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an older day where a faithful employee's reward for long-term service was getting a gold watch on retirement or a $10K bonus for having invented the thing that made the employer hundreds of millions

You think startups are any different? Unless you are one of the very first employees in a startup that is massively successful, you're not going to benefit financially compared to a job at BigCorp. In fact, the loss of higher salary, bonuses and benefits mean that startup employees are often working longer and getting less in return.

It's time to get rid of the culture where you have to stay in the office as long as the founder does- his incentives are totally different. A 40 hour week sounds great to me, but it requires a cultural change, not a legal one.

It's simpler to think about the misaligned incentives issue in terms of compensation rather than in job requirements. The issue with many startup jobs is that they underpay relative to their requirements, and get away with it because candidates have a hard time valuing equity grants in unproven and illiquid companies. But this is a market value problem, not a "40 hour work week" problem.

Ignoring the hours argument. If incentives for the founder do not align with the incentives of other people involved in the company there is a completely different problem at hand.

Well, consider it incentive scale. Everyone wants the same thing, but the founder will benefit but an order of magnitude more than most employees. Just because he's there late doesn't mean everyone else should feel obliged to.

Why not just leave for a job at BigCorp?

Personally, I did. I was lucky enough to get a job at a large organisation that is still very interesting and challenging.

Not everyone can be so lucky though- startups are often doing more interesting stuff than large companies, so there's an appeal.

There is nothing wrong with the most fun jobs paying less than the most boring jobs; that's just supply and demand. For similar reasons, jobs at game studios tend to suck a lot.

There is something wrong if they demand that you work more than 40 hours a week though.

That's debatable. Are they paying you for more than 40 hours? If your employer demands you work more than 40 hours per week, that's what the job there will entail. Not much different than the details of their culture or health plan. It's just another thing the employer expects. Like with everything in your career, if this doesn't match up with what you want out of the job, you're working at the wrong place.

If my employer demanded a tie and I didn't want to dress that fancy, then there's a disconnect between their expectations and mine. We don't fit together well. Some people will like working 50, 60, even 80 hours per week. Some won't. The people who should be employed there are the ones who like what that company has to offer them as the whole package.

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