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I've written about it at length already and don't choose to relive it in detail, but I worked for an extremely unethical startup.

In 3 months, I saw... bait-and-switch hiring all over the place, multiple people hired into the same management role, and (after I left) a CEO who spent months trying to destroy my reputation.

At 3 months, I was brought into a room with HR and the CTO. Upper management wanted to get rid of early hires with "too much" equity and wanted to pull my technical credibility to justify their firing, but the documents I was asked to sign constituted perjury (blaming people for nonexistent technical shortfalls, claiming that I directly managed people I didn't even know, etc.) Some of the claims would have required revising my past and saying I'd consulted (a consulting VP/Eng, I can't make this shit up) with the company before the start date (in order to make the rest of the story check out). They fired me for refusing to do it. When I pointed out that I had grounds for a lawsuit, the CEO threatened to pull family connections and bribe judges.

I'm sorry, but I don't do "We're giving you 10 reports, and your job is to fuck over all of them over the next two months." I may or may not be a leader (that's not for me to decide) but I am surely not a henchman.

This is one of the VC darlings and although it was almost a down round (barely above flat) and dilution was heavy, they raised again in late 2013 (almost 2 years after that happened). Granted, this last VC round is essentially a severance, giving the company a couple years to run on fumes while its executives find better things to do with their lives. But I didn't get a severance, so why should they?

Now, I think companies that are that shitty are pretty rare, even in the VC-funded world. That might be bottom 1% overall and bottom-10% in the VC-funded world. Even most startups and ex-startups (e.g. Google) aren't nearly as bad, but there is a certain crappiness to the tech world in terms of how regular people are treated. Companies care a lot about image (being sexy, "cool", VC darlings, whatever) but not about long-standing reputation-- at least, on the latter, not enough to seriously value doing the right thing.

The old Silicon Valley was a pay-it-forward economy. Even when you separated, you were good to other people. If you had to cut people in your startup, you introduced them to investors. People helped each other out. You didn't fuck over a talented engineer, because you might want to work with him 5 or 10 years later. That's gone now.

I do have to offer this disclaimer, though. I never worked on the West Coast. Maybe it's different out there, but the things I've heard convince me that it's not that different, and I've definitely met dodgy characters in California.

Day to day, what angers me is the general lack of respect for engineers in the "new" Silicon Valley. I'm talking about the startups offering pathetic equity slices, and about the companies that are actually very business-driven posing as "tech companies". Engineering and research talents aren't really valued, despise the mouth-honor paid to them.




"I do have to offer this disclaimer, though. I never worked on the West Coast."

LOL okay I guess that explains it. I've been in the Bay Area since the dot-com times, and the type of behavior you describe is something I've never seen, not even once. I've worked for some real assholes, and I don't deny that this probably happens here, but not often for it to be a discernible trend.

Yes, you had a bad experience, but no it's not all like that, at all. I work for a YC startup, something I never thought I would do, and the cofounders are genuine, smart and people I'm ready to put my career and financial future behind even though I'm roughly 15 years older.




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