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A note I sent to YCombinator
329 points by dclapp 641 days ago | comments
First, I guess I should say that I have started five companies. All were successful; two had successful NASDAQ small-cap IPOs.  I have also had a few books published, and spent a number of years as a widely read computer columnist in the 1980s.  Meh.

Of late, I have been doing medical technical writing for large medical companies. I'm pretty financially secure, so I only work on short-term contracts, and only when I feel like it. But it does put me in the world of highly skilled contract workers, which is interesting, and the reason for this note.

First, I agree with 99% of what you say about entrepreneurship. The one thing that I would add is that people who want to be successful had better be nice people.

Smart talented people don't want to work with jerks, no matter what the compensation. Here, of course, we come to Steve Jobs. Steve asked me to come to Apple to write one of two "first books" about the Macintosh. (the other was written by Cary Lu, much missed.). So I spent 1983 at Apple, hanging around, being nosy.  And got to spend quite a bit of time with Steve. That made me want to start my own company…to see if I could do it and succeed. More importantly, it made me want to start a company and not be an asshole, and see if I could succeed. The answer was yes.

So it was with some interest that I looked at the job postings for the companies that you are involved with. Of the 12 companies listed, 10 of the openings were for programmers. No surprise.

The humor, to me, is in the consistency. They all want really really really really good programmers. Not one company is willing to put forth a salary number, but they all say they offer excellent compensation.  In the bay area, that must be a lot of zeros!

And most wave their hands about how hard they work. Get the code?  We intend to work you like a dog. To enrich the founders, of course.

And most offer the added incentive of equity. Although only a fool or a recent graduate would fail to realize how easily one can be washed away in later rounds.

So here we have greed and capitalism operating in its purest form.  You want to make a lot of money by funding startups. The start ups want to make a lot of money by making things.  But…as you so correctly state, the wealth will primarily be created by the programmers. And they don't have programmers! Or at least not the really really good programmers they need to make a really really big bunch of money.

If Marx were alive today...you get the idea.  It is obviously hard to exploit the working class, when the workers you need are so rare and so valuable to your aspirations.  Hence all the frenetic handwaving in the job postings on your site

I have a friend. A young man who has an international tea distribution company, which services bubble tea shops, owned by his father and other investors.  He wants business advice. I keep saying: dude, you have an international tea distribution business!  Run with it!

But I really like the guy. So I dug deep, to come up with the best business advice I could offer. I finally arrived at this: make sure that everyone who works for you, and everyone who works with you, makes a ton… an absolute boatload of money. Do that, and make sure that they really do, and you will do fine.  No worries. And you will become a better person in the process; which is the only justifiably selfish reason to be in business in the first place.

Maybe some of your companies could take those notions into their efforts to hire ditch diggers?

Doug Clapp

ps -- All this we work really hard bullshit? As if it is a merit badge or something? Your fundees should realize that the very best code written in this century was written for the space shuttle. And the folks who wrote it, without going into too much detail, worked 40 hour weeks. And were not allowed to work more than that. Period. It is no fun to win if you don't play by the rules. A 40 hour week is a good rule. I suspect that a 36 hour week is a better rule. :-)



nhashem 641 days ago | link

A lot of the job postings to me from YC startups seem absurd, since a lot of them seem to be looking for "expert"-level roles. For example, a lot of them are looking for a "growth engineer." My interpretation is that they're basically saying, "We have a cool product and anyone that hears about us seems to like us, so we need someone that can write code that will help more people hear about us."

Or, more generalized: "We have some huge thing we want to do, and can't do it ourselves, so we're looking for someone that can pretty much just come in and do it for us."

And all the postings offer in terms of describing/selling why such a immensely talented individual would work for them is: "We're reinventing the future of everything, we work hard and play hard, we can offer competitive salary and equity."

The OP seems to feel this is borne out of some sort of maliciousness, but I really think this is mostly just cluelessness. When you get a little bit of traction and you have a little bit of money in the bank, and you're trying to go even faster and you have 20 major initiatives you want to do and you can only work on like 2 at a time, it's easy to conclude, "We need to hire! We love our company, this is so much better than working at some corporate stuffy job, why wouldn't anyone think the same?"

Most of these companies would probably just be better served forgetting about hiring and building out the core product until they have more product-market fit, so they have enough revenue/funding to compensate employees closer to their talent level, and have a "popular" brand that people would want to actively work for.

Unfortunately this would mean delaying that 3rd party API, or porting your applcation to iOS, or started using SEO/SEM to drive some traffic, which all have huge learning curves that are tough to navigate while you have a ton of other things to do. But if they were THAT critical, I would suggest those startups prioritize them over those other things and doing it themselves.

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david_shaw 641 days ago | link

> The OP seems to feel this is borne out of some sort of maliciousness, but I really think this is mostly just cluelessness.

I agree with you there, but not necessarily on your second point (that they shouldn't be hiring).

I think the "work hard, play hard" line is so thoroughly seared into most founders' ideas of the "startup game" that it doesn't even occur to them that a normal working schedule is possible -- and for founders and CEOs, it often isn't. But if you're asking employees to work to their very core, then you either need to either pay them a crazy amount of money, or look for a another co-founder.

In terms of hiring positions like a "growth engineer" as a fifth employee, you're absolutely right. Often times, buzzwords can get the best of people: maybe what you actually need is just a marketing guy, but, you know, you've been reading all these Growth Hacks articles and maybe if you find a marketing guru who can code and also mock up your UI/UX and-- and then, all of a sudden, you're trying to hire some superman to do all of the things your organization needs. It's better to hire people in positions for which they're qualified and pay them well to work their 40 hour work-weeks than it is to try to find the one Super Expert Growth Hack Architect Team Lead Manager, try to bribe him or her with equity, and expect 120 hour work-weeks.

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david_shaw 641 days ago | link

These are some great insights, and well worth the read.

I think that at a core level, many of us -- especially in the managerial world -- understand that working people to death, especially technical people, never works out well.

The adage of "work smarter, not harder" is absolutely correct. Just like it's better to write five lines of algorithmically beautiful code than a hundred lines of obfuscated spaghetti, it's also better to work reasonable hours in an atmosphere that is comfortable and enjoyable. Working less is often exponentially more productive. Will there be a crunch time, especially in the world of startups? Of course there will, and anyone who would promise otherwise is just plain wrong. That said, it shouldn't be crunch time all the time.

There needs to be a balance. Everyone needs to take their job seriously, and needs to get their work done in an acceptable amount of time... but stressing people out to the point of misery is counter-productive. My engineering team, for example, allows flexible work hours. I lead the team, and usually get into the office around 9:45am. I am rarely in the office before 9:30am, and I'm only in before 9 if I have an important call or meeting. I usually stay until six or six-thirty at night, because that's when I start to feel my productivity slipping. Some of my guys are early risers, and work 7am - 3pm. Some of them sleep later than me, but then go home and work until 3am. As long as their work is getting submitted on time, I don't mind at all: I want people to be comfortable, and not sit in a desk chair for the sake of keeping it warm.

Different companies work in different ways, but I agree with the points that Doug is putting forward in his post. The trend of "we work 18 hours a day to get anything done!" might sound super enthusiastic to a potential investor, but think about the message you're sending your potential talent. Founding a company is one thing, and it's going to require longer days than working on the codebase (unless that's what the founder does at your organization...), but there needs to be a balance. Hopefully, we'll get there soon.

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dclapp 641 days ago | link

What you call crunch time is what I call poor project management. I started out as the managing editor of a daily newspaper. We shipped an entire product every day. We never slipped, we never missed a daily deadline… Just like every other daily newspaper. And there was never a OMG OMG crunch time as the daily deadline neared. If you manage a project correctly, when the deadline arrives you'll be sitting around telling jokes and admiring your work. I've done it many times. It can be done and it is not that difficult.

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katravax 639 days ago | link

To be fair, making the average daily newspaper is a different kind of project than how most software is made. Print is mostly a fixed process with few creative unknowns. You know how long it takes for something to get through editorial or advertising, how long it takes to lay it out or drop in a replacement, what time the printer needs the layouts to be able to get the final papers to distribution, and what price and time are involved in special features or changes, like spot color or losing some number of copy inches at the last minute. But much of software is something new, the automation of some process or creation of efficiency. Software projects, almost by definition, have some of the players doing something they've never done before. Parts of the processes are similar, but software and daily print projects aren't really comparable for most of the cycle.

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dclapp 638 days ago | link

I have been a manager in both businesses. of course there are differences; but there are also many similarities. the big idea is that if there is a firm, inflexible deadline, you will meet it. You may not ship the product that you really wish to ship, but you will ship. and, to be honest, feature X that has to be in the product, probably can just as easily go in the next release. Don't let the best be the enemy of the good. Be realistic about your capabilities.

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katravax 638 days ago | link

Then yes, if you limit it to the subset of software projects that can cut features and still be considered to have met the deadline, then you can meet inflexible deadlines in software projects. You've defeated technical unknowns and external dependencies with the escape hatch of "Feature x, or whatever ship-worthy part of that you can have done by date y".

In that scenario, I think you're implying that meeting a deadline is the most important metric. I consider that far more likely in periodicals than software. For the common varieties like commercial software, contract development, and in-house development, the only one likely to permit that idea is the commercial product. Contracting and in-house projects will adjust the ship date or renegotiate requirements.

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taocoyote 639 days ago | link

Totally agree and yet I still expect there will be periods of crunch time. I hope that employers will be tolerant of my shortcomings and so I tolerate theirs.

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dclapp 641 days ago | link

I love your words "...five lines of algorithmically beautiful code..."; this beautiful functional minimalism is what engineering is really all about; and it solves problems not only in the present but also in the future. And code that isn't there runs really fast and never has any bugs...

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hasenj 639 days ago | link

> code that isn't there runs really fast and never has any bugs...

love this quote! :D

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omgsean 639 days ago | link

>Some of my guys are early risers, and work 7am - 3pm. Some of them sleep later than me, but then go home and work until 3am. As long as their work is getting submitted on time, I don't mind at all: I want people to be comfortable, and not sit in a desk chair for the sake of keeping it warm.

Not that I've ever managed anyone but I think this is the crux of good management for creative/technical teams.

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jslvk 639 days ago | link

Do developers need to start being even more selective about working for these kinds of companies? Venture capitalists love software because the risk is astronomically low compared to other industries; is it more troubling that there are programmers that are willing to be underpaid, overworked, and screwed out of equity in the long run? Also, anytime someone has made an attempt to over-work me, I shut down and ignore them until I feel productive again (I'm a university student, so I think sometimes employers assume I am "really grateful to be getting paid anything," while ignoring my time preference and investment in education and work experience. I fear that trying to manage my employers expectations will simply be an excuse for them to hire someone else (assuming ability and credentials are the same).

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jaems33 641 days ago | link

It's kind of ridiculous that some mod or admin must've hidden this post because it's now missing from the front page.

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symbiotic 640 days ago | link

This is kind of disheartening. I found it on the front page and saved it so that I could read the discussion later. I've gone through the same thought process while evaluating job offers at start up companies and would have been interested to hear the other side of the story from the employers.

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petercooper 639 days ago | link

I'm not saying what did or didn't happen but enough flags will kick something off of the front page reasonably quickly, it's not necessarily mods or admins.

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swang 641 days ago | link

Anyone figure this out? Can't find it in new nor in the first 4 pages.

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dclapp 641 days ago | link

Based on emails, I'd say it was a person, who I won't name, at ycombinator.

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tayl0r 639 days ago | link

I just saw it on the front page.

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Caligula 641 days ago | link

I always found job postings by YC companies surreal. The ideology espoused by YC is to be a founder of a startup. If you are a talented engineer, why would you work for 1-2%(if your lucky) equity and less salary than google/facebook/etc.

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tokenadult 641 days ago | link

If you are a talented engineer, why would you work for 1-2%(if your lucky) equity and less salary than google/facebook/etc.

If you are a sufficiently young engineer (I am neither young nor an engineer, but I know people who are both), you might want to work at a startup before launching your own because

a) the startup might hit it big enough to make you rich enough to have a lot of runway for your own project,

and

b) you might learn something about the process of founding and running a startup if you get enough personal interaction with the founders.

So it's not always a dumb choice to work for a startup as one of the early employees. It's rare for an early hire's equity share to turn into serious money, and it's commonplace for startups to fizzle out and leave their early employees looking for a new job, but some young people like that atmosphere and think it provides learning opportunities that more "secure" jobs don't provide. There is also, of course, a case to be made for working at Google, Facebook, etc., but I am attempting to answer your question.

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tluyben2 639 days ago | link

I've been yelping about this for ages but most here seem to have the same opinion as you. I will say it again; you are gambling here with probably the best years of your life. Don't be crazy thinking 1-2% in a startup will make you rich. It won't. You'll just work yourself into ill health ; something which you will never be able to restore in the rest of your life and you'll not gain much besides the knowledge that you should never do or have done this in the first place.

Please check some statistics of startups; by far most go bankrupt, the rest disappear; might be sold to another company, might just close the doors with some blahblah story of 'it was just an experiment and it failed' => was it just an experiment for you, burning 80+ hours/week for 1-2% + a few $? Even being bought sounds like payday; it's not, especially for funded companies. It's just vultures picking dead bodies.

Then the minuscule (REALLY TINY; like furiouscowbell says below; it's playing the lottery, but at least in the lottery you get to work 0 hours/week) percentage which remains will indeed make you rich for your 1-2%; shame you didn't go work there! You picked another one; even without knowing you, I know this for a fact :) It's a safe bet for me to say this.

Please don't throw years of your life away doing this; start your own or work, for a good salary at a big/solid/hip one (Facebook, Google) and go from there. Make your mark there and then use the money you earned and super team you worked with to start your own.

Edit: if it's your own startup it's (can be) a lot of fun but you know the odds going in and your startup is different! You have to believe that and that's good. But if you are just tricked into working for nothing on someone else's dream it needs to be your dream as well, and who does that for less than a significant stake in the company anyway?

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tmcclarren 639 days ago | link

As a seasoned startup engineer, it's bad advice, every time.

Mark Zuckerberg controls 28% of Facebook's voting equity.

Think about it. You're getting totally fucked, kids.

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furiouscowbell 639 days ago | link

> a) the startup might hit it big enough to make you rich enough to have a lot of runway for your own project,

Do you also buy weekly lotto tickets and make wishes on falling stars?

> b) you might learn something about the process of founding and running a startup if you get enough personal interaction with the founders.

There are a lot of ifs and maybes in these statements. If you're lucky, you might get blessed with information, and that information may be meaningful for you. There's a fairly high chance that at the end of the day neither of these things will be true for most individuals.

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ryguytilidie 641 days ago | link

The last company I worked for was Scribd, and we hired a lot of young engineers and paid them less than 1-2% equity and a decent wage. I guess one could argue there was some value they were losing.

HOWEVER, I can name 5-6 people who started their own YC company as a result of this. If those people had spent 4 years sitting at Google vs 4 years with us, they wouldn't have gained those same skills.

FWIW: I totally agree with the author about working too much. I genuinely don't understand what startup's obsession with working people to the bone is at all.

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yalogin 639 days ago | link

To add insult to working like a dog, most companies now say "they don't track vacation" and paint it as an incentive trying to imply employees can take as much vacation as they want. The reality is because of peer pressure no one takes a vacation. I for one stay as far away as possible from such companies.

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stcredzero 638 days ago | link

Funny, but I just moved to the Bay Area and I've thinking about exactly this subject for the past two days.

I am looking for the following in a company, in this order:

    - A culture of morality
    - A culture of respect
    - A culture of good listening
    - A modicum of intelligence and talent
If a company has all of these, with just a bit of luck, they will succeed, and do it by truly generating value. Lots of companies headed by jerks will also succeed, but I'd rather not be in them.

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neilk 639 days ago | link

> I suspect that a 36 hour week is a better rule. :-)

According to a lot of sources, including Tom DeMarco's PeopleWare, 35 hours a week is the only sustainable pace for intellectual work. Plus or minus a few hours, maybe.

But that was about stable companies. I'm not sure that startups are trying to be sustainable.

Arguably a startup is really exploring a space of possibilities, searching for a profitable niche. So probably delivering crappy code that delivers three features is better than producing one solid thing. I've been on the cleanup crew for a couple of acquired startups, as well as products that were developed in 20% time at large corporations and grew into larger teams. My impression is that code quality barely mattered to their initial success. So I'm not sure what the optimum workload in a YC-style startup should be.

Also, we have to modify DeMarco et al's advice for a team composed of two or three twentysomethings. It seems likely that their stamina is going to be well above average and their knowledge and experience is going to be well below. So perhaps they are playing their cards right to bet on stamina.

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gwern 639 days ago | link

> ps -- All this we work really hard bullshit? As if it is a merit badge or something? Your fundees should realize that the very best code written in this century was written for the space shuttle. And the folks who wrote it, without going into too much detail, worked 40 hour weeks. And were not allowed to work more than that. Period. It is no fun to win if you don't play by the rules. A 40 hour week is a good rule. I suspect that a 36 hour week is a better rule. :-)

This is a bad example. The Shuttle code is a extremely narrow, well-specified piece of functionality where they had many years to work on and refine it using formal methodologies like Z specifications (IIRC) and I don't even remember how many millions of dollars the _Fast Company_ article said was spent developing the code over the years.

Every single one of those qualifiers and adjectives is likely to be false in a startup context.

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vorg 639 days ago | link

> A 40 hour week is a good rule. I suspect that a 36 hour week is a better rule.

By saying "36 hour week" instead of "35-hour week is better", you're showing a bias that better working hours means working less days or taking longer weekends (i.e. 9 days every two weeks), rather than less hours per day (i.e. 7 hours a day). Certain types of people (including you I guess) would prefer the extra day as reward, other types prefer the extra hour each day. Don't forget about the latter types of people.

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tripzilch 637 days ago | link

In the Netherlands, where a 36 hour work-week is pretty standard, it usually means 4.5 days, so one day you work half and go home earlier. Another common scheme is to alternate 4x8 and 5x8 work weeks. But I suppose most bosses would not mind if you want to keep an even different schedule as long as it adds up and doesn't inconvenience the rest of the team.

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vorg 637 days ago | link

I didn't think of the 6x6 work week when I wrote my first comment, just the 35-week used in France. I guess the 6x6 is what I was promoting (i.e. less hours per day rather than less days), but taken to a greater extreme.

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ph0rque 639 days ago | link

Maybe he meant 6, 6-hour days?

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dclapp 638 days ago | link

No, I meant a five… Or maybe four who knows…day work week. Please excuse my imprecise math. :-). And while I realize that there are exceptions, I would be delighted to get four solid hours of good coding daily from any programmer.

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dclapp 638 days ago | link

Actually, I'm obsessive. But that's my problem, and I would not inflict it on an employee. :-)

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prtamil 639 days ago | link

Your Advise reminds me a Quote from the movie God Father Part-II. "Hyman Roth always makes money for his partners. One by one, our old friends are gone. Death, natural or not, prison, deported. Hyman Roth is the only one left, because he always made money for his partners. ". Anyway good Advice.

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Wisqnet 639 days ago | link

I'm honestly not really seeing the fuss here. Doesn't every company want "really really really good programmers"? Don't most companies offer stock options? Am I really supposed to see a lack of info about how hard they work and assume the worst?

If there were some inside knowledge from people who have taken these offers and lived to regret doing so, then maybe this would have some substance. To me, without more info and being willing to give people the benefit of the doubt, it just seems like speculation and pessisism.

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mpeg 639 days ago | link

I want to work for you.

Coming out of two startup sales, I have to say if you want to make money you shouldn't be an early employee anyway; you should join when the company is willing to pay good money.

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dclapp 638 days ago | link

The way to get good people to work with you is to be the kind of person people want to work with. Seems obvious to me. I have worked with jerks, and with people I continue to love and admire to this day. Like many of you, I'm sure.

Since I am sadly a shitty programmer, I had to take my inspiration from baseball managers… people who did not play the game, but tried their best to make sure that the team won. you don't win by leaving your best pitcher in for nine innings. (Usually :-). You try to put people into situations where they can succeed, day after day.

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michaelpinto 641 days ago | link

Doug I know I'm just a silly fanboy -- but I'd be curious about what else you got to see at apple during that era, and any other insights you have on startups...

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dclapp 641 days ago | link

Hi Michael. I think that Apple in those days is a field that is well-plowed. folklore.org is a particularly fun site.

Start-ups? Business is business. it can be as high-stress or as peaceful as you decide to make it. Software development, these days, is often dysfunction practiced as an artform. :-) Give SCRUM a shake, and waterfall drops to the floor, quivering in embarrassment. Add your examples here. My best development advice is solve the hard problems first, not last. If there are no hard problems, look again. If all parts of the development process are equally difficult, then it should be fairly easy to estimate time to complete...to over-simplify...

This has worked through-out history. Alexander The Great attacked the enemy line at its strongest point, with well-rested, fired-up troops, who knew the battle would be fierce but short. Ditto Patton and Colin Powell. And Karl Rove perfected going at an opposing candidate's greatest strength; a lesson learned by the Obama campaign…thank goodness. :-)

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dclapp 641 days ago | link

Okay, one last thing. Richard Branson, a business genius, said "Praise people and they flower; criticize them and they wilt." So praise and cheerlead and mentor relentlessly. And, like the best baseball managers, put people in positions where they can succeed. I could go on... :>)

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tluyben2 639 days ago | link

My Bangladesh team actually tell me the opposite; they want critique, not praise. If they get praise they will stop working as they feel they over delivered. Guess it depends on where your people are and what culture they are from.

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jernfrost 639 days ago | link

I believe there is some subtlety to this. As a Norwegian I notice Americans co-workers often crave more praise and positive feedback than say Northern European co-workers. Americans also more actively give praise. However that doesn't mean that Northern Europeans don't like to be praised. But one needs to feel that the person giving it is honest about it. I try to give praise when I know people have performed better than is normal for them.

I know myself that I find it just irritating if I get praise for mediocre work, which should be plain to see for anybody who care that it isn't anything special.

I don't know Bangladesh culture but I would expect that there would be similar mechanisms at work. They don't want unwarranted praise. They wanted when they have performed well.

I am guessing because from when I lived in the US, there was one thing I could find common ground among all other foreign students whether they were Japanese or Spanish and that was that American optimism and positivism is a bit alien to everybody. Don't misunderstand I think it is quite admirable that Americans are so positive and can-do attitude. The rest of the world could certainly learn a bit from that. But as with most things there is always a flip side of the coin.

Sometimes Americans seem to hit the wall of reality a bit too hard because optimism was running a too high compared to what was realistically possible.

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tluyben2 638 days ago | link

It is common here in Northern EU to see Americans as almost 'crazily optimistic'. Like you say (and this goes especially for the very 'sober' people like the Dutch and scandinavians); the first time you run into Americans in real life it's really jikes. You look SOO good, that's SOOO GREAT what you do etc. I (from Netherlands) got more compliments in one week in the US than I ever did in the Netherlands my whole life (that's probably not true, but I felt like that). So as we are very sober, those compliments are rapidly filtered and then they are not compliments anymore. But on the other hand, I do admire it more than the other side of not getting compliments mostly and I like the optimism much more. I do like well founded criticism but I believe that's different than what my BD colleagues want.

It's interesting to see the differences anyway.

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jernfrost 638 days ago | link

Hehehe cool I didn't know you were dutch. I lived in Holland for 3 years. It was eerie how similar I found Dutch to be to Norwegians despite living in countries with very different history and physical appearance. I find that foreigners complain about the exactly same thing about Norwegians as Dutch. Being too direct, blunt, cold etc.

Anyway interesting with the BD colleagues of yours. I am most familiar with Vietnamese. I can't remember anything in particular about their view on criticism. But they preferred very detailed descriptions of what they were supposed to do.

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dclapp 638 days ago | link

Interesting. I also prefer criticism, if it is intelligent and useful. Mere praise won't help me get better.

When you go to a good music instructor, for example, you're paying for the well reasoned criticism, although encouragement is also vital. The masters can give both, in the right proportions.

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farnetto 637 days ago | link

> solve the hard problems first

I like this bit. Very good advice, no doubt. But what about "no pain, no gain"? Or, conversely, if it doesn't hurt somehow, you can be pretty sure you're not making any progress. It applies to intellectual pursuits like software development as well as high-achievement sports. You don't have to extend the thought very far to come to a similar conclusion, that you're not going to solve hard problems without a bit of suffering. Similarly I don't think Hertzfeld and co. built the Mac by working 35 hour weeks.

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harryh 639 days ago | link

Who says they don't have programmers? I would wager that almost every YC company has at least 1 and generally more than one programmer on the founding team.

I also think you're being far too presumptuous about the comp packages these startups are offering. You seem to imply that they're being too stingy. Do you have any evidence for this?

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taocoyote 639 days ago | link

"Not one company is willing to put forth a salary number, but they all say they offer excellent compensation."

The implication being that the salaries offered are low. If they were confident that what they were offering was competitive then maybe they wouldn't be afraid to be up front about it? I've never had to hire someone so I don't know what the reasons are for not stating a salary range are.

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harryh 639 days ago | link

You aren't going to get uniform applicants. Different applicants will command different salaries. There's not a reasonable way to put a single number on it. It's not just YC companies that do this, it's basically everyone. Go try to find a salary number on google.com/jobs. You won't find one, and yet Google is known to pay quite well.

When was the last time you saw a salary number for any programming job?

For that matter seeing a salary number in a job add for any high skill professional job is extremely rare.

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cfn 639 days ago | link

Almost every job add on the IT sido of jobserve.co.uk has a salary number and that includes job offers made directly by companies.

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happywolf 639 days ago | link

A lot of pointy-hair bosses, especially in Asia (I am now working in China) assume longer working hours = higher productivity. In other words, they are having the 'factory mindset' whereby an hour not working is equal to an hour of productivity loss. However this assumption won't work for R&D, especially anything related to software.

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gbog 638 days ago | link

Fellow China expat here. I work at douban.com and the culture seems to be closer to US tech companies than what you describe.

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nlz1 637 days ago | link

jwz said the same thing: http://www.jwz.org/blog/2011/11/watch-a-vc-use-my-name-to-se...

> What is true is that for a VC's business model to work, it's necessary for you to give up your life in order for him to become richer.

Let's get a movement going here.

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ssylee 639 days ago | link

Interesting take on how many businesses and startups are being run by the founders these days. Doug, I have one question for you: how do you feel the sales and marketing (or the neglect of them) affect how the founders are able to treat their staff?

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tluyben2 639 days ago | link

I'm interested in that too, but I guess it depends on the type of company probably and the type of sales? I know some commission driven sales in a services companies definitely killing people rapidly by selling insane amounts of work and then throwing it over the fence. You need a very strong account/pm to counteract this if you want to not die and keep clients happy at the same time.

For products I have seen sales guys adding features because the client asks and the doing this with the founder's permission because 'that big client we cannot miss'. Resulting in misery for the rest of the staff.

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dclapp 638 days ago | link

Well, you just have to say no. if your business works for clients, the clients will always kill you if you let them. insane demands, low ball bids, etc. this is as old as capitalism, and particularly found in advertising agencies... and printing companies. I am sure you can add examples. If you want to run your business like a third world country, you obviously can.

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tluyben2 637 days ago | link

You have to say no, but not like that or you won't be servicing clients in hard times.

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tmcclarren 639 days ago | link

Excellent stuff, Doug!

Tim McClarren

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applefanner 638 days ago | link

I had an interview with a YC company. They were going to bring me on board with a low salary, lots of equity, and a seven day work week, with what seemed to be 8-10 hours a day. But hey, they have a cool office and free food!

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dclapp 638 days ago | link

While I realize that the plural of anecdote isn't data, this is pretty much my point exactly. The venture capitalists take a large position for a small amount of money... minimizing the risk and maximizing their potential profit. the founders try to play a similar game with their highly skilled employees. Welcome to capitalism.

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