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I work at Gumroad, mentioned in this article.

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.

> 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.

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.

> Imaging 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...

> In Australia I pay about ~28% of my salary in tax. 2% is for medicare ...

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.

Fair point, I was looking up pay withholding breakdowns and that's all that's directly paid to Medicare.

> 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 [0]. 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. [1]

Looking at the budget, it's ~14% of expenditure [2]

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.

[0] See Table 2: https://www.aph.gov.au/About_Parliament/Parliamentary_Depart...

[1] https://www.aihw.gov.au/getmedia/3be568f2-d938-4575-bf1f-874...

[2] See appendix B: https://budget.gov.au/2020-21/content/overview.htm#three

You're absolutely right, and my apologies. I failed to heed my own warning about the complexity of trying to reverse engineer these numbers.

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.

Just as an aside i think dental care in Australia is ripoff expensive. As anecdotal evidence; with the ban on international travel local dentists are apparently very busy as people can no longer fly abroad for more cost effective care.

> dental care in Australia is ripoff expensive

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"

It lets the rich pay for the dental problems of the poor. It's also a form of income redistribution.

And a broken form at that. The vast majority of dental problems are avoidable either via diet or dental care.

Meh over a large population that is not actually true. Some people just don't make that much salvia for example and get dental problems way more than others, even with identical dental care behaviors and diet of someone with pretty much no dental problems.

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.

That’s because most dental care is predictable: prophylaxis. Insuring against it is just adding an admin fee. Insurance is good for unpredictable things.

As context for non-Australians, dental care has only very limited funding in the Australian public healthcare system. I have read that the government of the day thought that opposition from dentists might jeopardise the battle for public health cover. It is the policy of at least one party (The Greens) to expand dental cover under Medicare in Australia.


Part of the issue here too is that not only is US health insurance very expensive, but for all practical purposes it doesn’t kick in until you’ve had a fairly significant issue. So you are paying a lot of money for insurance you hope to never use, and in the event you need some kind of basic care you are still paying out - and have no meaningful negotiating power. I’m under the impression in most countries with single-payer / government run health schemes, you might also pay a great deal for your coverage, but that it’s all inclusive.

Also not a single mention in this subthread of what happens if you aren't poor enough to qualify for medicaide (in most states you have to be near-homeless levels of poverty), but not anywhere near rich enough afford a $1500 a month plan for your family.

Then what happens?

Edit: Maybe this is part of the answer:


One more likely dies from cancer, because any treatment likely won't start until too late.

Australia spends 10.5% on health.

US 17.5

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.

A substantial difference is that healthcare tends to be incredibly regressive in the US. People with good jobs that have good pay tend to get pretty good company insurance. People in jobs that don't pay very well tend to have bad insurance, if they have it at all. Bad insurance typically means you pay a lot of out of pocket costs, meaning lower earning people often pay more out of pocket for the same medical treatment. It's more poignant in reverse though; high earners should expect to pay less than low earners for the same medical care. If it didn't work that way, why would any of us pay for more expensive health insurance?

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.

waiting lists "can be long" – it's time to stop parroting these misleading statements. They can be, if your test/operation isn't urgent. Urgent things are treated right away.

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).

My friend in Vancouver had lung xray show up something weird and the doctor scheduled her for an MRI. The appointment was in 7 months. Instead she got the MRI in a private clinic for a pretty reasonable cost and came back with the results for her doctor.

If that's not indicative of something broken, then I don't know what to tell you.

If she was able to get the MRI at a reasonable cost, doesn't that suggest that the system isn't that broken? As far as I can tell almost nothing comes at a reasonable cost in the US.

I think the criticism is probably of the Canadian health care system a la "She had to go to another country to get her scan in a reasonable period of time (and that country has a terrible global reputation for being insanely expensive and broken itself in the health care department)."

She didn't have to go to the US for the MRI; implication was the clinic was in Canada. Private care isn't illegal or anything there.

People from the US go abroad for care all the time.

Some forms of getting private care are indeed illegal:


From the article

>“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.

Things like paying for a non-public health scan are indeed facing legal crackdowns, though:


So someone in this position now would have fewer options besides waiting their turn in the queue.

> Extra billing is defined as additional fees charged by a physician or a clinic for a publicly-funded health procedure that is medically necessary, or when a patient pays out of their own pocket for such a procedure in a private facility

This is about extra billing, not per se about MRI. So still seems fair to me.

So it's fair that you cannot get an MRI done paying for it?

In any case, that shows that getting private care may not be an option in Canada.

> So it's fair that you cannot get an MRI done paying for it?

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.

Sorry, you are correct. Nevermind.

What do you think the odds were that it was something that would cause problems in fewer than seven months, or that if she experienced symptoms that they would move her up in line?

Genuinely asking, since I don't know any details about her situation or much about lung ailments.

I don't know the specifics, but there's also the mental cost of the doctor seeing something concerning enough that warrants an MRI and waiting 7 months just for the test; praying nothing gets worse in the meantime.

That's a very good point.

What were the results? If it was a serious issue that needed treated urgently there is a problem. If it was not then she was prioritised correctly and there's no issue.

By that logic, playing Russian roulette is safe if one doesn't die.

The question isn't whether it was a serious issue, but whether it had a reasonable probability of being one.

I'm in Canada. In 2010 my son was unwell, having issues with lethargy, balance and vomiting. We took him to the local children's hospital and he had a CT scan within 2 hours and an MRI an hour after that.

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.

Each province administers it's own health care. So the level of service and time you have to wait varies significantly depending on where you live in Canada. Waiting six months for a specialist appointment is not unusual, for example, in say Quebec.

Not so easy in the US. My sister is in the first trimester of her pregnancy. She had to go to ER last week because she couldn't eat (keeps vomiting and lose sleep because of vomiting). She was in a bad state (very weak and was almost passing out) when they (her in-laws) brought her there. They had to wait for 2 hours to be attended by the nurse/doctor eventually. It's not because the hospital was crowded with COVID patients (Rochester, NY isn't overwhelmed with COVID at the moment). It's mostly because there are few doctors assigned for each shift at the hospital (the supply of doctors in the US is scarce--partly because of the artificial restrictions put in place by American Medical Association [https://www.washingtonexaminer.com/thanks-to-doctors-there-a...)

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.

> 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.

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.

BC banned private MRI clinics a year ago.

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.

> BC banned private MRI clinics a year ago.

Would you mind explaining why they'd do such a thing?

It wasn't specific to MRI clinics, but they elimited two tiered healthcare opti9ns as some perception it benefited the wealthy, and would attract doctors to privatized healthcare, further impacting public healthcare.

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 Ontario, private MRIs aren't allowed except as a third-party service — such as an employer paying through private insurance. Think professional sports team ordering an mri for a basketball player.

There are private MRI businesses, but not many. When a friend of mine had some hard to diagnose brain malfunction his family drove to NY to get one.

Sure, but you're already paying for a public service

We all pay taxes that build and maintain our roads, but that's no reason to not shell out for an airline ticket if we want to get somewhere faster.

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.

I think the waiting lists can be exaggerated sometimes. There are definitely waiting periods, but if something is a priority, things can move pretty fast.

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)

> I think the waiting lists can be exaggerated sometimes

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 was on a 5 month waiting list to see a provider that took my insurance in a major metro area in the US. Even if I chose to pay for visits upfront and in cash, there were still 3+ month long waiting lists from other providers.

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.

Do Canadians and Australians need as much healthcare as aging and obese Americans do?

I just looked into it now. As of 2018, apparent 38% of Americans are obese and 28% of Australians. So it's probably a difference that _does_ factor into costs, but I wouldn't know how much.

That is such a big difference. Is it food suply related or lifestyle? The states with larger cheese production tend to be heavier than hotter states which could mean location might be the cause but it might be genetic.

Food is more expensive in Australia and serving sizes are smaller.

A related factor: US sugar subsidies make sugar expensive, so a lot of manufactured foods in the US contain High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS) instead. On a kilojoule-for-kilojoule basis, excessive intake of HFCS is a lot more harmful to health than excessive intake of sugar is. By contrast, Australia has a long history of being anti-agriculture subsidies, and fewer foods here include HFCS (most of those that do are imported from the US)

> excessive intake of HFCS is a lot more harmful to health than excessive intake of sugar is

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:


>On a kilojoule-for-kilojoule basis, excessive intake of HFCS is a lot more harmful to health than excessive intake of sugar is.

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.

It's similar, but not the same.

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

For clarity, US sugar tariffs make sugar expensive.

We're aging too!

In the US a good chuck of federal & state taxes go to government employee health care, active soldier & veteran health care. This added to medicare tax and health care premiums and medical expenditures gets me fairly close to the 18% of US GDP spent in the medical sector.

My company pays $3,000/month for health insurance for my family of 5. I assume it's pretty good insurance at that price, but we still have to fight the insurance company tooth and nail whenever we have medical bills.

That is insane. Here in the Netherlands we pay ~€100 per person, and healthcare is mostly free for everyone under 18.

Isn't $36000/year above the US average income? How is that even possible?

The total cost of healthcare is high and allocated all over the place in the US depending almost solely upon the mercy of one's employer. From a total systemic cost the US has the highest cost in the world per person on every metric possible. What typically happens is many will simply drop from insurance pools and because they tend to be poor make the statistics for the insured look better, which makes our conservatives believe the system produces better health outcomes similar to the statistics for charter schools. I'm quite sure that the actual cost per person for the Netherlands is not actually what the system pays in total because there's taxes whether levied upon income or at the side of an employer or other non-government entity will make up the difference. In the US, unless you're desperately poor or retired (Medicaid or Medicare, respectively), your insurance plan is essentially whatever pricing the market will bear, which means "whatever insurers and health providers charge each other."

Family of five, $2000/month on ACA for a high deductible plan with a lot worse coverage than I used to get at my previous four employers. No vision insurance, and pretty weak dental too.

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).

> Imagine paying 10%+ of your salary just for health insurance.

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.

To my understanding this plan should include the spouse and any number of kids up to the age of of 23 (age limit for the kids, not for the spouse of course). Dental care and eye care might be a bit limited in these kinds of plans. This means that you have to pay extra if you want more then the medical necessary minimum.

That's exactly right. It seems that your experience with health care will also depend on where you live in Germany.

In Sweden, about 9% of my salary goes towards healthcare and I pay almost nothing extra for any of my healthcare needs. This 9% also covers things like elderly care and I don't lose this benefit if I lose my job.

How do you get to 9%, I'm also in Sweden but I've never seen a specific breakdown. Genuinely curious.

There is some research done via approximation. I cant find the figures anymore but I remember reading something similar.

We have a max amount of $140 per year for healthcare, if I go above this any further treatment is free.

> 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.

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.

I hear Barbados offers a 1 year remote-work visa

Replying to this directly because I'd otherwise have to reply to so many other sibling replies individually with overlapping versions of this :)

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.

Sorry, didn't quite follow - is the summary here that German healthcare is generally affordable?

I'd say it's relatively affordable if you are employed in a company (even though some things like dental care etc you'd have to pay for it yourself if you are doing more than two checkups per year afaik or basic filling) but if you're self employed, you'd have to pay the 14% all by yourself which is a lot!

That $1400 sounds super low. Last time I saw what my employer paid for my health insurance, it was $1500/mo, for just me. And if you're buying insurance on the open market, it's more expensive than it is for an employer.

A quick search gave me that as an average for a family of 4 in California. I agree with you and was trying to give a conservative number.

I live in The Netherlands as a freelancer, and thus there's no employer in between that obscures taxes somehow. It's all visible to me, and I pay roughly 8% of my income on health insurance.

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.

$1,400/month for a family of 4?! Lucky you! The cost greatly depends on the oldest person in the family, not on the health status. I'm 46 and the premiums are nearly $3,000/mo for my family, but, glory to God, we almost never have major issues, but I'm sure there are young people who drain the insurance more with risky lifestyles and unhealthy behaviors. How is this fair? Also, isn't age a protected class to penalize based on it in pricing? Meanwhile, I can't recall seeing a senior citizen discount in many years. I know long ago they removed "free entry" and other benefits for which only women were eligible for. I was finally offered a high deductible plan with HSA so I don't lose all the money when I don't use it.

When I lived in Ireland I paid 51% of my income in taxes. Imagine that!

I don't have to imagine it, I live in California.

  Top federal income tax: 37%
  Top California income tax: 13.3%
  Federal Medicare tax: 1.45%
  Additional federal medicare tax*: 0.9%
The "additional" Medicare tax is only on whatever income is over $200k/$250k for single/joint filers. Call it "0.55% effective".

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%
That's the marginal rate applicable to each additional dollar over the threshold, not an overall rate.

I honestly don't know, is that (progressive taxation) not the case in e.g. Ireland?

Don’t forget almost 10% sales tax on most things you buy, the most expensive gas in the country, and property taxes that–while low compared to other states–are still applied to much more expensive properties.

At least our public schools are ranked 38th.

> 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.

Are you also making 10M a year?

I imagine that if you were paying that tax rate, you were in an upper bracket, and could probably afford it.

Was that the marginal rate that you paid or the effective rate?

It was marginal, but it kicked in after around EUR 25K IIRC. There were only 2 rates. This was 2010.

> insurance is ridiculously expensive–especially for people with families who want to be self-employed or contractors.

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.

In the USA ~17% of GDP appears to be spent on health care. I guess that skews fairly heavily toward elderly people, but 10% on health insurance for a family of four doesn't seem out of the realms of sanity.


By itself maybe not. The problem is I live in California, which means I pay about 40% income tax (state and federal combined). Yet I still don’t get health care/coverage.

Also notice how the gap in that graph is getting wider. It gets worse every year.

Maybe that's because the US needs more healthcare?

A consequence of the US being richer. They spend more on education too. Baumol’s cost disease means as a country gets richer more money will go to labor costs and medicine is really labor intensive. I’m not sure I’d say the US needs more healthcare so much as they can afford it and that’s how they choose to spend the money. Healthcare and education will soak up a practically unlimited amount of money, and if you’re the richest country in the world you have more money. The US has higher household consumption than anywhere else bar Hong Kong. Rich countries spend more on healthcare and the US is the richest.

Same racket for anybody over 40, much less 50. I pay $750/month in premiums just for bronze-level coverage on my middle-aged self.

As another data point, I pay ~$350/mo for a low-deductible, high-quality HMO ACA plan as a single male in Maryland. (It would have been $550 in California).

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
That's the total amount the provider gets, or just your out of pocket before ACA subsidy?

The latter, why?

10% is really low. In Germany it's min 14% and you don't have a choice to opt out. Everybody needs to pay this.

I’d love something like this: I loathe the bullshit factory process has become.

Process is one of those things you have whether you think about it or not. It's up to you collectively to decide if it is BS or not, too heavy, too light, etc. I'm not suggesting everyone has the influence to change process much at the place they work, but they idea that there is a single "thing" called process and some places have it and some don't is just dangerously misleading.

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)

It really depends how that process is adopted. If it's organically in-house grown and it does makes sense then it becomes a synergic glue. If it's imposed top down from the outside because "that company does it, lets follow suit" then it can become a pain and cause more harm than good. I liken that to goo.

> "that company does it, lets follow suit"

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.

Cargo cults: not just for code!

There are two sides to that. Some processes grow organically in house in ways that ignore industry best practices. Everyone likes to think that their organization is special but few really are. They could often benefit from an improved process imposed top down by someone with broader experience and an ability to see the big picture. Of course changing processes always involves some short term pain.

This is a really thoughtful comment.

"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.

it's the tension between the bean-counter side of the company (finance, top level management, marketing vis-a-vis timelines) versus the creative side of the company (design & development, R&D). One side requires rigid predictability to perform optimally and the other side flexibility and ambiguity. Where the line is drawn and expectations are set is a function of company culture, hence why bigger companies/enterprises tend to come down heavy on requiring estimates.

(I don't mean bean-counter pejoratively; the world needs order and predictability just as much as it needs creativity).

Agreed. One additional source of disconnect in discussions is that the appropriate amount of process varies depending on what your goals are, your team composition (seniority, personality, communication styles, etc.), your regulatory environment, and myriad other factors.

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.

This is 100% spot on. There's always a process to one's work. It's just a matter of whether you want to be intentional about it or not.

Indeed, I agree with all this.

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".

Yep exactly. Process is like culture: you always have one. The question is whether it works well or not.

> but they idea that there is a single "thing" called process and some places have it and some don't is just dangerously misleading.

Is that what I said? No.

I got into computers because I dislike people: leave me alone and let me work.

Surely, you have a process that you follow in your own work though?

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

> Surely, you have a process that you follow in your own work though?

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.

The moment your personal project becomes an open source project with you as the maintainer, there will be process. Manually making releases without any process gets real tiring, real fast.

> There are formal codified processes and there are informal tribal ones

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.

I’m not sure we’re talking about the same thing. What you’re talking about is the difference between value-added processes vs busy work disguised as risk mitigation. Both are processes but of differing value.

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.

In that case your claim is completely unfalsifiable. I might equally well claim that processes exist because they're works of art, and the fact that some processes are not aesthetically pleasing doesn't refute that.

How is “the intent of a process is to mitigate a risk” completely unfalsifiable? Is your claim they exist simply because they exist and have no underlying purpose? You can evaluate the risk, as well as evaluate the effectiveness of the process at managing the risk. You falsify the intent by describing the relevant risk severity/probability reduced by the process.

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.

Re-reading this, I realize it’s needlessly wordy. To condense my point, you can simply ask, “what risk is this process trying to mitigate?”

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.

> 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 think I may understand why we’re slightly talking past each other on this.

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.

I've worked with many organisations that had processes, that placed a lot of value on process. At most one of them would have described their processes as being about risk mitigation. For all I know it may be true, as a kind of etymological curiosity, that the concept of process originated as a means of originating risk, but that's certainly not a useful perspective for understanding how and why most organisations that adopt processes today do so.

>Processes mitigate risk.

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.

>Processes mitigate risk of repeating a mistake, but they don't prevent new ones

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

Work on what, though? Work how? What gets prioritized? How are things released? How are issues handled?

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.

Exactly. Good process is there to protect you, bad process slows you down.

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.

I personally don't dislike people but prefer small teams where we almost get to read each other's mind. There's no magic formula for that, it's just compatibility and it usually forms organically. But I also like to get some 'let me think alone' time without which my performance starts slipping..

Ok, then go off and work alone on your own projects. No one is going to bug you if you are working alone.

If you want someone to pay you, though, you are going to have to let those people have a say in what you do.

I'm curious how they hold their technical architecture together. Is the architecture mature enough that there are no decisions to be made? I know if I ran my team without syncing up directly on things we'd end up with horrific inconsistencies all over the place and it would become impossible to support. I would guess longer term quality would suffer as well.

how do FOSS projects run by volunteer contributors hold their architecture together?

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.

They say that they write a lot, so maybe what other organizations do with direct sync up, they do with detailed documents and async discussions around those documents.

Are you willing to provide any additional clarity on "very competitive rates as contractors"? I understand if not but would be useful to help some of us externally think about this model.

I’m making $10K/mo for a quarter-time PM role at Gumroad (so about $250/hr).

Honestly that's very nice money and more than I make full time. I'd happy take a role like that and work (10 hours per week?). Even if I wasn't that keen on the role (that's 30 hours per week to do what I want!)

I'm not sure where the company nor the employees are based, but it does seem ridiculously high and probably more than what 90% of the people in this world earns while working full-time. With that high salary and low amount of hours, I would personally feel bad, as the contrast against my peers and people around me would be too high.

But then you’d also be able to afford spending it helping your community and giving some to local or non-local charities

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)

Indeed I could, but I much rather hire two co-workers and cut my salary is three pieces and give them one piece each, if it would come to that. Life's more than money and people jump on the chance to do something they find is meaningful.

You might feel that way but remember how much profit tech companies make. I know of small companies that make millions in profit and don't pay their staff even competitive rates. Diverting a bit more of that profit into someones salary seems fine to me. The example here is Gumroad which is very profitable.

That’s also an option. However it usually isn’t up to the employees

Interesting is the Product Management market pretty active? What's kind of roles are on offer?

Not sure what end of the scale of PM OP is on.

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.

$250/hr is equivalent to half a million dollar per year. Most PMs at FAANG do not make that much.

If that’s the bottom 75% of the market, what does the top 10% look like?

Is Gumroad your only gig?

No, I own a SaaS business and also sell my own products on Gumroad itself. In fact, the latter was my biggest income source in 2020 — $282K sales last year: https://twitter.com/dvassallo/status/1333888186762678274

And you are not even 26? Congrats man, you made it :) That's more than I ever made in my life (close to 40).

The person who is under 26 is not the same person who posted their rates.

I wish :) I’m 37, with 2 kids (6 and 3).

I think the parent OP is different than Daniel. Daniel worked at Amazon / AWS for 8 years


That is OP , not the person you are answering to

Money is not how you count if you made it. I made as much as OP at that age (and am now a few years older) and I'm very far from making it. Millions don't go as far as they used to when everyone around you is even richer.

With all due respect, your comment suggests that you were spending beyond your means, or keeping up with the Joneses. Millions go very far if invested properly and drawn down properly so that the principal is never touched. If you're spending the millions instead, then yeah, that's definitely not gonna go far.

There's a huge trough in what you can do with what you can buy when you earn between $80k a year and ~$8m.

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+.

Sure if you try to go up in quality you hit diminishing returns. Not quantity though. $80k and you're working for the rest of your life. $8m and you retire at the end of the year.

You can retire on $80k too, it just happens to be in Afghanistan.

“Everything is better but I don’t get a nuclear warhead”.

I don't want everything to be better. I want nuclear warheads.

Nuclear reactors really, you can't imagine what you can do with a piece of derelict land when you throw enough power at it.

Respectfully - and I'm sure i'm just missing something - but I still don't actually understand what you do. The only thing I can see that makes you money is a subscription service to help people how make money on the Internet.

There’s a list of products on dvassallo.com. Lifetime revenue:

- $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.

Books, courses, info products mainly.

Thank you for sharing!

I won't discuss other people's rates but I personally earn ten thousand USD per month.

Thanks for the number. Are you willing to add how many hours you're putting in?

It really depends and I don't track my time all that well, though one of my 2021 things I'm doing is trying a bit of time tracking, just for my own sake / more visibility on how I spend my day.

What are you using to do time tracking, if I may ask?

their official deal is well known - it's a quarter time role so formally about 10 hours a week. of course, the time they end up actually putting in is up to them.

Thank you for sharing!

People don't realize that as a contractor, you can write off the room you're using for your office. As a remote employee you cannot. For people living in high rent areas, that's significant.

Where I live that office has to be a "proper office" in a sense, where you could have clients stopping by. Not just working from a room next to your exercise bike and laundry. Here the tax law is mostly written with hair stylists and others in mind, using a room for customers with its own entrance.

Where is that?

Countries like the Netherlands expect you to have a separate entrance and bathroom before you can claim it. Others allow you to claim a percentage of your living space and utilities. It varies around the world.

People don't realise that on the internet you need to mention a jurisdiction when you talk about things like law and tax.

Sites like HN, reddit, Twitter etc are de facto US based, assume if no country or jurisdiction is specified that it's the US. Now, which state it is in the US is a different matter.

Fyi I downvoted you because I'm based outside of the US.

That's fine, some people are of course. But when you look at what people mean when they provide no jurisdiction, it always seems to mean the US. That's all I meant by de facto US based, because if it weren't, wouldn't people state the jurisdiction as "US"? They don't, so it must mean that the US is what is assumed.

> But when you look at what people mean when they provide no jurisdiction, it always seems to mean the US.

Indeed this seems to be the case. Being based outside the US, I find that somewhat annoying :)

You can in Australia. I am and have done so for many years. This was also the case prior to Covid. The tax office did make some changes last year to make it easier for people to write off certain expenses when working from home. [1]

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. [2]

[1] https://www.ato.gov.au/Individuals/Income-and-deductions/Ded...

[3] https://www.ato.gov.au/General/COVID-19/Support-for-individu...

Not always. Highly dependent on country/state and actual usage of space (dedicated office space vs a desk/chair in the corner of the bedroom). Hire a CPA if you are unsure.

From the article:

> 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.

I'm curious how this plays out for the least-well-paid listed, customer support.

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.

> Everyone at Gumroad is paid very well and should be able to afford the same.

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.

Bingo. Saying that the employees are paid well enough to buy their own health insurance is a red herring because it's not an apples-to-apples comparison, companies get far better rates on insurance products. Gumroad could probably save a significant amount of money by providing health insurance to their employees and just not paying as high of a salary.

Company provided health insurance creates incentives for employees to delay leaving and stay in jobs they don't like anymore. This lowers the quality of life for everyone involved.

That's a pretty weak arg all around. I'd wager this is a rare situation, compared to the number of good employees recruited and retained by offered quality benefits.

> Everyone at Gumroad is paid very well and should be able to afford the same.

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!

huh? why wouldn’t you buy private health insurance? it’s a wash.

Is there a site to check if there are any openings right now?

How does one apply to Gumroad?

I didn't see any open positions, maybe they're not hiring right now.

The article has answered most but two questions: what does Gumroad do? How is it meaningful in today's society?

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