About 9 months into my job, the company was hit with two lawsuits, and the leaders became very secretive and elusive and started changing rules to save money of questionable legality. For example, a rule was added to state that we had to work 40 billable hours a week.
This doesn't sound that bad, but because of the lawsuits and attempts to settle them, any work done for the plaintiffs in the aforementioned lawsuits was not counted as "billable", and most of that work would eat up multiple hours of my day. This meant that in addition to the eight hours I had to work on a billable client, I would also end up spending an extra three to four hours working on non-billable stuff. This went on for multiple months, I started feeling depressed, but I put up with it because I really liked the company.
Eventually, the company laid off 2/3 of the staff without any notice to any of the workers. I went from "employed" to "unemployed" overnight, and when I managed to get in touch with the CTO, he basically told me "thems the breaks. Sorry". I felt pretty betrayed, because I had spent two months working 60 hour weeks, all to be laid off because I was working on the wrong projects.
After that, I made a bit of a vow to myself to remember that a job is, at its core, a business transaction. You sell your time and expertise for compensation. It's great if you really like your boss and your coworkers, that'll help avoid depression, but remember at the end of the day, a company is not your family, and if they don't think you're creating enough value for them, they will end this transaction.
Yes, paying the bills is absolutely a requirement and should take priority. Don't let that bad experience discourage you from looking for a place that you love to work at though. I have found a few great jobs in my career where I loved and currently love to work. It helps a lot to have leaders that understand the value of keeping their employees happy and where your goals for your position and your career align well with their vision for the organization. Then having a great chain of command sitting above you that is friendly, approachable and easy to reason with can make it even better. You spend a ridiculous amount of your life working, if you can enjoy your job and don't look at it as simply a pay check, I think it can help you live a happier life.
As the first job, there is a lot of emotional attachment (totally normal) but it gets in the way of making rational decisions. In particular, most people will harbor somewhat unrealistic career goals while being at the lowest rung of the corporate ladder and thus being the most disposable.
Additionally, interviewing at and getting other jobs makes it so that the process isn’t unknown or scary.
I just think that you should always remember that, at the end of the day, it's still a job. If you remember that fact, it hurts less being laid off, and it's easier to quit a job if/when it becomes toxic.
But at certain point, it becomes very clear who really owns the company, and who doesn't.
I went through a few years at a startup where sometimes salaries were not paid for months and then payment would be caught up and then it would not be paid again. When I was finally let go I was still technically owed money but the company was more or less folding and I'm not particularly savvy or aggressive from a legal standpoint so I just let it go. It sucked.
Everything in life is a gamble but if your startup is in shaky territory and you do not own a slice of the common stock - and even then it might not be worth it - then always be on the lookout to leave for a different job. This is hard advice to follow because a small team does feel like a little group of friends. Don't be surprised, however, when the founders suddenly go to extremes. It is likely that the company is central to how they perceive themselves and people sometimes do desperate things to protect their sense of self.
Once, this realization came to me when I worked at a fortune 10. I loved the job and was fascinated by the cool tech we used everyday. One day I came to work only to find out I was fired. My manager was just as surprised to hear it. Obviously it was a mistake, but my team watched as security guards came to escort me out of the building like a criminal.
It didn't matter that they figured out it was a mistake. My coworkers became distant when I came back. When the story blew up, my employer denied I was ever employed there. An ex-coworker later told me that my position and projects have been completely scrubbed out of existence.
A job is a job, if you can focus on your own gains please do. Then spend a little bit of time on this fun Ask HN. We can't all get a job that loves us back, so in the meanwhile find something you love outside the job.
That's the tragedy of wage labor, even highly paid salaried positions. We spend so much of our adult lives in a place that's ultimately transactional and labor to produce profit for someone else. It's bonkers.
And yet it's the best deal most of us are ever going to get without concerted action within and across industries.
Parent is absolutely correct that for most of us, the best we can hope is wage labor to make someone else richer. Posting a link to indie hackers without context doesn’t change that, and isn’t helpful at all.
Yes, I read the previous HN post you linked in this comment. What was your conclusion for that? I'd like to know too
I added a link to that thread because our most important commodity is time. Sure it sounds like promoting laziness, but lots of comments were about automating your job. You get to invest that newly found free time to do something you enjoy.
In this person's case the firing might have been a mistake, but rehiring is not so uncommon. The large (Fortune 500) tech company I worked at at the time laid off a bunch of people - mostly in sales and management - during the 2008 recession. Many of them were re-hired within 12-18 months once things got better.
Incidentally, I wouldn’t mind spending 10 hours dedicated to work for 2 days a week, or some other such balance. Problem solving requires along stretches of time, limiting it artificially seems counterproductive. It becomes an issue when it takes all the time I have.
As someone who worked in RM(Reputation Management), my team have prevented, or mitigated a significant amount of potential reputation risk from would-be whistleblowers and dissatisfied employees.
It's not a matter of friendship, but of interests.
This is a good point, but missing one of the big things that affect dynamics: there is typically a huge imbalance of power between an employee and employer, so most often if your interests diverge, the employee will lose. The worst case scenario for this can be terrible, even for an employee who has done nothing wrong.
"Corporate Confidential: 50 Secrets Your Company Doesn't Want You to Know---and What to Do About Them"
By Dephillips: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/437452.Corporate_Confide...
By Shapiro: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/62085.Corporate_Confiden...
* Age discrimination exists.
* Why being too smart is not too smart.
* Human Resources is not there to help you, but to protect the company from you
That's just from the back of the book.
OK. I need to read this.
How do you typically do that?
She did very well to tell her lead that behavior made her uncomfortable. When it continued, it was time to bring it up with HR or her manager. Looks like the stress of living with it for a year made her want more action than HR provided for a first offence.
If you re-read the article, it's not clear where Google HR is at fault. The investigation took too long? They didn't make him move his desk, work from home, or take leave?
He was likely told a repeat incidence would lead to termination. She would have mentioned if the behavior continued, and doesn't.
Her peer group/friends thought the behavior was mild, but she wanted Google to punish him for betrayals of her past. A more severe response wasn't warranted for a mild first offence (lots of people like this never reoffend). It wasn't bad enough to change his position, and obviously you can't ask the victim to change teams. Maybe more could have been done to help smooth their relationship, like an apology.
Her career unravelling comes after this.
Total tangent. I've recently watched a lot of the Dardenne brothers' films, and in one of them, The Kid with a Bike, the kid has assaulted and robbed a man and his son. He's caught, and there's a scene where his foster mom pays restitution directly to the man, but also, the kid apologies to the man he assaulted. (The man's son refuses to accept an apology.)
It struck me as a very humane form of justice, and I think we could do more of that in the U.S.
So yes, an apology I think can go a long way.
This is what we've been taught is the right thing to do, it's moral, but, crucially, it's not lawful. A CPS kid may very well see the whole world as their enemy and therefore it is a near-guarantee that some people are out to get these kids. If you do this against someone like that, the kids' life is destroyed. As soon as this gets told to the police there is nothing a lawyer or even their youth worker can do to rectify the situation from that point on. From that point it makes zero sense to try to rectify the situation with the victim, it can only makes things worse, it cannot make anything better. This is criminal law, the victim has no rights. Only the judge and public prosecutor have any influence on the situation from that point forward.
You should NOT do this, for that reason. I get that the result is going to be stimulating that behavior (problem is that incarcerating said kid is also stimulating that behavior, because the consequences are too great and take away the chance for a normal future, leaving fewer options, but always leaving the option of criminality).
Note that letting the kid get away with it entirely DOES provide multiple options for that behavior to stop, and cannot be so easily defeated by so many people. He could see someone else get caught. It could be a phase. He could get beaten up by the next victim. He could choose to take responsibility for something (girlfriend, a kid, even a dog, or, even more extreme, his foster mom could get sick or in trouble and depend on him) and see this as an unacceptable risk, ... What I'm saying is that firstly, this choice isn't as wrong as it first appears, and second isn't nearly as vulnerable to so many people. Many people will not react positively to putting yourself in such an extreme vulnerable position and will exploit it. For money, for ego, for ... it doesn't matter. You cannot risk the criminal justice system for a kid, you just can't, it just isn't a moral choice. You have a kid, you unconditionally defend them against anyone. In private talk to them, yell if you must, but you unconditionally defend them everywhere.
I would also like to add that this "humane form of justice" will have almost opposite effects depending on the trust level between all involved parties. If that trust is lacking, no matter where exactly, the foster mom's behavior strongly stimulates criminal behavior by the foster kid, including against herself. Trust issues between foster mom and kid? This will backfire. Trust issues between foster mom and either victim? Will very likely backfire. Only if you have near-perfect trust between all parties (and let's not forget one party just used violence against another, so lacking trust is expected).
That workplace environment was already dystopia. Realizing it sooner is preferable. There are every option before leaving too. But you rarely win with such people, so you only do it because it's the right thing to do.
Don't ask what you should do. Do.
To many people, work represents the majority of their identity. After dealing with so many unemployed/retired people you can really grasp the extent of their distress caused by this.
My father retired years ago, but kept working as freelancer. He says he learned from his father that if/when he stops working, he’ll die sooner. This is so sad.
The writer joined out of college, and perhaps was a previous intern. Again, anyone familiar with the internship program at big tech companies knows how they aim to provide not just a mentored professional experience, but a social one including events with other interns and employees.
Have they stopped handing that out? I just found one the other day when I knocked some stuff off a shelf. It's tied together with string, and kind of useless.
"I.B.M. said yesterday that it had agreed to pay $320 million to current and former employees to settle in part a class-action lawsuit over its pension plan in a case that may affect millions of workers at many companies and nonprofit organizations.
"Under the settlement, I.B.M.'s liability in the case will be limited to an additional $1.4 billion if the courts uphold a ruling that a new pension plan discriminates against its older workers and is illegal. ..."
"For older workers with years in a traditional plan, the switch to a cash-balance plan at age 45 or older can halve the benefits they ultimately collect, compared with a traditional defined-benefit plan."
There was also an additional lawsuit involving the difference between employees and contractors, but I can't find the details now.
Also note that IBM went from 400,000 employees in 1985 to 225,000 in 1995, also losing on things like OS/2, PCs, mainframes. And as for as I know, IBM has not created any major, successful software projects since 1990 or so.
And the seasons, they go round and round,
And the painted ponies go up and down.
We're captive on a carousel of time...
Many of us got burned earlier in our career, one way or another. But coming from a truly difficult background, would have meant it was even harder for her to see behind the veil of "good company".
This was also her first job out of school, and I'll admit I, too, fell for the hype at my first tech job, before learning all the obvious-in-retrospect things being discussed here.
I'm young and realize that no matter how many sweet nothings companies whisper in your ears, at the end of the day it's a business relationship.
I feel truly sad for her, because while my cynical older self knows the ending what was in the cards, is it so WRONG to be hopeful, a little naive and earnest? Where were the people who were supposed to protect that?
At least when you join the military and you become part of that family, everyone noncom at least believes in it. Even if the greater structure can toss you out, your brothers/sisters will attempt to come to your aid. No such luck in corporate america.
I don't see this as bad- just the natural order.
The natural order is that some people need these companies to do something for them, that is why they exist. The utility of that system (creating things that people need) gets suffocated by our preoccupation with fairness. So people can only join these companies because they believe they are genuinely different...when no company is different because they all have the same function which largely depends on consumers, not staff.
The stuff around Google is, however, particularly funny. The founders rhetoric is totally empty (Larry Page appears to be someone whose only distinguishing feature is supreme and total self-confidence). They have a rapacious monopoly which, by exploiting defects in corporate governance, they use to fund a bureaucracy of pet projects/niche interests of academics. You can dress it up any way you want (I can see why academics wanted to love Google, free money with no oversight) but it is still ultimately based on poor ethics (weak corporate governance, no oversight, stealing money from shareholders). Classic SV (wanting the luxury of making tons of easy money very fast AND the moral high ground).
Specifically: "When I didn’t get a promotion, some of my stock grants ran out and so I effectively took a big pay cut." - I think I roughly get what it means, but not specifically. Could some insider explain this?
The way it actually works is that when you join, you get a starting grant that vests over next 4 years, and then every year, you get a so-called refreshers, each of which is roughly a quarter of your original grant, which also vest over 4 years. This means that in year 4 of your employment, you get a (last) quarter of your original grant, along with a quarter of each of the 3 refreshers you received in the next 3 years. Then, in year 5, your original grant is gone, and you only get a quarter of each of the 4 refreshers you got in past 4 years.
Depending on the size of your original grant, and the size of refreshers, this can result in some pay cut in year 5. This pay cut can be bigger or smaller, depending on the size of your original grant, size of refreshers (which are driven by your performance rating/promotions), stock price in year 5 etc. However, other than some special circumstances where you get some additional discretionary stock grant, after year 5 you kinda reach a steady state, and your the value of your stock compensation can go down pretty much only if the stock price goes down (assuming constant performance over time).
For example, refreshers are always granted at the end of the year and are only granted to employees that have been with the company a set amount of time. What this means is that new employees starting in the summer don't get a refresher until they've been with the company for ~18 months. So when their initial grant runs out, there's actually a gap of ~6 months where they are only earning equity from three grants while they would need four grants to fully match the equity they were earning during the prior period.
...okay, uh, except for when what they explained is exactly how it works.
Lots of people, at lots of companies, Google and Facebook included, get meaningful add-on grants, often larger than their initial ones.
These are frequently timed to the 4-5 year mark and especially handed out alongside promotions, for the exact reason that, otherwise, the employee will suddenly have a much lower annual payout and will be less 'aligned' with the with the company's future interest.
I'm not claiming that what you said does not also happen, but what the others said certainly does too, and there's no reason to phrase this as some sort of definitive-exclusive thing.
This is I guess sort of true. They're certainly meaningful, it's unusual for them to reach the size of your initial grant quickly, and they'll usually trend upwards over time.
> These are frequently timed to the 4-5 year mark and especially handed out alongside promotions
This is empirically untrue.
It may be true at some companies, but it is rare enough to be a blip at Google or Facebook ("Discretionary Equity" is the term, and its very rare).
How these companies actually work is that there's a target stock grant at your level, let's say 50K. Your initial grant is larger (potentially much larger, depending on a number of factors, but usually 2-3x larger at a minimum). Higher performance increases the grant size, and promotion increases the target.
So there's nothing particularly timed specially at the 4-5 year mark that increases the grant size.
For reference, my stock grants (which are more or less typical) were ~130K at hire, 30K, promo 70K, 100K, 105K (I've reached the ceiling at my current level).
My 130K at hire was above average for a new grad, but an experienced industry hire could get 200K+, and still experience the refresh grants I got.
I think my experience is fairly typical for senior/staff level employees with a long tenure, based on what I've heard from friends, coworkers, and HN comments.
I was mistaken. I didn't know that FAANGs (and likely similar) mostly do comp in this specific way that is different from other comp structures I've interacted with or known of, even despite interning at Google myself, and having friends work there and at others similar, whom I've discussed comp with at length.
Somehow this point about stock grant structure has just never come up, and I've personally experienced the opposite, so I felt the strength of the assertion was unwarranted -- but anyway, I'm glad to learn it!
So you get 200k the first year, and at the end of the year you get another stock grant that vests over 4 years. Let's say you get 80k.
The second year you get 220k (100k salary + 100k stock from initial grant + 20k from first year's grant). Let's say you get the same 80k again.
If this process continues, the fourth year you get 260k, but on the fifth you will get 180k. Typically what happens is that unless you get promoted 2 times in those 4 years, your salary will decrease substantially on your fifth year.
I've simplified things a bit, but that's the general gist of it.
The author trying to connect the 5th year cliff, which is a common issue, to the lack of promotion, seems a bit misleading.
If you perform well or get promoted you should see your compensation increase, but without that you are left with your base salary and no additional stock grants and can take a pay cut as a result.
Its one way FAANG weeds out lower performing engineers.
I believe you.
And without any judgement on her specific case, I can also believe it is a way for "The Company" to discourage "confronting" the structure
There is a good reason for this. It allows them to drive increased turnover at higher levels in the org where it's normally hard to transition folks out. They just don't refresh equity or promote with a new equity grant.
Anyways, the poster did what anyone should do - quit and find somewhere else to work.
Especially with high performance ratings, she should have been getting bonus over target and extra stock.
It sounds instead like her manager screwed her over on stock grants to get her to leave.
In these companies each level has a compensation bracket. With high rating it’s easier to hit that upper limit and without timely promotion total compensation can take a nosedive when initial grant dies out.
So if you were granted 400k in stock over 4 years, you'd get 100k per year in stock (which you can keep or sell, but it's real compensation).
After those 4 years, the company will either give you another stock grant over another 4 years, or they will decide to show you the door - and not offer you anything.
That's what seems to have occurred here.
This is complicated by the fact that earlier grants tend to be from when stock was worth less, so the are a comparatively high number of shares. So your comp will gradually inflate over 4 years because the value of the stock has gone up, meaning you are taking home more than the company 'intended' to pay you.
I guess I am trying to understand whether this is causation or correlation relationship.
When you get promotion your base salary will increase, your bonus will also increase (due to being % of base, but also higher levels have higher %) and your annual stock refresher will be higher, as you are now on new level.
She would get annual stock refresher even without promotion, but with promotion refresher would be bigger and total new comp could have compensated for drop after initial grant has finished.
You can check levels.fyi for comparisons of total median comps between levels at Google.
L3 - $189k, L4 - $265k , L5 - $350k 
Yep, it is always just a job.
End of the day, I have a contract and meet my side of it to the best of my ability. The company does the same, until it doesn’t. My family, my personal life is why I work.
A big part of the push of a bullshit mission is to make you pause your life. People end up not having kids because they waited till they were 38 because the big “mission” taking priority.
Then don't spend 1/2 your waking life on it. Stick to a 40 hour work week, and don't do weekends.
If instead this man had a habit of dumping Koolaid over his co-workers every time they shipped a bug, let's say, he'd be fired right away. Because dumping Koolaid on people is considered "not okay." Hitting on women is considered "okay."
It's not the corporation that considers these things okay or not - the corporation needs to maximize its financial interests and nothing more really. Society at large decides what's okay, and the corporation mostly lets those rules stand.
Yes, there are cases where a corporation can play at the margins - for example, when corporations make a public statement about not doing business in states that pass illiberal laws. The calculation here is that their consumer base at large will reward their stance, or they have a monopoly position that makes this stance low-risk, even if they lose something in the short-term or get bad press from one end of the political spectrum.
This is why we end up with laws that regular corporate behavior, like for example civil rights legislation that prohibits companies from discriminating by race. These laws passed at a time when such behavior was still considered largely "okay" in society, and the laws helped to reduce the spaces in which the okayness could sustain itself. It changed the Overton Window on this behavior you could say.
Everything about that question helped me gain perspective. Not only did he normalize getting fired, but he implied that getting fired multiple times in a career was quite possible and pretty independent of ones actual ability.
I haven't been fired since, but I have thought about it often. Definitely a good lesson to learn early.
The kids have a meme for that now: https://i.kym-cdn.com/entries/icons/original/000/027/763/07B...
The one time in my career I got laid off was the day after I got married. I had taken the day off, got back in the office the next day, and was let go. I was close to finishing my PhD at the time, and had never made a secret to my employer that I was planning to move abroad after that, but the layoff still came as a bit of a shock to me.
Also be prepared to be fired on the spot if you try the "I have got an offer, what will you counter with" gambit.
Once had someone think I was going to compete with them and worried I was taking inside info to help myself. Showed up one day and one of the partners met me in the parking lot with a box full of my stuff. Funny how business can screw up friendships.
Your metric of "meet performance goals, get along with manager and skip, business doing well" is a solid way to track things, especially earlier in your career.
I'd be lying if that said that didn't put a bit of a damper on the article for me. Partly because I expect exactly the same behaviour but also because of recent events such as data being leaked and all that.
For example, the complainant or the supervisor should have been assigned to work in a different location, or transferred to another project. This can be done with some finesse, so as not make the reason obvious to others. This is the right thing to do if harassment is occurring as described, or even if the complainant is making a false accusation.
Given that the complaint was sustained, it would be interesting to know Google's experience as to whether supervisors' behavior changes or continues.
Still, the position she was in sucks. You can never have a good working relationship with the harasser again, and the only outcome that would resolve the situation is the harasser getting fired, but that won't happen with only hearsay of inappropriate comments; it would need to be something egregious with witnesses. The only move is switching teams and telling HR so it (hopefully) doesn't happen again.
If your workplace sucks - you have an option to do it somewhere else. Yes, maybe it won't have an attached gym and free three-course meals - but, as hard as it is to believe, there are ways to get meals and workouts outside Google, and it's not even remotely hard. Yes, maybe you'd not be paid outrageous piles of money, just piles of money which would beyond the dreams of 98% of people in the country, not 99.9%. You can survive it, and you can even keep your love for what you're doing, without attaching yourself to a Google.
It's ok to like your company, especially if it's about people you work with and things you're doing, but if you find yourself in love with a corporate monster like Google, you've gone off rails. It will hurt you, and it won't even know or care. It's not built for that.
Wait, what? The author played along for more than a year and then placed a complaint? Maybe it's the way the article is written but this seems pretty bad on the author's part.
The author seemed to be mainly worried about their ruining their 'upward trajectory' in the company.
Aaannnd the author is writing a book.
Yes, I am cynical.
“Playing along” simply means that she didn’t escalate the matter immediately to HR but ignored that (repeated) behavior in order to continue with her work. I don’t see anything wrong with her wanting to ignore this harassment in hopes that the harasser would stop, but deciding after a year that it was too much and never going to stop, at which point she decided to report it.
Kids: all corporations suck. The bigger they are, the more likely they are to suck. Your corporation is not an exception, you're just lucky to work in a non-sucky corner of it, or have not yet glimpsed its suckitude.
Ignore perks. Unless they come in the form of things you need that are expensive and rare (health care, child care, 401K match, maternity/paternity leave, continuing education fund, remote work).
HR is not your friend. Executives don't care about employees. Do not tell your boss what's really on your mind. Your co-workers are not your friends. Do not expect anything of them. Do not be completely open, honest, and transparent. Do not be vulnerable.
Do not compromise, and do not extend yourself. Do what you are required to do. Help when it is convenient, but do not become the "go-to" person, because it only looks like job security. Do not argue or complain. Send e-mails reiterating verbal agreements. Take screenshots of anything that looks fishy, abusive, manipulative.
Keep your next job in the back of your head. Prepare for it. Make contacts, network, learn marketable skills. Develop soft skills, be friendly and outgoing, but lay low. Play nice, do not burn bridges.
If someone is harassing you, intimidating you, making unreasonable demands, or otherwise disturbing you: slowly document evidence and record eye-witness testimony, first in e-mails, then in screenshots (e-mails and other documents get purged regularly to protect the company when they get sued). Find co-workers to corroborate your story and co-sign a petition with you. Find your harasser's corporate enemies and recruit them. People in your company may try to bury your complaints, either to protect The Company (again, HR is not your friend), or to further a manager/executive's political needs, or because they just don't believe you. The company may try to discredit you and will use any ammunition (that they have been silently compiling) against you.
Finally, if you feel like your mental or physical well-being is at risk: Quit. Your. Job. It doesn't matter if what's happening to you is unfair or unjust. You are a very small cog, and the corporation is a very big wheel. If you decide to write a public tell-all like the author's here, it will work against you at future employers. It is not worth the fight. There is no prize to win.
It's just a job.
The way I see it, all kinds of people work together. That is expected to go badly at times. So it depends how one play it, but still accept diversity of people, even assholes.
Every perk is scrutinized, as if serving dinner in the office means I MUST stay for dinner (I almost never do), or having a doctor or laundry service on campus is some nefarious thing.
At the end of the day, you get paid a huge amount of money to do a moderate amount of work. It's the dream, to me.
And then every once in a while people burn out and make it seem like it was the free dinner that did it. "I found my own doctor; I cook my own food." What does that have to do with anything?
(Sure, HR is shitty and that's something to care about. But that's an industry wide issue, not a FAANG specific issue.)
All I said is that people focus on the FAANG perks way too much, as if they're contributing to some problem. Even in the article, one their shining moments was when they cooked for themselves and found another doctor (??).
These companies really do sell themselves and their perks to their employees and it’s pretty horrific that they seem willing to attack the victims instead of the perpetrators.
AWS would like a word with you.