It's probably a result of rapid expansion. eg, they did $3M revenue over the last financial year, but only started that year with 20 or whatever employees. So you should probably be dividing by something like an average of 26 employees and not 34, which gives $115K per person and seems more in line with reality.
Usually a revenue run rate means "we extrapolated our previous short term over the next year." It's useful for rapidly-growing companies where your next three quarters are much more likely to look like your current one than the previous three.
So that would mean they're still being very economical with per-employee expenses. My guess is that a lot of those employees aren't developers, they're in other roles where the average pay is lower (support, film and video editing, administration, even some sales roles).
My understanding from reading his blog is that everyone works from home. Which means that he doesn't have to pay for office space, and he can hire people who live where engineer salaries aren't as high as they are in the major tech hubs.
Actually, it's most likely that software development is capitalized and amortized over the life of the product (GAAP standard is typically 3 years). Basically, accounting rules allow you to spread the cost of software developers over a few years, so the impact of 34 employees (assuming they are all developers) may only be in the $25-35k/each range
Not the parent, but we pay between $1,000-$1,500 per month per employee (annually $12,000 - $18,000) for medical. We do pay 100% for great coverage for their whole families, so I'm sure many companies are paying less, but it adds up fast. That's not including other loaded headcount numbers like 401k matching, FSA pre-loading, training budget, travel, cell phone + plan, and so on.
Our office costs are generally pretty low, although if you factor in desks, chairs, monitors, laptops, iPads, kitchen stuff, etc... it does add up fast.
My experience working 80 hour weeks wasn't with startups, it was with political campaigns where I made far less money and there was obviously no equity. Similar situation though, get idealistic 20-somethings recently out of college without families to work endlessly.
I don't support 7 day weeks and 12 hour days, but frankly for politics it works. Why? Because for 95% of campaign employees it's not work quality that matters, it's talking to a ton of other people, repeating simple messages, engaging them and asking them to get involved with the campaign. I am extremely supportive of organizations that support reasonable work hours and not overextending yourself. I would never work 7 days a week again. But just as much as you should not needlessly overwork yourself and your employees, you need to understand (or at least try to understand) what is necessary to hit your goals.
I suspect the average engineer at most startups could use an extra day off. For some founders it may make sense to work long hours because some of that work is touching base with investors, forging connections and doing other things that may not be intellectually draining but just need to get done.
"but frankly for politics it works. Why? Because for 95% of campaign employees it's not work quality that matters, it's talking to a ton of other people, repeating simple messages, engaging them and asking them to get involved with the campaign."
As the original author and many pointed out, working tons of hours doesn't work for knowledge workers. I think what you're pointing out here (and I agree with it) is that political campaigns aren't really knowledge work. It seems like it would be, but it sounds like a lot of the work is quite mindless.
When I worked on political campaigns it was summer (anywhere from May to August) until election day (first week of November) for 90+ hours a week. I joke around about my very first job where I worked 96 hours in the first 6 days, and since it was July it only got busier from there. It gets to the point where you would much rather do 10+ hours of work every day of the week than take that Sunday off but have to sacrifice sleep for the next week because of it.
Particularly for statewide and national elections, the last 2-4 weeks before a campaign there is nothing else. No downtime, no family, no hobbies, nothing. Just the candidate, the message, the voters, the outreach. It’s rare in those major elections to get more than 2-3 hours of sleep (or sleep at all) in the last 72 hour push. Again these are elections for POTUS, Senator or Governor in contested states. A state rep race is going to be much more low key but still easily 60-80+ hours for the final month or two.
Things may have lightened up some since I moved to programming, but I doubt it.
Why do people work so hard for getting a candidate elected? Does it personally benefit you or your family? I am not talking of idealistic 20-somethings but of people in 35+ age group? Why do they work hard to get a candidate elected?
In a country like India, where I come from, this is totally understandable...if your candidate wins, you stand to make a lot of (corrupt) money.
Obviously idealistic 20-somethings make up the majority of the grunt work. Hell, even idealistic 30-somethings make up the majority of the lower-level management.
For most people who treat it as a career though, it's just a job. Rather than a 40-hour a week office job, they have a job where they work 100 hours a week 5 months out of the year. The vast majority of campaign workers I worked with in my younger days are now working in government (state and federal) so that's definitely one of the best ways to get into that work. To be clear, I'm referring to Administration-type posts, not civil service or public service positions. These are still very political jobs such as spokesperson and generic staffers.
EDIT: And maybe this is my idealism shining through (I'm still a 20-something, after all :)) but a lot of us really believe that Our Side is better than The Alternative, and we're willing to give up time to try to make that a reality. Even though I don't make money from politics anymore, I still donate a decent amount of my spare time every cycle to the candidate(s) I choose to support.
True. I was thinking of it in terms of "Overall the hours may be close to 2000/year" but the reality is the pay sucks, so having downtime is different than other fields. (Say a month or two off between high intensity programming gigs)
So after reading this, and relaxing (leisure spurs interesting thoughts), I had this insight - many, many political campaigns are decided when a candidate/staffer/media person makes a stupid gaffe. The last presidential campaign basically was decided by Mitt Romney's 47% remark (http://www.motherjones.com/mojo/2013/07/mitt-romney-47-perce...).
These things have got to be made more common by mass sleep deprivation. Maybe, maybe, the next president will be the one who insists his staffers work a strict 40 hours a week.
Majority of tech companies require 7-day work week
I've been working as a professional programmer for the last 12 years, in 4 companies as an employee and a couple others as a consultant/freelancer. In none have I seen 7 day work weeks as a standard, nor have I heard of such from any of my many friends who also work as programmers. Am I an outlier?
PS I agree that tech companies (among others) often have a culture of overworking.
This 7-work week is actually based on calculation: 5 days * 10 hours per day + 5 hours on weekends (to check email). All companies I worked required 10 hours per day. 9 to 5 is not looked nice unless you don't login in the evening and "do some emails".
> This 7-work week is actually based on calculation: 5 days * 10 hours per day + 5 hours on weekends (to check email). All companies I worked required 10 hours per day. 9 to 5 is not looked nice unless you don't login in the evening and "do some emails".
I cannot believe you think this is the norm for tech companies.
There are plenty of tech companies that are very 9 to 5. People have lives and families outside of work. I've worked at three startups now and have yet to work at one where I routinely worked long hours. Good, competent managers who have lives outside of work definitely helps.
I used to slightly better hours in Hong Kong, but now I hear it has got worse (i.e., other have echoed the 10 hours per day number that you mentioned). I was offered an Executive Director role at a big bank and could not get myself to say 'yes' because we all know what that means : blackberry operator 24 x 7. :-(
Even my buddies who work directly as analysts pack their shit up at a certain time. I guess it's just that we have great management that cares for us. It's our banks policy to very strictly enforce work life balance. You get scolded if you do too much over time, regardless if things aren't getting done.
I've mentioned one experience before. In the past 13 years, I've been at two large companies and three startups. The large companies never required seven-day work weeks on a regular basis, crunches yes (a couple of times a year), regularly no. Of the three startups:
- one was in the 40-50 hour week normal expectation, no serious spikes due to the way we worked over a 2 year period.
- one was 40-50 hours per week with regular (every 2-3 month spikes)
- one was completely insane and expected 60+ hour weeks (it was saner pre-"coming out party", but barely). This company had no concept of planning, if things were behind, the solution was more meetings rather than cutting features. Senior management on the team was more apt to either not be around or play ping pong while engineers worked away. Technically, it was the most diverse project I ever worked on, but the most poorly run...that was a reflection on immediate management. Launch was 60+ hour weeks plus I got the fun of doing ops since I knew most of the system.
That third company taught me a lot, probably most directly, the value of work life balance and, especially as a lead, pushing back on poor planning and management. My goal as an engineer has always been to deliver and provide end user delight, but that needs to be balanced with balance for myself.
Doubtful any research has been done on the matter, or that you could accurately do a survey or dig through data (Resumes? Job postings?) to get an answer.
However, statistically speaking, it's likely not an either/or scenario. I'd be willing to bet that it varies greatly and there is no "majority," additionally what about the companies that suck and only hire monkeys?
I worked at StreetEasy for 3 years (helping lead the dev team and writing lots of code) when it was a fast growing startup and we didn't work a 4 day week, but we worked normal business hours (9-5,10-6'ish) and never ever worked weekends - unless you felt like working on some code. One of the co-founders there had the opinion that we were in it for the long haul, not for the sprint, so why burn out early. This seemed to work out well .
However, I'm surprised that you single out a 40-hour work week as though it's something exceptional. Isn't that the standard? I would never consider joining a company that expected me to work weekends. I hope that's not as common as you imply.
The site has given me enough structure to learn the basics while other books and the internet has provided me with more in depth learning.
I wrote Nick at teamtreehouse yesterday and said that I was disappointed with the end of chapter quizzes because they were sometimes difficult to bypass due to confusion over what they were asking.
He responded immediately and said they knew it was an issue and were hiring to fix it very soon. While the round announcement is old, if they are in fact hiring, it is great news for those who use their service.
Other than that one interaction, I don't know the team, but I was impressed.
I can say, I used to work a few blocks from their office in downtown Orlando. Orlando usually sparks memories of Disney, but Disney is actually located in Kissimmee, FL about 45 min from downtown. Downtown Orlando is young, great nightlife, fairly small and EXTREMELY affordable.
Thanks for the customer service yesterday!
[Edited because the round was actually a few years ago]
I'm just curious -- What do you want to do with your design/coding knowledge? I'm in the non-tech world and have the desire to learn for the sake of learning, but I also want to know what the hell I'm going to do with it!
Over the summer I extended a lot of weekends with a days holiday and so ended up working a lot of 4 day weeks.
Surprisingly, I found that my productivity really didn't drop that much. I went into a week with a sense that I only had 4 days to get stuff done, and so often felt much more focused. It's only an extra day, but somehow in my head a 5 day week feels almost endless. The suddenly it's Friday and you wonder what happened...
I worked 30 hours a weeks for quite some time. While it is very focused, it is also very painful. I don't record any downtime as contributing to my time at all. If there's coffee break, bathroom time, time driving in car, etc, it doesn't count.
Whether or not I am productive or not is another story altogether. I feel like I don't accomplish much in 30 hours a week, but I know I was very efficient. With the power of learning interest rate, I slowly accumulated knowledge and skills. I was able to accomplish a few projects worth of note in that time as well. In the end, I fell off the wagon because I couldn't keep up with the painful routine of 30 hours a week hyper efficiency. If I want to make 30 hours work, I have to add mindless routines as well.
> Ford astonished the world in 1914 by offering a $5 per day wage ($120 today), which more than doubled the rate of most of his workers. A Cleveland, Ohio newspaper editorialized that the announcement "shot like a blinding rocket through the dark clouds of the present industrial depression." The move proved extremely profitable; instead of constant turnover of employees, the best mechanics in Detroit flocked to Ford, bringing their human capital and expertise, raising productivity, and lowering training costs. Ford announced his $5-per-day program on January 5, 1914, raising the minimum daily pay from $2.34 to $5 for qualifying workers. It also set a new, reduced workweek, although the details vary in different accounts. Ford and Crowther in 1922 described it as six 8-hour days, giving a 48-hour week, while in 1926 they described it as five 8-hour days, giving a 40-hour week. (Apparently the program started with Saturday being a workday and sometime later it was changed to a day off.)
> Detroit was already a high-wage city, but competitors were forced to raise wages or lose their best workers. Ford's policy proved, however, that paying people more would enable Ford workers to afford the cars they were producing and be good for the economy. Ford explained the policy as profit-sharing rather than wages. It may have been Couzens who convinced Ford to adopt the $5 day.
At least according to author Matthew B. Crawford, Henry Ford did not raise wages out of the goodness of his heart, so his workers could afford to buy cars themselves.
From his original Shop Class as Soulcraft essay:
http://www.thenewatlantis.com/publications/shop-class-as-sou..."Given their likely acquaintance with such a cognitively rich world of work, it is hardly surprising that when Henry Ford introduced the assembly line in 1913, workers simply walked out. One of Ford’s biographers wrote, “So great was labor’s distaste for the new machine system that toward the close of 1913 every time the company wanted to add 100 men to its factory personnel, it was necessary to hire 963.”
This would seem to be a crucial moment in the history of political economy. Evidently, the new system provoked natural revulsion. Yet, at some point, workers became habituated to it. How did this happen? One might be tempted to inquire in a typological mode: What sort of men were these first, the 100 out of 963 who stuck it out on the new assembly line? Perhaps it was the men who felt less revulsion because they had less pride in their own powers, and were therefore more tractable. Less republican, we might say. But if there was initially such a self-selection process, it quickly gave way to something less deliberate, more systemic.
In a temporary suspension of the Taylorist logic, Ford was forced to double the daily wage of his workers to keep the line staffed. As Braverman writes, this “opened up new possibilities for the intensification of labor within the plants, where workers were now anxious to keep their jobs.” These anxious workers were more productive. Indeed, Ford himself later recognized his wage increase as “one of the finest cost-cutting moves we ever made,” as he was able to double, and then triple, the rate at which cars were assembled by simply speeding up the conveyors. By doing so he destroyed his competitors, and thereby destroyed the possibility of an alternative way of working. (It also removed the wage pressure that comes from the existence of more enjoyable jobs.) At the Columbian World Expo held in Chicago in 1893, no fewer than seven large-scale carriage builders from Cincinnati alone presented their wares. Adopting Ford’s methods, the industry would soon be reduced to the Big Three. So workers eventually became habituated to the abstraction of the assembly line. Evidently, it inspires revulsion only if one is acquainted with more satisfying modes of work."
I think every worker in America should read Crawford's superb book, btw.
This post is 2 years old. Any reason to resurrect it? My first thought reading through was that treehouse had some recent layoffs or poor results and this was a "hah, look at you now" post. Thankfully I can't find news like that anywhere.
Serious question: why does Treehouse need 45 employees? What's the division of labor? Are most of them required for content creation, or engineering, or what?
I've been thinking a lot about company size lately, and was always impressed that not long before acquisition time Instagram had a team of just six (which quickly expanded to twelve prior to acquisition).
Is such a small team size really only achievable by user generated content companies?
The content team (teachers, video, audio, motion design) is a sizable portion of the company. They focus on writing, producing, and supporting the learning content and video.
The app team (devs + designers) focus on things like the the web app, the learning tools like our code challenges, and quite a bit of other stuff.
We have support team members who are always interacting with and helping our students. Marketing, sales, and operations are doing what you would expect them to.
It's interesting to watch the scaling in person. When I started it was just Nick Pettit and myself as teachers ( and we did our own video/audio work), Ryan the CEO, and we had a contract dev and designer. Now it's ~60, not even sure of the exact number, and everyone keeps really busy.
I actually subscribed to TeamTreehouse because I wanted someone to hold my hand to introduce me to iOS. It was a good experience.
I found their (high, compared to blog posts) pricing to be a positive indicator of quality, and their videos and code seemed to match.
I've been working 4 days/week for the past 3 years, which does mean I make 20% less than I could be making, but at this point there's very little that could convince me to ever go back to 5 days/week. It's good to see little pockets where the idea is growing, because it's been tremendously positive for me.
Ryan, why did Treehouse choose fewer days over fewer hours per day as a way to reduce total hours worked? Anecdotal data says most information workers find it hard to actually get more than 6 hours of work a day, so that would suggest a 9-6 day not being optimal. Just wondering what made you choose one approach over another.
I work for Treehouse. The 4-day work week is amazing and I feel it'd be very hard to go back to 5 days a week.
What do I do on my Fridays?
If I have errands, they get run. I usually pop-in and off my computer. Sometimes I actually am working, but I'm "playing". I'm a data scientist and I love my job. I love working on my tools and I love trying new methods. So I might be improving my D3.js skills. Or learning Python (like I have been). Or teaching myself new Bayesian analysis, or survival analysis methods. So in once sense I work on Fridays, in the other hand it feels like play. And I'm not obligated, so I can get up whenever.
Also, this isn't every Friday or weekend. Many weekends are just non-tech play, like a trip to Boston.
In general, my stress level is way down. I feel focused and happy to be at work when I'm "there" (I work remotely, another Treehouse core value). I think about Treehouse, much more than 4 8-hour days a week, but it's so much more pleasurable! I'm totally thankful to work for Treehouse.
I've worked 40 hour weeks in a corporate environment (where it's often actually less than 40), 60 hour weeks in an agency, 32 hour weeks at Treehouse. I find that needing to physically commit to work five days a week is the crux—it makes very little difference how much time you're spending in the pursuit of it. I'm big into backpacking, so three full, available days makes a world of difference to me, not the amount of hours I'm expected to work.
I would think it depends on what you want to do. If you want to go for longer hikes as someone else commented it would be great. If you want to pick up your kids from school every day, maybe the reduced hours version is better.
I'd be interested to compare the benefits of a 4 day week with those of a 5 day, reduced hour week. I'm inclined to believe that the reduced hour week would give you more productive days while still making lots of time to sleep in or spend the afternoon with family.
Has anyone worked in this kind of alternative environment?
Would love to work less at our startup, but the past year has been a non-stop 60-70 hour week marathon. I just don't know how you can work less when you are worried that your company will die from not having tried hard enough.
I'm the other co-founder of Treehouse. It's something that Ryan enacted back in the Carsonified days, but it's worked amazingly well and is just something we've always done.
Company folklore has it that Gill, Ryan's wife, basically commented that it seemed like the company was running them rather than them running the company back then, so their solution was to switch to working 4 days per week.
"We work a 4-day week a̶n̶d̶ because we just raised $4.75m." I'd love to work a 0-day week on Other People's Money. Not sure I'd write an insufferably smug post bragging about it if I did.
 Just noticed that this is a two-year old blog post and the first comment on it refers to "smug HN trolling" so more fool me.
Ryan has been posting here about his 4-day work week for a while, and I'm guessing it started before raising the $4.75m. That would contradict your assessment, though I hope someone can fact check the timing for me.