On work and family and having a “real life”

Damn, lots of comments are coming in. Most calling me a butthead.

Interesting that on FastCompany.tv we’ll have an interview up in about a week with Jason Calacanis. Why a week? Because I’m not going to force Rocky, my producer/editor, to stay in his hotel room and do work just to get a few more hits today.

So, let’s take them on.

Brian Sullivan says: “This is all fine as long as the “owner” is plugging in the trenches as well and making similar time, committment and comfort sacrifices.”

Calacanis doesn’t disagree. He says he will always work harder than anyone on his team.

Christopher Coulter says: “Jason is a slave driver, breaking OHSA and common sense rules, treating employees as prisoners, whilst adopting Marxist economic outlooks, filing that under hard work is going seriously mental. He’s a lawsuit in the making.”

Funny how Christopher makes shit up about people. The night I was there they bought sushi for everyone. Everyone has huge monitors (most people there had three expensive monitors on their desks). Everyone had a $700 chair. Everyone I’ve talked to who work at Mahalo really loves working there. The two “smokers” notwithstanding.

Coulter continues: “There’s people that work very hard, and there’s slave labor, having a family is not the definition of slackerdom (in fact those with families tend to be the MOST loyal, as the singles are out to court companies and move up at whims).”

Right, many of those at Mahalo (and both employees at FastCompany.tv) have families. You’re missing the point. You CAN have a family and be a productive worker, a team player, and a nice guy.

Coulter continues: “And furthermorehence, some people are more efficient with their time, slackers can grant the appearance of hard work, but it’s the product output that matters.”

This is true. Many people think I’m a slacker, going to conferences all the time and hanging out with Calacanis in fun venues (driving a Tesla, etc). You’re right. Judge people on the output they generate. I guarantee you that if those two smokers had been the most productive that Calacanis probably would have moved the lunch crew outside to join them. Calacanis measures everything about his team’s productivity (that’s why he buys all his workers multiple large monitors, he knows those make his workers more productive).

Coulter continues: “Luck actually has more to do with success than hard work, right time, right place, right product, meeting the right demand.”

I’ve found that the lucky generally are also the ones who work to make that luck. Luck matters most at the meta level anyway. Mahalo does need a little luck to make it big. But that luck will probably be generated by whether they have the best search results. THAT depends on having productive and happy employees who work together as a team.

Coulter continues: “And yah know (just for a sense of history, as I have a good memory), you were on the OTHER SIDE of this argument, when it was Electronic Arts ruining families, and all the bad press that got. You were VERY pro-family then.”

Is Electronic Arts a startup? No. The reason I was mad about Electronic Arts is because it was a systemic abuse of workers due to poor management techniques. That’s VERY DIFFERENT from Jason’s points, despite what Coulter is saying. Jason’s workers are working hard because they have the opportunity to see a huge reward. No one at Electronic Arts is going to see the potential rewards that Mahalo’s employees will see. I know a few startup employees who work for no money. Why would they do that? Because of the potential upside.

Thunk writes: “You, Robert, have described your home-life as fulfilling, so I imagine that you are no workaholic, because otherwise you would hardly ever see your family.”

Keep in mind, that I don’t think what I do is work. Work is putting a roof on a Dallas building in the middle of summer. What I do is NOT work of that kind. And I’m extremely fortunate for that. My son, Milan, is six months old and he’s been to Europe twice already. I include my family in my work. Patrick, my 14-year-old, has been to many of my work functions and gotten dragged to many boring geeky events. I think that’s good for both of us. And I haven’t always been there for him, and right now I’m at SXSW and doing other interviews, which is keeping me away from my family for almost two weeks.

But, again, we’re talking about startups. Startups need people who will pour themselves into the work and, at least, be part of the team. If you want a 9-to-5 job, go work for a bigger company. I’ve done both and startups require more committment than other kinds of companies do.

Dom writes: “Should people be fired if they have a bladder problem and need to go to the restroom every 2 hours to relieve themselves?”

That doesn’t require much time and isn’t a flaunting of teamwork, which is what was going on with the smokers. Also, to tie a bodily function to something optional, like smoking, is ridiculous. I expect my readers to make smart arguments, if you want to make arguments like these please go back to Digg.

Solo writes: “I’ve been at companies that demanded long hours and it’s funny how quickly the marginal return of those additional hours approaches zero.”

Jason doesn’t demand long hours. Most of his workers get in at 11 a.m. He actually is quite liberal with work hours.

AC writes: “First of all people who work 40hrs/week are not slackers. They’re good workers (assuming they really do work during that time).”

That’s true, but startups don’t need “good” workers. They need “great” workers.

Anatoly says: “Robert, get a clue. You measure people by the work they produce, not by the number of hours they put in.”

Good point. But if you can do more great stuff in two hours than I can in eight, please give me a call, I’m hiring.

Duncan Riley, of TechCrunch writes: “I never once defended slackers and that you’d suggest that I did speaks volumes for you and your low opinion of human beings. “

No, you took Jason’s words out of context and put a sensational headline on them. The two people he fired were slackers, were not producing what the rest of the team’s members were, and weren’t team players to boot. Maybe you should go and interview Calacanis and find out what he meant before using it to push your own agenda. One, which, I find your own employer doesn’t agree with.

Anyway, I am at SXSW and gotta run to the Google Party. Just a little “work/life” balance thing I gotta do. More later. :-)

86 thoughts on “On work and family and having a “real life”

  1. My colleague and I are conducting a research study on how people manage work
    and family roles. If you or anyone you know is employed and faced with
    managing multiple roles, would you please consider taking or sharing this
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    time telecommuting (i.e., working from home), but the survey is open to
    non-telecommuters as well. Basically if you are employed you are eligible to
    participate.

    If desired, participants will have an opportunity to be entered into a
    drawing for a $50.00 Amazon.com gift card. You can read more about the
    survey by accessing the following link (note: if clicking on the link does
    not work, copy and paste it into your browser.)

    http://tinyurl.com/workandfamily

    We really appreciate your time either participating in the survey or sharing
    the survey with others. Thanks so much.

    Happy New Year!

  2. My colleague and I are conducting a research study on how people manage work
    and family roles. If you or anyone you know is employed and faced with
    managing multiple roles, would you please consider taking or sharing this
    survey? We are especially interested in those individuals that spend some
    time telecommuting (i.e., working from home), but the survey is open to
    non-telecommuters as well. Basically if you are employed you are eligible to
    participate.

    If desired, participants will have an opportunity to be entered into a
    drawing for a $50.00 Amazon.com gift card. You can read more about the
    survey by accessing the following link (note: if clicking on the link does
    not work, copy and paste it into your browser.)

    http://tinyurl.com/workandfamily

    We really appreciate your time either participating in the survey or sharing
    the survey with others. Thanks so much.

    Happy New Year!

  3. I have never worked for a startup.

    I have, however, worked on many large software projects with demanding requirements and punishing (A.K.A “aggressive”) deadlines. It has been my experience that you never give development estimates, as much as you commit to delivering by a certain date.

    Where I’m baffled is why “startups are different”. Because they have limited resources? Most of corporate america is staffed by one person doing three people’s jobs. Because they have grandiose goals? Grandiose goals come with the territory – users don’t map concepts to source code, it’s not how they think. They tell you “I’d like a VERY simple app, REALLY easy – one screen with one big button. When you click the button it brings peace to the Middle East. You can have that in three months, right?”

    Show me the biggest, fattest corporation, and I’ll show you the person who’s job it is to keep the assembly line running. I’ll show you the guy who has to maintain 99.5% uptime, or contracts get cancelled. Do you think those folks work 9 to 5? Really?

    For nearly a year, at one particular company, I never took showers – only baths. When the shower was running I couldn’t tell if my cell had rung, and I couldn’t afford to miss the calls. This was a Fortune 500 company, not a startup. The example of Electronic Arts has been given, I won’t rehash it.

    No, I think startups are different solely in this – they can extract extraordinary effort by promising you the moon. Being an editor for Mahalo is, at best, moderately skilled labor (no offense). A big company would offer you 40k,and would expect reasonable effort in return. A startup can wave millions under your nose, bleed you dry, THEN hand you over to the company who will pay you 40k.

    The whole “employees as warriors” bit is just especially effective motivational speaking. Amway beat Jason to THAT punch long ago.

  4. I have never worked for a startup.

    I have, however, worked on many large software projects with demanding requirements and punishing (A.K.A “aggressive”) deadlines. It has been my experience that you never give development estimates, as much as you commit to delivering by a certain date.

    Where I’m baffled is why “startups are different”. Because they have limited resources? Most of corporate america is staffed by one person doing three people’s jobs. Because they have grandiose goals? Grandiose goals come with the territory – users don’t map concepts to source code, it’s not how they think. They tell you “I’d like a VERY simple app, REALLY easy – one screen with one big button. When you click the button it brings peace to the Middle East. You can have that in three months, right?”

    Show me the biggest, fattest corporation, and I’ll show you the person who’s job it is to keep the assembly line running. I’ll show you the guy who has to maintain 99.5% uptime, or contracts get cancelled. Do you think those folks work 9 to 5? Really?

    For nearly a year, at one particular company, I never took showers – only baths. When the shower was running I couldn’t tell if my cell had rung, and I couldn’t afford to miss the calls. This was a Fortune 500 company, not a startup. The example of Electronic Arts has been given, I won’t rehash it.

    No, I think startups are different solely in this – they can extract extraordinary effort by promising you the moon. Being an editor for Mahalo is, at best, moderately skilled labor (no offense). A big company would offer you 40k,and would expect reasonable effort in return. A startup can wave millions under your nose, bleed you dry, THEN hand you over to the company who will pay you 40k.

    The whole “employees as warriors” bit is just especially effective motivational speaking. Amway beat Jason to THAT punch long ago.

  5. […] Big or tiny company, those concepts are not heritage of productivity, business, leadership by the Ultra Cool Business Bible […]

  6. […] Big or tiny company, those concepts are not heritage of productivity, business, leadership by the Ultra Cool Business Bible […]

  7. I think what makes a startup successful a really great idea, rather than making people work as many hours as humanly possible without breaks.

  8. I think what makes a startup successful a really great idea, rather than making people work as many hours as humanly possible without breaks.

  9. I believe you mean FLOUT not flaunting teamwork.

    A lot of us have experience in both worlds, with degrees of success and/ or failure. Though your words are written as though you are an expert on the arena, I will take a more 37 signals route and say it has to be in the middle. Too many hours – you are not getting decent returns, diminishing returns or you have no life. No life equals less perspective which equals less quality when it comes to creating. If you want to stamp out something mindlessly, then no life is needed, if you want to create something like software well – then you need both a life and a passion for the craft – not hours.

    Certainly more than 8 hours a day is reasonable in stretches and there needs to be a minimum, but many people think away from the office and come in and blow through the work. Does that count in your world? If I leave the office to get a different view, then do I count the 3 hours I pondered? Those are hours that count.

  10. I believe you mean FLOUT not flaunting teamwork.

    A lot of us have experience in both worlds, with degrees of success and/ or failure. Though your words are written as though you are an expert on the arena, I will take a more 37 signals route and say it has to be in the middle. Too many hours – you are not getting decent returns, diminishing returns or you have no life. No life equals less perspective which equals less quality when it comes to creating. If you want to stamp out something mindlessly, then no life is needed, if you want to create something like software well – then you need both a life and a passion for the craft – not hours.

    Certainly more than 8 hours a day is reasonable in stretches and there needs to be a minimum, but many people think away from the office and come in and blow through the work. Does that count in your world? If I leave the office to get a different view, then do I count the 3 hours I pondered? Those are hours that count.

  11. When is the last time you put in 18 hr days for a $35k per year job, Robert?

    I have a sneaky suspicion that FastCompany is paying you a little more than that, and asking for a lot less of your time too…

  12. When is the last time you put in 18 hr days for a $35k per year job, Robert?

    I have a sneaky suspicion that FastCompany is paying you a little more than that, and asking for a lot less of your time too…

  13. “…I have a hard time believing that anybody will ever want to purchase Mahalo, because the labor costs to keep it going are going to be astronomical once the page creators will no longer work startup hours at startup wages.”

    This is my problem with this “start-up rules are different” idea as well – it’s not sustainable. Sure, a start-up might want to avoid niggling problems like sustainability and proper pay for long hours, but the Big Companies looking to acquire it are definitely going to look at those problems. I’m all for being frugal, but in any company, people (and their well-being) are the most important thing you can invest in.

  14. “…I have a hard time believing that anybody will ever want to purchase Mahalo, because the labor costs to keep it going are going to be astronomical once the page creators will no longer work startup hours at startup wages.”

    This is my problem with this “start-up rules are different” idea as well – it’s not sustainable. Sure, a start-up might want to avoid niggling problems like sustainability and proper pay for long hours, but the Big Companies looking to acquire it are definitely going to look at those problems. I’m all for being frugal, but in any company, people (and their well-being) are the most important thing you can invest in.

  15. I’m sorry, did I read this right? He fired guys for having the audacity to spend their lunch break away from their desk? Are you seriously defending this?

    Startup or not, this is wrong on so many levels and to insinuate that people who take a break (when they should) are slackers is absurd.

    I agree with the above comments about your whole point being s spirited defence of an asshole employer.

  16. I’m sorry, did I read this right? He fired guys for having the audacity to spend their lunch break away from their desk? Are you seriously defending this?

    Startup or not, this is wrong on so many levels and to insinuate that people who take a break (when they should) are slackers is absurd.

    I agree with the above comments about your whole point being s spirited defence of an asshole employer.

  17. The night I was there they bought sushi for everyone.

    I’m still trying to reconcile this observation with the rest of Mr. Burns’ penny-pinching tips. Instead of letting your employees go home, relieve their bladders and microwave a $3 Lean Cuisine, you chain them to their cheap tables and throw $500 worth of sushi at them? Or did Jason leave off the tip that described how to make “sushi” using two cans of tuna fish and a bag of Minute Rice? News flash: putting a toothpick through a chunk of solid white albacore doesn’t really count as sushi.

    It’s a cute mental image, though: Massa Calacanis throwing pieces of raw fish at his employees. Like Sea World, but with code monkeys instead of trained seals!

  18. The night I was there they bought sushi for everyone.

    I’m still trying to reconcile this observation with the rest of Mr. Burns’ penny-pinching tips. Instead of letting your employees go home, relieve their bladders and microwave a $3 Lean Cuisine, you chain them to their cheap tables and throw $500 worth of sushi at them? Or did Jason leave off the tip that described how to make “sushi” using two cans of tuna fish and a bag of Minute Rice? News flash: putting a toothpick through a chunk of solid white albacore doesn’t really count as sushi.

    It’s a cute mental image, though: Massa Calacanis throwing pieces of raw fish at his employees. Like Sea World, but with code monkeys instead of trained seals!

  19. @17. That may very well be. However, the only evidence I have of Jason’s “working harder than everyone in his company” is Scoble’s saying he left at the ungodly hour of 7:00 pm “in the evening” (as opposed to the 7 pm in the morning, I guess). It may very well be that Jason works all hours of the night, puts the rest of us in danger by reading and responding to email while driving around in his Corvette, and spends every waking hour thinking big thoughts. But, we don’t know that. All we have is Scoble describing what he saw. So that’s what I commented on.

    I also have evidence from hearing Jason at conferences that he is a pompous gasbag. But that’s a different topic.

  20. @17. That may very well be. However, the only evidence I have of Jason’s “working harder than everyone in his company” is Scoble’s saying he left at the ungodly hour of 7:00 pm “in the evening” (as opposed to the 7 pm in the morning, I guess). It may very well be that Jason works all hours of the night, puts the rest of us in danger by reading and responding to email while driving around in his Corvette, and spends every waking hour thinking big thoughts. But, we don’t know that. All we have is Scoble describing what he saw. So that’s what I commented on.

    I also have evidence from hearing Jason at conferences that he is a pompous gasbag. But that’s a different topic.

  21. No one at Electronic Arts is going to see the potential rewards that Mahalo’s employees will see.

    Mahalo’s employees won’t see a gold chest at that rainbow’s end either, start-ups cheat employees far more than big companies, forever loop-chasing big dreams that never happen, there are landfills of worthless “stock options”. A few break through, most don’t.

    But as a “start-up” they have the right to abuse, if the reward is big enough? But big companies get not that right? Your core logic is always trapped in some weird alternative universe, of which is your strategy, defend the indefensible, friends will brush it off (Scoble being Scoble), but the rogues gallery will become your best buddies. Win, win. Works to a certain extent, problem is, the great productive middle will see you as nothing more than a shrill tool.

    The night I was there they bought sushi for everyone. Everyone has huge monitors

    I am sure he loves his Mom, goes to church, brushes his teeth and saves the world from global warming too. But it’s that attitude that his employees are his own personal property that is the central issue. And any cult has tons of willing members, you don’t judge the value of an organization by the ones that “love working there”.

    Luck doesn’t always to those who work hard, luck is luck, it can happen to anyone. You can go Poor Richardistic and say that hard work causes luck to happen, but that’s always in hindsight. You can work dead hard, only to see a competitor crush, or go hardly working, only to see a competitor fold. Not preaching the gospel of slackerdom, just saying it’s always more random than it seems. Raw talent isn’t always what the public buys, many factors at play, including marketing and raw emotional feelings. Hard work can become Soviet-style make-work, producing widgets with no market, just to keep “productive”.

    Your whole point here is a spirited defense of an asshole employer. Many of us aren’t buying it.

    MOST. ;)

  22. No one at Electronic Arts is going to see the potential rewards that Mahalo’s employees will see.

    Mahalo’s employees won’t see a gold chest at that rainbow’s end either, start-ups cheat employees far more than big companies, forever loop-chasing big dreams that never happen, there are landfills of worthless “stock options”. A few break through, most don’t.

    But as a “start-up” they have the right to abuse, if the reward is big enough? But big companies get not that right? Your core logic is always trapped in some weird alternative universe, of which is your strategy, defend the indefensible, friends will brush it off (Scoble being Scoble), but the rogues gallery will become your best buddies. Win, win. Works to a certain extent, problem is, the great productive middle will see you as nothing more than a shrill tool.

    The night I was there they bought sushi for everyone. Everyone has huge monitors

    I am sure he loves his Mom, goes to church, brushes his teeth and saves the world from global warming too. But it’s that attitude that his employees are his own personal property that is the central issue. And any cult has tons of willing members, you don’t judge the value of an organization by the ones that “love working there”.

    Luck doesn’t always to those who work hard, luck is luck, it can happen to anyone. You can go Poor Richardistic and say that hard work causes luck to happen, but that’s always in hindsight. You can work dead hard, only to see a competitor crush, or go hardly working, only to see a competitor fold. Not preaching the gospel of slackerdom, just saying it’s always more random than it seems. Raw talent isn’t always what the public buys, many factors at play, including marketing and raw emotional feelings. Hard work can become Soviet-style make-work, producing widgets with no market, just to keep “productive”.

    Your whole point here is a spirited defense of an asshole employer. Many of us aren’t buying it.

    MOST. ;)

  23. Thanks for helping to lend some common sense to this topic. Once again the blogosphere has overlooked the core issue, and made a tremendously huge deal out of something that’s quite basic. If somebody really wants to see people who put in tremendously long, hard, back breaking hours, I welcome you to southwest North Dakota, take as much time as you need here, I know plenty of farmers who can show you what hard work is. Not only that, but the last few years prior to this one, they were doing it at 6 figure, or more, losses, never once sitting in a $700 chair.

  24. Thanks for helping to lend some common sense to this topic. Once again the blogosphere has overlooked the core issue, and made a tremendously huge deal out of something that’s quite basic. If somebody really wants to see people who put in tremendously long, hard, back breaking hours, I welcome you to southwest North Dakota, take as much time as you need here, I know plenty of farmers who can show you what hard work is. Not only that, but the last few years prior to this one, they were doing it at 6 figure, or more, losses, never once sitting in a $700 chair.

  25. Scoble, scoble.. sticking up for other fatasses with few skills other than gabbing. who’s really surprised about these people who have no other real skills. When did “talking” get defined as a skill, let alone a valuable skill? the system needs to start valuing doers over communicators more.

  26. Scoble, scoble.. sticking up for other fatasses with few skills other than gabbing. who’s really surprised about these people who have no other real skills. When did “talking” get defined as a skill, let alone a valuable skill? the system needs to start valuing doers over communicators more.

  27. Some of Jason’s “tips” are just pennywise and pound foolish. Some of them are just plain stupid. Some of them are just common f–king sense, in the “don’t spend more than you have to” sense. As if some billionaire would stand up 10 years from now and say, “Our startup was headed for utter ruin until Jason Calacanis told us to go buy cheap desks and ‘Areon’ chairs.” Please.

    Some of his tips have DOOMED STARTUP CLICHE written all over them. For example, “Who needs an IT department.” This is usually espoused by some “visionary” who pats himself on the back because NOBODY EVER THOUGHT OF IT BEFORE. Then Mr. Visionary realizes a few months later that yeah, having a file server would be nice. And yeah, maybe it would be nice if Alice could log onto Bob’s computer, only she can’t because there’s no directory service. And yeah, maybe a directory service would be nice because after you get done firing all the slackers on their smoke break it kind of sucked to have to go to each and every computer and delete their accounts and permissions. And yeah, having a central backup of stuff would be nice, because Bob dropped his laptop and lost a lot of Important Stuff and it’s kind of expensive to go out and buy an Apple Time Capsule for everyone in the whole company. So, um, yeah, maybe we could have a small IT department, or better yet, take this developer who is already coding stuff 14 hours a day and put him in charge of it.

    And Robert, weren’t you just saying that Google Calendar locked your group out because you made the mistake of using some third-party software with it? That has never happened in Exchange, but who needs Exchange! Getting locked out of Google Calendar FTW!

    If you have a good business plan, a good product or service, and a bunch of smart people with a half-decent work ethic, success just tends to happen naturally. You don’t have to shower them with so-called “tips” like “don’t spend $15k per month on PR” because, you know what? THEY’RE NOT COMPLETE MORONS.

    If you don’t have a good product, and if you don’t have the right people, Jason’s “tips” amount to so much arranging of deck chairs on the Titanic.

  28. Some of Jason’s “tips” are just pennywise and pound foolish. Some of them are just plain stupid. Some of them are just common f–king sense, in the “don’t spend more than you have to” sense. As if some billionaire would stand up 10 years from now and say, “Our startup was headed for utter ruin until Jason Calacanis told us to go buy cheap desks and ‘Areon’ chairs.” Please.

    Some of his tips have DOOMED STARTUP CLICHE written all over them. For example, “Who needs an IT department.” This is usually espoused by some “visionary” who pats himself on the back because NOBODY EVER THOUGHT OF IT BEFORE. Then Mr. Visionary realizes a few months later that yeah, having a file server would be nice. And yeah, maybe it would be nice if Alice could log onto Bob’s computer, only she can’t because there’s no directory service. And yeah, maybe a directory service would be nice because after you get done firing all the slackers on their smoke break it kind of sucked to have to go to each and every computer and delete their accounts and permissions. And yeah, having a central backup of stuff would be nice, because Bob dropped his laptop and lost a lot of Important Stuff and it’s kind of expensive to go out and buy an Apple Time Capsule for everyone in the whole company. So, um, yeah, maybe we could have a small IT department, or better yet, take this developer who is already coding stuff 14 hours a day and put him in charge of it.

    And Robert, weren’t you just saying that Google Calendar locked your group out because you made the mistake of using some third-party software with it? That has never happened in Exchange, but who needs Exchange! Getting locked out of Google Calendar FTW!

    If you have a good business plan, a good product or service, and a bunch of smart people with a half-decent work ethic, success just tends to happen naturally. You don’t have to shower them with so-called “tips” like “don’t spend $15k per month on PR” because, you know what? THEY’RE NOT COMPLETE MORONS.

    If you don’t have a good product, and if you don’t have the right people, Jason’s “tips” amount to so much arranging of deck chairs on the Titanic.

  29. If you expect your readers to make smart arguments, you need to be smart enough to differentiate “flaunt” and “flout.”

    Employees with a medical need to visit a restroom frequently are people with disabilities who need to be accommodated in the workplace. Smart enough answer?

    Your whole point here is a spirited defence of an asshole employer. Many of us aren’t buying it.

  30. If you expect your readers to make smart arguments, you need to be smart enough to differentiate “flaunt” and “flout.”

    Employees with a medical need to visit a restroom frequently are people with disabilities who need to be accommodated in the workplace. Smart enough answer?

    Your whole point here is a spirited defence of an asshole employer. Many of us aren’t buying it.

  31. Robert, lost in the debate about working hours is actually some great ideas for penny pinching both from Jason and his readers. I mostly work with large companies and see their 10K airfares, their indifference to paying $ 5000 for a gallon of printer ink, $ 4 per gb a month in storage, $ 3 a minute for a mobile call from Europe…the Valley and start ups everywhere are showing a new way to do business…they can actually afford to be a little more relaxed about the intensity of their labor because of their overwhelming efficiencies in so many other areas…

  32. Robert, lost in the debate about working hours is actually some great ideas for penny pinching both from Jason and his readers. I mostly work with large companies and see their 10K airfares, their indifference to paying $ 5000 for a gallon of printer ink, $ 4 per gb a month in storage, $ 3 a minute for a mobile call from Europe…the Valley and start ups everywhere are showing a new way to do business…they can actually afford to be a little more relaxed about the intensity of their labor because of their overwhelming efficiencies in so many other areas…

  33. I read some of the employee posts that are meant to defend Mahalo, and now I just feel worse about the company.

    A lot of Jason’s workers aren’t coders but are people who write up pages. They get paid $30-$35k a year and work from 45 hours a week to 60 hours a week “unless there’s an emergency,” in which case we can assume it goes way up.

    To figure out a wage per hour, you normally use 2080 hours for the year. If that’s the case, these workers get paid $16.83 an hour for the $35,000.

    But let’s say the average work week is 52.5 hours (half of the spread above). Then they are making the equivalent of $12.82 an hour.

    I consider that a pretty low wage for the area where they live, but that aside, here’s the main problem I have with all this. The argument is that “of course, we work hard, this is a startup.” Okay, fair enough. But with most start-ups, it’s coders who are putting in these kind of hours. The coders are building permanent value. And their work will ultimately slow down from the startup frenzied pace.

    But these page building people are going to be an ongoing necessity. There is no end to their hamster wheel run. Is that not correct?

    This one guy said he’s willing to do this work because he thinks he’ll become a millionaire someday. What about the people who are going to have to keep doing this work day in and day out forevermore? What’s their motivation going to be?

    Unless I’m seriously misunderstanding something (and I’m open to the possibility), I have a hard time believing that anybody will ever want to purchase Mahalo, because the labor costs to keep it going are going to be astronomical once the page creators will no longer work startup hours at startup wages.

    They’ll have to hire a lot more people at a lot higher wages to keep this going. I just don’t see how that’s workable in the long run.

    So as for employee surprise and confusion over the debate, yes, I think people are sincerely concerned for you employees who are working your hearts out for the team and the vision, because this company doesn’t scale and your stock options are likely going to be worthless.

  34. I read some of the employee posts that are meant to defend Mahalo, and now I just feel worse about the company.

    A lot of Jason’s workers aren’t coders but are people who write up pages. They get paid $30-$35k a year and work from 45 hours a week to 60 hours a week “unless there’s an emergency,” in which case we can assume it goes way up.

    To figure out a wage per hour, you normally use 2080 hours for the year. If that’s the case, these workers get paid $16.83 an hour for the $35,000.

    But let’s say the average work week is 52.5 hours (half of the spread above). Then they are making the equivalent of $12.82 an hour.

    I consider that a pretty low wage for the area where they live, but that aside, here’s the main problem I have with all this. The argument is that “of course, we work hard, this is a startup.” Okay, fair enough. But with most start-ups, it’s coders who are putting in these kind of hours. The coders are building permanent value. And their work will ultimately slow down from the startup frenzied pace.

    But these page building people are going to be an ongoing necessity. There is no end to their hamster wheel run. Is that not correct?

    This one guy said he’s willing to do this work because he thinks he’ll become a millionaire someday. What about the people who are going to have to keep doing this work day in and day out forevermore? What’s their motivation going to be?

    Unless I’m seriously misunderstanding something (and I’m open to the possibility), I have a hard time believing that anybody will ever want to purchase Mahalo, because the labor costs to keep it going are going to be astronomical once the page creators will no longer work startup hours at startup wages.

    They’ll have to hire a lot more people at a lot higher wages to keep this going. I just don’t see how that’s workable in the long run.

    So as for employee surprise and confusion over the debate, yes, I think people are sincerely concerned for you employees who are working your hearts out for the team and the vision, because this company doesn’t scale and your stock options are likely going to be worthless.

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