Tuesday, April 12, 2016

High tech sweatshops?

Dan Lyons, author of Disrupted: My Misadventure in the Start-Up Bubble," says he worked at the software company HubSpot for two years, then got fired. But they didn't call it fired, they called it graduation.

As in..."So-and-So has graduated...We're all excited to see how she uses her superpowers in her next big adventure."

The employees, Lyons said, were told they were rock stars, but they were really disposable.

Many tech companies, he says, are proud of this sort of culture. Amazon is another example.

In the early 80s and 90s, companies wanted to retain people--not so now, Lyons says.

HubSpot, he says, was founded in 2006 in Cambridge, MA. It went public in 2014. It was a so-called corporate utopia--unlimited vacations, all the amenities. Mix a frat house with a kindergarten and add Scientology, he says, and you have an idea of what it's like.

He left Newsweek and went to work there and what did he find? A digital sweatshop--people hunched over computers, selling software through headsets.

People served a tour of duty of a couple of years. The tech companies, according to the founder of Linked In, Reid Hoffman, burn you out and churned you out.

Netflix was one of the first to discard the "company as family" idea. It became "the company as sports team." At some companies, including HubSpot, workers are reviewed by VORP--Value Over Replacement Player." Would someone else do better? You're out.

Working at a startup, Lyons and Hoffman say, means being undertrained, fireable on a whim, and subject to age, race, and gender bias. Sexual harassment is also common.

 These companies sell shares while losing money--the top people line their pockets.

Meanwhile, at HubSpot anyhow, the workers were glorified telemarketers--making about $3K a month, or $18.75 and hour for 40 hrs--most worked more, though, forced on by machines watching them work and killer quotas.

So, upcoming grads...take note. You will find, by the way, that almost everything has a dark side. Be warned.

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