Practically speaking even for me, to really cover a cost of living, giving like-for-like living situation, luxuries (like the boat) and maintaining my savings rate, double my current salary, or very close to that, would be the proper COL for moving to San Francisco. Ironically when most companies talk about COL it's usually on the order of 20%.
I highly doubt reddit is really offering a COL that allows people to reproduce their lifestyle like-for-like in SF. For people like me who are single and have a few luxuries and live in not a particularly cheap city you're looking at double. For a family living in a cheap city you're looking at multiple times that.
Really what Reddit is offering (assuming their COL is typical) is that the employee takes a pay cut, or they're fired. If that's not a shit sandwich I don't know what is.
Absolutely. If a mid-level engineer is making $85k living in Cleveland, OH and has a family of four owning 2,200 square foot house that he paid $125,000 for, I'd LOVE to see the COL adjustment reddit comes up with for a similar-sized house in SF that is commutable to the reddit HQ. If it's not six figures and starting with a 2, it's not even close.
What isn't workable is the price of a home for kids. If you have two kids and want a three bedroom apartment or house, plus parking for a car, in most of sf you're starting at $5k/mo+. Plus probably needing private schools if you're not lucky enough to get into the handful of decent publics in sf.
Or you can move to eg San Mateo or Belmont, which have good public schools. A nice 3-bed rental will be ~$4k/mo, but you're eating a 50 minute each-way commute up 101/280.
As a mere visitor to SF, if SF has lots of poor quality public schools, who's going to them? I keep hearing on HN and Twitter about how ridiculously expensive it is to live anywhere in SF so why aren't the schools, funded by taxes like anywhere else, good too?
This means several things: a lack of parents in the city means a lack of support for the schools.
The schools have been bad for a while so there's an ugly cycle of the sort of parents that get involved in their kids' educations either leave for the peninsula, or put their kids into private schools. So the schools get worse. So more parents leave, or put their kids into private schools.
Having kids are one of the major reasons people move to the peninsula: you trade a $800k apartment in sf for a $1.2mm house on the peninsula, but save $35-$45k/year in private school fees (assuming you have two kids). Spending the money on the house instead of school means you get your money back when you sell.
Also, prop 13 destroyed local property taxes. This is another long involved story involving the wealthy getting californians to fuck newcomers, but it basically means very weird taxation.
edit: oh, and who goes to public schools in sf? Predominantly poor minority kids. The fastest number I could find is that 62% of students in sf public schools qualify for free or reduced-price lunches , a common measure of poverty. In order to qualify your family must make less than 185% of the poverty line, or about $40k for a family with one kid. And that's in a city where 1-bedroom apartments now go for $3500/mo. The demographics of public school kids in sf  are 11% white. The city as a whole is 48.1% white .
Currently paying $1,000 for a large 2BR in a Victorian 2 flat. It's not next door to a train station, but my commute to the Loop is less than 45 minutes.
Source: A friend who bought a boat and lives on it.
What are the costs like in Chicago, out of curiousity?
Chicago marina fees are pretty steep as well, depending on the length of your boat: http://www.chicagoharbors.info/rates/
DHH: Story I heard about Reddit post-$50M investment includes everyone not in San Francisco getting 1 week to decide whether to move or GTFO. o.0
Yishan Wong: Yes, we are relocating ppl back to SF w/generous relo package & COL adjustment, +3mos severance for anyone who can’t make the move, and no, the timeline for the move is not 1 week, but through the end of the year. Decision was also independent of fundraising.
DHH: Very sad to hear. Especially for a company like Reddit that's all about bringing people together for causes regardless of location. Also, are you claiming that there never was a deadline of 1 week? That it was "through end of year" from the beginning?
Yishan: Intention is to get whole team under one roof for optimal teamwork. Our goal is to retain 100% of the team.
DHH: Hey, at least the shit sandwich comes with a smile and a thank you. Guess everything is peachy then.
Yishan: Originally we asked for decision in 2 weeks but realized almost immediately that was too short and extended the timeline to EOY.
DHH: Man, that is some cruel shit. Was that such that you could have a full headcount before the $50M check cleared?
Whatever they were doing before didn't seem to be working and maybe getting everyone in one place is the fix to that (not to say a remote team doesn' work, as GitHub gets along just fine).
At reddit's scale, it doesn't matter what they're serving. The challeneges of serving that many pageviews are significant.
Despite this though, what I really meant that whatever Reddit is doing now doesn't seem to be working. Scaling back their remote workers might be the solution - in any case we will know sometime in 2015.
On HN you basically have people that have showdead on and those that don't and a few small comment threads going on at the same time.
It really is not accurate to compare the two.
I don't think this necessarily means Reddit has crappy engineering. It could be they've just realized that 99.9999% success at serving pages is not a worthwhile goal. I mean, it's Reddit, it's not air traffic control — nobody's going to be hurt if they have to wait 90 seconds to see random crap on Reddit.
From 5 days ago and last night, respectively. alienth disowns the threads after the downtime is complete so there's no solid record I can refer to (these are just posts I happened to be around for).
Aka "You won't get shit done because person B saves five seconds by asking you and costs you 5 minutes by them asking while you try to remember what you where doing".
Been there, done that, never again.
I hate open plan offices so much..
Co-present team members can often sense when a question is most welcome – fitting them into the day's normal interstices – or learn enough via ambient observation that many questions aren't even necessary.
Yeah, if it happens once. Context-switching is cumulative. 5 minutes for the first disruption, 10 minutes for the second, 30 for the next, and you just quit working after the fourth.
If it makes having meetings easier (by minimizing setup/teardown) it's more likely to cause an increase in the frequency of meetings.
So, even with putting my bias aside, this seems like such a bad move. I am so much more productive as a remote worker than I was as a monkey sitting at a desk everyday. Not only is the quality of my work better but I'm much more efficient (I get more done in 4 hours remotely than I did in a full 8 hour day at an office). I know I'm not special, in fact I believe I'm in the majority.
Remote cultures in my opinion are the best. Mostly because:
- less meetings (hangouts is glitchy so we make the ones we do have count)
- hardly any email at all (async chat ftw)
- records records records. Remember that conversation you had about that one awesome improvement but you just can't remember what it was...oh wait it's in chat.
- minimal distractions. The only things to distract you are your cat and the internet. If someone pings you online you can leave it an answer it later, a tap on the shoulder? Not so much.
Even if you could mimic my points above at a physical office, remote working is far better for work/life balance because:
- you can earn a high wage living in a cheaper location. This is a huge benefit of working remotely.
- you can stay around your family (since you'll be home more often)
- you don't have to commute (of course some use co-working spaces but it's the freedom to choose that matters)
Why would Reddit force their remote workers to relocate to the most expensive city in the US? That seems like a huge disadvantage to their employees. A relocation package is nothing compared to being able to afford a house, or spend time with your family.
This is just sad.
Either way, we've decided to scrap the idea of remote workers and are opening an office + hiring local next month to see how that goes. We're in Portland though, not SF, so it's not a ridiculously expensive decision like Reddit is making.
At the top of the list, I'd say you were measuring the wrong benchmarks. Consistent work schedules shouldn't be a goal with remote workers: attaining specific, measurable objectives should be.
On the other hand, lack of communication is a problem, as long as you weren't wanting updates 3-4 times a day (once a day at most should be entirely sufficient -- wanting more frequent updates points to trust issues). I'm guessing you either hired people with no remote experience, or you hired lazy people (or both!). However, to be fair to your workers, I should also point out that sufficiently poor management and co-workers can frighten off even the best, most motivated remote workers (and I have no way to tell if your claims of not being a good manager are just false modesty).
For anyone reading who's struggling with remote workers, your top hiring consideration -- right alongside their job expertise -- should be demonstrable experience as a successful remote worker. The more the better. Remote work takes a certain kind of person, and even highly talented people who are primarily motivated by external feedback will struggle at remote work.
I'm definitely a subpar manager, it's a big area of weakness and it's something I'm actively working to improve upon.
Just as knowing photoshop doesn't make you a solid designer using Slack and Google hangouts doesn't make you a solid remote company.
Remote working is 100% people and culture. If you are having a hard time finding responsible, communicative employees remotely I highly suspect you'll have the same issues hiring locally.
Communication is not only important for remote teams.
You're an idiot.
Companies draw the line between these conflicting goals at various places.
As an employee, I always tried to work from home 2-3 days and then work from the office 2-3. Was a great happy medium.
MIT tech review just published a piece about Eric Schmidt's view on remote work and leadership: http://www.technologyreview.com/news/531056/google-execs-hav...
Linux Kernel is 100% remote workers.
(sarcasm in case it wasn't obvious)
There is a reason companies give all those perks to employees - their (employees) loyalty grows. Employees get addicted to all the great stuff large corpo have to offer.
Its like small startups getting office dog. People get emotionally connected to it so they wont leave the company... Cheap trick but it works. Free snack bar, transport and gym anyone?
I worked remotely for a small company that was acquired by Google & I had to relocate with my family to the SF Bay area against my will, similar to the Reddit folks. I had 10x the loyalty to the small company that I will ever have to Google, mostly because of the forced relocation. I can't wait for the retention bonuses to run out & to move back home.
Only explanation -- a broken apostrophe key.
I would be hard-pressed to name a venture investor that also finds themselves in the real estate business to such an extent that they want their investments to relocate? Investors do not own SF property for their companies and even the traditional ones on Sand Hill Road are leasing (expensive) office space like the rest of us.
It is possible that the investment and the board had influence on the decision but that could be for reasons independent of real estate ownership.
While I can see the use for chat (with centralized logging, be that IRC, XMPP or whatever) -- hardly any email sounds odd to me. Anything wrong with internal mailing lists? It's what people have been using for remote working since forever (eg: Linux kernel, Debian project etc etc).
How is asynchronous chat any better than asynchronous email?
People tend to be less verbose in chat. Not using three paragraphs to communicate what only needs two lines saves time for both/all parties.
If you've written three paragraphs, for something that needs two sentences, chances are you should spend another 5-10 minutes re-writing your email and say what you need to say, not just send a stream-of-conciousness document to burden your colleagues.
Still odd that someone that manage to be concise and to the point in asynchronous chat, should be verbose in email?
So, chat can potentially fix that by forcing people to use a different tool to which their preconceptions don't apply, but in the absence of those preconceptions, you can use email as a terse communication medium.
Thats not the case everywhere. In my previous remote only job there was a reply all deal and usually a lot of people were on the email.
I'm only good at it, because I was a freelancer for 6+8 years. So I effectively had to learn how to work from home and coffeeshops without wasting all day on reddit etc, or else I couldnt feed myself.
Lots of people come from a butts-in-seats background and when thrown into a remote situation, are just not as productive, just as there are people who are.
So while I don't agree with the decision (I'm a remote work fan myself). I totally understand what they're doing here.
The truth is that this is just a shitty way of someone high up enough in the company saying "Remote isn't working for me" and "lets go to the default" which is butts-in-seats. Its a hard reset, a way to re-build the team culture around a non-remote way of working.
Weirdly enough, lots of people thrive in that environment.
What I would encourage everyone to do though, is to keep seeking remote employment and starting companies that run on a remote os ... so that in 5-10 years from now. Things like this will be absolutely ridiculous to everybody
Saying 'fuck reddit' for a reasonable business maneuver is pretty out of line. Reddit had remote people other than just developers, managing those relationships remotely may have been part of the issue.
Sorry but _how in the fuck_ is forcing your employees and their families to relocate to the most expensive city in the US reasonable enough?
> a reasonable business maneuver is pretty out of line
How? They haven't said a word in regards to how this move is going to improve their business.
Yeah, three months' severance is pretty nice, but it's still ultimately "move or you're fired." These people probably thought they had job security yesterday, and today they have to find a new job.
It's basically a big round of layoffs. Sometimes that's necessary, but angst is standard and expected when it happens.
EDIT: I see below that sama says he didn't require it, and I believe him. My apologies to sama for jumping to conclusions. At the same time, I still think it's a shitty move by yishan, particularly the 2-week thing.
I worked with Yishan at paypal and remembr even spitting floors made things noticeably worse.
And don't forget that companies are made up of more than just engineers.
Startup probably not the best place for unflexible person, especially a small one like reddit with history of being bought and sold.
First, I work with various companies, many of which have remote work options. These options range from a couple days/week remote, to 100% remote. What I'm hearing from employees at the companies which have remote work implemented is they don't want to work for a company which doesn't offer remote work at the same level or better as their current employer. And the more time spent working away from the office, the more adamant the employees are about this.
And these employees aren't only technologists either. I'm hearing the same thing from accounting, marketing, etc department employees who get a taste of remote work, and really don't want to go back to butts-in-seats. And their reasons are similar to the tech side--productivity goes up, no commute, fewer meetings and annoying co-workers.
Second, there are very few technical reasons (I won't say none) that a company can't enable remote workers and save a ton on real estate costs. Skype, Google Hangouts, Facetime and even WebRTC (even in it's current state), show that individual/team-based video collaboration is possible over commonly available 20-50 Mb/s connections. VoIP enables an employee's "desk phone" to follow them anywhere (I was doing this with a headset/laptop/VPN in 2001). Chat is heavily used, even in the "business side" (accounting, etc) for traceability.
The main technical problem is still reliable bandwidth. Even though 20-50 Mb/s suffices, 100 Mb/s or even 1 Gb/s active fiber would be better, to achieve corporate LAN-like speeds at home. Around this region, FTTP-enabled homes are selling like hotcakes.
Finally, with the advent of "The Cloud" or just plain old-fashioned datacenter hosting, there's really no difference between working in a cube or working from home. Everything's already remote. In this sense, many corporate employees--with systems and co-workers located in another building/city/country--have a huge head start on this compared to start-up employees.
Jump to 28:20 to hear the question/answer. Also note that Sam is the lead investor in the B Round of Reddit.
i'm skeptical of remote work for early-stage startups. i'm not religious about it for larger companies; i think it works for some and doesn't work for others. if it works, great. if it doesn't, that's fine too.
the only thing i felt really strongly about (when yishan explained the challenges they were facing and asked for my advice as a friend and not an investor) was that reddit needed to be super generous to people that were unwilling or unable to move, and i think they have been.
Did he ask you this advice and THEN come to the conclusion that TWO WEEKS was good enough before getting a ton of blowback for it? How is that "super generous?"
DHH hit it right on the head: "SV companies are hemmoraging money! Stop spending it! BTW relocate everyone back to the most likely city to contain a bubble!"
If the SV culture bubble is to be believed, all these people are working on their startups 100 hours a week anyways, so why not do it in a place where you're not relegated to eating cereal all day to make rent.
It's crazy that we're actually talking about reddit having a problem with remote workers when even state and federal government agencies are open to it.
Having everyone under one roof has its advantages, but having that roof in SF comes with an overwhelming number of disadvantages, both for the company and its workers.
Literally no salary adjustment will make it better for many people. Your spouse has a geo-tied job? Your kids love their school (or, hell you just don't want to raise kids there full stop)? Oh, and what salary adjustment will make up for it if you live in the kind of place you can afford a half-acre back yard?
That's the key phrase. Many startups are just that.
Why do so many companies discourage remote teams? Hard to ignore the fact that you can get access to a much larger pool of developers and often for lower cost. Is there something fundamentally different about software development for a company vs opens source. Are the open source projects managed better/differently in some way to make these remote worker projects succeed?
I don't know, but it doesn't juxtapose very will with the many SV companies insisting high-quality education can be delivered remotely while the trend seems to be demanding all the workers in one building...
I know that sometimes working remote is great (been on both sides - working remote and having to coordinate with remote team) and sometimes it's challenging, especially if timezones are involved. A lot depends on the team and how well people communicate and record things. With education it's less challenging since in most scenarios the lectures are non-interactive anyway, the exercises have to be done individually or in very small groups, and the tutorship can be done online too as it does not require the same amount of communication as full-scale symmetrical collaboration.
In my experience, the best coworkers I've had have been full-time remote or those who craved their days working from home because they were so much more effective and so less stressed by "noise", both literal and figurative, at the office.
Those who "excelled" onsite and especially who further "embraced" open space? Most of them we were endlessly correcting and making up for. No depth. No insight.
There ARE circumstances where I've felt and experienced the synergy of working together, in meatspace. Those were, in turn, meatspace type activities. Not software and systems development.
I like Reddit as a property I use, although at the same time I can't help harboring a bit of resentment at it and Google-ified Dejanews for marginalizing newsgroups.
But if they're going to go all Management on me -- on us -- well, I won't cry if and when things turn on a dime... If they still can, in our increasingly colonized Internet.
I have seen remote workers slacking off; and I have seen remote workers who were so good that I couldn't believe they weren't in the next building over.
I'll take a guess and say that if Reddit is doing this, then it felt that the remote workers weren't as productive as they could be; hence the desire to pull them in and keep a closer eye on them.
It seems like there is serious dissension among admins regarding fundamental ethical issues and how to handle things like celeb nude leaks and they think getting everyone in a room together will help.
If it were me, like game companies hiring economists, I would hire an ethicist and an ombudsman.
My smallish company even has an ombudsman on retainer, and we deal in physical goods. It exists for customer-company disputes and internal affairs issues. We've never used it, but it's totally ridiculous not to call up the local premier law firm and just get one on retainer. Very common service.
The software industry could be leading the way toward location independent businesses and bringing economic life to places that have been screwed out of their economic vitality by globalization. Instead, it is forcing businesses, many of which would gladly locate themselves elsewhere, to pack all of their employees into a 7x7 grid that does not contain enough housing both for them and the people who already lived there.
I work for an organization that provides services and advocacy for homeless people in San Francisco and I see the effects of this stupidity up close every day. It.needs to stop. We don't need to kick anybody out of the city, we simply need to just let people live where they want.
"My city" in no way implies only that you currently live in a city; it implies a connection to, and in this case entitlement to and right to live in, a city. This right does not belong just to the people living there now.
So, the implication that he must "own" a city to call it "my city" and restrict who can come and go is also idiomatically correct.
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