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After raising $50M, Reddit forces all remote workers to relocate to SF (venturebeat.com)
163 points by malyk on Oct 1, 2014 | hide | past | favorite | 154 comments

I have no family and no car, but I do live in Chicago alone in a big apartment (for about $1000/mo) and I have a sailboat which is cheap to own in Chicago because the marinas are inexpensive. I also save a large part of my take home pay.

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.

>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.

The big apartment will be $3.5k. That's very workable -- the price is a $50k raise to get that $2.5k/mo post taxes.

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.

But you pay more taxes in California, so saving less. And forget about the cheap marina. And you're leaving your friends and family behind. So clearly, it sucks.

Plus probably needing private schools if you're not lucky enough to get into the handful of decent publics in sf.

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?

peter -- this is a long involved answer, but basically, sf has fewer kids per capita than any city in america.

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 [1], 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 [2] are 11% white. The city as a whole is 48.1% white [3].

[1] http://ww2.kqed.org/news/2013/02/06/calif-school-districts-f...

[2] http://www.sfusd.edu/en/employment/certificated-careers/teac...

[3] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/San_Francisco#Race_and_ethnicit...

Where do you have a $1,000 big apartment in Chicago? You can get a nice place sure & it's not nearly as expensive, but I'd be surprised if you're finding anything that's not a studio in most of the desirable neighborhoods for under 1k.

Maybe not near the lake, but easily possible in Logan Square/Avondale, Pilsen, Bridgeport.

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.

I lived in Bucktown area & got a steal. Logan square is still tough with the prices rising recently.

I live in what I feel is a very desirable area (West Town) and have a 2 bedroom for $1100 (it was 1000 two years ago).

Slip fees in the Bay Area are about $350/mo if you want to live on the boat, and maybe $180/mo if you only want to sail the boat.

Source: A friend who bought a boat and lives on it.

What are the costs like in Chicago, out of curiousity?

I've never seen slip fees in the Bay under $500/month, more if you want to liveboard.

Chicago marina fees are pretty steep as well, depending on the length of your boat: http://www.chicagoharbors.info/rates/

Make sure if you move to SF that parking comes with the apt, otherwise if you have a car you'll have to spend a minimum of $300 to park it off street.. SF is one of the best cities in the country (as good as NYC) for public transportation. Some neighborhoods, you absolutely do not want to have to park on the street. People lose their cars all the time that way.

As good as NYC? Maybe from any point on Market street to any other point on Market. Going North/South is a huge pain. Getting from lower pac heights to SF Caltrain (3mi) takes 40 minutes and 2 buses. You can cover 3mi in NYC in half the time to almost anywhere on the subway system alone.

Here's the Twitter conversation between DHH and Yishan Wong, as of right now:

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?

I don't think this convo is entirely fair to Yishan. While I'm not familiar with Reddit's tech stack or management policies, I can't say they have been a shining example of a remote engineering team. For a site that is simply some text and comments, they have a staggering amount of downtime and timeouts.

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).

For a site that is simply some text and comments, they have a staggering amount of downtime and timeouts.

At reddit's scale, it doesn't matter what they're serving. The challeneges of serving that many pageviews are significant.

Not to mention that reddit serves highly customized views to authenticated users.

While I understand that serving users at Reddit's scale is no small problem - from an outsiders pov, Reddit's engineering culture is very different from something like Pinterest (who also has the same problem wrt highly curated user feeds).

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.

They might have ~175M page views per month, but for comparison HN can serve ~50M page-views per month from one server.

I think you misread some stats. 175M is the number of unique visitors reddit gets per month, the page views is over 6 billion: https://www.reddit.com/about

On reddit you have a large portion of logged in users that all have their own front pages, and active subreddits, and active comment threads.

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.

HN pages are much less featureful than reddit's.

It's not fair to him at all. DHH is espousing his opinion in his typical loud-mouthed fashion without taking the time to understand the facts on the ground. He had the same style of firebrand exchange with Travis Kalanick over the Lyft recruiting stories.

what facts "on the ground"? It's an internet link-posting company. It isn't engineering hardware. It's a website. Nothing more. This issue is pretty clear. Come bankrupt yourself trying to buy a house in SF and waste hours per week commuting or get fired. Reddit is being f'ing stupid. I hope they go out of business. Unless they cut work hours to compensate for commute times AND pay 80% more AND compensate for transportation costs, then Reddit can rot for all I care. That whole "Same office" nonsense has no quantifiable data to prove it's more effective. None. If I were forced to give up nearly 2 hours per day on commuting and the related tomfoolery, then I better be getting paid for that time. I'd rather spend it with my little kids than on a train on in a car. If the work quality doesn't meet the standard then fire the managers. "Remote" isn't the issue. The issue is the idiots in charge.

Fire the managers because they disagree with my point of view! All management decisions should be based on double-blind studies! Managing one of the most highly-trafficked sites on the Internet is easy because it isn't hardware!

I never said it was 'easy' I am making the case that on-site is irrelevant for this type of business. I realize TPD reports don't write themselves, however when was the last time you had to physically touch a coworker? Hanging out and playing ping pong together is irrelevant in terms of the work at hand. Besides Github successfully manages remotely and their application is far more technically demanding than a link posting service.

Do you have data on reddit's downtime to backup your claim? https://twitter.com/redditstatus shows the last downtime was on April 9th, and that was scheduled.

That must be for major site-wide downtime — anyone who frequently uses Reddit knows that a few times per week you'll see a funny little "You broke Reddit" cartoon instead of the page you were trying to load. The problem usually resolves in a matter of seconds, a minute or two at most, so it's not a big deal, and I don't believe these micro-outages are universal (i.e., I think it only happens to a subset of people viewing certain subreddits / hitting particular servers / etc.).

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.

usually 500 errors (assuming the "You broke Reddit" is a 500) are not considered downtime. They are bugs and need to be addressed.

They are intermittent 500s, which point to performance issues.



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).

I visit reddit a lot. Besides the "You broke reddit" message mentioned by ColinCera there's a page with a blue background that says reddit is down. Pretty sure I saw it in this week if not the last 24 hours.

Remote working definitely isn't for everyone. If a company decides that they're better off under one roof because it works for them and allows them to be more productive/effective, so be it.

Then problem is that the increased effectiveness is usually a myth.

..which has nothing to do of the physical location of the workers. If there's downtime, that's because the CTO is a fucking idiot and doesn't know how to run a team or manage his stuff. Location has ZERO to do with it.

Communication within an engineering team has everything to do with it and many people consider co-location to be valuable for communication.

Why you you feel serving text is easier than serving other shapes of bits?

"Optimal teamwork" = filling your day with meetings meetings and more meetings!

Depending on other aspects of team culture, being in the same office can minimize the frequency/setup/teardown of formal meetings.

> being in the same office can minimize the frequency/setup/teardown of formal meetings.

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 wish it was only 5 minutes. It can easily take an hour to get back into "the zone" (for lack of a better term) if you're running at peak performance when they interrupt

I hate open plan offices so much..

Not all same-place cultures encourage such interruptions. At their best, same-place cultures still have taboos and barriers against distruptive cross-talk. (And the sorts of IM/chat/conferencing tools most celebrated by distributed teams can deliver just as many derailing interruptions, if team habits encourage that.)

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.

> costs you 5 minutes

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.

> being in the same office can minimize the frequency/setup/teardown of formal meetings

If it makes having meetings easier (by minimizing setup/teardown) it's more likely to cause an increase in the frequency of meetings.

Ooh, I'm snaffling that for some passive-aggressively pointed status updating tomorrow. Ta.

New thread on DHH's full comments here -> https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=8404006

Full disclosure: I am a remote worker. I love working remotely. I will (never say never but..) never work for a company that doesn't have a remote culture.

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.

At my company, we've been struggling to "make it work" with remote workers for the past few years and it's been really problematic. We've had a lot difficulty getting remote employees to maintain consistent work schedules, provide frequent updates (trello), or simply communicating regularly (hipchat). I don't think it's a lack of tools at all: I think it's hiring the wrong people or having the wrong management (My fault either way. I'm mediocre at hiring and definitely not a good manager). I guess I just assume people will approach work with the same autonomy, motivation, and drive that I do myself. Unfortunately that has not been the case.

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.

I'm sorry it didn't work. I wished you had Asked HN, I suspect a lot of us remote workers could have offered valuable input (if you did that, then I'm sorry for missing it).

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 should have clarified that the concern with a routine work schedule and availability only came about after people were consistently not meeting objectives, and dropping the ball without letting anyone know, or spending days toiling away at something without providing adequate updates so we might better manage that project and help with hurdles.

I'm definitely a subpar manager, it's a big area of weakness and it's something I'm actively working to improve upon.

Measuring the wrong indicators is the primary reason companies don't like remote work. They measure showing up, not results.

Yes. It's the 'attendance grade' nonsense drilled into us since kindergarten. It's funny how in college I could get nearly perfect scores on exams, yet would get penalized some percentage because of attendance. I don't need to be there to get the job done, but some people seem to think that there's cotton to pick in the office.

You're absolutely right in regards to tools.

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.

Completely agree that it's dependent on the people. Some handle it great - some terribly.

I agree with you completely. In terms of forcing them to relocate to the most expensive city, it's simple. The Reddit execs are f'ing morons and should be forced to work in a fried chicken restaurant as punishment. They certainly don't deserve VC money. As far as the investors, if I had the inclination, I'd call them out for being fools as well, assuming they had something to do with this. I would NEVER move to San Francisco. Besides the cost of real-estate, you also have the ridiculously communist state and local government, high taxes among other things.

A communist state and local government?

You're an idiot.

Worse for the employee, better for the company.

Companies draw the line between these conflicting goals at various places.

It's a trade off. You gain raw code output but lose a lot of the culture and serendipitous communication that leads to awesome breakthroughs. So many great things have come from random talks or drunken brainstorming.

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.

This sounds like it could work well but unless there was desk sharing, companies would end up paying for floorspace lying idle half the time.

How is it better for the company? That's my whole point. I feel like people produce better work as remote employees.

Many, many business leaders feel that real collaboration takes place in person. Google and Yahoo seem to be two prominent examples. Remote productivity may be wildly different for different roles.

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...

Places with giant piles of bad code require maintenance coders to sit with the original authors.

Linux Kernel is 100% remote workers.

And look how badly Linux turned out. ;-)

(sarcasm in case it wasn't obvious)

It is better for company, because it can control workers.

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?

That doesn't always work. Working remotely is worth far more to me than free food, massages, free flu shots, laundry, etc.

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.

You dont get it. I said its better for company. Ofc its worse for you, but why those large companies should bother? They are interested in results and royalty. No explanation from you is worth as much as having employee in-house for them.

> You dont [sic] get it. I said its [sic] better for company. Ofc its [sic] worse for you ...

Only explanation -- a broken apostrophe key.

Probably better for the investors who own SF property, that's why I assume VC are always so anxious for companies to relocate.

"Investors who own SF property?"

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.

> hardly any email at all (async chat ftw)

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?

> 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.

Sounds like poor language skills.

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?

I think people perceive email and chat differently. For example, I would find normal to ask someone "what's the status of X?" in an asynchronous chat, but it would seem borderline rude to write an email saying just that - I would wrap it up with some standard formulae ("Hi", "Please, could you update..." "cheers", etc.) Maybe it's just me but I feel that I can be much more direct in an asynchronous chat, closer to how I would be when talking directly with the other person.

That's a corporate culture issue, and to some extent a tools issue as well. If email is a lot of trouble, then by the time you get around to using it, you write a lot. If a two-sentence email takes you more than a couple of seconds to prepare and send (not counting the time needed to actually think of the two sentences), there's something horribly wrong with your workflow.

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.

> - hardly any email at all (async chat ftw)

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.

People need to understand that getting remote right is Hard. It is hard unless you get founders and managers and even employees who are pre-disposed to working that way, and know how to do it properly.

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

The amount of remote worker angst in these comments is pretty ridiculous. Yishan has seemed reasonable enough and has come to terms with the fact that some parts of Reddit's operations aren't being run how they should be.

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 from personal experience relocation is, indeed, a "shit sandwich", no matter how "generous" the relocation package.

Unless you live alone and have nothing holding you down. I would take a relo package in a heartbeat at my current company, but I'm probably in the minority with my circumstances.

specially when we are talking about moving to SF, one of the most expensive cities in the US. even 20% more salary won't cover the cost of living there.

> reasonable enough

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.

Huh? Reddit isn't forcing anyone to move to sf. Remote workers have the option to stay where they are and receive 3 months severance on top of that, which is awfully generous. If any side is losing out, it's Reddit because they're shrinking their talent pool.

It's kind of amazing what a good spin people are able to put on "move or you're fired."

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.

That's a pretty pedantic comment. Are you saying that "move to sf or gtfo" isn't forcing? Of course they're not tying people up and trucking them off to SOMA.

The way in which you were using "force" implied there was a good option and a bad option. My point was that the implied "bad option" you are implying is relatively good -- 4 months of time to decide + 3 months of severance. Obviously not having to make the choice in the first place would have been the best, but it could have been a lot worse.

Sorry, it's not the lack of remote work, it's the way that Reddit's current employees are being treated. First, given 2 weeks to up and move to SF with an effective pay cut, and only bending that when there was an uproar. It's pretty shitty behavior, and pretty clear that this was part of the VC deal. I'm pretty disgusted.

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.

There is a HUGE difference between sama and VCs saying "We didn't require it" and the reality which is almost CERTAINLY this: "We strongly preferred it."

The problem isn't geography, it's management. And the question becomes, why San Fran? Why burn through that $50mil in a week? It's an arrogance move. San Francisco isn't the center of the world. Why not relocate to a low tax state, perhaps Austin? It's just nonsense to suggest that 'remote isn't working;' it's obviously working well enough that Reddit was able to raise 50 mil.

Screw Reddit. Same crap Yahoo thought was a good idea. Taking a $120K salary remote and then moving to SF. They better be providing a $80K COA or else it's robbery. This whole "remote can't work" meme started by Ms. "I have a private, in-office babysitter Melissa What's-Her-Name at Yahoo" is just 7 kinds of stupid. I've been working remotely for almost 3 years and it works just fine. If I had to waste 2 hours a day on a commute, then that's 10 hours per week I better be compensated for. There is absolutely ZERO reason a software engineer ever needs to work on site. None. F-ck Reddit.

It's not that it can't work. It's that there's a fairly solid sense that locating together is better.

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.

How about quantifying that feeling with data? Working on site is one endless string of meetings, ping-pong, interruptions and nonsense. Not to mention the commute. For a simple website, which is really all Reddit is, there's no need to be on site. It isn't like they're building hardware. As far as PayPal goes -- that's not really a company to use as any example of the right way to do things. PayPal sucks and continues to suck.

That endless string of meetings is where the team can make sure you're building what actually needs get built. I'm sure your productivity in lines of code is higher alone in a windowless room, but if the company thinks that it still needs to disseminate and respond to unclear feedback from the market, the cycle to understand that feedback can be much shorter if everyone is in one place. That speed can be worth millions of lines of code.

So are you saying if they were building hardware, ie building something complicated and creative it would then be important to not be remote?


No hidden agenda, obviously. Just pointing out the obvious which most on this thread can't seem to see.

Startup probably not the best place for unflexible person, especially a small one like reddit with history of being bought and sold.

Any reddit workers that want to stay remote are welcome to apply to Canonical - all remote work, no VC's ever, and it's open source - http://www.canonical.com/careers

And for my thoughts on working there (written a year ago but still true):


Done and done!

Some thoughts.

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.

I believe this is related and not just a coincidence: in watching "How to Start a Startup" [1], Sam Altman specifically points out his skepticism of remote founders and remote teams. I personally am in agreement.

Jump to 28:20 to hear the question/answer. Also note that Sam is the lead investor in the B Round of Reddit.

[1] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CVfnkM44Urs&t=28m20s

This isn't a start-up though. His 'data' hardly seems applicable to a company that's already the size of Reddit.

Considering Reddit has 51 employees (Wikipedia figures, which could likely be out of date), and considering the site still goes down periodically even after being 9 plus years old, I'd definitely call Reddit a startup.

Since you got the number of employees from Wikipedia I thought I'd link to their definition of a startup[1]. Which, as it turns out, is not actually based on number of employees or amount of downtime...

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Startup_company

to state what should be obvious, this was a decision by the company not the investors (also, the company made the decision before the round.)

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.

>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?"

3 months severance is also a bit short. In the recent Microsoft layoffs I've heard of folks getting 6+ months depending on how long they've worked there. It's certainly better than nothing but I'm not sure I'd say 3 months is super generous.

3 months severance after having your job terminated for basically no controllable reason is "adequate," I'd say. Not super generous. Or even generous, by SV standards.

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!"

slightly OT but it is crazy that so many companies that almost by definition shouldn't be wasting money still insist on setting up shop in SF.

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.

I think the larger issue is that investors (specifically ones with board meetings to attend) want to invest in companies in clusters so that they don't have to travel four times a year to a city with only one portfolio company.

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.

Even weirder that these weren't even "just" remote workers, but branch offices in Salt Lake City and NYC.

3 months is definitely not super generous. Reasonable, sure, but not "super generous". Twice I've gotten 6+ months severance from layoffs, I guess those companies were super duper generous.

You don't think getting paid 3 months salary to not work is generous? I wouldn't expect anything more than two weeks.

If I didn't know better reading this I would agree. But remote working does not have to be "all in or out". Why not try to arrange something different? Why make such a drastic change? I would be very interested in knowing the % of Reddit workers who are remote workers (all the time or just sometimes).

Reddit is "early stage"?

lol i am think the same like "wtf?"

If they're not offering a pretty major cost of living adjustment to salaries (probably in the realm of doubling salaries), this is going to really suck for those who were previously remote.

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.

> If they're not offering a pretty major cost of living adjustment to salaries (probably in the realm of doubling salaries), this is going to really suck for those who were previously remote.

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?

Some salaries would give you an option for some decent backyard not so far from SF, but I'd have very hard time believing most Reddit developers would get such salaries, unless Reddit intends to significantly beat the market prices. Of course, the situation for 23 yo with no attachments and for 38 yo with a family may differ significantly. I don't know how their team looks like but unless they are all unattached youngsters with no families and no other ties to their locations, 100% retainment under this condition is a pipe dream.

"unless they are all unattached youngsters with no families and no other ties to their locations"

That's the key phrase. Many startups are just that.

Plus replacing a zero hour commuter with any commute. That's more hours away from home for the same job.

Seems like a lot of great open source software projects are run almost completely with remote teams - linux, git, apache, R, python, etc. have a lot of "remote" developers.

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?

Open source projects have better managers than reddit.

isn't reddit's software open source?


Yes, but I still wouldn't call Reddit itself an open source project. There's a difference between a project developed by a company which just leaves the code out there, maybe with the occasional outside bugfix (Android, Reddit), and open source projects where the direction is decided at least somewhat by the community (Linux, Apache, etc.)

I think with the shiny new purse of $50M reddit needs to hire an amazing PR person. Releasing this news now seems like it will kill all the good will from yesterday's announcements. Also have been a lot of weird media moments in the recent past like the CEO saying they wouldn't shut down the 'fappening' right as it was shut down. IMHO reddit is just one more big pedophilia controversy or other major legal issue away from total PR disaster.


> What is with the backlash against remote workers all the sudden?

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 think it may be that some folks (not necessarily from reddit) sometimes abused the remote thing, and it became hard to control for some managers, and so there was a cyclical shift in the culture from "remote is super-cool" to "remote is da suck!". If so, this cycle will come and pass as all fashions do.

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.

Citrix? They power many many $BIGCORP remote-work setups, why would they not allow the same thing?

because shills. People see value and opportunity in other's demise. Sad but true. Reality is , there are enough people in this thread itself that would kill for job of remote worker and joining reddit as employee.

This might just be a backdoor way to cut head count.

Just because the Reddit office in in SF, doesn't mean you have to live in SF. So all those people talking about how SF is shit and expensive and horrible for raising a family must not realize that you can find better/cheaper/bigger places to live by going a short distance out side of SF proper. I have a family and spent over 4 years working in SF and never once lived there.

I, too, would like to know the real reasons for all the pushback against remote work, currently.

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.

In my experience (and take it as just a data point), the success of a remote worker depends on the worker more than anything else. If it's a shitty place to work, even the best remote worker won't accomplish much.

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.

I gotta think that this is because reddit admins don't seem to present a united front to users or mods and they can't figure out how to fix it.

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.

The admins are a complete joke on the site and empower sub-cults of reddit to flagrantly break the rules (SRS, anyone?) on a regular basis. I doubt putting them all in the same room will fix anything, except to maybe terminate the bad ones.

They have random DB admins "running" the community however they feel at that moment and according to how much bad press they are getting.

If it were me, like game companies hiring economists, I would hire an ethicist and an ombudsman.

> 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.

SF is the most expensive city in the world (according to recent data.) Spending company money to not only relocate, but to pay salary adjustments for half the company to come live there isn't just irresponsible, it's idiotic.

Does reddit still have 51 employees?


If you are looking for remote jobs, checkout www.remoyo.com

Please stop moving your entire team to my city to satisfy your investors. You are destroying its social fabric and distorting its rental market just to relocate people who would happily live and work somewhere else.

Whose city is it, exactly? And who isn't invited?

Nobody is "not invited". The problem is that the venture capital industry actually forces people and companies to move to San Francisco as a condition of investment. And all I want is for people who do not actually want to live in San Francisco, but are there because either their job or their investors made them move, to be allowed to live wherever it is they actually want to.

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.

Reddit has never done anything to please investors and I doubt this is a start. Why is it so hard to believe that the company simply feels it is better to have the team physically together? This is not a controversial notion.

Ah so you're the mayor since it's "your city?" Or perhaps the dictator of SF?

"My city" is perfectly idiomatic English for "the city in which I live."

It's not the specific terminology that I take issue with. It's the fact that the poster asserts some rights over the territory.

This is just untrue. I can say city X is "my city" because I was born there. I can say city Y is "my city" because I grew up there. I can say city Z is "my city" because my family has roots there.

"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.

Exactly. If the investors aren't happy, then why the f'ing heck did they invest? The Reddit execs are cowards and idiots.

I don't understand why people think working remotely can be as productive as working together under one roof. Unless you are doing things that does not require a team anyway, there are times when face-to-face conversations are necessary to get things done.

I have certainly worked with people in the office who hurt my productivity.

Yeah... bit of a first world problem. If I'm reading it correctly: If somebody decides not to move they have three more months of work, followed by 3 more months of severance pay? That's half a year to get another job. Or start a company. Or whine - whatever floats your boat. No?

Yes definitely a first world problem that will throttle you and your family's existing social life, unsettle your children affecting their education, and probably lower your living standard substantially (cause living small hole in SF...). Yes it's a first world problem of the first order, alright.

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