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Thursday, August 28, 2008

Idiots vs Reality #2

I can't believe I'm making this a regular feature. There was another incident at work I just *HAVE* to mention.

I've been working on a nasty bug for about 2 weeks. The new idiot boss they hired was saying "FSK is having a hard time fixing this bug. FSK isn't doing a good job." I finally figured out that the bug was caused by XYZ. I entered a note into the bug tracking system of my conclusion, which the new idiot boss obviously read. The new idiot boss was working in another city the day I fixed the bug.

When I was leaving, I told the owners, "It looks like I finally solved that bug. The problem was XYZ." The owners replied, "Yeah. The idiot new boss said that he figured out that XYZ was the cause." I said "He's just repeating what I said, claiming credit for it. He looked it up in the bug tracking system and claimed the idea as his own." The owners could not believe that the idiot new boss is an dishonest unqualified ****sucker.

Come on, that's just unbelievable. I've been working on this bug for two weeks. Even if he was an expert programmer (he isn't), there's no way he could have figured that out without spending as much time on the application as me. The idiot new boss came up with the exact same solution at the exact same time as me? I don't know who's dumber, the idiot new boss for trying it, or the owners for believing it. Even after I pointed out the plagiarism, the owners were still defending the idiot new boss, saying he couldn't possibly be that dishonest.

The main owner has known the idiot new boss for many years. The main owner probably can't recognize his "friend" is a dishonest unqualified ****sucker without having a complete mental breakdown.

A small software startup does not need a "professional manager/****sucker". A small software startup needs someone who can actually write software themselves. The first technical hire/founder in a software startup should be someone who'll implement most of the product by themselves in 3-6 months. The "marketing wizards" did not understand this, and their $500M business opportunity will be wasted. They did a great job of generating interest in their product, but THEY DON'T HAVE A WORKING WEBSITE.

What's harder? Generating interest in your product, or writing a working website? From my point of view, writing a simple website is trivial. Apparently, I'm in a minority. Actually, I could name 10 people I've worked with in my career who could also singlehandedly implement their website in a month, as well as me or possibly even better. However, a dishonest unqualified ****sucker will never hire such a person.

In the financial industry, connections are key. Even if I wrote a working version of their website on my own, I could not get my foot in the door with customers. The USA is "nepotism capitalism" and not a free market.

As other people observed, it's time for FSK to find a new job. It's actually a relief. Instead of thinking "I'm stuck with these ***holes!", it's time to shop around for a better deal. Staying in a hopeless job without looking for better things is definitely slave thinking. However, I'm probably not going to find non-slave working conditions until I switch to agorism.

I mentioned this in Reader Mail #63, but it's worth repeating.

I see now that "marketing wizards" starting a software company without a qualified software person was a disaster from the beginning. They literally had zero chance of success, and due to a statistical anomaly they lucked into me working for them. Their attitude is "We can hire any schmuck to write our website." The result is that schmucks are writing their website.
It's time to move on. It's so sad, because it really was a $500M-$1B business opportunity. If they gave me a decent chunk of options it could have been very lucrative. It's one thing to be a "marketing wizard" with an idea. It's another thing to have a working product.

I should make the transition from "agorism marketing advocate" to a practical agorist. Otherwise, I'm guilty of "all marketing and no implementation"! It's acceptable for me to wait a few more years, raising awareness in the meantime.

There's one question I have. Should I call the idiot new boss out for his dishonesty and incompetence? Or, should I realize they're all hopeless and quietly look for a new job? Calling him out would be fun. However, there's no point in talking when nobody is listening. The owners would never believe me. "Fire FSK" is an empty threat since they're going broke anyway and I'm way underpaid. They deserve each other.


Zargon said...

That's almost unbelievable. It would be sorely tempting to publicly call him out over it, but in the end, that only has the potential to benefit the owners, rather than you. You might mention it to the other intelligent employees, but as you said, the owners deserve what's coming to them.

An interesting, though risky, option (should it even be feasible, given your practical & legal situation) is to write the website in your free time, and after you jump ship, give them a demo and make a standing offer of something like $1-5M for the website and optionally several hundred dollars an hour to maintain it as a consultant for some amount of time. If it's possible to write during a period of unemployment, that might be best.

Obviously, they'd laugh at you, and maybe threaten legal action to make you hand it over, which is why you would need to be damn sure of what your employment contract says, and store your work in a secure location anyways, but if their potential customers start realizing down the line they're all talk and no walk, they might get desperate. Or they might not, in which case you'd be out a month's worth of effort.

Mike said...

Find the new job, then tell them where to stuff it?

Anonymous said...

I've been in almost exactly the same situaiton (schmuck boss who was literally a gradeschool teacher in his prior job, thinking he could lead engineers and lying thru his teeth the whole time.) I confronted the CEO with his actions, and found that he had been telling her tales about me to undermine my credibility. (I don't suffer fools lightly so it was probably obvious to him what I really thought of him, though I was trying.) I confronted her with proof, but she was unwilling to consider the possibility. So, I went back to my office, ostensibly to work on my "plan for fixing the mess [that my boss caused]" which she'd asked me for... an hour later I walked into her office with some paper in my hand. She said "That was a lot quicker than I expected!" and I said "Its not what you expect". Handed her the resignation letter and walked out the front door. Fortunately, I had been figuring that this might happen for a couple weeks so my desk had already been cleaned out, etc. I just gave her the letter, and walked out of the building, letting the other engineers know that I'd resigned on the way out.

I can't tell you how much pleasure it was to see the shock on her face when I resigned (She thought I was like all the other interchangeable schmucks who would work for too little money and put up with broken promises.)

And I can't tell you how great it felt to fire that fucking company!

They didn't last more than 4-5 months after that.

In the future, use salary and options as a measure of the company. Seems you got neither, which means that the people making the offer were assholes. IF they aren't impressing you with how much they want you, either by how much they will pay you, or by the cut of the company (on a fully diluted basis, of course) that they're giving you, then don't take the job.

If you're in the first couple of engineers at a startup, you should be getting at least %1 of the company, vested over 4 years or less. A worthwhile company will give you between %5 and %50 (depending on how early you are and how much of the total business is based on engineering, etc.)

If they aren't offering significant upside, then its better to get a job at market wages at an insurance company, or some such-- no reason to take startup pressure with no upside!

Plus, as you have found out, the people who aren't worth working for are also the people who don't pay well. Good pay tells you that the working conditions are more likely to be decent.

Good luck! And remember, you don't owe them the next release. You don't owe them completion of the project.

You can walk out tomorrow with no regrets. But if another job is what you're doing next, line one up first. (I didn't in the case above, but wasn't on the market long.)

gyakusetsu said...

Code that P2P bartering program. I'd pay to see a copy.

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