krankenversicherung" that's your health insurance. Remember, this is the public system, which has been going way down hill since I was working in Germany. Nowadays you gotta have a separate insurance for certain things in dental care for example, that were just covered for me, when I was there.
So for my EUR 70.000 / year example health insurance is ~4.5000EUR or about 6%. You gotta remember in that that the employee and the employer share this 50/50, meaning the ~4.500EUR is for the employee only. The employer pays another ~4.500EUR (officially the public health insurance system rate is like 15% and there's all sorts of rules about what extra percentage a public health insurance can charge and different companies charge different extra rate to try and 'compete' with each other.
So with all this in mind and percentages already given (and please do look up the German "progressive tax system" as opposed to the tax bracket system in the US and Canada), 70.000 EUR is about 86.000 USD or 4.500 EUR being about 5.500 USD.
The Netherlands is just this tiny little kingdom in Europe that basically has all their ducks in a row. Nothing is super great, but nothing is bad either. It's my gut feeling that anything around 8% is really just the cost of health insurance that covers mostly everyone.
Top federal income tax: 37%
Top California income tax: 13.3%
Federal Medicare tax: 1.45%
Additional federal medicare tax*: 0.9%
Adds up to 52.3%.
There's also a sizeable additional capital gains tax for three lucky ones who live in California.
Top California income tax: 13.3%
At least our public schools are ranked 38th.
My go-to is "at least we'll have a fast train between Bakersfield and Fresno in 2040" but damn, you hit me in the feels with that one.
That cost doesn't go away for people who are regular employees, it just gets absorbed by the employer. That's a big part of the reason you need to make more as a contractor than as an employee. Lots of costs get covered for you pre-paycheck as an employee that you have to pay post-paycheck as an independent contractor.
Also notice how the gap in that graph is getting wider. It gets worse every year.
I'm incensed at the idea we leave families out in the cold like that - IMO healthcare should be free - but I don't find my care to entirely unaffordable.
I pay ~$350/mo for a low-deductible, high-quality HMO ACA plan
It is true that process tends to naturally scale with org size and longevity because communication becomes more complicated with this scaling - but that only gives you a bit of a lower bound (i.e. if you go below this, you start shooting yourselves in the feet)
This is always a red flag I'm dealing with someone inexperienced, or desperate. Processes can be very unique to each company, especially the problems that they're facing, and trying to shoehorn someone else's process into your own business without understanding the problems that process is solving is a recipe for failure.
"Process weight" is a good concept I wished more people understand. Building released-to-web software without hardware, big teams, long-term API support, etc. should really have almost no process, except for maybe high-level prioritization of features/functional areas (which a small-company CEO or PM can do). Reflecting on my own experience, it's the micro-management of most development processes that kills me -- 45 minute stand-ups where I'm arguing over whether something will take 2 or 4 hours. I honestly don't know and the powers that be just can't accept that. "How do you not know how long doing that will take!?!"
I think most teams would be capable of this, it's just that the people signing the checks get really, really uncomfortable with the apparent lack of accountability.
(I don't mean bean-counter pejoratively; the world needs order and predictability just as much as it needs creativity).
If you're early-stage Facebook or most consumer-facing recreational apps, "move fast and break stuff" with minimal process is great, since the potential downsides of pushing a bug to production are usually far outweighed by the value of iterating quickly. You can trust your developers to do the right thing, because for the most part developers will, and on the rare occasion that someone doesn't, the consequences are not severe.
If you're Signal, or a FinTech company, or NASA, or a medical device company, then you need significantly more robust process to ensure that appropriate quality control, chain of custody, etc. is being applied at each stage of the process. Trust alone no longer works because even though it will get you the result you need _most_ of the time, that is not a high enough success rate.
Put more generally, more/improved process is required when you cannot tolerate a given failure rate, and in general you trade off throughput against failure rate.
Having said all of this, many companies cargo-cult Google and add process when they don't need to raise the quality bar, or implement poor process that fails to increase the quality bar; these would be examples of bullshit process as the GP puts it. However I feel like we're often not presented enough context to disambiguate appropriate process from BS.
The trick is finding a balance, as a friend once told me the sweet spot is "as little process as possible, as much process as necessary".
Is that what I said? No.
I got into computers because I dislike people: leave me alone and let me work.
There are formal codified processes and there are informal tribal ones. Often when I hear people have disdain for processes, it’s usually they don’t like someone else’s process. Unfortunately, standardized processes tend to become more necessary as systems get more complicated in order to ensure an operation becomes fault tolerant by not being reliant on a person that may leave but instead reliant on a process that stays.
Processes mitigate risk. Just because that risk isn’t important to you doesn’t mean that risk isn’t important to someone. With that said, there are smart, efficient ways to mitigate risk and there are inefficient, burdensome ways
Personally, no. I have spent enough time at enough organizations to simply adapt to whatever they do. But if I want to write some code I just do that. I might toss in testing or whatever for bigger projects, but it’s all ad hock.
Processes are about repeatability, but for personal projects you can customize based on more specific goals. If I want speed, accuracy, or whatever I am going do made different choices. I am even going to change things up based on whatever mood I am in at the time.
True but misleading. A lot of the time the difference is simply doing a bunch of process activities versus not doing them. E.g. imagine team A develops software in a more-or-less sensible way, and team B spends 80% of their time doing the same things that team A does and 20% of their time estimating how long those things are going to take. It seems fair to say that team B has not just different processes from team A or less formal processes than team A, but actually has more process than team A.
> Processes mitigate risk. Just because that risk isn’t important to you doesn’t mean that risk isn’t important to someone.
Processes can be a mechanism for mitigating risk. They can also be entirely devoid of value.
I'm not saying all process is worthless, but someone who wants you to follow a process should be able to tell you who that process benefits and how. If the only reason you're following the process is because it's the process, it's probably a waste of time.
Pointing out bad processes does not refute the point that processes exist and they exist because somebody is trying to mitigate a risk. It’s just a comment about the effectiveness of the process design.
You not agreeing with the risk assessment is not the same as denying the intent. It’s also not the same as saying it’s effective at managing the risk.
If there’s a required review, you may think it adds no value. But you may also be ignorant of the downstream risks it mitigates. “You” may not care, but somebody downstream does. “Your” ignorance of the situation doesn’t invalidate the process, although it may speak to poor leadership in terms of making sure people understand why the process exists. You can, however, invalidate the process by interrogating the intent. E.g., maybe the downstream interaction has changed and the review is no longer necessary. Maybe the probability has dropped enough to become a negligible risk because of a design change. The process can be falsified in terms of meeting the intent because the risk would no longer exist.
If the answer is “none”, it validates your point that the process is needless and the claim about risk is proved false. But most responses will be able to articulate what the risk is, whether it’s relevant to your position or to someone else.
Not my experience at all. Most responses to the question as phrased would be "huh?"
I would claim that most processes are not born of an intent to mitigate risk; in my experience there's rarely an intent at all, people cargo-cult the idea that they should have processes without understanding why or even conceptualising that there should be a why.
I’ve certainly worked in organizations that continued processes out of sheer inertia of “this is the way we’ve always done it.” While someone may have inherited a process and continued using it without understanding why, if you reach back to the initiator they will have a risk they were trying to mitigate. Even if their predecessors are oblivious. Again, I would chalk this up to a failure of leadership to explain the “why” when passing it off rather than a failure of process.
Even in instances where people copy processes just because they are emulating a different org, that original organization had a risk they were mitigating. Blindly following suit like an automaton says more about the person pushing it than the validity of the original intent.
A process can certainly outgrow its intent. If I am prescribed medicine and blindly continue taking that medicine after I’m well, it doesn’t mean the there was no original, valid intent. The risk profile changed; the process did not update keep inline with that changed risk profile.
Processes mitigate risk of repeating a mistake, but they don't prevent new ones, unless you have very wise people building them, and keeping them current.
Processes can be thought of as an institutional form of OCD. There are costs, and they shouldn't outweigh the benefits.
I’m not sure I fully agree. Reactive processes prevent recurring mistakes, because they layer on a requirement to close a gap. I think people can go overboard, particularly when they are myopically focused on a single risk in their wheelhouse and miss the big picture.
Better processes can be more proactive. For example, a process requiring a failure-modes-effect-analysis can identify potential faults that have never been experienced. Developers may feel like they don’t need to work on an FMEA because they “know what they’re doing” and miss latent failure modes
Without process, more employees just increase entropy. The process brings everything together.
What’s described in the OP is a process. I run a very similar process myself - contractors, minimal friction, weak deadlines, no stand ups and all. Supremely effective.
For example, in companies that deal with medical data/PHI/PII, having to go through processes is necessary because of liability, no way of getting around it.
If you want someone to pay you, though, you are going to have to let those people have a say in what you do.
either one person is calling all the shots, or decisions are made through email discussions or irc or whatever forum they favor nowadays.
synchronous meetings are not required. if you consider that in a meeting everyone takes their turn, people respond to each other, and eventually maybe vote on decisions, all this can be done by email. it just takes a bit longer, and you have to factor that in your time planning.
not having meetings doesn't mean that people don't talk to each other.
Heck; I’ve always thought that the first thing I’d do after winning the lottery would be paying off my parents’ mortgage ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ (disclaimer: haven’t won yet)
It goes from "I make PowerPoints" to "I write unit tests and debug code before I start the deployment."
$250 an hour is great for the bottom 75% of the market though and better than average for anyone not in facebook/google.
I'm a contractor too and the tax breaks you get are essentially another 20% raise.
If that’s the bottom 75% of the market, what does the top 10% look like?
It's the same shit just better.
Your shitty commuter house 3 hours out of town is now a mansion 20 min outside of town. Your shitty 1990 ford fiesta is a very nice 2020 BMW. Your shitty healthcare plan is a great healthcare plan, but the main difference is how nice the plants at the doctors office are. If you want to get a divorce your new partner looks a lot better than your old one. Your furniture isn't chipboard from Ikea, it's hand made ethically sourced mahogany. Your flights aren't economy class, they are business+/first class. You don't have to run your washing machine, you pay someone to do it.
If you want anything interesting, like say a nuclear reactor in your basement, or a jet two seater Canard, you can't afford it because no one makes it. Unless you have the connections to start a company to make them, or have literal billions lying around, you don't have the resources to do anything but live middle class+.
Nuclear reactors really, you can't imagine what you can do with a piece of derelict land when you throw enough power at it.
- $190K - Everyone can Build a Twitter Audience
- $125K - The Good Parts of AWS
- $15K - Profit and Loss
- $5K - Userbase
I also made $50K freelancing, $40K of those from Gumroad.
All started after Dec 2019.
Indeed this seems to be the case. Being based outside the US, I find that somewhat annoying :)
These changes did not impact me though however, as the new "quick and efficent" method still provided me with a much smaller tax return than documenting all of my own costs. 
> In practice, we pay everyone hourly based on their role. The range varies from $50 (customer support) to $250 (Head of Product) an hour.
> Recently I standardized our rates world-wide
> We also have an “anti-overtime” rate: past twenty hours a week, people can continue to work at an hourly rate of 50 percent. This allows us to have a high hourly rate for the highest leverage work and also allows people to work more per week if they wish.
Sounds like it's $50/hr up to 20hr/wk, $25/hr thereafter. For 40hr/wk, that's $1500/wk or $6000/mo or $75k/yr (assuming 2wk unpaid vacation).
Not bad honestly.
Have you looked at how much decent health insurance coverage costs on the individual market without income-based ACA subsidies?
It's absolutely insane, and even more insane if you want family coverage. For a similar, but nowhere near equivalent, of an employer provided healthcare plan, I'm looking at spending more than $9,000 in premiums each year, a $3,000 deductible, a $8,000 out-of-pocket maximum and co-pays for doctor visits and medication.
If I add a spouse and one kid, for a plan similar to an employer provided plan, premiums sky rocket to over $30,000 a year, with a $5,000 deductible, a $17,000 out-of-pocket maximum, co-pays etc.
I wrote a long and very emotional response to this. In the end I decided to simply say that, if I worked at Gumroad instead of at an employer who pays me about 10% less but pays even just part of the premium on mediocre health insurance, the events of the last six months would have killed my partner, bankrupted me, and left me widowed and homeless in the middle of a pandemic.
At best, I'd be six figures in medical debt.
At worst, I'd be seven figures in medical debt.
You all can go without insurance? Great. That's great _for you_. Congrats _to you_. Good luck _to you_.
Yes, the system is horrendously broken. But just acknowledge — just _acknowledge_! — that it's a massive, massive, massive privilege to be able to afford to work a job that doesn't offer health insurance in the United States as it exists right now.
Consider how many people absolutely cannot fathom working for Gumroad as a result. I don't want to hear you do it. Just think. Think about it. Please!
The problem with this model is that you are coasting on the work done by your full time staff in the initial few years, whom you fired and replaced with part time contractors who get no benefits. Even putting the ethical issues with this aside, if a competitor takes interest in your space and has a large war chest, you'd be powerless to compete with them. And when your tech is dated and current/new customers want innovation, your low-price contracting firms working a few hours per week certainly aren't going to be able to offer that.
So while I'm happy things are working in this case, no new company that starts with the environment you are describing is going to be successful.
If that were true, every single company that had more money to spend would always win. But that's not what's observable. There seem to be other factors at play that don't always center around money.
> no new company that starts with the environment you are describing is going to be successful.
That would mean no upstart could ever compete in the same space any established player. But again, that's not what's observable.
It appears to be much more multi-faceted than just "he who has the most money always wins."
I wonder if they have in mind an IPO instead
A fully VC-funded SV unicorn is gonna demand a pretty high price tag. There's a lot of mouths to feed and liquidation preferences to payout. OTOH, $10 million is a pretty attractive payout for a single person, or even a handful.
A substantial potion of the part-timers could temporarily increase their working hours, possibly doubling or tripling the rate of progress overnight. The company of part-timers effectively has an additional prequalified workforce waiting in the wings for emergencies. The company would then have a period of time to put arrangements in place to bring each person's hours back to previous levels.
This is all very similar to standing armies. The more people, the more expense but better protection. What countries do, therefore, is let other countries do part of their jobs, ie US protecting many other countries who don't have large militaries. I'm not sure what the analogue is in business, maybe partnerships?
It absolutely blows my mind that 99% of office roles are still 5 days / week, Monday to Friday - why is there basically no variation on this model? I'd be more than happy to work a job for 80% salary for 4 days per week...
So much so, I'm about to launch a website listing remote software jobs with a 4 day work week:
(Assuming you were linearly productive, which it's not, but it's the same assumption you were making and is good enough for this illustration.)
There are other fixed overheads, like your manager, human resources, the office itself, and even the cost of hiring you in the first place. It's possible that to make all things equal, they might have to change your salary to as much at 60%.
Of course all things are never equal, so these numbers have really wide error bars. And after all that, you might well decide that 60% salary for a 32 hour week would still be a good deal. I know I'd consider it. But it's important to note that it's going to be rare to find a job that will pay you 80% as much for 80% of the work.
From the private insurer's point of view, it would be crazy to charge more or less based on how much someone works or earns. The public insurance does so out of a solidarity imperative coming from the government, and is subsidized as needed to make that possible.
In the US, there is no public option. Feature working as designed, for better or worse.
All of this being said I think the German private/public hybrid is pretty bad. Sure, they make it harder to go back to public when you get older but you can always accept a part-time job for a while and be "forced" to buy public.
...why? Unless there's an implication that they'd need to hire more people, why would they need to pay you less? If you're generating the same amount of revenue, just working fewer hours, their fixed profit should be able to cover your fixed healthcare whether you work 80% of the time or 10% of the time. As long as they aren't incurring additional expense by hiring multiple people to do the same job to facilitate fewer hours.
A shorter work week obviously can't work for all businesses, but there are plenty that have tried it and found that workers spend more time working and less time socializing with a shorter work week (which would seem to be a win for everyone).
I think you hit the nail on the head. IF the company needs a someone M-F for 40 hours of Bug-fixed/widgets/ect, they will have to hire to fill the gap.
If the last 20% of the worker's time is truly non-productive, then the company is already over paying and the worker is wasting their time.
I think it's a misconception about worker productivity: you need to optimize the overall system, which will require having slack in some places that are not a bottleneck. "The Goal" by Goldratt is a good explanation on why that's the case. Any attempt to locally optimize to keep everyone busy sooner or later kills the overall productivity of the system.
How this slack is used by the workers is a different question, but if someone wants to use it to improve the system, to improve themselves, or simply to recharge, I think it's up to the worker. The goal is not to keep everyone busy; the goal is to provide optimal results using available resources.
if you worked only 80% but is able to generate the same revenue as working at 100%, then surely one of the following must be true: you either slack off the 20% of the time, or the company is overpaying you for the work you do!
Therefore, it must be assumed that if you worked only 80% of the time, you're only 80% effective. So the fixed cost of an employee doesn't decrease when they work only 80% of the time - so it becomes more expensive than just cutting the salary by 20%.
This is the exact logic that is causing the issue. I would posit that a statement like this could only be true in an environment such as a factory line, where the output of widgets is truly linear over time.
Study after study have shown that for information workers, there's a strong trend of diminishing returns as workers clock more time.
Modern offices are truly an exercise in Parkinson's Law.
Further, I would speculate that the way companies encourage employees to optimize for duration of time on task leads to an insidious effect of individuals adopting less efficient methods to complete work, as there is no incentive to finish tasks more quickly within a timeframe when any time saved isn't recovered to the individual.
This stifles innovation.
Had quite a few clients and employers asking and haggling over trying to get it both ways.
If you consider a creative job where you only care about the output, then the more creative it is, the less (above an undetermined threshold) time spent working and output are correlated.
The means (again, time spent) not being an accurate predictor of the outcome, they don’t matter much, and there is no reason to tie the salary to them.
If you consider a non-creative (factory / fruits picking) or vaguely creative (low-level factory-style coding, data input) job, then the less creative it is, the more time spent working and output are correlated (up to a physical / mental exhaustion threshold).
Here, the means are a good predictor of the outcome, hence the salary being tied to the number of hours spent working.
It really depends ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
And it really comes down to what most of the IT/Software people are. I have a feeling though most of them have are closer to fruit picker but a lot think of themselves penning great literature when writing 10 line comments on 2 line function summing a pair of integers.
You mean they would only be WILLING to pay 70%. I'd wager the vast majority of people with salaried jobs don't spend 100% of their work time working. Many jobs can be done in a fraction of the time. I don't doubt that most people could lose a day and probably gain productivity on the other days.
Probably more to do with Britain’s Factory Act of 1833 and follow up Act of 1844.
Today, the US and the UK seem to be pretty typical compared to other countries, which is to be expected:
In all honesty, I would have though reduction of hours was due to automation and the advent of machinery, but I found this quote interesting...
When a labourer,” said Mr. Ashworth, a cotton magnate, to Professor Nassau W. Senior, “lays down his spade, he renders useless, for that period, a capital worth eighteen-pence. When one of our people leaves the mill, he renders useless a capital that has cost £100,000.” Only fancy! making “useless” for a single moment, a capital that has cost £100,000! It is, in truth, monstrous, that a single one of our people should ever leave the factory! The increased use of machinery, as Senior after the instruction he received from Ashworth clearly perceives, makes a constantly increasing lengthening of the working-day “desirable.”
Are these fixed costs, or would these employees also be working 80% as much? I think only the healthcare / office space for these people are fixed costs, but that would be factored in calculating their new salary.
There is very little difference (imo) between 3 employees @ 40hrs per week vs 4 employees @ 30hrs per week. There will be more administration and onboarding admittedly, but this should be balanced by more productive employees (i.e. less burnout)
You're never at serious risk of losing more than 30% of your paycheck in any short period. You could even get smart and balance your portfolio of jobs between pro and counter-cyclical industries. Plus, it's a good way to let people gracefully transition between careers. Want to move into machine learning? Take a low-paying junior ML internship for one of your 1/10 jobs to build experience.
It'd also be good from a societal perspective, since jobs at small, fast-growing, but high-risk companies would become comparatively more attractive. It'd be harder to sustain toxic workplace environments, since any given employee would have plenty of other options. Managers would be less hesitant to shutdown money losing divisions or fire underperfomers, since you're not leaving the employee destitute.
In that world you don't need to hire anyone else because all you've done is cut back all the bs idling time that we all know exists in many jobs while keeping output the same.
FWIW I'm not sure I agree on the 1/10th but like 1/3rd or 1/2 absolutely from my position.
Also, given how difficult it is to recruit developers, offering roles on a 4 day week will ease this process as it's a "USP" that few other companies offer.
There was a time when 6 days per week were normal. People thought the world would go under if people worked only 5 days but things were ok. The same will happen with 4 day weeks. Once people get used to it it will be hard to imagine working more.
I feel that the part-time jobs trend now is like the remote jobs trend in 2007. It's still in the early days.
This probably applies less to big conglomerates who exist and will continue existing regardless of what happens (honestly most of their employees can just not show up and they will be fine), but more to technical innovation.
I can guarantee you that in general in software engineering, you will produce the same result, whether you work 30 or 40 or 60 hr a week. The productive hours will be the same as you just have so much focused hours inside of you.
Anyone being forced to work under the conditions you describe is probably too terrified to do anything more than iteratively replicate existing foreign designs.
You can't force innovation by locking people in a dungeon and screaming "INNOVATE!" at them until they succeed.
And isn't 28 hours 3.5 days?
And ye, a few people have mentioned the point about 28hrs - I'm going to rebrand it as "4 day week".
The real benefit I've seen very few places implement is a 36-38 hour week, over 4 days, with no decrease in salary. Productivity is the same or slightly higher (quite a bit higher if it's a set schedule, e.g. everyone has the same day off so there's no communication latency). Satisfaction is through the roof because not only are people getting paid more per hour, but it's a benefit that they're extremely unlikely to find anywhere else, so retention goes up as well.
Given if the requirement was "you really have to work this number of hours to get that total income", I would prefer longer days + fewer days over the 9-5 mentality most countries have. Unfortunately, the last time I requested 9x4, it got denied. Let alone more extreme variants, 4x10, 3x10 or 3x12. Ironic, since 4x10 would also have less overhead, despite still being a 40h workweek.
So part time? This is pretty normal in nearly every company I’ve worked in, lots of people take it to spend more time with young kids
More generally though, I feel employees almost need an
"excuse" to work part time (i.e. some reason such as childcare). I wish for a time when a significant % of developer jobs are advertised as near-full time and that I'm not stereotyped as lazy for applying to them. There's more to life than reviewing pull requests...
In most European countries this is normal and not frowned upon. Some countries even protect this option for employees by law.
But don’t envy us too much, the counterpart is that our salaries are much much lower than the US (even at 100%).
In the Netherlands it works exactly like this. Half my team is on either a 90% or 80% contract. Other half doesn't have children yet :P