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Miso pays disputed $10k referral bonus to ex-engineer, apologizes (jzhwu.blogspot.com)
232 points by rdl 2040 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 169 comments



The world has slowly become spineless, and when someone like Josh Hwu shows a spine and stands up for what's right a rather large fraction of fellow programmers jump on him. Shameful! The CEO of Miso is an unethical egotistical person who doesn't even have the self-awareness to admit to his knee-jerk abuse of power (a mistake that many a young manager has made, myself included).

The real story here is that fighting on principle is the rational thing to do. If you don't fight on principle then the predators feel empowered, and everyone suffers. People like Josh are heroes. Those who try to take away from his accomplishment by either convincing him that it would be "smarter" to be spineless or that somehow it's wrong to have a spine, are even more despicable than Josh's abusive ex-boss.


> The CEO of Miso is an unethical egotistical person who doesn't even have the self-awareness to admit to his knee-jerk abuse of power

Unless you have information not available in the original post or reply, you're making that judgement off of a severely limited set of (largely one-sided) data.


If you read the email stream, the CEO wanted to withhold the referral bonus as a punitive measure for a work-related mistake. His subsequent "apology" in the comments tried to unring that bell, instead blaming an "unclear" referral policy for the "misunderstanding". The first act was unethical, the second was egotistical, and both judgements are based on the CEO's own choice of words, not Josh's.


"work related mistake"? If anything, the CTO should be blamed here... it's not hard to do a sql dump on the hour for backups.


we don't know the size of the db involved. multi-gig dbs dumping every hour may be production-limiting.


Well, I've worked on a 50T DB doing 800G of changes per hour, which was recoverable to any point in time. That's not even particularly big by today's standards.


and you dumped the entire 50terabytes every hour? The point above was that they should have been doing a db dump. that's not always the best way (or even possible) to deal with large data sets.


No, but why would you do that? It makes no sense when there are better backup strategies available (archived redo logs, hot standby, filesystem snapshots, etc etc).


Agreed. One of the best comments I've seen on HN yet.


Thanks! Felt good to write it.

One concern that I have is that the Miso CEO (and people like him) will take away the wrong lesson, along the lines of "be careful what you say to employees in email". But the real lesson is that you should keep your promises, and if you have a moment of weakness and try to reneg on a promise, don't be proud: admit the mistake and keep the promise. People make mistakes, even twenty-something CEOs of tech startups (shocking, I know).


I 100% agree with your concern, and that is the problem for it extends beyond tech startups to anyone in the world who have this mindset (of which there are many -- the ruthlessly, amorally, ambitious.)


Hi javajosh, I just had to leave this comment here to say thank you. Your comment was possibly one of the best comments I have ever read on HN, and possibly the internet at large. Thank you for restoring my faith in humanity somewhat.

If I could sit here all day clicking the upvote button I would!


Crap, accidentally downvoted. In too strong agreement to not apologize for the downvote and thank you for saying that.


Let me tell you my perspective, which may be interesting. The company Miso has good points about the reason for the program. In the original exchange the points were brought up.

To me, the points were brought up one email too late. The moment the first response was Josh, let me talk to Tim. After you lost our data and caused our entire company to scramble for 3 days, I am hesitant,

I saw this as. "Let me think of how I can not pay you."

Even though the next email was perfectly cogent, it wasn't the first. (The next email read Spoke with Somrat about this. You're right that the trouble that you caused has nothing to do with a referral bonus. However, we only pay bonuses to employees. The bonuses are discretionary and not contractual. You and Miso never signed a contract that mentions bonuses. As a policy, referral bonuses are meant to help build a stronger team based on existing relationships. Employees bringing on employees that they've worked with in the past builds a stronger team. This bonus is not simply about hiring. For example, we don't pay people outside of Miso when they refer us candidates that we hire. Because you are no longer employed by Miso, you are not eligible for this bonus.).

After the first email bringing up something irrelevant that I passed summary judgment on Miso: if you don't pay, everything else is irrelevant, no matter what you think of it's just excuses, since your first excuse was to just say, "Fuck you, I don't need to string you along anymore. Here's the first thing I could think of. You dropped a one week old database on a product we didn't have backups on." Of COURSE that has nothing to do with a referral, except if you're saying, "you know I pull the strings around here and it's my decision to make. I'm not all that happy with you."

Sorry, Miso, you lost in that sentence. The question is only whether you owe the employee a referral bonus you promised. You don't get to do what you promised if you had a good experience with the the guy or not otherwise.

There's this great founder I always have in mind when I read stuff like this. Boy did that guy have a philosophy! I've always thought of drawing a caricature of him sitting down at a restaurant with his wife and looking at the menu, and his wife saying that they really can't afford these prices. So he says, "It's okay honey order whatever you want. There is no way I'm paying for any of this shit."


I don't know what the culture is like at Miso but I would take

"After you lost our data and caused our entire company to scramble for 3 days, I am hesitant."

as

"How do I justify to the rest of the team paying you an exorbitant bonus for team building after you trashed a production system that cost the team 3 days of work, then quit."

Not that this changes the fact that they should have paid.


I will just point out that in the present climate the bonus is NOT exorbitant where Miso is based, especially post-funding or after a few employees.

Exorbitant would be: equity; $50k; paid on when the referral joins (instead after 6 months); paid if the referral is brought in for an interview, regardless of hire. (would be VERY VERY exorbitant). This is just standard.


I guess it is a different culture. In the teams I have experience with, people referred because they wanted to work with good people.


You either need to read the fine print of your employment contracts better, or you've never signed one that included a referral bonus. It probably would've been mentioned by your hiring manager, or whoever interviewed you for the position, or the HR rep.

The amount varies, but the last two places I've worked have spelled out their referral bonus amounts and terms explicitly.


It sounds like you're talking about companies where there wasn't a bonus of this kind and magitude. If so, yeah, different and not really comparable (maybe a token $500 or whatever). Otherwise I think if there's the bonus and people ask for it, obviously it does figure in motivating them to take proactive steps to bring someone on.


Who is John Galt?


mcteapot, please realize that people are a mix of lots of different preferences and motivations. I think we can all agree that on the whole, when management says you will get $10k for a certain action, it means that they expect this helps more people do the action. That doesn't mean it's the only reason they do it, or that some of the people who do it after the bonus wouldn't have done it without the bonus. It just means it helps. Otherwise, if it doesn't help, why not call it a thank-you-for-not-parking-in-the-handicapped-space-when-you-shouldn't bonus (assuming that, like most companies, nobody happens to have any problem with not doing this, and at any given time either the handicapped spaces are empty or employees with a legitimate entitlement are using them) and give it to every employee equally? I mean, if you don't expect it to have any effect whatsoever on referrals/behavior...

Also, I want to make a nuanced but important point here. The employer in this particular case is explicitly kind of saying, "yeah, it might have kind of helped at the time, but you're not working here anymore." By that logic, every single person who ever gives notice should have their last paycheck docked if the time to cut the check occurs after they have left. After all, even though the paycheck might have originally helped them work there, they're not working there anymore so that doesn't matter. Why should an employer ever pay the last paycheck? You're not part of the team anymore and the paycheck is meant to motivate employees to work, that's why it exists. "Also, you dropped the database", or some made-up excuse.

I think we can all agree that people don't just work for money, but we can also all agree that every employer needs to pay the last paycheck, even if the time to pay it comes after the employee has left. To me, per my comment that you replied to, the fact that the database thing was brought up means the employer is trying to squirm out of settling a debt; rather than say that it wasn't a real debt.


Reading between the lines I was assuming the guy got fired for the screwup.


The thing that stood out for me is the part where they said, "You and Miso never signed a contract that mentions bonuses", which means he has no "legal proof" a bonus was even offered in the first place.


I don't want to pick on you in particular, since it's something a lot of non-lawyers are confused about, but you might be interested to know that "he has no legal proof" isn't really accurate as a legal matter. Your assumption should be that any time you make a promise in exchange for a promise (or a promise in exchange for performance, like "if you refer someone we hire, we'll pay you $X"), you probably have an enforceable contract, whether it's in writing or not. Instead of "proof," think "enough evidence to convince a jury that it happened, more likely than not." The testimony of a credible witness is plenty.

(I have no idea what happened in this case, and I'm not saying a spoken agreement is necessarily a contract or that you definitely can offer any given piece of evidence to prove it. The rules are complicated. But contract law is basically about fairness, not technicalities. If "you have no legal proof!" sounds unfair, that's a good hint that it's probably not an accurate statement of the law.)


I'm actually aware that the absence of a written contract doesn't necessarily negate his rights, especially in light of the fact that he had emails showing the arrangement. I was pointing out the CFO tried to use the lack of contract to fuck him out of the money.


Oh, I get you. Yeah, that makes sense.

Just because the idea is kind of neat: It's possible you're getting jumped on by the lawyers here because "legal proof" itself is such a non-legal concept. There's such a thing as mathematical proof, for sure. There might be such a thing as scientific proof. But you could rarely point at something and say "that's legal proof." You could only say, "that turned out to be enough evidence to convince that particular jury." "Proof" is defined by the observer (jury, judge, etc.), not the object (contract, bloody knife, etc.).


the CFO tried to use the lack of contract

He did have a contract. It just wasn't written and signed. It's still a contract. The CFO is misleadingly implying that because it was not signed, there was no contract.


In many jurisdictions VERBAL agreements can be considered contracts and legally binding. Often people don't sue over verbal contracts is because the burden of proof that one existed/exists is very difficult.

The mere fact he has the email exchange which took place between them afterwards is probably enough evidence to show in court that a [contractual] agreement existed. Miso was dumb to ever respond. They would have been better to pretend they never saw or heard from the gentleman again and leave it to him to sue... with little to no evidence that the agreement existed. That still doesn't mean Miso doesn't suck... it's just the move Miso should have made if they were going to try and be dicks about it, like they were. Miso, should have just paid up right away, they got caught red handed though and their legal counsel probably said... pay up, it'll save you as much or more and cause you less legal headaches and stress... let's just make this go away and save ourselves from losing focus on a legal fight we will probably lose and minimally will cost as much or more to fight.


They would have been better to pretend they never saw or heard from the gentleman again

That's hard.

It's easy to pretend you didn't get an email. But what if you send via registered post a letter, or a courier? What do you do if the employee has a signed form saying you received the letter? Blatantly ignoring the good faith attempts to resolve this matter before courts are involved might harm your case.


> Often people don't sue over verbal contracts is because the burden of proof that one existed/exists is very difficult

That, and because verbal contracts are not enforceable for all transactions.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Statute_of_frauds


The "statute of frauds" doctrine only applies to certain types of transactions. Most transactions, including employment agreements (or for example, selling your business) can be executed verbally.


Often people don't sue over verbal contracts is because the burden of proof that one existed/exists is very difficult.

Oh, they definitely sue over verbal contracts all the time. Just trying watching any of the dozen Judge X shows on TV or visiting a small claims court. Indeed, the reason for small claims courts is largely to keep these types of disputes out of real courtrooms.


Contracts can be verbal. That's the first thing you learn in law school. Having a written contract as evidence is helpful, but testimony (however self-serving) of an alleged contract constitutes legal proof.


I saw this as. "Let me think of how I can not pay you."

It's a (thinly) veiled threat. Of course, it's irrelevant to what's being discussed, but it's a way of saying "I can embarrass you with this irrelevant issue if you press this" without actually saying it. Classic extortion tactic.

Since Josh printed the exchange in full, they no longer have this on him. Still, I don't know if it's a smart move on his part. He could have left that out entirely, and if they brought it into the public, he'd have more than $10,000 to talk about.

Actually, I'm sure there are two sides to the database story. He could have been poorly trained, or working 80 hours per week-- at which point mistakes are inevitable-- or given bad tools. These kinds of fuckups rarely have only one person at fault, especially in the sloppier startups where management is thinly-spread and incompetent and there are too many moving parts (startups are hard to keep track of when well-run, and many aren't). I'm surprised he didn't get into detail of what happened there.


> These kinds of fuckups rarely have only one person at fault

Fat fingering an rm -rf or corrupting a DB, if you have good backup policies, should generally not cause End of Days.


Exactly. Accidentally deleting a database should be a minor concern in any well-run company. It'll be painful and annoying, but shouldn't cause "scrambling" for "3 days". The ire should be directed at management that allowed that condition to exist, not the person that fat-fingered something.


In this worldview "management" is expected to be superhuman, while the guy who actually makes the mistake is absolved of responsibility.


It's more of a question of demarcation of responsibilities, of which there are two:

1. Responsibility to have a backup.

2. Responsibility to not screw up live data.

When someone screws up on #2, it inconveniences the person responsible for #1 and potentially loses any data since the last backup. That is the limit of #2's responsibility in this.

If #1 hasn't done his job right, it will come out when someone eventually plays the part of #2 (mistakes happen). Once that happens, the damage from not having a backup is #1's responsibility, not #2's.

In this case, we do not have clear information about who was responsible for #1.


Speaking as a manager - no, not superhuman (I'll restate to be it's a management/organization problem - not an individual problem).

It is my job to make sure we have a well-run software engineering product team. Ensuring that backups run and are tested is one small part of my job. Not doing the backups, sure, but making sure the team has taken care of it.

Mistakes happen and folks shouldn't be punished for that.

Remember that disks are fallible - human error needn't be involved to require recovery from backups.

Regardless of the root cause of data corruption, requiring three days to recover is completely a management/organization problem.


  He could have been poorly trained, or working 80 hours per 
  week-- at which point mistakes are inevitable-- or given 
  bad tools.
Or he might just be a really poor programmer. Why do people want to be highly paid software engineers without taking any personal responsibility for their work? If you are getting paid $10,000 referral bonuses, you should be training yourself and doing things that are above and beyond the call of duty, not punching a clock.

The phrase "poorly trained" puts the blame on someone else, rather than on the person who made the mistake. Anything to avoid responsibility.


Of course, most of us have no way of knowing whether OP is a good programmer or not.

If a programmer is consistently making mistakes that cost other programmers time and energy, and either incapable or (worse yet) unwilling when it comes to improvement, then he's a bad programmer and should be fired. No company can tolerate dividers.

It doesn't sound like this is what happened to the OP. It sounds like this was an occasional mistake. They happen.

If a run-of-the-mill junior programmer mistake is an existential threat to the company, that's management's fault. Either (a) it was too early to hire someone that junior, or (b) the infrastructure was poorly designed.


Utter crap. Rewriting history after you get called out is just pathetic.

They owed him money and either through mistake or malice didn't pay him. When he contacted them to correct it they tried to legalize their way out of it. If I wouldn't have anything to do with them before, I'm doubly unimpressed now.


They paid him. They admitted they were wrong and apologized. They clarified their policy so people won't dispute it in the future.

I'm not sure exactly what more you'd expect them to do. I'm sure they wish they'd handled this differently, but once he posted it, they seem to have handled things reasonably well.

Plus, of course, you've only seen one side of the story. Even if the company has other facts, they can't present them publicly, because then they'd potentially be open to a lawsuit. Similar reasons why people don't give honest feedback after interviews, or referrals other than "yes, he worked at this company on those dates".


When they thought they had all the power, they saw no reason to pay him. Once it was clear that the power wasn't imbalanced, they went for damage control. That reads pretty transparently to anyone who's been around the block a few times.

The loudest expression of your morals is what you do when you have all the power. If you act poorly, later rationalizations do little to convince anyone otherwise.


The best damage control would have been to admit the mistake and move on, not try to blame it on the "unclear" company policy. The founder tries to make it look like it wasn't his fault, but ends up looking even worse.

There is a silver lining for all of this -- future company founders will know what NOT to do when presented with bad PR.


Usually attributed to Lincoln:

"Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man's character, give him power."


If this is attributed to Lincoln, that kind of phrase does not play to his own advantage. (hint: read "The Real Lincoln" if you are interested).


Holy shit that book looks bad.

From the inside cover: "DiLorenzo portrays the sixteenth president as a man who devoted his political career to revolutionizing the American form of government from one that was very limited in scope and highly decentralized?as the Founding Fathers intended?to a highly centralized, activist state. Standing in his way, however, was the South, with its independent states, its resistance to the national government, and its reliance on unfettered free trade."

No mention of, you know, slavery? Or the fact that southern states seceded before he was even inaugurated? I'd like to see a Venn Diagram of people who like this book and people who own confederate flags.


We are clearly getting way off track, but anyone who has entertained the (false) idea that the South seceded from the union because of some States Rights principle would benefit from reading the original secession proclamation from the state of South Carolina. The document is available online; here is one source:

http://delong.typepad.com/sdj/2010/12/the-south-has-risen.ht...

The first section in the linked page is a preface written on a state website, summarizing that the secession document was totally concerned with slavery. It is then followed by the document in its entirety so that you can see the truth for yourself.


Well, there's no better way to find out if this book makes sense than just reading it. I think you can take it with a pinch of salt, nonetheless it makes some valid points about how Lincoln treated power. The new edition answers to the criticism that was made against it.


Hm, this book has also lot of criticism.


There is a huge problem with this attitude: it doesn't leave room for someone to honestly realize they were wrong and be believed when they express they learned something. If someone thinks you're not going to believe him anyway, you remove part of the incentive for someone to learn.


I disagree. I've come to this point of view via self awareness of when I've failed this test. You can understand how others might make this mistake quite easily.

But I also think the employer's behavior here fails your own test. There's no expression of learning that a poor choice was made, just expression of plausible deniability.

In some sense, me calling my perspective out as I see it, is a hope that it does affect such change.


True. But at this point, what exactly does anyone expect them to do? They screwed up, got caught, apologized and finally, paid him. It is very much possible that they wouldn't have paid him, if he didn't go public. It is also possible, that companies in similar positions will behave the same way in future (abusing power, until they get caught). There is probably nothing that can be done at this point, except move on.


They didn't admit they were wrong for not paying him though. They apologized for not having a "clear and complete policy."

If you look at the sequence of emails he was first denied the bonus on the grounds of his own job performance, then on the grounds of not having a written contract, then finally because he didn't meet their ad hoc policy requirements.

I guess nobody actually expects them to apologize like human beings, but it would be nice if they said something like, "We're sorry for fighting you on the referral bonus. You deserved it after the 6 months was up and we should have given it to you then. We've put a structure in place at the company so this doesn't happen again. "


if you read the email, they did not admit they were wrong. they held that in the light of their policy they were correct not to pay him, and their only mistake was in not making that policy clearer, and therefore they'd pay out this once.


>I'm not sure exactly what more you'd expect them to do.

There's not a lot more that they can do. They've advertised themselves as a company that willingly screws their employees and goes back on their word.

Whatever the details of the case, anybody who is thinking of joining their team will now think "they might do something like this to me".


I don't think they did admit they were wrong, because they weren't necessarily wrong.

They admitted they made a mistake in not clearly documenting their policy, which was ambiguous. As part of correcting that mistake, they recompensed an employee who was wronged by the ambiguity. They did this not because they were obligated by a policy or contract, but by ethics.

I think it's debatable whether he was entitled to the bonus, that's why I say they weren't "necessarily" wrong. Obviously Miso felt he was not entitled to it, since under their clarified policy he would not be.


> They admitted they made a mistake in not clearly documenting their policy, which was ambiguous. As part of correcting that mistake, they recompensed an employee who was wronged by the ambiguity. They did this not because they were obligated by a policy or contract, but by ethics.

This is not a matter of a simple "ambiguity in policy", is it? This is a contract they made with their employees that failed to specify terms like "the bonus will only be payable while you are an employee of the company".

Miso doesn't get to retroactively apply terms to a contract that has been made. Hence, IMO, they recompensed the employee because they were obligated to by contract.

edit: Two good comments from the blog:

----

Somrat, Tim: your mistake was not that you were unclear about your policy. Your mistake was failing to follow your policies and agreements in the first place and then trying to apply new policies after the fact. This isn't unclear, it's unethical.

---

This reply tells everyone that CYA is your sole problem solving skill.

---


I see your point, which is very persuasive, but this case is ambiguous because it could be interpreted in either way. As an agreement between the employer and employee, the agreement might be interpreted to apply only to active employees, and on resignation vanishes.

Suppose a company's expense report policy does not clarify whether they will fulfill expenses incurred during employment but filed after resignation. The day after you quit you find an expense receipt you forgot to report. Must the company compensate you? It's ambiguous.


> As an agreement between the employer and employee, the agreement might be interpreted to apply only to active employees, and on resignation vanishes.

The agreement was fulfilled when the referee completed his 6 months, no? At that point it became a debt that the company owed jzhwu, and he only quit a month after. I don't think debts immediately disappear when you quit a company (unless you sign some sort of agreement to that effect). So by default I'd guess that the debt cannot "vanish on resignation".

> Must the company compensate you? It's ambiguous.

It's probably a problem long settled by the courts and labor regulations, actually. Not ambiguous at all.


> At that point it became a debt that the company owed jzhwu

I considered this, too. Obviously I agree that, if it were a debt, then he is entitled to it, and that the debt cannot disappear.

But what if it's not a debt? I think that the debt exists if the creditor makes a claim. Perhaps by not asking for his bonus, the employee lost his opportunity to make a claim, and cannot make a claim after resigning.

Your suggest he claim the debt at any time. How long is he allowed he wait? 10 years? 100 years?

All I'm asking is that you see how this could be argued either way! Obviously a court (or case law) would decide one way or another, but until that point it is ambiguous.


> Perhaps by not asking for his bonus, the employee lost his opportunity to make a claim, and cannot make a claim after resigning.

That would depend in the terms specified in the contract. If the entirety of the contract is the email message which says "We'll pay 10K for a referral that lasts 6 months", then it defaults to the contract laws in their state. I can guarantee that the contract laws of their state do not say "debts owed to employees are void after employment is terminated."

> How long is he allowed he wait? 10 years? 100 years?

Most, probably all, states also have a law defining what the limit on collecting a debt is. It usually falls between 3 and 6 years, and is considerably longer in a few.


There is no ambiguity here. The contract never stated that the bonus is only to be paid out if the employee has handed their notice in.

The CEO's comment here makes me think that this was indeed a contract, so Miso would have had no leg to stand on in a court.


"Everything stupid in life has a legal or accounting reason behind it." -Unknown


It's not ambiguous, it's fact-specific, and a court in such a situation would look to questions of fairness and reasonableness under the circumstances. Absent an extended delay that caused meaningful harm to the company, the employee would almost certainly get his reimbursement.


The fact that you mention a court might review such a situation, strongly suggests it is in fact somewhat ambiguous.


I don't see your logic. A court would review it if one of the sides brought it to court. It doesn't suggest that the issue is 'ambiguous', or that the company has a leg to stand on once they're actually in court.


Many things end up in court that are not ambiguous, which is why summary judgement[1] exists.

Although it is usually impossible to predict the outcome of a vaguely-defined case (I hit and killed you with my car, am I liable?), a case where all relevant facts are known (I hit and killed you with my car while you were legally crossing at a crosswalk, my light was red, and I was speeding) is utterly unambiguous, but will still end up in court if one side refuses to settle, no matter why they refuse.

[1] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Summary_judgement


Yes, but the public doesn't know, or care what the actual company policy reads. Even if the company was 90% in the right, they should still accept all the blame, just to appease the pitchforks.

Remember that incident with Airbnb where a woman's house was trashed? I'm sure Airbnb had all the proper fine print to prevent them from liability, but they still went out of their way to make sure the woman was properly compensated. I'm sure Airbnb was never at fault here, but they were able to turn a case of bad press into good press.

The Miso founder simply took a case of bad press, and turned into worse press.


Amen, this had airbnb win potential written all over it. Even if the CEO didn't want to apologize "because it was the right thing to do" the knowledge that it could have gained significant points from potential future hires that are reading this now shows lack of insight and self-awareness.


There's "wrong to not pay him" which is distinct from "he was entitled to be paid under terms of contract" (which itself would have multiple interpretations based on who was reading it, etc.).

They were uncontrovertibly wrong to not pay him, because they've lost 10-100x $10k in goodwill, recruiting capability, etc. If they really wanted to be strict and avoid establishing a precedent, they could have just given him an extra $10k bonus for severance vs. $10k for the referral amount; I doubt he cares what the memo line of the check says.


Agreed. There's a big difference between being sorry and being sorry you got caught. Miso management is sure coming off like the latter.


They are also legally bound to pay the referral bonus, unless they can provide evidence that they informed Joshua before he referred his buddy that there were any exceptions to the rule.


  Moving forward, we have established the following clear criteria to explain
  how employees will be eligible for the $10K referral bonus:
  - The employee must provide a referral for a full-time hire.
  - The referred employee must work at Miso for 6 full months after hire date
    (excluding any leaves of absence)
  - The referring employee must be employed at Miso and not have given notice
    to depart the company prior to the date of the bonus payment.
I don't understand the point of the third rule. Why isn't that 6 months too? This way they have an incentive to delay payment if they think an employee might leave.


The third rule sucks, in my opinion. Referral bonuses are a good deal for the company: they help the company to (1) recruit good employees and (2) save money on recruiting, since these bonuses are usually much less than the hefty fraction of an employee's salary that they'd have to pay to a headhunter. If you leave a company after referring somebody, it doesn't change the fact that you found the company a good employee and saved them money, so it would seem unfair to refuse to pay you the bonus, even if you're no longer an employee -- in that case, they'd be able to profit from your connections without giving you anything in return.

They wouldn't be able to get away with not paying a headhunter just because he sent his invoice in after the company decided to not renew their contract with him. The fact that they can legally get away with stiffing an ex-employee doesn't make it any more ethical.


The "after you gave notice" part in particular is quite stupid. It will simply encourage people to wait longer to give notice, or not give notice at all.

Were I leaving a company amicably and had no other constraint on my time (say I'm planning to start my own company, or even just take a couple years off), I'd give several weeks, if not a few months' notice, to maximize flexibility for everyone. If I knew it was going to screw me out of $10,000, however, I definitely would not extend that courtesy.


the third rule is there so that they can say that they were right to not pay this guy.

that's all.

they don't think they've done wrong here. in the same situation they want to be able to do the same and get away with it. these aren't people who have learnt something about keeping their word - they're paying because it's the best way to manage the crisis. the third rule is to justify their actions: they don't feel wrong; they regret that they were caught without a good excuse.

they have come out of this looking appalling. worst of all, they don't get the idea that people - good, committed engineers - don't stay or leave because of salaries and bonuses. they leave because management sucks.


Perhaps he is trying to suggest that Joshua gave notice before his 6 months were up, therefore shift the blame back to the ex-employee. Or maybe I'm reading too much into it.


That's exactly what he's trying to do. This isn't an apology or an admission of any wrongdoing, it's an obvious attempt to reshape perception of their original actions by pretending their motives were different than they really were. Motives that were utterly self-evident from their very first reply:

> After you lost our data and caused our entire company to scramble for 3 days, I am hesitant.

Everything since then has been trying to unring the bell.


If he cost the company 10k in lost engineering time with his mistake, it's only natural that they'd feel hesitant, even if they legally owe him.


The thing about contracts is that you can't just put any old unfair term in there, because both parties have the right to a fair contract, and a court can rule that particular terms are unfair. I wouldn't be surprised if there is some employment law which is being broken by that 3rd term already, because it allows the company to withhold the bonus for an arbitrary amount of time: they could avoid ever having to pay it by simply waiting until an employee gives notice, then saying "oh we can't pay that anymore" - no way is that a fair term. These guys are cowboys.


What I learned earlier this year is that tech recruiters get paid a flat fee for their services, plus a percentage of the recruitee's salary after some vesting period, usually 6 months. From what I heard, that percentage was between 15-25 percent.

Consider that the average programmer's salary is above 60k. 15% of that is 9k, plus the flat fee. The company has already gotten roughly 10k out of this referral transaction. It's not just an incentive to build a strong team...it's how much they'd have to pay if there were no employee referral program at all.


I think your numbers might be conservative. 60k is a low intro-level salary for most metro areas and many recruiters wouldn't bother. Finding intro-level programmers is relatively easy so the burden of proof and stakes are high for the recruiter. It's a gamble and generally not worth his or her reputation.


I was indeed choosing a conservative number so there wouldn't be much of a counterargument about the 10k value aspect. My point was mainly that 10k for a 6 month vested tech hire is something other tech companies pay to non employees.


This benefit scheme appears to be designed to encourage team building. The cost of replacing a good employee is greater then the benefit gained from introducing a new hire. I guess they don't want to reward someone for team building when they are actually a net loss in this area. I think they should have read this[1] and thought about this a bit more.

1. http://blog.fogcreek.com/why-do-we-pay-sales-commissions/


How about you sign up someone for your own job?

I'm not sure whether this should be rewarded or not, but it seems a situation that he's alluding to in that rule.


The point of the third rule is to alert their investors that they're making sure that any people who leave will not be part of the process to hire their replacements.


That doesn't make any sense. The rule says 'prior to payment' and the payment doesn't happen until after the new hire is there for 6 months. So if I recommend a friend, then leave 5 months later, I don't get the bonus. How does this mean that I am hiring my replacement?


They were both wrong. Any employee who leaves 10k behind didn't care enough about it in the first place. The fact that he forgot is huge.

A company that talks about bonuses of that size with no legal contract didn't care enough about it to start with.

The developer will pay with his reputation. Any employer who knows what happened will never fully trust him, except after a long working relationship.

Miso will pay by losing potential hires.

Each side loses more than 10,000 dollars worth. Justin's professional rep is worth a lot more than 10k, Miso's hiring future is worth more than one bonus. They should have worked this out in private.

They couldn't, and they both lost.


I think Joshua's rep broke even, or possibly slightly ahead. It shows that he's a passionate employee, and will go out of his way to make things right. In a work setting, he'll probably fix up that copy-pasta code instead of just leaving it there. Passionate employees always win over passive employees.

Additionally, his name is so damn generic, it might as well be john lee. There might be 10 serial killers with his name too, but I doubt future employers would really be able pinpoint this incident with his name.


Both sides lost reputation to me when they put something into production without backups.


Programmer: I'm wary about putting this into production without backups.

Manager: But we really need to launch today. We'll get backups going next week, I promise.

Programmer: OK... gulp.

Ultimately, a startup involves taking a lot of calculated risks. Miso decided that the benefits from launching early outweighed the risks from losing data (physical media failures, fat finger, bugs, etc.). They were wrong. They gambled and lost. The successful companies we hear about are the ones that gambled and won.


I've worn a sysadmin hat for many years. You're not supposed to gamble, or take risks of any kind. You are supposed to make sure. To make absolutely sure.

The successful companies we hear about did not gamble, in my view.

There are plenty of ways we ought to take risks in business, but basic IT practice is not one of them.


I doubt that. What you perceive as passion, I perceived as whiny. Whiny as in how a 4 year old REALLY wants a toy when his parents won't buy it for him. Is a child throwing a tantrum passionate about that toy? Is that a good thing?

Will this potential employee throw a fit when we don't use the libraries he wants? Probably not (like I would assume of most professionals), but this new found infamy would make me as a recruiting company think twice.

I think the situation could and should have been resolved in private. I know there are more clarifying emails, but we don't get to see them. If I were considering hiring this guy, I would be much more comfortable if I could see all of the emails with each side clearly stating their case, and then the developer's calm and rational ultimatum to go to the public. Even then, I would (as a potential employer) be even more comforted if the post itself had a calm and rational voice. (I believe the voice is mixed at best.)

I base my claim that this could have been resolved in private on the fact that Miso resolved everything so quickly. If the case and ultimatum were clearly communicated, Miso would have been prepared for the negative PR by releasing their version of events. Instead, the company payed up not even 12 hours after the story is published. This leads me to believe that communication was poor between the parties.


I don't think this could have been handled privately without lawyers. It was clear that Miso did not want to hand over the $10k when asked nicely. This reminds me of the scalding coffee from McDonalds. The woman tried to handle the matter privately, and McDonalds would probably only had to pay a few thousand in medical bills had the fessed up early, but instead they took it to higher courts and got slapped in the face with a million dollar bill.

The only reason Miso paid up so quickly is that they're hoping the $10k will keep people from grabbing more pitchforks.

If you look at other examples of bad company PR, you'll see that companies tend to react fast when then smell a shit storm coming their way... it has nothing to do with poor communication.


I would be much more comfortable if I could see all of the emails with each side clearly stating their case, and then the developer's calm and rational ultimatum to go to the public.

That's the problem with whistle-blowing. Usually, there's a period of negotiation that occurs before it gets to that point. The situation has been developing for weeks or months and nothing else has worked. Suing is too expensive, so the wronged takes the matter to the public.

It can be damaging to the whistle-blower's reputation because, from the perspective of almost all of "the public", it's the first time they're hearing this news. They don't see the months of failed (or even bad-faith) negotiation. It seems like a drastic, hair-trigger decision to expose the matter, because it's the first time they are hearing about it. And people like to kill the messenger and don't like to hear bad news about reputable companies.

If the case and ultimatum were clearly communicated, Miso would have been prepared for the negative PR by releasing their version of events.

Sounds like a Ned Stark blunder. Experience has taught me that threatening to do something like this is a bad idea-- it gives your adversary time to prepare for it. Don't threaten; just do. If you're in this sort of fight, you want them to be surprised and capitulate in 12 hours. Saying, "this is exactly what I plan to release about you" is a bad idea for several reasons. First, your adversary has time to prepare. Second, it can become illegal (extortion in some cases, although most likely not in this one since there was a pre-existing contractual agreement).


> Any employee who leaves 10k behind didn't care enough about it in the first place.

Or he was working 80 hour weeks and had a lot on his mind. But hey, blame the victim--he had it coming! Come work for me, I will try and stiff you at every turn, and if I manage to, hey you just didn't want it bad enough.


Oh come on. Anybody who has any amount of experience would have had all of his/her ducks in a row before quitting. They should also know that any company expecting you to work 80 hours a week doesn't have your best interests in mind.

You should always work with the assumption that your employer is a douche even though he doesn't act like it. Cynical, yes, but this is a business relationship, and when money is involved, you'll often see the ugly side of people turn up.

The original employer is at fault, but this type of behaviour is common, and people, especially young people, need to be aware that your relationship with your employer is not a friendship. It's a business relationship.

Limit your trust of them, and make sure you get everything you are owed by them before you quit. When you resign, assume that you'll get walked out, so make sure you've got all of your stuff ready to go. I could go on, but you should get the idea.


I don't think the developer paid with his reputation. He actually gains reputation as someone who would stand up to injustice and unethical behavior. Of course unethical employers would hesitate to trust him but do you want to work for unethical employers?


He actually gains reputation as someone who would stand up to injustice and unethical behavior.

I wish you were right, but you're not. For all the press about the "war for talent", there's never a good time to be a whistle-blower. Sometimes it is worth doing, because these kinds of stories are extremely common (read: there are a lot of bubble startups with shitty, unethical management) right now, but it's generally a risky move.

Our perspective: Josh is a hero who exposed a crappy, sloppily-managed startup after the executives moved to deprive him of a promised bonus.

Stereotypical HR perspective: Josh is a risk. He exposed an employer's "dirty laundry" over a trivial amount of money and "professionals just don't do that". Oh, and there's this thing about losing data in the last 2 weeks. Sounds like he fucked something up and was fired.

Sane, reasonable counterpoints: Josh was right to do what he did, because he probably prevented other people from getting screwed by this company. Also, we have no idea why the database problem occurred. Maybe he was working 14-hour days (it's common for shitbag startups to push people to put in 80 hours per week, and later use the low quality-- on account of the overtime and deadline pressure-- of what is produced as justification for canning them once the equity is worth something). Maybe he was badly trained. Who knows? It's just as likely that it's not his fault, and regarding the manner of his termination, who cares?

Not-unreasonable (but unfortunate) HR counterpoint: Sure, sure, but he's still riskier than this other guy who didn't expose an ex-employer and has identical credentials.

Of course unethical employers would hesitate to trust him but do you want to work for unethical employers?

I don't see this division as being as firm as one might like. Corporate "culture" is largely a fiction. Most companies have a mix of ethical and unethical people. Saying you wouldn't want to work for a 100-person company because there's one unethical person (or, for your example, a "sympathizer" with unethical people) in HR is short-sighted. No company is perfect, and if you insist only on working in companies where everyone is ethical and good, well... you'll have a hard time working for companies larger than about 10 people, including your own.


You're saying that he shouldn't have exposed his company's knee jerk bad behavior because there might be other companies out there who exhibit similar knee jerk poor judgement.

In a competitive market (which sort of exists in tech), those companies that exhibit bad judgement fail. You're really doing yourself a favor by not getting hired by them.

Frankly, I think any company that would behave as you describe would probably do this same shit all over again.

I'm not sure if this guy is a decent hire or not (possibly not), but my decision to hire him wouldn't be based upon this episode, it would be based upon whatever I could figure out about his abilities.


If you guys could read the update I've posted in my blog I'd appreciate it. I cleared up a lot of assumptions you guys have been making. Most notably that I was fired due to this incident. I was not.


> Any employee who leaves 10k behind didn't care enough about it in the first place. The fact that he forgot is huge.

No, it's not huge. As I said in another comment, it's always awkward for me to have to go to a 'manager' and ask for money so I procrastinate on such issues. Maybe it was similar for him.


it's business brother. you're not asking to date his sister. you earned the money, go ask for it.

and procrastinating is just fine. but you don't QUIT without getting that kind of dough.


i fail to see what you are pointing out as untrustworthy on josh's part, let alone what forgetting about the $10k has to do with it.


This is all sorts of wrong. Miso should have paid the referral fee (let's stop calling it a bonus as another commenter pointed out) as soon as the referred employee hit 6 months. Why are employees forced to beg for their money? For most of us, it's awkward to have to go to 'the man' and ask for our money. So we procrastinate and 'forget' about asking for the money, all while working hard anyway.

Switching jobs is an excellent time to have $10k handy.

And for them to say "no sorry, you screwed up at the end" shows just how much they valued that employee's contribution to the team for an entire year.

This reeks of Big Co. incompetent management mentality. Sad to see startup founders power tripping and not realize it.


As I see it, they just patched up the situation. My beef with them is not that they screwed up on the policy front. It is about the underlying ethics.

It was ok if they said they did not want to pay him as he is no longer and employee and later correct themselves saying that it was a mistake on their part as he was an employee after 6 months. What is not ok is that they used an emotional line of defense. Saying he doesn't deserve it 'cos of a screw up, tells me that both Somrat and Tim are kinda characters that would bail out when push comes to shove. Its the question of integrity and you just have to stand by the right in a startup. To me, this is the exact warning sign I need before thinking of a startup.

I hope employees of Miso read into this and take home something. Many might not care, but its their opinion.


It's also the type of founder that would dilute the employee options pool first, before touching their own.

"it's okay to screw employees because they'll leave anyway"


Fucking with employee options pool is about whether previous investors (including founders and earlier employees) take all the dilution of new hires, vs. the new investors sharing equally in that. It's fairly independent of how much equity hires actually receive (you can always bump the pool up later, when you "unexpectedly" run out of equity and need to make more hires -- after 30-50 hires, the only way an individual hire makes a huge difference in the option pool is if you're bringing in a CEO to replace a founder, or maybe a Sheryl-level COO or super-accomplished VP.)

It's an unrelated issue, really. I think "founder has one type of expense policy for founders and execs, and another for employees" would be more apt.


I'm not sure that the 10k was worth it for J Wu. Employers Google potential employees, and this blog post will definitely show up. Even though I feel he's in the right this type of public shaming would make me think twice about hiring him. Just doesn't seem like it's worth the hassle even though I don't plan on doing anything terrible to my employees (criminal in this case!)

To be clear, I feel that Miso is in the wrong on this. Just probably wasn't worth 10k on calling them out.

EDIT: From the comments it feels like the consensus is either a public shaming or hiding and forgetting about the money. There are other avenues like trying to pressure VC / board members, court, probably more. I wouldn't want this accessible on the internet for the next 50+ years.


You are probably right. It's really not worth the trouble and potential backlash it might cause in the future. I personally wouldn't do it.

However, I want to thank J Wu for doing this. What he did was commendable.

I know tons of freelancers who worked with companies or individuals, and end up not getting paid properly. They often fear loss of potential customer and do not take it public, even though they are fully on the right. Legal battle is often not an option for them. The cost can be hefty and even more importantly, it's a total waste of time. Legal battle breaks concentration on your work and drains you out.

I hope that this kind of dispute settling becomes normalized. Fulfilling one's responsibility is done most effectively when your accountability is tested publicly.


I disagree. His post stands as a public review of his previous employer, which-- in giving him the bonus after they previously denied it-- admit that they have two very different personalities. In the public, they are good people and agree with the morals of the multitudes (doing the right thing). In private, they abuse their power and finger point when things don't go their way (he "lost their data and mangled their company).

It wasn't worth 10K to Miso. Potential employees are going to google their name and want nothing to do with them. I sure wouldn't.

Their might be some employers that deny J Wu a job based on an honest post like this, but are they really working for in the first place?


Self-correcting.

Any employer who would have a beef with this is probably not worth working for anyway. Honest people have little to fear from public disclosure of their behavior.


In the current job market, you can basically be anything but actually in prison and get a job, assuming you can do the work. (I suppose work-release could be accommodated for designers if they can also code).

In normal times/contexts, something like this would probably be at least slightly prejudicial to a hiring manager. 1) He appears to have at least somewhat screwed up at the job, in a way which wouldn't have been disclosed otherwise 2) He goes to the public vs. normal legal channels when there is a dispute. While you may not intend to have a dispute, it's always worth knowing how disagreements will be handled.


He gave them three chances to right their wrong before going public. That's plenty enough, don't you think?


Josh didn't do anything wrong. Someone tried to screw him out of some money. He wrote about it on his blog. The problem got solved -- rather efficiently, I might add. Sounds like no lawyers got involved and no taxpayer money had to be wasted in court.

It doesn't really reflect on him one way or another. It's an interesting story, but the only part that has anything to do with hiring him would be to ask him what went wrong with that data loss and how he learned to minimize the chances of something like that happening in the future.


When someone does you wrong, you can't go off in secret and appeal for justice. Public shame is often all these people understand.

The fact that someone tried to get an injustice doesn't make less employable. Well, maybe to people who like to take advantage of others. Sounds like a good thing to discourage them.


I wouldn't have any problem hiring him. And I'm sure I am not alone in feeling this way.


It's not really even $10k, it's the $100-300 it would have cost to have gotten an employment lawyer to accomplish the same thing.

Maybe worth $10k (clearly worth going nuclear for SOME amount of money or injustice -- $100mm? crimes?), but IMO not worth $300. Especially since "$10k + $300/hr for my costs related to this matter" would be totally reasonable too.


In the other threads there was the widespread opinion that lawyers would be a waste of time and costing a big chunk of the $10k. That few people adviced that he even counsel one hour with one lawyer is sad.


I suppose I would make sure I actually planned to pay him things I promised him. That's as far as second-guessing goes. The call-out was quite fair. It was also inexpensive for Miso since they didn't have to go to court, which also would have been fair.


Most of the heroes of our time do things that are probably not worth it financially, but do it to set things right for future generations. I'm sure Martin Luther King was well aware that he'd probably be assassinated for attempting to bring equality to the african americans, but he stood up for what he believed in. I feel like most people these days would rather live a happy passive life, than rock the boat to help future generations.


Josh made a comment under the other story stating he would donate any money he gets to charity.


It's sad he is forced to give it away to save face.


Yeah, I agree. He is a bigger man than me though. I don't think I would have done the same in his situation.


I doubt employers would even notice. He's got a pretty generic name so unless you're really doing some hard core sleuthing, I doubt this blog post would appear in a search for "Josh Wu".

And in today's crazy bubble market, if you know what a web browser is, you'll probably get hired.


I would pay 10k to have future unethical employers filter themselves out (even if it filters out some ethical ones too).

I might not have handled this exactly like J, but I certainly wouldn't think twice about hiring him because of this.


There are other avenues like trying to pressure VC / board members, court, probably more.

The problem is that lawsuits often take years. These startups are likely going to be (a) 10 times their current size, or (b) out of business, by then. So they can take a "we'll worry about it then" approach, in which case they collect interest on what they should have paid, and offload the risk.

These kinds of unethical startup executives don't fear lawsuits. Not in the least. The suit will be against the company, not the person-- it's very hard to pierce the corporate veil on this sort of issue-- and the individual executive will either be no longer with the company, or very wealthy and successful by then (in which case it's a hired attorney's PITA). Either way, it's not going to hurt him much.

The small-claim lawsuit doesn't have an incentive effect on such a startup because of this binary payoff. The advantage of a PR hit, as a punitive measure, is that it actually reduces the probability of success (rather than trivially reducing the amount of payoff in event of success).


They asked themselves what almost every businessman asks himself: "what is it going to cost me not to write this check?" They didn't expect their former employee to go to the Internet. They were exposing themselves to ever increasing liability by publicly posting in their former employee's blog. The cost in legal fees and additional negative publicity wasn't worth it to them not to pay after that.


This comment was on the actual site & clearly outlines how sketchy this company is!

I'm agreeing with the person above... This had nothing to do with your "company policy". It was clear in the 2nd email that you were trying to get away from paying $10k because your former employee dropped the database when there were no backups.

If the unclear policy was the real reason, your email would have implied that.


As someone who has friends at Miso, and who was considering applying there: I think its a little too late.

For anyone seeking employment, the people you work with day to day is one of the most important things, and this episode doesn't really show the best side of its founders character.


Miso was 100% in the wrong. Small claims and labor board actions would have cost them far more than 10k.


10k isn't small claims in any jurisdiction I'm aware of.


"In general, a natural person (an individual) cannot ask for more than $10,000 in a claim."

From http://www.courts.ca.gov/1256.htm, which is the small claims court which would have jurisdiction over this particular case.



People just now checking Hacker News might have missed the earlier conversation, so here is the URL:

http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=3955391


Was that post deleted? How come it doesn't show up on the front page, the next page, or the 3rd page anymore?


If it was deleted, it would say [deleted] and not have a link to the article. It's possible that people flagged it, which will decrease its ranking.


I'd never heard of Miso before this; everybody is a winner here.


This article has only reiterated my belief that any deals that you make with your employer/client should be in writing so that they will not try to weasel their way out of an agreement.

It got me thinking that for every developer who manages to get frontpage on HN about their employer's dishonesty, there are probably more out there who had been screwed the same way.


Yup, it struck me how similar it was to my own situation, though in a non-tech job.

I wish I'd handled it like this guy (the fired guy) handled it.


I'm really glad Miso did the right thing. However, they should have done something extra, either monetary or otherwise.

What's the tech equivalent of punitive damages?


Bad karma. People get hesitant to work at your company if you don't pay your employees, so you only get people who don't mind that risk.


After the public shaming (hey, that was WAY more efficient than a lawyer), they could at least have been honest. But hey that takes balls, moral standards, and uhm, probably either apologizing and quitting the company either saying "screw that guy we're not paying him because we don't like him". Of course, that's utopia.

Obviously if they had either there would again, be no story, since they'd just have been honest to start with.


They did not do the right thing. They only paid because they got caught, and paying was probably in their best interests financially going forward.


Not working there.


+1 for paying up -1 for calling it a mistake


Well they did the right thing...eventually. Sad that they couldn't do it for the right reasons and had to be pushed.


It is almost worse that they paid up. The message I receive is that they will try to screw people over, but if to gets too hot they will pay up and desperately try to cover their butts. It shows them to be fundamentally dishonest at their core. Imagine being a customer. I wouldn't want to be one. I now know that if there is a problem it will be my fault, until they get too much bad publicity.

Im glad the guy got his money, but it only makes the business look worse, IMHO.


> The 10k I'll be getting will be going to charity to celebrate the integrity, compassion and passion demonstrated by the community at large. I want to especially thank the Hacker News community...

As an award, Josh should let us decide the charity recipient..via HN poll!


> The 10k I'll be getting will be going to charity to celebrate the integrity, compassion and passion demonstrated by the community at large.

So much for "damaging his reputation" (assuming he follows through). This gesture paints him as shaming Miso on principle, rather than for wanting $10k.

The righteous indignation we feel when we're wronged, that makes us waste time trying to get the $20 rebate (or whatever) we should have received, is part of what holds society together. Punishing wrongdoers is almost always costly. Someone has to bear that cost.


HN front page 1 - 0 use of lawyers


First, congratulations to Josh (who I do not know).

Second, Josh: you took a Hell of a gamble (speaking as someone with practical experience on the hiring side). From now on you will have to find some subtle way to include the entire history of this situation in future job application processes. A hiring manager stumbling upon only the first part of this episode will likely not give you the opportunity to explain the whole story.


A telltale sign of a bullshit apology are the words, "sorry we didn't make it clear."

It's a bureaucratic way of saying, "The only thing I did wrong was fail to hold your sippy cup for you while I explained the rules."


Do you guys think this whole thing was maybe a publicity stunt?

And if it wasn't would this be a good, free way to drum up some interest in your company; spread some geek drama?


As someone who's mother tongue is one in which "anniversary" actually means anniversary, reading 6 month "anniversary" just kills me.


Scorn have no fury like an angry Internet.


Good job Joshua. One thing for sure, I will never myself or suggest anyone else to work for Miso. It is simple. A job where you have long hours, mediocre pay but a great team/manager is a lot better than a good paying job with team/manager that are not looking out for you and will screw you at the first opportunity they get.


The number one lesson I learned from this saga is:

Do not hire Joshua Wu.


My number one:

There are many more apologetic pro-corporation white knights here than I expected, and Miso is an organization to avoid.


Seriously, for all of us out there bootstrapping startups or working for companies struggling to raise funding, this all comes across as petty. $10k is a lot of money.

I'm glad Josh is donating the money to charity, but the onus was on him to claim the bonus while he was employed.


Was it? They had a policy of paying $10k if you refer someone that sticks with the company for 6 months. It was a payment.

The onus is not on you to claim your wages is it? And if you forget you're not allowed them because "you should have told us!"?


No, it's a bonus, which has to be applied for. I take it from the CEO's comments that they were not clear about the T&C's, but my point was that for all of us working for under-funded companies or projects, it takes a lot of nerve to cry foul/name and shame, over a mutual mistake.


You can file claims with the department of labor for unpaid bonuses earned while working at a company.

Anyhow he was still working at the company at the time he should have been paid so the money was owed to him and he could have filed (for likely at least the interest on the bonus if not wages up until it was paid).

"Unpaid wages, including commissions and bonuses."

http://www.dir.ca.gov/dlse/HowToFileWageClaim.htm

Either way it's a moot point now.


I think I would feel dirty if I wound up saving $10k because someone I was going to pay it to forgot to do their paperwork for a month.


Miso is actually raising funding just fine.


The engineer came off very combative and threatening from the start. After just 3 emails, he publishes a one sided case with the sole purpose of instigating an internet witch hunt.

Based on such an aggressive attitude from the get-go, it seems likely there is significant history between Misu and the guy that we don't know about.

Misu surely doesn't look good in this case, but neither does he. A lot of employers will think twice about hiring a guy who is so quick to publicize a disagreement.


Wow, put down the pitchforks guys.




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