I couldn't help but feel an extreme level of utter disgust at this. Somehow portraying that its heroic to work for a start up for the last 12 months of your life.
Really? Utterly fucking ridiculous.
A lot of the themes in this lecture related to motivation and employee qualities are what I'd lump in the category of "dog whistles." They're meant to send a certain signal to people. If that's not what they are, then somebody has done a thoroughly unimpressive job of communicating various ideas.
OK. Imagine I come to you with this offer: "Hey, relecler, I am starting this company that does X. Would you like to be its first employee? You'll be expected to work 100 hours a week for a salary below market rate, but you will have some equities. If we get big you will become millionaire, but you will lose your job if we run out of money." Would you take it?
Don't forget that for one airbnb that succeeds, you have hundreds startups that fail and whose employee have worked a lot for nothing.
A lot of the themes in this lecture related to motivation
and employee qualities are what I'd lump in the category
of "dog whistles."
I am sure some, perhaps even Sam himself, don't view it that way; that they really, honestly believe the rhetoric they're using is not negative or indicative of an exploitative relationship. That's just how dog whistles work, though: in some cases the audience and messenger are merely casual, unwitting participants in a larger, cultural narrative, but in others one or more parties "knows what they mean."
So the words about employees having to be passionate and believe in the mission are basically dog whistles indicating "it's culturally acceptable to target would-be employees who are easily exploited." These would-be employees don't have to think they're being exploited, by the way, in order for an exploitative relationship to exist.
At least that's how I read it.
It might be possible to calculate the pay per hour of extra work for employees in startups. But some of the parameters would be hard to get data on.
How many more hours of work per week?
For how many years?
For how much less pay?
With how much chance of a big win?
And the big win gets you how much?
However, its one type of entrepreneurship they teach in SV. Pity lectures don't discuss the fun part. Because no matter how difficult it is, and not only in SV, there is a lot of fun & happiness.
But I love to heard the actual pitch from the founder(s) with 1-10 employees with maybe limited tractions that can really successfully convince a potential employee to say 'yes' to that.
Maybe Steve Jobs..... But he is too famous now, can he do it if he is an unknown and just one of the thousands of founders in Silicon Valley?
IMHO the advice about not hiring before you have traction is far, far more important than the advice about what sort of person you want to hire. The former is strategy; the latter is tactics. You can swap out the latter based on what your needs are and what sort of company you want to build, but the former seems to be universal.
What's more painful than death is not getting a chance to discharge at least some of your ideas. Ignoring your dreams is the number one regret of the dying. Death is not the worst thing that can happen to a man.
No. He set out looking for people who were crazy in a way he liked, and he hired them. If there's anything ridiculous about that it's the behavior of those first hires, not of the CEO.
What am I missing here? If people like that exist, what's wrong with looking for them?
You want dedicated employees. Not lunatics. And you certainly shouldn't do things that encourage people to be lunatics.
Would you demand that your employees egregiously break the law for your company? Now THAT is dedication, right? No, you wouldn't (god I hope not), because that's not ethical.
Because it could be a young kid and brainwashing techniques like that could be dangerous. The question implies that the right choice is "Yes, I would like to work for this God blessed startup for the last 12 months of my life because working here is not a job, it's a mission".
The point is that if you don't believe in your core that the startup's mission is worth spending the last year of your life on, you're not the kind of person who'll do what's necessary to make it happen.
Maybe you can't think of a cause you'd make that sacrifice for, but many founders and startup employees can. I don't think that's disgusting.
it's airbnb, you're not curing cancer!
Air B and B is about changing the global economy. Tearing down the walls that keep everybody from getting what they deserve in in life.
This application is like our first steps on the moon. It will launch the very future of human commerce...etc...etc
Your point now is that employees should be rewarded more. That's a fair point . But it's still separate to being dedicated to what you do.
There are several occupations people enter knowing there is little monetary reward. Schoolteachers don't make much but they are dedicated to building children's lives and can't imagine themselves doing anything else. So are artists and generally anyone who has found their calling.
If I had a only a year to live I probably would still be working on the things I'm working on now.
 - It's a fair hypothesis that the most valuable company would be the one where everyone involved is rewarded in proportion to the value they generate. You can't build some kinds of companies if you keep 100% of the equity as a founder btw. Look at Alibaba's $210b IPO and Alibaba's founder who has only 8.4%.