HubSpot is leading a revolution. HubSpot is changing the world.
March 28, 2016 11:35 AM   Subscribe

My Year in Startup Hell. Dogs roam HubSpot’s hallways, because like the kindergarten decor, dogs have become de rigueur for tech startups. At noon, Zack tells me, a group of bros meets in the lobby on the second floor to do push-ups together... On the second floor there are shower rooms, which are intended for bike commuters and people who jog at lunchtime, but also have been used as sex cabins when the Friday happy hour gets out of hand. Later I will learn (from Penny, the receptionist, who is a fantastic source of gossip) that at one point things got so out of hand that management had to send out a memo. “It’s the people from sales,” Penny tells me. “They’re disgusting.”

The HubSpot Culture Code slide deck referenced in the article.
posted by Horace Rumpole (219 comments total) 57 users marked this as a favorite
 
Eagerly waiting the tech industry equivalents to Wall Street, The Bonfire of the Vanities, and American Psycho to be made already. Silicon Valley can't satirize it all by itself.
posted by Apocryphon at 11:40 AM on March 28, 2016 [27 favorites]


I'm happy to see that the graphic for the piece features right smack in the middle of the pictured action a leaping beagle (that's what it looks like anyhow; no dogs are identified in the piece) because anyone who owns a beagle knows they they are nothing if not architects of chaos. /derail
posted by blucevalo at 11:47 AM on March 28, 2016 [12 favorites]


In case you were wondering the Geewhiz Marco Polo gasping at mostly-normal sales and startup shibboleths soon gives way to an analysis of Hubspots business model and its flaws which is a lot more interesting.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 11:47 AM on March 28, 2016 [7 favorites]


My kneejerk reaction: I work across the street from these guys, and I have to walk past their front door to get to the food trucks, and they really are every bit the insufferable manchildren painted in this article. Also they never called back after I applied for an interview in darker times, so fuck those guys

After a bit of reading:

“We’re not just selling a product here,” Dave tells us. “HubSpot is leading a revolution. A movement. HubSpot is changing the world. This software doesn’t just help companies sell products. This product changes people’s lives. We are changing people’s lives.”

Updating my answer to full-sized font: fuck those guys. You sell internet advertising, guys. It's not Doctors Without fucking Borders over there. Also, your cliched high-tech office utopia is way less impressive than Google's despite your constant self-aggrandizing, and they're right around the corner and the fremdschämen is palpable.
posted by Mayor West at 11:48 AM on March 28, 2016 [122 favorites]


Christ, what assholes.
posted by kurosawa's pal at 11:48 AM on March 28, 2016 [4 favorites]


I read this assuming it was parody, given the author. It's not. It's a real company that really exists, and is currently worth $1.6B.
posted by Nelson at 11:53 AM on March 28, 2016 [5 favorites]


You could have copy and pasted that graf from a FastCompany article circa 1998 without changing barely a word. Wow.
posted by gwint at 11:54 AM on March 28, 2016 [32 favorites]


Ha ha ha! /sobs uncontrollably
posted by rtha at 11:55 AM on March 28, 2016 [88 favorites]


Also: "HubSpot sites rank significantly less well than WordPress sites of an equivalent Domain Authority" £10k HubSpot or £0 WordPress – Which ranks better on Google?
posted by Speculatist at 11:55 AM on March 28, 2016 [5 favorites]


Ha ha ha! /sobs uncontrollably

Are you fucking kidding me.
posted by odinsdream at 11:57 AM on March 28, 2016 [6 favorites]


I've worked at three different startups, none of which were anywhere near this ridiculous, but then none of them felt a need to staff up aggressively like this — 30 employees was as big as they got.

When you have to expand so quickly, it's no wonder that you try to cling to a "culture code," as if that's any way to control the way that your new employees approach the world. But there's no evidence that such things actually work, so my instinct is that most employees will either roll their eyes and joke about it covertly with like-minded peers, or else find a way to justify whatever decision they were already going to make as aligning with the code.
posted by savetheclocktower at 11:57 AM on March 28, 2016 [1 favorite]


(I can't deep-link to it, but if you felt nauseous and closed the "Culture Code" presentation after a few slides, you really need to go back and read slide #10 if you want the abbreviated story of "when the American workforce entered the ninth circle of hell." Who needs a pension, job security, finite working hours, or a tolerable boss when you can have FLEXIBILITY?)
posted by Mayor West at 11:58 AM on March 28, 2016 [43 favorites]


It's kind of amazing to me that this stuff is all happening again.
posted by uberchet at 12:00 PM on March 28, 2016 [21 favorites]


The Boston Red Sox have been around for 110 years. Their sales department still has raucous overly expensive parties and snogs in the office. The tech industry has enough endemic issues let's not pretend they invented wasting money & broism.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 12:00 PM on March 28, 2016 [25 favorites]


And holy SHIT is that slide deck a pile of unmitigated bullshit. It's amazing.
posted by uberchet at 12:01 PM on March 28, 2016 [2 favorites]


Yeah but at least their product entertains people.
posted by gottabefunky at 12:02 PM on March 28, 2016


Slide 10 of the culture deck makes me want to burn the world down.
posted by monju_bosatsu at 12:04 PM on March 28, 2016 [15 favorites]


I could never get into Silicon Valley, mostly because it felt like an updated version of Microserfs which I am ashamed to admit was my cultural bible when I was 11 years old.

In other words, if history repeats itself, we should be anticipating the next Windows 95 and a dot-com crash.
posted by muddgirl at 12:04 PM on March 28, 2016 [9 favorites]


My first thought: Oh man. One of the things I love is when someone brings a shiba or corgi or any old dog into work. Puppy breaks are the best. So I guess I work at one of those places.

But then I read further, and was like: nope.

It sounds almost like they took notes from a cult leader when building their company, right down to repurposed terminology ("graduation" instead of "quitting").

And this whole "work as long as you want!" BS needs to die. People need work/life balance. On the surface, unlimited vacation and flex hours sound great, until you get to a company that frowns on any sort of time off past a day or two because the company is mother, the company is father.

Also, if you think about it, saves them a lot of money when you leave and they don't have to cash out your vacation days.
posted by offalark at 12:04 PM on March 28, 2016 [16 favorites]


Bonus comment from Hacker News, talking about the book this article is excerpted from.
Apparently Hubspot did dirty tricks to try to obtain a copy of the manuscript, as well as blocking publication. The CMO and a VP are gone because of it. You can't make this stuff up.
https://www.bostonglobe.com/business/2016/03/23/documents-released-hubspot-probe-involving-author-dan-lyons/VZH4CN4kR5p7iyhsKEdwJI/story.html

Edit: Here's the worst stuff the article mentioned, I figured it would be good to highlight the relevant quote. These are felonies.
The documents also say there was an effort “to obtain sensitive information on individuals with access to the book’s transcript, or control of the publishing deal. The information found was then used as leverage in an attempt to prevent the book from reaching the market place.”
The report also mentions “tactics such as email hacking and extortion” in the attempt “to railroad the book.”
posted by Nonsteroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drug at 12:05 PM on March 28, 2016 [42 favorites]


When asked for comment on Lyons’s experience at the company, HubSpot CEO and co-founder Brian Halligan said the following: “We believe that to build a great company today, it’s essential to have a point of view on how the world has changed, what you are doing about it and why it matters. We started HubSpot a decade ago believing that the way people buy and sell had fundamentally changed. We saw an opportunity to help organizations adjust to that shift, and today we’re proud to have more than 18,000 customers who have chosen to partner with us to transform how they market and sell.” 
posted by gottabefunky at 12:05 PM on March 28, 2016 [1 favorite]


As someone who lived through the tech bubble of the 90s, this seems awfully familiar.
(Except Dogs. I don't remember dog friendly workplaces in the 90s)

I love how the people in power say it's "culture" when they remove rights from workers.
posted by DigDoug at 12:11 PM on March 28, 2016 [20 favorites]


They were selling before they had a product. And VCs love them for it.
posted by tommasz at 12:14 PM on March 28, 2016 [1 favorite]


To be polite to a recruiter that emailed me, I said something like "thanks for considering me but I have a young son, so startup culture is not for me," and she told me, we love families! People here have kids!
They get even more distressed when, one morning, a twenty-something guy from the HubSpot marketing department arrives wasted and, for reasons unknown, sets a janitor’s cart on fire.
This sounds like the dorm that you wanted to stay away from, even when you were in college.
posted by ignignokt at 12:16 PM on March 28, 2016 [32 favorites]


Dare to be different

"I have to admit, I'm not seeing an overwhelming amount of different here Tom"
posted by fullerine at 12:17 PM on March 28, 2016 [6 favorites]


Oh so that's what that completely garbage domain I've learned to subconciously filter from search results is all about.

I can't see ever voluntarily working in an environment like that (or Zappos, Google, Twitter -- some of whom I've interviewed with). It's like the worst parts of public school applied to an office.

NO, I DO NOT WANT TO WEAR A COSTUME TO THE PARTY, NO I DO NOT. STOP TRYING TO MAKE ME.
posted by Matt Oneiros at 12:21 PM on March 28, 2016 [16 favorites]


When I hear the words "culture slideshow" I reach for my revolver.
posted by atoxyl at 12:22 PM on March 28, 2016 [41 favorites]


“It’s the people from sales,” Penny tells me. “They’re disgusting.”

This is kind of an axiom. Where I work (as technical support), when there's food placed out, invariably the people from Sales descend on it, devour it, and move on. Alcohol? Gone. When my department had our special dinner, people from Sales tried to crash the happy hour and were pissed off when they got tossed out by the restaurant's staff, who had a list of allowed people.

I once went to the company-sponsored happy hour half an hour after it started (on my scheduled break), and there was just one guy, one sales biscuit in there with a beer in each hand.

"Should have been here on time!"

He didn't like my reply: "Some of us have to work for a living."
posted by mephron at 12:23 PM on March 28, 2016 [48 favorites]


“We’re not just selling a product here,” Dave tells us. “HubSpot is leading a revolution. A movement. HubSpot is changing the world. This software doesn’t just help companies sell products. This product changes people’s lives. We are changing people’s lives.”
This quite a contrast to an article about Slack I was reading. They seem very aware of their potential limits.
Butterfield tells staff it will never get better than this.
Blustering the way Hubspot does is not only looks arrogant, but it's a distracting waste of focus for its employees.
posted by ignignokt at 12:30 PM on March 28, 2016 [3 favorites]


Instead, those emails are what we call “lovable marketing content.”

Aww, it's trying to sell me something. So cute!
posted by Kevin Street at 12:30 PM on March 28, 2016 [3 favorites]


I'd just had a shower, read the Culture Code deck, then went and took another shower.

Still. Not. Clean.
posted by NordyneDefenceDynamics at 12:37 PM on March 28, 2016 [11 favorites]


I usually applaud people who've figured out how to be happy and make a living wage while working less than 8 hours a day. Usually . . .
posted by mattamatic at 12:37 PM on March 28, 2016 [3 favorites]


I usually applaud people who've figured out how to be happy and make a living wage while working less than 8 hours a day.

You may want to sit down for this...
posted by Mayor West at 12:40 PM on March 28, 2016 [27 favorites]


From the article: The code depicts a kind of corporate utopia where the needs of the individual become secondary to the needs of the group—“team > individual,” one slide says—and where people don’t worry about work-life balance because their work is their life.

That last phrase really sums up our current work culture, and perhaps why some people might expect gig economy workers to always be hustling because these days it feels like everyone is..."passionate" or not, it's because they have to. The um, "passion" is just the brainwashing it requires to keep chugging along.
posted by GospelofWesleyWillis at 12:41 PM on March 28, 2016 [18 favorites]


something something first against the wall when the revolution comes
posted by entropicamericana at 12:43 PM on March 28, 2016 [9 favorites]


Silicon Valley can't satirize it all by itself.

See also BBC television's W1A.
posted by Paul Slade at 12:47 PM on March 28, 2016 [3 favorites]


ignignokt wrote:This sounds like the dorm that you wanted to stay away from, even when you were in college.

Correction: a dorm that we geeks wanted to stay away from. This is the thing: "When I complete my BA in business admin, I'm going to start a startup" is now a legitimate career goal for these people, and their more technical bros get CS degrees and go along with it.

To us more pure geeks, we hated those guys in college. Still the same.
posted by tippiedog at 12:48 PM on March 28, 2016 [13 favorites]


There is literally a century of miserable history of "subsume the individual under the group," to draw the conclusion that maybe another strategy should be considered.
posted by rhizome at 12:48 PM on March 28, 2016 [3 favorites]


This quite a contrast to an article about Slack I was reading. They seem very aware of their potential limits.

Slack is actually useful and does something.
posted by Artw at 12:52 PM on March 28, 2016 [20 favorites]


I don't want to quote the whole article, so I'm gonna make this my last one, I promise:
Another thing I’m learning in my new job is that while people still refer to this business as the “tech industry,” in truth it is no longer really about technology at all. “You don’t get rewarded for creating great technology, not anymore,” says a friend of mine who has worked in tech since the 1980s, a former investment banker who now advises startups. “It’s all about the business model. The market pays you to have a company that scales quickly. It’s all about getting big fast. Don’t be profitable, just get big.”
This what I've noticed about so many startups in the past several years. They usually do not build around an amazing new technology. They usually just skirt laws and/or shuffle money like Uber or Groupon. A lot of them are simply delivery services that get away with paying people poorly. They are about the exploitation of existing people, not the creation of new technology.
posted by ignignokt at 12:53 PM on March 28, 2016 [104 favorites]


Soooooo, it's MLM meets the tech sector. Too bad MLM is never sustainable.
posted by valkane at 12:56 PM on March 28, 2016


I've been through at least two tech bubble bursts and got through okay but I have more commitments now, so kind of fear the next one. This kind of shit I steer clear of, though I've no idea if that will help.
posted by Artw at 12:59 PM on March 28, 2016 [3 favorites]


Yeah, the deck has just about every one of the markers of a mortifying team-building environment. But if I strip away the idiocy, the stuff it's actually saying is largely fine. Nothing wrong with not hiring assholes; nothing wrong with unlimited vacation; nothing wrong with free meals. (They gloss over the “everyone is a designated individual for insider trading purposes” thing; I'm no expert, but I bet that involves some unmentioned downside.)

The problem is the extent to which the stated culture varies from the actual culture. Are you really not hiring assholes, or at least firing them once you learn they're assholes? (Like did the guy who ignited the janitor's cart get fired?) Is vacation actually unlimited, or are there norms in place that make you feel guilty for asking for any vacation at all? Are meals truly free, or do they come with the expectation that you work through lunch and dinner?

(For obvious reasons, no company is honest about whether they do permanent crunch time. More than once when I've interviewed at a place and asked about how crazy the hours are, I've heard a response like, “Umm, it's not super crazy… like, if you want to do the nine-to-five thing, you can definitely be that person.” Nope. I don't believe you.)

The place I work now isn't perfect, and a slide deck about our company culture would have some major similarities with this one. But it's still the best place I've been for work/life balance, and I've never felt like I couldn't take vacation for any reason. There is very little correlation between the amount of puffery you see in a culture code and the quality of that company's actual culture.
posted by savetheclocktower at 12:59 PM on March 28, 2016 [7 favorites]


ignignokt, you're right on the money there. I don't want to be reductive, but the notion of "build a company and then figure out what you'll do" just seems icky to me. And it absolutely implies that the lying marketing weasels are driving, which is almost never a good thing.

There's nothing organic there. That probably also means there will never be actual accountability -- the founders have their eye on the exit door from day one. That's not a super sustainable business, and the odds that you really CAN cash out that way are remote.

It's much harder to get rich by building an actual real business that sells an actual thing that actual humans like and want to work with, but it's way more honest. And way less prone to evaporation.
posted by uberchet at 1:04 PM on March 28, 2016 [2 favorites]


If they offered, half of you would happily work there. Admit it.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 1:06 PM on March 28, 2016 [5 favorites]


This reminds me of a scene from a book. Someone from the past, in our future, surrounded by naive people his own age celebrating a horror that they do not fully understand.

"Run. Run, you foolish children"
posted by Slackermagee at 1:06 PM on March 28, 2016 [3 favorites]


How how how is Dan Lyons sorcering me into sympathizing with him
posted by rhizome at 1:11 PM on March 28, 2016 [7 favorites]


I'm the guy who just wants to watch companies like this burn.
posted by Major Matt Mason Dixon at 1:12 PM on March 28, 2016 [4 favorites]


This reminds me of a scene from a book.

Clue? Google just returns stuff about the Bible and Doors lyrics.
posted by rhizome at 1:12 PM on March 28, 2016


I worked at a very similar place that did something way less tangible. And I am currently a Hubspot customer. Their service and product isn't great, but its a lot cheaper than Salesforce.

They could have saved a lot of money putting that on a banner and ditching the rest of this rigamarole.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 1:14 PM on March 28, 2016 [10 favorites]


If they offered, half of you would happily work there. Admit it.

Nope. The late Steve Gilliard put it succinctly - any company which makes their workplace feel like home is doing so because they don't want you going home.
posted by NoxAeternum at 1:14 PM on March 28, 2016 [67 favorites]


If they offered, half of you would happily work there. Admit it.

I definitely wouldn't, but I'm lucky enough to have better options. I recognize that not everybody does. I'd work there if the choice was no job, but it sounds as bad as an office job could sound.
posted by Horace Rumpole at 1:17 PM on March 28, 2016 [4 favorites]


I caught the semiconductor boom in the 80s, and was well positioned to come in on the management side in the dotcom boom, but as other posters have said, this boom is smoke and mirrors. There's no there, there. And the venture capital has completely changed. No longer are ventures looking at long term viable plans with acceptable profit and growth, now they want to get supernovas, and get out before it explodes. It's pure madness. I've interviewed at companies like this one, and have turned down their offers, because the writing was clear, only about 15 people will end up profiting, and the worker bees will end up just like Yahoo worker bees, laid off before they can vest, if the company makes it long enough to ipo.
posted by SecretAgentSockpuppet at 1:19 PM on March 28, 2016 [17 favorites]


Who are the people who open emails from companies/strangers that say "fwd: your holiday plans"? How do companies like this stay afloat?
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 1:21 PM on March 28, 2016 [4 favorites]


Some years ago, I was a data entry monkey at an IT company, one whose workplace was very much like what's described in this article.

After the initial novelty - Hey! Take your dog to work! Free beer on Fridays! Foosball in the break room! - wore off,
I realized:

a) my laughable inability to successfully navigate the corporate cult(ure) I'd gotten myself into (Six Sigma, anyone? Bleh!)
and
b) the wicked case of repetitive strain I was getting from being an untrained typist cranking out
30+ request tickets a day.

By the two-year mark, the repetitive strain had gone from "oh, it goes away over the weekend" to "OMG, typing more than a couple of sentences is agonizing", but no one I reported to took it seriously and it was chalked up to my having "a negative attitude". In my discomfort, I became That Guy, the one who does his job decently well but is so passive-aggressively surly that you just don't want to ask him for anything.

In the end, they couldn't fire me, so they laid me off with a vague story about "more tasks becoming automated" and "the need for less manual data entry", and that was that. By that point I was openly fantasizing about walking off the job, coupled with a quick trip off the roof of the building (not something I would EVER really do, but boy did I enjoy the daydream of it - that's how sad/angry I'd become), so I took the severance and got the hell out of there.

I'm in a much better place these days...
posted by tantrumthecat at 1:24 PM on March 28, 2016 [10 favorites]


I could never get into Silicon Valley, mostly because it felt like an updated version of Microserfs which I am ashamed to admit was my cultural bible when I was 11 years old.

Actually, the thing about Microserfs is that the first third is more like a prequel to Silicon Valley, that is it's like if there was a show centered around Richard's time at Hooli. The actual SV parts of that book are much more optimistic than the show, partly because it depicts the California tech scene in the early '90s, before it was glutted by the Dot Com Boom. There's a sense of innocence to it that contrasts favorably to the Microsoft sections. Silicon Valley just depicts everywhere in tech as fundamentally flawed, albeit to different extents.
posted by Apocryphon at 1:30 PM on March 28, 2016 [4 favorites]


@SecretAgentSockPuppet: And the venture capital has completely changed. No longer are ventures looking at long term viable plans with acceptable profit and growth, now they want to get supernovas, and get out before it explodes. It's pure madness.

VC has always had that focus. I think the change is the increased awareness of VC and the belief that it's the only way to grow a company. I have hated the shortsightedness of VCs since the first internet boom of the late 1990s.
posted by tippiedog at 1:36 PM on March 28, 2016 [1 favorite]


I work in advertising. Same bullshit. Astounding how many agency websites start off with a variation on "we are not an ad agency..."

Passion. Ugh.
posted by jeff-o-matic at 1:42 PM on March 28, 2016 [19 favorites]


On the second floor there are shower rooms, which are intended for bike commuters and people who jog at lunchtime, but also have been used as sex cabins when the Friday happy hour gets out of hand.

If the people i know who have worked at startups are anything to go by, more drinking happens in those offices than anything depicted on Mad Men.

Like, these places suck down kegs like a high volume bar in a college town. A lot of times they start drinking mid day on thursday/friday and just don't stop until they leave. And a lot of people there are just filling up pint glasses or hydro flasks in the break room at lunch every damn day. Get up to piss? More beer. This is even worse at places where it's normal to work way late or pull all nighters coding and crash in the office in the "nap room" or whatever.

A friend of mine, who fucking loves drinking beer, commented to the effect that he felt like he was wimping out/was a lightweight or something compared to most of the guys at the place he was working at.

How this hasn't resulted in some high profile sexual harassment case blowing up all the tech(and general) news sites or some accident/hazing incident/whatever completely befuddles me.


I used to think i had missed some generational-cultural-touchstone being someone who works in tech and has never worked for a company like this, even briefly. Now as all these floating gassy turds circle the toilet bowl i want to turn to my pretty-decent run of the mill BigMegaCorp clock in/clock out/go home job and hug it.
posted by emptythought at 1:42 PM on March 28, 2016 [15 favorites]


I think that depends tippiedog, I've consulted with a couple of vc companies that are looking for more traditional businesses, or software companies that have a defined vertical niche, that sort of thing, but the really big money is gambling on cargo cult brogrammers.
posted by SecretAgentSockpuppet at 1:44 PM on March 28, 2016 [1 favorite]


I love how the people in power say it's "culture" when they remove rights from workers.

Remember: their biggest perk is amazing people and the understand that life is short. This is why they have to extract every waking hour from their employees before they die.

I'm really far away from this (I work in a field where people where ties to work), but I am so so happy to have no connection to this nonsense. It's 4:59 and I'm going home.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 1:55 PM on March 28, 2016 [5 favorites]


Cool Papa Bell: "If they offered, half of you would happily work there. Admit it."

I'd never move to Boston (or Mountain View) but I've worked for similar startups and the description of the office plan sounds almost exactly like my current place down to the areas named after city neighborhoods. A job's a job. As long as the coffee's free and no one yells at me too much and my checks clear, I'm pretty happy.

I've also worked for 120 year old monolithic corporations and they suck to work for in different ways than startups do but they still suck.
posted by octothorpe at 1:55 PM on March 28, 2016 [7 favorites]


How how how is Dan Lyons sorcering me into sympathizing with him

After his writings during the SCO/IBM Linux lawsuit, I can't think of him as a terribly reliable narrator. I suspect that he went into the job with an agenda of writing a piece like this - surely a little job hunting background reading would have given him a clue what he was getting himself into.
posted by Candleman at 1:57 PM on March 28, 2016 [6 favorites]


I'm gonna retire and live off of my purpose.
posted by wintersweet at 1:57 PM on March 28, 2016 [21 favorites]


I've been interviewing, and one question I always ask is, "What makes your X better?" Why do companies buy your large motor pump and not someone else's? Even if it's for a company that sells a service. I wonder if anyone fresh out of the Hotspot orientation class can answer that - I feel like there's a reluctance to acknowledge the existence of competitors, like Lyft and Uber can never mention each other or how they are different (maybe because they really aren't).
posted by muddgirl at 1:59 PM on March 28, 2016 [3 favorites]


The actual SV parts of that book are much more optimistic than the show, partly because it depicts the California tech scene in the early '90s, before it was glutted by the Dot Com Boom. There's a sense of innocence to it that contrasts favorably to the Microsoft sections.

You have to take it in the context that Microserfs was written at a time when there was only one flavor of Crunch Berries. Yes, this is a direct analogy.
posted by rhizome at 2:03 PM on March 28, 2016 [2 favorites]


What makes your X better?

just looking aroud (i hadn't heard of hubspot until 5 minutes ago) they seem to be the biggest player in "inbound marketing", and inbound marketing itself doesn't sound like a particularly dumb idea - you develop content that attracts people, rather then simply advertising. so hubspot seems to be a tool that gives a uniform interface to different ways of providing content and tracking potential customers across those.

it honestly doesn't seem like a terrible idea, on the face of it.
posted by andrewcooke at 2:04 PM on March 28, 2016 [2 favorites]


you develop content that attracts people, rather then simply advertising.

This is a false dichotomy. If you don't have content, whether or not it can be said to be attractive, what are you advertising? What is The Ad in that situation, "We're a company that exists and no we're not going to tell you anything more?"
posted by rhizome at 2:08 PM on March 28, 2016


How this hasn't resulted in some high profile sexual harassment case blowing up all the tech(and general) news sites or some accident/hazing incident/whatever completely befuddles me.

I wonder if this isn't because of a subtle message to the women in the company about how reporting someone would be a "buzz kill" or something.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 2:08 PM on March 28, 2016 [23 favorites]


Dharmesh’s culture code incorporates elements of HubSpeak. For example, it instructs that when someone quits or gets fired, the event will be referred to as “graduation.” In my first month at HubSpot I’ve witnessed several graduations, just in the marketing department. We’ll get an email from Cranium saying, “Team, just letting you know that Derek has graduated from HubSpot, and we’re excited to see how he uses his superpowers in his next big adventure!” Only then do you notice that Derek is gone, that his desk has been cleared out. Somehow Derek’s boss will have arranged his disappearance without anyone knowing about it. People just go up in smoke, like Spinal Tap drummers.

Nobody ever talks about the people who graduate, and nobody ever mentions how weird it is to call it “graduation.” For that matter I never hear anyone laugh about HEART or make jokes about the culture code. Everyone acts as if all of these things are perfectly normal.

HubSpotters talk about being “superstars with superpowers” whose mission is to “inspire people” and “be leaders.” They talk about engaging in “delightion,” which is a made-up word, invented by Dharmesh, that means delighting our customers.


So said one commenter, many years ago:

Most people who bother with the matter at all would admit that the English language is in a bad way, but it is generally assumed that we cannot by conscious action do anything about it. Our civilization is decadent and our language -- so the argument runs -- must inevitably share in the general collapse. It follows that any struggle against the abuse of language is a sentimental archaism, like preferring candles to electric light or hansom cabs to aeroplanes. Underneath this lies the half-conscious belief that language is a natural growth and not an instrument which we shape for our own purposes.
posted by mandolin conspiracy at 2:15 PM on March 28, 2016 [10 favorites]


EmpressCallipygos: women? What women?
posted by tippiedog at 2:16 PM on March 28, 2016 [3 favorites]


I'm really questioning why he accepted that job in the first place. Based on this excerpt alone there were so many red flags before he even walked through the door. Was he really that desperate or was he planning the book from the start and this was just research?
posted by howling fantods at 2:16 PM on March 28, 2016 [1 favorite]


it honestly doesn't seem like a terrible idea, on the face of it.

It isn't, it is in fact a very good idea that makes people lots of money and is way less annoying than push advertising and cold emails/sales. Hubspot didn't invent it in any way, they just developed cheap tools that make it very easy to, say, create a blog about Gardening Tips in order to generate leads for your online gardening tools business. Then they developed a bunch of tools in the same space that actually make it just as easy to, say, cold email 1,000 potential gardeners asking them to buy your gardening tools. Hubspot long ago moved past the idea of inbound marketing into being a bizarre swiss army knife of half-baked social, email and whatever else marketing (and a broken CRM! Don't forget that, even if Hubspot essentially has).
posted by Potomac Avenue at 2:18 PM on March 28, 2016 [3 favorites]


If they offered, half of you would happily work there. Admit it.

Nah there are software companies that have free beer without feeling like an actual cult. (I don't even work at one of those but...)
posted by atoxyl at 2:18 PM on March 28, 2016 [4 favorites]


For those who don't know, Hubspot has a really really nice CRM that is free. It can be used for things besides business sales, such as donor contacts for a non-profit.
posted by Sophont at 2:20 PM on March 28, 2016


I work in advertising. Same bullshit. Astounding how many agency websites start off with a variation on "we are not an ad agency..."

What's the story with that? The whole, whatever we are, WE ARE NOT ACTUALLY THAT, thing? Prior to my current job I worked for the largest audio-visual integration company in the world. The whole time I worked there it was constantly pounded into us, "We are not an audio visual company!". Ok, so I tell people we do what exactly, paint fish?
posted by The Gooch at 2:27 PM on March 28, 2016 [15 favorites]


Speaking/ writing as developer number one on the ground floor of Datacash in 1997, two weeks before Dave and Gavin registered the company? The flashback here is so heavy that SCREAM.
posted by cstross at 2:28 PM on March 28, 2016 [17 favorites]


"How can you get hundreds of people to work in sales and marketing for the lowest possible wages? One way is to hire people who are right out of college and make work seem fun. You give them free beer and foosball tables. You decorate the place like a cross between a kindergarten and a frat house. You throw parties. Do that, and you can find an endless supply of bros who will toil away in the spider monkey room for $35,000 a year."

This is the backbone of the new economy. I wish more people understood the trick here and actively fought against it. It is not, nor will it ever, be acceptable to normalize phrases like "Passion, not a Pension!"

I worry about future generations.
posted by jnnla at 2:28 PM on March 28, 2016 [42 favorites]


so, is the CRM broken and forgotten or really really nice?
posted by andrewcooke at 2:29 PM on March 28, 2016 [3 favorites]


I'm really questioning why he accepted that job in the first place.

Nine months out of work will do that to you.
posted by Etrigan at 2:30 PM on March 28, 2016 [28 favorites]


I work in advertising. Same bullshit. Astounding how many agency websites start off with a variation on "we are not an ad agency..."

Passion. Ugh.


"We are not your usual ad agency. We are not an 'ad agency' at all, in fact. The people here are not workers; some of them are not even people. We are a post-business mind collective of terminally passionate creators and communicators who are contractually prohibited from sleeping until your company has 200% market share...but they wouldn't want to, anyway, because impossible goals are harmonized with the brain-soul, or 'logos,' of our uncomfortably, unsettlingly passionate hive-grinders. We don't make ads or campaigns or strategies or ideas or plans or graphic artwork or animation -- we engender new worlds where the light of the divine which gives rise to all things shines through a lens crafted of your company's quarter-to-quarter growth goals. Don't worry about hiring us -- there are already a notionally infinite number of realities where you already did. We have no contact information and no physical location. We are inside you already and you are inside us, and speaking of which can you get us some more coke so we can FUCKING move forward with this thing?"
posted by clockzero at 2:32 PM on March 28, 2016 [157 favorites]


Hahaha, clockzero. Brilliant.
posted by three easy payments and one complicated payment at 2:34 PM on March 28, 2016


WTF is it with these assholes and their Nerf guns? I'd swear that I saw a short documentary on computer culture in the late seventies or early eighties in which they were shooting at each other with the Nerf gun's predecessor, those toy guns that shot suction-cup-tipped darts. Is it that they've got that much aggro but want to pretend that it's all harmless fun, even if they've just interrupted your concentration for the umpteenth time? As Lawrence said in Office Space, "I do believe that would get your ass kicked."
posted by Halloween Jack at 2:35 PM on March 28, 2016 [6 favorites]


That "Graduated" shit is like something out of Logan's Run where you are "renewed" at Carousel after you hit 30. This is better (more awful) parody than the Blandly site.
posted by GospelofWesleyWillis at 2:36 PM on March 28, 2016 [46 favorites]



I'd never move to Boston (or Mountain View) but I've worked for similar startups and the description of the office plan sounds almost exactly like my current place down to the areas named after city neighborhoods. A job's a job.


Whoah, there. What distinguishes Boston from the Bay Area is precisely a higher expectation of adult behavior in the startup scene.

A startup officer on my FB friends list asked a year ago about taking measures to discourage techbros from applying to work for his company. I retorted "isn't a Cambridge address enough?" And his response was (essentially) "thus far."
posted by ocschwar at 2:42 PM on March 28, 2016 [4 favorites]


That "Graduated" shit is like something out of Logan's Run where you are "renewed" at Carousel after you hit 30. This is better (more awful) parody than the Blandly site.


Admittedly, Land of Hope and Glory playing on the PA system while security escorts some dude out with his effects in a banker's box, well, I almost want to see it happen.
posted by ocschwar at 2:47 PM on March 28, 2016


just looking aroud (i hadn't heard of hubspot until 5 minutes ago) they seem to be the biggest player in "inbound marketing", and inbound marketing itself doesn't sound like a particularly dumb idea

This isn't really an answer to my question, or else the answer is "Hotspot is better that its competitors because it's the biggest" which is not a very inspiring answer for an engineer. "We have the largest marketing department" doesn't really sell me.

I suspect that's one reason why they need a "culture code" - it differentiates them from their competitor when nothing else really does.
posted by muddgirl at 2:48 PM on March 28, 2016 [1 favorite]


whoooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo you guys were NOT kidding about slide 10 huh

oh MAN
posted by prefpara at 2:49 PM on March 28, 2016 [9 favorites]


Whoah, there. What distinguishes Boston from the Bay Area is precisely a higher expectation of adult behavior in the startup scene.

A startup officer on my FB friends list asked a year ago about taking measures to discourage techbros from applying to work for his company. I retorted "isn't a Cambridge address enough?" And his response was (essentially) "thus far."


This article is literally about a startup located in Cambridge.
posted by Apocryphon at 2:53 PM on March 28, 2016 [25 favorites]


the first thing that set off my interpretation alarm was the fact that this person went through a 20-person new hire orientation, and that apparently orientations of this size occur on a weekly basis.

That's not a startup. That's your average everyday monolithic company wearing the face of a startup that it acquired, devoured from the inside, and is wearing its skin like a meatsuit. So many aspects of familiar startup culture are artifacts of a period of time when the company was only 10, 30, or 50 people -- where the CEO actually would know everyone by name and you can take the entire company out to a restaurant to celebrate a big deal piece of news. What seems mildly microaggressive and barely tolerable at that scale is total nightmare fuel when scaled up to the dehumanizing size of a company with 1000's of employees that hires 20 of them on a weekly basis.

Also, as a tech professional, who has actually worked at that former furniture factory in Cambridge AND has worked at a company that also uses "graduated" as a euphemism for employee departures AND has worked at another place that tried to push the "work life balance doesn't apply when work is life", this entire article was a non-stop trigger fest for me. And, yeah, techbros in Cambridge have been A Thing for a while.
posted by bl1nk at 3:04 PM on March 28, 2016 [18 favorites]


Whoah, there. What distinguishes Boston from the Bay Area is precisely a higher expectation of adult behavior in the startup scene.

This entire thread is about a company in the Boston area. Cambridge to be exact.
posted by octothorpe at 3:10 PM on March 28, 2016 [2 favorites]


I have to step in and defend Microserfs. Seriously, read it now and it reads like a paean to a lost age of tech work, where earnest, sensitive, touchy-feely nerds set out to make a difference by contributing something new to the world, not by ruining something that works. Their startup team is much more akin to today's indie game teams, not the SF disruptors. I still think it is one of Coupland's more honest and unguarded books.
posted by Jon Mitchell at 3:13 PM on March 28, 2016 [20 favorites]


The Soul Of A New Machine for me, thanks. And make it a double.

It stars Jessamyn's dad! That's how fucking cool it is!
posted by valkane at 3:17 PM on March 28, 2016 [20 favorites]


Using 'graduated' as a euphemism for leaving seems like it would put everyone into the mindset of the job just being something you did for a couple of years before moving on to better things. I've had jobs like that (one explicitly had no potential for advancement, ever, and they told you up front that they wanted you to leave someday to go to grad school). However, that seems like a really bad way to run a job where you want anyone to get good at anything, and not just have continuous turnover.
posted by Mitrovarr at 3:33 PM on March 28, 2016 [2 favorites]


From the slides about culture: "We have unlimited vacation."

Ok, so. If I leave or get canned, have I accrued unlimited vacation that I can take with me as compensation owed??

If so...cha ching!

"What does it mean to be Hubspotty?"

Uh, my eczema?

Oh, no, wait. "Effective. GSD (Gets Stuff Done) Measurably moves the needle. Immeasurably adds value."

Ok. So I don't work there. However, your shares are publicly traded. This "immeasurable" value you cite. Where is it on the balance sheet? This "needle." What is it and how does it move?
posted by mandolin conspiracy at 3:36 PM on March 28, 2016 [1 favorite]


t stars Jessamyn's dad! That's how fucking cool it is!

Wait, what?
posted by Artw at 3:38 PM on March 28, 2016 [1 favorite]


I am always hugely suspicious of unlimited vacation. I suspect it means "no vacation".
posted by Artw at 3:39 PM on March 28, 2016 [32 favorites]


Yeah, how can they have unlimited vacation? Either it's unpaid or what do they do when someone is like "well, I'm going to go tour Europe for 2 years! See you all later!"
posted by Mitrovarr at 3:43 PM on March 28, 2016 [2 favorites]


> Wait, what?

You didn't know? It's true!
posted by rtha at 3:44 PM on March 28, 2016 [7 favorites]


"Effective. GSD (Gets Stuff Done) Measurably moves the needle. Immeasurably adds value."

"There is no restraining order that can stop us from adding value to your company"
posted by clockzero at 3:44 PM on March 28, 2016 [15 favorites]


Wow!
posted by Artw at 3:45 PM on March 28, 2016 [1 favorite]


One Thursday in late 2014, I stop by my boss’s desk and tell him I’ve been offered a new job. I won’t start until January, but I am giving him six weeks’ notice. He asks me to reconsider. I tell him I appreciate the offer, but I’ve made up my mind.

...

But the email that Cranium sends to the HubSpot faithful that evening doesn’t mention anything about any of that. It just implies that I’ve been fired—and that Friday will be my last day.


Whoa whoa whoa whoa HOLD UP THERE.
posted by Spatch at 3:46 PM on March 28, 2016 [2 favorites]


Yeah, how can they have unlimited vacation? Either it's unpaid or what do they do when someone is like "well, I'm going to go tour Europe for 2 years! See you all later!

Asking about this sort of thing is probably precisely why I've never gotten an offer when interviewing any place with unlimited vacation.
posted by Artw at 3:46 PM on March 28, 2016 [7 favorites]


clockzero: "There is no restraining order that can stop us from adding value to your company"

cf. Simpson, Abraham:

"I never once washed my hands! That's your policy, not mine!"
posted by mandolin conspiracy at 3:47 PM on March 28, 2016 [3 favorites]


"There is no restraining order that can stop us from adding value to your company"

"My name is Declan and I've been in your building duct taping gold Krugerrands to your sprinkler pipes since three AM! This building is No Smoking, right?"
posted by robocop is bleeding at 3:48 PM on March 28, 2016 [1 favorite]


Whoa whoa whoa whoa HOLD UP THERE.

Now, presumably, they're beholden to whatever employment standards laws are on the books there in that jurisdiction...assuming they haven't "disrupted" them as well. I'm guessing the author gave six weeks notice so he'd have pay in lieu of notice in the event he got walked out. Or implied out. Whatever the case may be.
posted by mandolin conspiracy at 3:50 PM on March 28, 2016


But the email that Cranium sends to the HubSpot faithful that evening doesn’t mention anything about any of that. It just implies that I’ve been fired—and that Friday will be my last day.

Whoa whoa whoa whoa HOLD UP THERE.


It's likely that at that point Cranium (Mike Volpe) had suspicions about Lyons' trajectory. Those suspicions apparently led to paranoia, which in turn led to criminal attempts to kill Lyons book through blackmail, which led to his firing and a Federal investigation.
posted by NoxAeternum at 3:51 PM on March 28, 2016 [7 favorites]


Going home to read this to my roommate who works at a Cambridge tech/sales startup STAT.
posted by maryr at 3:52 PM on March 28, 2016


Not to mention that your employer telling everyone that you've been fired, when you haven't been, is libelous.
posted by Mitrovarr at 3:52 PM on March 28, 2016


I read this on HN the other day, I was expecting more "Hell" to be honest. It sounds pretty tech-bro, but there are dozens if not hundreds of other companies trying to pay you in foosball, free beer, and saving the world rather than actual money. Although, they are post-IPO so they'd have to offer at least RSUs to get any decent engineers in the door.

There is literally trillions of dollars of VC money invested in companies just as "useless" as this one, so that's not exactly novel either.

Although, since HubSpot committed felonies in attempting to halt publication of Lyon's book, perhaps the actual juicy stuff didn't make it to this article.
posted by sideshow at 3:58 PM on March 28, 2016


It's likely that at that point Cranium (Mike Volpe) had suspicions about Lyons' trajectory. Those suspicions apparently led to paranoia, which in turn led to criminal attempts to kill Lyons book through blackmail, which led to his firing and a Federal investigation.

Chief Marketing Officer doesn't understand that skullduggery ("through email hacking, manipulation, and extortion") could lead to a Federal investigation and ensuing press that in turn increases book sales.

Hmmm.

tl;dr:

"Look - they say they understand marketing. Let me, a fifty-something, self-described 'sad-sack' demonstrate how that works through the lens of years of experience, and this little thing called the law that, despite their cultish rhetoric, they still have to follow."
posted by mandolin conspiracy at 3:59 PM on March 28, 2016 [1 favorite]


Unlimited vacation is a neat theoretical idea, but really it means "unaccountable vacation". Not accruable, not trackable, and subject to the hidden and unprovable political whims of whoever is granting it. Just like "flat management structure" means "secret management structure", almost invariably. Not a good thing, really.
posted by Jon Mitchell at 4:00 PM on March 28, 2016 [43 favorites]


Yeah, how can they have unlimited vacation? Either it's unpaid or what do they do when someone is like "well, I'm going to go tour Europe for 2 years! See you all later!


Well, in the case of company a Boulder a friend of mine used to work at, the violator was fired for being useless (taking 1 out of every 3 days as vacation day usually means you are terrible in other areas as well) and the vacation policy was amended with a "This is why we can't have nice things" clause.
posted by sideshow at 4:09 PM on March 28, 2016


This post by nonname123 on the HN thread is beautiful and haunting:

When you leave or a bunch of your friends who used to go to happy hour together leave "for better opportunities," you'll realize that most people who are your work drinking buddies didn't really know you or felt or thought deeply about your personal experiences. (It's not that they're bad people, it's just what happens when people are put in an artificial social environment where people slap high-fives after work rec dogeball and shout out witty one-liners).

Also when you realize after 5 or 6 years of working, and the startup mantra of "changing the world," your other friends whom you laughed at before, toiling away in their fields have started coming on their own. You have only pushed bits for marketing, spam, online shopping, on-demand on-gig economy for people like yourself to get a stick of gum delivered in an hour. You can try to justify how you are promoted from junior all the way to lead to technical product manager, or how you led your team to switch from Rails to Node, SQL to Cassandra, Java to Scala. But you'll begin to see the thin-veneer of how little management cares about tech and how most of it is a pep-rally, a race to the bottom for those at the top of the Ponzi scheme to enrich themselves.

You look at other people in other fields or in other area's of tech. At work cafeteria IKEA lunch table (after a lengthy morning standup where there was yet another pissing match about React vs. Angular), People shoot the breeze about AlphaGo or that Tay twitter bot, and someone else shoot another witty one-liner comeback, everyone laughs, one person groans - in between the silence after the reactions settle in, it dawns slowly on your mind that we've all become spectators in the real information technology revolution.

That what you are toiling away when you go back to your desk after this lunch conversation is just another Twitter stream, another HN comment, Instagram heart, albeit decorated in syntax highlighting to the "AWS/Google Cloud/Azure Twitterverse."

That is just the same as the well-dressed girl or guy sitting in the next row over in the open-office environment, whom you never talk to but to make yourself feel better, secretly put down in your mind because what they do "is so much BS, social media customer engagement"; but they are the same, and you're all the same...

You call your friends up from college and hear their stories at the precarious precipice of 28-30. How many hours they stayed up at the hospital during a rotation, and a critical debate they had with their attending whether to admit a patient; or how many e-mails they had to sent to get their 15 minute film considered at 50 different film festivals; or staying on after getting finally their PhD, to work for free to do the technology transfer to industry the physics research they worked on in their group; and always, the one-liner remark, "tech has it so much better, you guys make so much money!"

Of course, the response begets a begrudging smile or another sequitur to equalize the conversation; but come work Monday, the habit to don on the noise canceling headphones, the cursory checks on social media to keep abreast fantasy football leagues/stock portfolio's, the internal monologue of the recalculation how much your employee stock options are going to be worth/vest, have all become instinctive rituals to not let the existential dread set in.

posted by Apocryphon at 4:12 PM on March 28, 2016 [53 favorites]


Yeah, how can they have unlimited vacation? Either it's unpaid or what do they do when someone is like "well, I'm going to go tour Europe for 2 years! See you all later!"

In other companies I know of with this policy, it is paid. However, these are all at-will employment situations. So if you take too much, you get fired.

How much is too much? Well, if you have to ask...

(Basically its a way to get people to take no vacation, since there is no clear policy or guideline on how much is "right", and the culture at many tech companies is competitive on the "who works the most" front. You're much much better off getting the standard N weeks vacation (at tech companies, often 3-5 weeks so not bad) than "unlimited").
posted by thefoxgod at 4:12 PM on March 28, 2016 [8 favorites]


If I ever saw an email at a company I worked at like We’ll get an email from Cranium saying, “Team, just letting you know that Derek has graduated from HubSpot, and we’re excited to see how he uses his superpowers in his next big adventure!" I would be, uh, applying for early graduation.

The first few tech jobs I had were all at startups. I used to think I wasn't good at picking them, since they all either went out of business or got acquired on the cheap (aka, I didn't strike gold). But after reading these kind of things, I guess I had much better taste than I thought.

Life is still better in MegaCompany land though (at least in tech).
posted by thefoxgod at 4:19 PM on March 28, 2016 [2 favorites]


Was he really that desperate or was he planning the book from the start and this was just research?

Well, there's this little note at the end of the extract:

Dan Lyons left HubSpot in December 2014. He never signed the nondisparagement and nondisclosure paperwork the company gave him.
posted by jack_mo at 4:22 PM on March 28, 2016 [9 favorites]


I've interviewed at companies like this one, and have turned down their offers, because the writing was clear, only about 15 people will end up profiting, and the worker bees will end up just like Yahoo worker bees, laid off before they can vest, if the company makes it long enough to ipo.

This is ultimately why I, too, have turned down a bunch of jobs at startups.

If you're not one of the founders, a startup has to be worth more than a billion for you to make a significant amount of money. Otherwise, if the company merely stays in business, any stock options are just a nice bonus to make up for the salary cut you accepted, if you're lucky.

I once pointed out that if Google had been sold for a few billion dollars, Marissa Mayer wouldn't be CEO of Yahoo... she would be another well-off Bay Area tech professional who had enough money to buy a nice house (maybe).
posted by bright colored sock puppet at 4:26 PM on March 28, 2016 [3 favorites]


I work at a mature startup. We have 9 kegs in the office. One in each kitchen and 3 in the cafeteria. No one is drinking all day. No one is drunk. We have unlimited vacation. Most people take 2-4 weeks of vacation a year. Those that take the piss out of it don't last long. We work hard but most people are gone by 5. We are very careful who we hire. One leader thought he could turn us into a bro culture. He was fired quickly. All this to say that not all startups are propped up by alcohol, vc money, and nap rooms. Some make real money with solid business models and are staffed with mature, responsible humans.
posted by jasondigitized at 5:20 PM on March 28, 2016 [20 favorites]


I don't care for dogs in the workplace so I wonder what would happen if one were to substitute babies or children for dogs. I mean, bros like dogs and don't have kids so maybe that's why dogs are OK but there's no place touting it's "child-friendly" work culture.
posted by fiercekitten at 5:32 PM on March 28, 2016 [5 favorites]


See it's always been a requirement to sign the non disparagement agreement IME to get the layoff package. It was heavily implied I'd be fired instead. And I need the cash to get me through years of underemployment.

The time we were asked to wear a costume for a party I put on a tissue dispenser box.
posted by tilde at 5:38 PM on March 28, 2016 [1 favorite]


I remember hearing in an anthropology class that "culture" is a difficult word. If you wandered into a village deep in the jungle and asked the people there "what is your culture?" They wouldn't know what you're talking about. It's like asking fish about water. My own experience in companies is that when they talked about their culture it was really aspirational or just bullshit. There is a real culture in companies but it's not waved around on PowerPoint slides. It's what is happening all around both good and bad. Usually bad...
posted by njohnson23 at 5:50 PM on March 28, 2016 [8 favorites]


Dan Lyons left HubSpot in December 2014. He never signed the nondisparagement and nondisclosure paperwork the company gave him.

I don't understand how this could happen. At a place like HubSpot, wouldn't signing those be a requirement for getting the job in the first place? Did someone just not follow up on his missing paperwork?
posted by ymgve at 6:19 PM on March 28, 2016


All this to say that not all startups are propped up by alcohol, vc money, and nap rooms

well, you know, that's super cool. i'd say you have it better than 80% of companies in general though, not just startups.
posted by rhizome at 6:19 PM on March 28, 2016


Dan Lyons left HubSpot in December 2014. He never signed the nondisparagement and nondisclosure paperwork the company gave him.


This could mean a few things: he didn't do it when he left, which would support the thesis he was doing it for a book, or that he was asked to sign them up front and didn't - meaning nobody was checking. That might say alot about the maturity of the company.
posted by mandolin conspiracy at 6:24 PM on March 28, 2016


The thing about a lot of villages in jungles is that they know plenty about their culture, because they have a touchstone to compare it to: what their TVs tell them about life in places urbanized enough to be filming TV shows. Whereas these people in Boston? They've never heard about a life other than their own. They're in an echo chamber.
posted by ambrosen at 6:27 PM on March 28, 2016 [2 favorites]


These companies that let you create blogs to drive leads, aren't they also used to weasel SEO, manipulate stats, and run astroturf campaigns?
posted by destro at 6:29 PM on March 28, 2016 [1 favorite]


In the parlance of cinema, this makes me want to smoke and drink whiskey while staring into the middle distance. This was my world for close to 10 years. YOU DON'T KNOW, MAN, YOU WEREN'T THERE!
posted by Ghostride The Whip at 6:50 PM on March 28, 2016 [7 favorites]


If they offered, half of you would happily work there. Admit it.
Actually, no, and I feel like a little bit of literacy could have helped you avoid saying something this stupid in the first place. Have we really moved from not reading the articles all the way to not even reading other people's comments already? Also, what is even the point of this comment? Are you really just shouting "It's better than starving to death"? I think we could maybe set the bar a little bit higher.

We have unlimited vacation. Most people take 2-4 weeks of vacation a year. Those that take the piss out of it don't last long.
Yeah, this is what people are talking about when they're derisive of the idea of unlimited vacation. You clearly don't have unlimited vacation, since people get fired for "taking the piss out of it", by which you mean treating the vacation as unlimited. If you can't decide to take a multi-year vacation without getting fired, then the vacation is not unlimited. And that's fine, since unlimited vacation isn't a thing that business can realistically offer if there's work that needs to be done. The logistics of having employees and all that. There is some amount of vacation that is too much, and some amount that is not, and in between those amounts is the limit. When a company offers unlimited vacation, what they're actually offering is a refusal to let you know where that limit is, and the reason for that is so that people won't actually take as much vacation time as they could. If they just tell people "You can take six weeks of vacation a year", then everybody will. If they say "Vacation is unlimited (but we'll totally fire you if you try to take unlimited vacation)" and then in practice allow people to take six weeks, lots of people will voluntarily take less than six weeks because they don't know where the invisible line is (but they know they're afraid to step over it).
posted by IAmUnaware at 7:11 PM on March 28, 2016 [96 favorites]


If you can't decide to take a multi-year vacation without getting fired, then the vacation is not unlimited. And that's fine, since unlimited vacation isn't a thing that business can realistically offer if there's work that needs to be done. The logistics of having employees and all that. There is some amount of vacation that is too much, and some amount that is not, and in between those amounts is the limit. When a company offers unlimited vacation, what they're actually offering is a refusal to let you know where that limit is, and the reason for that is so that people won't actually take as much vacation time as they could.

Yes, this exactly. This is like that rural highway where the actual speed limit is some indeterminate value above the posted speed limit, totally subject to how the Trooper who just pulled you over is feeling that day. Or, alternatively, like the university professor who explained to me that, despite any grades I might have earned, "You pass if we say you pass."

Not knowing the rules of the game puts any player at a severe disadvantage and people ought to be aware of that.
posted by LastOfHisKind at 7:34 PM on March 28, 2016 [13 favorites]


jfc "a job is a job" is some of the stupidest shit I've ever heard /parent
posted by aydeejones at 7:37 PM on March 28, 2016 [1 favorite]


I don't understand how this could happen. At a place like HubSpot, wouldn't signing those be a requirement for getting the job in the first place? Did someone just not follow up on his missing paperwork?

Some places will just assume that you filled out all the paperwork. When I got laid off from the steaming Hell that was Citigroup, I had 30 days to fill out the paperwork to get my layoff payout (which was a nice big of money, honestly). I paid an employment lawyer for an hour of time, and he reviewed it for me, advising me of a couple clauses to remove as it infringed on my rights. I did so, initialing them, and then sent it in, and no one said anything to me.

(Two of them were the nondisparagement and nondisclosure clauses, the first because it violated my First Amendment rights, the second because it was so wide-ranging I potentially couldn't talk about what I did for a job without violating it.)
posted by mephron at 7:52 PM on March 28, 2016 [1 favorite]


I work at a mature startup. We have 9 kegs in the office. One in each kitchen and 3 in the cafeteria. ... All this to say that not all startups are propped up by alcohol...

You just admitted that you have nine fucking kegs in your office.
posted by Tyrant King Porn Dragon at 7:53 PM on March 28, 2016 [40 favorites]


In certain jurisdictions, vacation is part of your overall compensation. So if you're fired (without cause), or laid off, or quit, what happens with "unlimited vacation?"

Oh, right. It's not actual compensation you're entitled to. Huh.
posted by mandolin conspiracy at 8:01 PM on March 28, 2016 [10 favorites]


Eagerly awaiting the first lawsuit that lays claim to unused unlimited vacation pay.
posted by benzenedream at 8:07 PM on March 28, 2016 [5 favorites]


> Every tech startup seems to be like this. Believing that your company is not just about making money, that there is a meaning and a purpose to what you do, that your company has a mission, and that you want to be part of that mission—that is a big prerequisite for working at one of these places.

lol what a fucking scam
posted by The Card Cheat at 9:13 PM on March 28, 2016 [3 favorites]


From the Culture Code deck, No. 14, "We dare to be different," with about 10 people who all appear to be the same race, class, and age. No. 49: "Just because someone made a mistake years ago doesn't mean we need a policy or rule. ... We only protect against big stuff." Yikes! Who decides? No. 83: It's "wrong" "to hire for skills and experience" if there's no "culture fit." I understand that this type of hiring often recreates the existing demographics and excludes people who don't fit those demographics.

I do like some of the concepts. And some of them I find overwhelming and sort of magical thinking (at least for my reality).
posted by ClaudiaCenter at 9:47 PM on March 28, 2016 [3 favorites]


Every three months, everyone switches seats, in a corporate version of musical chairs. HubSpot calls this a “seating hack” and says the point is to remind everyone that change is constant.

Ugggh. I would hate this with a passion.
posted by SisterHavana at 10:04 PM on March 28, 2016 [11 favorites]


Our software is magical, such that when people use it—wait for it—one plus one equals three. Halligan and Dharmesh first introduced this alchemical concept at HubSpot’s annual customer conference, with a huge slide behind them that said “1 + 1 = 3.” Since then it has become an actual slogan at the company. People use the concept of one plus one equals three as a prism through which to evaluate new ideas.
But it was all right, everything was all right, the struggle was finished. He had won the victory over himself.
posted by We had a deal, Kyle at 10:06 PM on March 28, 2016 [29 favorites]


I work for a company with "unlimited vacation". Vacation time is still tracked and still has to be approved by your manager. There is also a maximum length for any single vacation. On average, people now take slightly more vacation than they did when we had a traditional vacation policy. It's really not the mind game or sophisticated trap folks try to make it out to be on threads like this.
posted by phoenixy at 10:19 PM on March 28, 2016 [6 favorites]


It's still an accrued benefit/part of how you're paid. If you don't/can't take it, how does it get paid out? Or is it just a case of six figures crazy salary so nobody cares?

For other folks, it's more than a rounding error

It's not a "sophisticated trap." It is, in the words of Walter Sobchak, "Fucking a stranger in the ass," should the timing suit them.
posted by mandolin conspiracy at 10:39 PM on March 28, 2016 [4 favorites]


Metafilter: the fremdschämen is palpable.
posted by sobell at 10:54 PM on March 28, 2016 [1 favorite]


I also work in advertising, and I've recently started at a New Place that is so much better than all the previous places I've ever worked. And you know why? The management are adults. Boring MBAs in uncool jeans who leave on time to parent their children and wear their security passes on LANYARDS, for chrissakes. They do not shoot nerf guns or produce endless decks on culture, and I don't think I've ever heard them use the words 'do what you love' or 'passion.'

It's so intensely liberating, I can't tell you, and I'm finally producing some of the best creative work of my career.
posted by nerdfish at 11:28 PM on March 28, 2016 [38 favorites]


Frankly I wouldn't trust Dan Lyons at all after his reporting of the SCO/Linux affair and his turnaround into Android fanboy against Apple, and at the same time I'm sure Hubspot is a shit show to work at.
posted by PenDevil at 1:16 AM on March 29, 2016 [2 favorites]


Every three months, everyone switches seats, in a corporate version of musical chairs. HubSpot calls this a “seating hack” and says the point is to remind everyone that change is constant.

We do this although not quite that often. I'm at my fifth desk in two years now. It's kind of a pain to move the monitor stand but other than that it doesn't bother me.
posted by octothorpe at 3:25 AM on March 29, 2016


It's 4:59 and I'm going home.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 4:55 PM


Re-reading this was a weird way to learn that my work computer's clock is fast.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 5:37 AM on March 29, 2016 [23 favorites]


Yeah, stop leaving work four minutes early, dude.

OK, I noticed it, too. *twitch*
posted by wenestvedt at 5:51 AM on March 29, 2016 [3 favorites]


I agree 100% with the comments above about power and 'unlimited' vacation.

In addition, in public companies at least, accrued, unused vacation is a liability. I know this because I worked at one company that, when they were looking at not meeting their quarterly earnings projection, required employees to take vacation to get it off the books to tweak the numbers a little.

I'm not sure that private companies are subject to the same bookkeeping rules, but not having to track vacation at the very least saves money and time devoted to HR.
posted by tippiedog at 6:24 AM on March 29, 2016 [1 favorite]


Such an odd position: to argue that a finite amount of something is "unlimited." If you called it "ambiguous vacation" you'd be a lot more accurate.
posted by Dark Messiah at 6:26 AM on March 29, 2016 [11 favorites]


mandolin conspiracy: It's still an accrued benefit/part of how you're paid.

I forgot to mention that aspect of a traidtional vacation policy: at a company with a traditional vacation policy, you quit with accrued, unused vacation and the equivalent is paid to you.
posted by tippiedog at 6:27 AM on March 29, 2016


The last company I worked at had an unlimited vacation policy. I don't recall what the company called it, but I--in my eternal striving toward linguistic accuracy--referred to it as 'untracked vacation.'
posted by tippiedog at 6:28 AM on March 29, 2016 [1 favorite]


We have unlimited vacation. Most people take 2-4 weeks of vacation a year. Those that take the piss out of it don't last long.

Here at Tchotchke's, we have an official minimum of 15 Pieces of Flair. Most people wear 30-40. Those that only wear 15 don't last long.
posted by officer_fred at 6:33 AM on March 29, 2016 [34 favorites]


Such an odd position: to argue that a finite amount of something is "unlimited." If you called it "ambiguous vacation" you'd be a lot more accurate.

I've been calling it ask vs. guess culture vacation. Unfortunately, the Venn diagram of people I know who recall years-old AskMe threads, and people who care about benefits at technology companies, looks like Elton John's sunglasses, so it hasn't gotten much traction yet.
posted by Mayor West at 7:09 AM on March 29, 2016 [11 favorites]


I recently had to argue to some of my fellow decision makers that unlimited parental leave was not going to sound as good to potential recruits as they thought it would, for the same reasons noted here re unlimited vacation. If one is empowered to take as much leave as one feels is "appropriate" given one's duties, there will always be pressure to take less leave (whether external, from management, or internal, because of one's workload/client roster), to the detriment of the new parent. (We settled on a fixed number that is consistent with our peer companies and retained a policy of flexibility to address the concern that caused someone to suggest unlimited leave -- namely, that a given new parent may need more leave for a variety of reasons.) Anyway, the point is that I think a lot of people have cottoned on to the fact that "unlimited" vacation or leave is not much of a perk.
posted by devinemissk at 7:23 AM on March 29, 2016 [2 favorites]


That point completely. My last job was of the "unlimited" leave variety, with respect to the birth of new kids.

Guess who had a call from her supervisor LITERALLY hours after the birth to ask her to jump on a few conference calls.
posted by odinsdream at 7:27 AM on March 29, 2016 [24 favorites]


odinsdream, I hope you were able to refuse.
posted by tippiedog at 7:36 AM on March 29, 2016 [1 favorite]


I'm a network engineer in the Boston area, and I am reasonably pleased with my job at present. I fear the day I need to find a new job, though, because I am not a good fit for that kind of culture and there's a lot of it around.

I don't want 'unlimited' vacation - I like my vacation time as an earned part of compensation. If I put off taking vacations to work on projects, I want to have that time sitting around as earned compensation so that if I quit, I still get the benefit. I think "hey, I'm quitting next week but I'd you to pay out an extra few weeks because I haven't taken vacation all year" somehow doesn't work as well.
posted by rmd1023 at 7:49 AM on March 29, 2016 [9 favorites]


I don't want 'unlimited' vacation - I like my vacation time as an earned part of compensation. If I put off taking vacations to work on projects, I want to have that time sitting around as earned compensation so that if I quit, I still get the benefit. I think "hey, I'm quitting next week but I'd you to pay out an extra few weeks because I haven't taken vacation all year" somehow doesn't work as well.

I think the solution here is, when you find the new job, don't quit your old one. Take an unlimited vacation from it.
posted by mpbx at 8:16 AM on March 29, 2016 [14 favorites]


odinsdream, I hope you were able to refuse.

I gave my notice my first actual day back.
posted by odinsdream at 8:35 AM on March 29, 2016 [17 favorites]


I noticed, at the bottom of the article:
A version of this article appears in the April 1, 2016 issue of Fortune.
and I desperately want to believe that this is an April Fool's hoax.
posted by crazy_yeti at 8:48 AM on March 29, 2016 [1 favorite]


If they offered, half of you would happily work there. Admit it.

My working days are over thank god but I would have loved the experience of working somewhere like that. If only for a little while.
posted by night_train at 9:07 AM on March 29, 2016


Okay, dogs in the office would be cool, though. I wouldn't get any work done, but DOGGIES.
posted by rmd1023 at 9:08 AM on March 29, 2016 [1 favorite]


> If they offered, half of you would happily work there. Admit it.

I interviewed at a couple of places like that in the late '90s/early 2000s, when I was fresh out of school, and was wowed by the beer kegs, couches, air hockey tables, etc. At that age I probably would have happily worked at a place like that for a while because I would have been too naive to realize I was being ripped off.
posted by The Card Cheat at 9:19 AM on March 29, 2016


Am I the only person in the world who really does not want to bring my dog (or really anyone's dogs where I'm working) to work? I love dogs and I especially love mine, but I find that dogs at work are mostly just distracting and result in someone having to mind the dog and entertain the dog and deal with the dog wanting to entertain herself. Dogs get bored and want attention, or they get excited because OMG SOMEONE WALKED BY and make their handler acknowledge that, or they get tired and crabby and then you have to manage your coworkers' expectations that your dog act like a shiny fluffy toy who is suuuuuuuuper interested in them at all times. (And your coworkers will be constantly interrupting you with requests to pet your dog or attempts to talk to you about petting your dog.)

If there are other dogs, maybe your dog thinks the other dog is super rude and makes nasty faces at them if not kept distracted or maybe your dog thinks the other dog is JUST SO GREAT and will not be dissuaded from trying to play all the time when you're trying to think about software. Maybe your dog is vocal when excited--that novelty wears off fast, lemme tell you--and then you have to worry about keeping the dog quiet when your coworkers are trying to do their jobs. Maybe you have the two people in the office who are afraid of your sort of dog and the one person who is allergic and you have to figure out how to keep your dog from interacting with any of them and keep an ear on where both they and your dog are at all times. While you work. And you try to think about your freaking code.

Dogs are distracting, and really not always in a super fun way. I'd rather work short hours and then get to go enjoy my dog at home, not work long hours in an office with my dog right there. Less balls to juggle at once, for one thing.
posted by sciatrix at 9:30 AM on March 29, 2016 [7 favorites]


I do not like dogs whatsoever. I will never share a workplace with them. The notion is ridiculous.
posted by Dark Messiah at 10:04 AM on March 29, 2016 [6 favorites]


To save y'all some clicks: slide 10
posted by exogenous at 10:27 AM on March 29, 2016 [7 favorites]


When I read this excerpt earlier this week, I came away thinking that Dan Lyons sounds like a cranky old man who has never worked a day in his life outside of a newsroom. I have worked in marketing in a Boston area startup (not Hubspot), so here are my thoughts:

People often talk about the difficulty of finding good engineers, but most people don't realize that competition for sales hires in Boston can also be pretty fierce. This isn't to say there's a lack of raw supply - there are tons of people who think they can sell. However good sales people who can effectively sell a complex SaaS product are incredibly rare. Experienced people who have proven they can deliver results can practically name their own price. Most of those people avoid startups unless they're getting hired for an executive slot.

So how does a startup find good sales people? They go after young inexperienced hires and try to find the diamonds in the rough. To make this work, your office needs to appeal to younger, fresh out of college people who are willing to work hard to make money in sales. You give them all a rah-rah bootcamp that pumps them up, turn them loose, and start measuring results. Over time, the good ones rise to the top and the bad ones get culled. Give the good ones more responsibility, money, and accounts, and you can create great sales people out of thin air. I personally know several amazing technology sales execs in the Boston area who started out this way.

The problem with this approach is that your company ends up with a lot of immature crazy people in the process. You want your young sales reps to sound excited about your product (faking product excitement comes with experience), so you describe everything you do like you're changing the world. You also have to set a lot of rules and boundaries, so you end up with vague cultural statements.

I will freely admit that this culture is wrong for a lot of people, but I think Lyons does his readers a disservice by making Hubspot sound like a zoo rather than a real business that has a clear reason for operating the way it does.
posted by fremen at 10:31 AM on March 29, 2016 [8 favorites]


Slide 10, holy shit.

THEN: financial remuneration
NOW: air-pong
posted by Artw at 10:39 AM on March 29, 2016 [10 favorites]


I will freely admit that this culture is wrong for a lot of people, but I think Lyons does his readers a disservice by making Hubspot sound like a zoo rather than a real business that has a clear reason for operating the way it does.

I'm sorry, but when one of your staff lights the janitorial cart on fire, you have officially reached the "zoo" stage, do not pass go, do not collect 200 zorkmids.
posted by NoxAeternum at 11:41 AM on March 29, 2016 [14 favorites]


fremen: "making Hubspot sound like a zoo rather than a real business"

To be fair, it can be two things.
posted by mhum at 12:01 PM on March 29, 2016 [1 favorite]


I'm sorry, but when one of your staff lights the janitorial cart on fire, you have officially reached the "zoo" stage, do not pass go, do not collect 200 zorkmids.

Hey, we don't know that they didn't immediately "graduate" that--

Nope, can't even type it with a straight face.
posted by Etrigan at 12:05 PM on March 29, 2016 [5 favorites]


I'm sorry, but when one of your staff lights the janitorial cart on fire, you have officially reached the "zoo" stage

That sort of thing is only appropriate at a Microsoft ship party.
posted by rmd1023 at 12:24 PM on March 29, 2016


THEN: financial remuneration
NOW: air-pong


THEN: health insurance
NOW: Logan's Run (aka graduation)
posted by Pink Frost at 12:27 PM on March 29, 2016 [5 favorites]


To save y'all some clicks: slide 10

The only thing I'm interested in hearing from the creator of this slide is "For the love of God, Montresor!"
posted by Pope Guilty at 1:08 PM on March 29, 2016 [6 favorites]


1. I cannot believe this sort of thing still exists in 2016.
2. They didn't learn anything from Chiat/Day on how hot seating is a terrible idea?
posted by jenfullmoon at 1:33 PM on March 29, 2016 [3 favorites]


Frankly I wouldn't trust Dan Lyons at all after his reporting of the SCO/Linux affair and his turnaround into Android fanboy against Apple, and at the same time I'm sure Hubspot is a shit show to work at.

I think it's possible that he's just an opportunist, possibly a useful idiot, but I'm fine with him going into this with the possibility of writing a book out of his participation. It should happen more often.
posted by rhizome at 1:47 PM on March 29, 2016


Yes, this exactly. This is like that rural highway where the actual speed limit is some indeterminate value above the posted speed limit, totally subject to how the Trooper who just pulled you over is feeling that day. Or, alternatively, like the university professor who explained to me that, despite any grades I might have earned, "You pass if we say you pass."

Not knowing the rules of the game puts any player at a severe disadvantage and people ought to be aware of that.


Not everyone is playing a game, and the people that are put everyone else at a disadvantage.

Also there are actual highways that have no legal speed limit. You can still be arrested for driving dangerously, but there isn't an artificial definition of what one type of "dangerously" means (that doesn't apply in many situations). And what you describe is the case on most actual highways, with actual posted speed limits.

The other thing I find bizarre is that everyone seems to be treating like in a traditional vacation situation unused days are necessarily paid out when you quit as if that were the default everything should be judged by, rather than the gold standard. How about places where your vacation resets at the end of the year and anything unused just disappears? Or places that don't pay out anything for unused vacation, or where there is a stringent limit?
posted by mountmccabe at 2:05 PM on March 29, 2016 [1 favorite]


The other thing I find bizarre is that everyone seems to be treating like in a traditional vacation situation unused days are necessarily paid out when you quit as if that were the default everything should be judged by, rather than the gold standard.

Because it should be the default. It's my compensation, period. Luckily, I live in a state that actually has laws that enforce that.
posted by NoxAeternum at 2:20 PM on March 29, 2016 [3 favorites]


The other thing I find bizarre is that everyone seems to be treating like in a traditional vacation situation unused days are necessarily paid out when you quit as if that were the default everything should be judged by, rather than the gold standard.

Since we're talking about a company based in Massachusetts, that payout is required by law.
posted by antimony at 2:31 PM on March 29, 2016 [4 favorites]


My initial reaction to this was different to many of you: I read the slidedeck first, and while I spotted the red flags ( obsessed? manical? ) I completely drank the Kool-Aid: a whenever and wherever approach to work, favouring autonomy, evidence based marketing, hating office politics, "results matter more than the number of hours we work", "debates should be won with better data not bigger job titles", "not micro-directions", "HEART" - especially on automation and process reduction, "we don't hire asses", "take someone smart out for a meal", different, "making mistakes", fighting for simplicity, SCRAP... oh my god SCRAP; I'm completely with savetheclocktower - in principle this philosophy is a great idea and very alluring.

On reflection, after good discussion, and having read the book excerpt, I can't see this working in any system involving humans and/or capitalism. I've had something like fifteen employers, many of whom have made me more of a plastic Marxist than the last, but deep down I'm still optimistic, unlike Artw I've half an eye on my last chance to ride a tech bubble having missed out on the last one ( two? ) - but if this is the way work is going, is the only way to do that to get in early enough, to be one of SecretAgentSockpuppet's "15 people [who] will end up profiting"?
posted by DancingYear at 2:55 PM on March 29, 2016


> How about places where your vacation resets at the end of the year and anything unused just disappears?

This is not legal in California. See Q#4. Likewise, unused days must be paid out to the employee in the even of separation, because they are considered wages.
posted by rtha at 3:17 PM on March 29, 2016 [1 favorite]


Thanks for the information on labor laws in Massachusetts and California! That's good to hear.

My past situations are irrelevant to the article, but neither of the states I have worked for an employer in have had such laws.
posted by mountmccabe at 4:18 PM on March 29, 2016


in principle this philosophy is a great idea and very alluring.

What if you think one of your coworkers is an ass? The slide said the company doesn't hire asses!
posted by rhizome at 4:53 PM on March 29, 2016


It's fun how so many people are all "well he pretty obviously only did this to get material for a book" because I'm like "ok, so?" At least he was doing something.
posted by turbid dahlia at 6:03 PM on March 29, 2016 [5 favorites]


Thanks for the information on labor laws in Massachusetts and California! That's good to hear.

My past situations are irrelevant to the article, but neither of the states I have worked for an employer in have had such laws.


Hell, it's even like that in Idaho. At least I assume it is, because I've always had vacation paid out at the end of jobs or at reset dates, and I'm pretty sure nobody here would do that unless mandated by law.

Personally I hate the idea of "unlimited" vacation, because as mentioned above:

1. It's totally a mind game to stop you from taking as much vacation as you'd otherwise take. Otherwise why would they fire people who abuse it, instead of just telling them "Nope, you can't take more, that's enough for now"? It's to make you afraid of accidentally stepping over the invisible line.

2. Every unwritten policy gives your employer another way to fire you without taking blame, even for an illegal reason (like discrimination or retaliation).

3. It screws anyone who saves up vacation and unexpectedly loses their job. Remember, only fairly advanced professionals actually have any form of severance. Having a week or two of banked vacation is better than nothing if you get laid off or fired.

4. You can't negotiate for more vacation.

5. You can't save up vacation to cover the time between jobs when it comes time to find a better one.
posted by Mitrovarr at 6:32 PM on March 29, 2016 [8 favorites]


I interviewed at a couple of places like that in the late '90s/early 2000s, when I was fresh out of school, and was wowed by the beer kegs, couches, air hockey tables, etc. At that age I probably would have happily worked at a place like that for a while because I would have been too naive to realize I was being ripped off.

I work for government, and after almost a decade of doing that I would be wowed by a chair that wasn't wobbly and a box of halfway-decent pens. In the early 2000s I was wowed when working at places like Sensis, with its fancy flat-screens and "break out" areas; and by places like Carlton United Breweries, which had an actual bar in the building where you could go on a Friday and drink yourself insensible for zero dollars.

Considering this trajectory, I believe that in ten years' time I will turn up to work and be wowed that the building isn't on fire with everybody trapped inside screaming and the big boss person standing outside laughing at them as they cook.

I'd adjust pretty quickly though.
posted by turbid dahlia at 7:47 PM on March 29, 2016 [9 favorites]


"It's fun how so many people are all "well he pretty obviously only did this to get material for a book" because I'm like "ok, so?" At least he was doing something."

I suspect he took this job because he got canned from journalism and writing ad copy (or whatever he did ) was all he could get for a job at the time. And then, he got a book idea.
posted by jenfullmoon at 10:23 PM on March 29, 2016 [1 favorite]


jenfullmoon: I suspect he took this job because he got canned from journalism and writing ad copy (or whatever he did ) was all he could get for a job at the time. And then, he got a book idea.

I agree.
posted by tippiedog at 6:36 AM on March 30, 2016


More places need to adopt a minimum vacation policy instead of "unlimited vacation."
posted by howling fantods at 7:24 AM on March 30, 2016 [4 favorites]


My past situations are irrelevant to the article, but neither of the states I have worked for an employer in have had such laws.

Hell, it's even like that in Idaho. At least I assume it is, because I've always had vacation paid out at the end of jobs or at reset dates, and I'm pretty sure nobody here would do that unless mandated by law.


It's not like that currently in Kansas or Maine, nor was it like that in Illinois when I worked there. It's not the norm for a lot of people, although it should be for everyone.
posted by donnagirl at 7:42 AM on March 30, 2016



Using 'graduated' as a euphemism for leaving seems like it would put everyone into the mindset of the job just being something you did for a couple of years before moving on to better things


Consulting firms and i-banks have used the term "alumni network" for many years. With the idea being that one of the advantages of having worked for BCG or Deloitte or wherever, that you will have contact with a lot of future CxO types and and as the eager little networking machine that you are, you'll do a good job of staying in touch with them, for mutual benefit.

Also, the usual career track at these places was always described as: Analyst (2 years) - business school (2 years) - Associate (2+ years) and so forth.
posted by theorique at 12:21 PM on March 30, 2016 [1 favorite]


It's not just those fields - I think use of "alumni" to discuss previous employees often goes hand in hand with the "we're kind of like a college! our office park is a *campus*!" approach a lot of companies (example, microsoft) take.
posted by rmd1023 at 12:30 PM on March 30, 2016


Using 'graduated' as a euphemism for leaving seems like it would put everyone into the mindset of the job just being something you did for a couple of years before moving on to better things

It also lets one know that most of the employees are young enough to see graduation as a goal and not a hurdle or cliff.
posted by maryr at 12:36 PM on March 30, 2016


The euphemism in "graduated" really is ripe for so much abuse. I envision a tough wise-guy played by Vincent Pastore: "Yeah, Lou, he ... graduated, OK? You ain't gonna see him 'round here no more. And when the boss gets here, just try not to mention him, OK? Might get a little upset. Don't wanna have to do no more ... graduation ceremonies ... this week, awright?"
posted by theorique at 1:38 PM on March 30, 2016 [6 favorites]


The euphemism that was popular at the Fortune 50 company I worked at post-college was "He/She was transitioned to an external opportunity".
posted by mmascolino at 1:59 PM on March 30, 2016 [3 favorites]




The article was written by 'Fake Steve Jobs.'
posted by waxbanks at 8:02 PM on April 10, 2016


A rebuttal, by Hubspot co-founder Dharmesh Shah, has been published at LinkedIn.
posted by the Real Dan at 8:39 AM on April 13, 2016


Do note that the rebuttal completely avoids discussing the criminal investigation into one of their former C levels trying to kill the book by any means possible.
posted by NoxAeternum at 9:25 AM on April 13, 2016


It reads to me like "It's all true, and we like it that way." Lots of biases and telltale language tropes, "[he] had applied for a job," etc.
posted by rhizome at 12:25 PM on April 13, 2016


Hey guys. I can top this in terms of terrible presentations.
posted by Artw at 7:55 AM on April 17, 2016 [7 favorites]


omfg Artw. I wanted it to be satire, but no. He's proud of his attitudes.
posted by wintersweet at 11:04 AM on April 17, 2016 [1 favorite]


"Real engineers don't value money" - would we say this about "real executives" or "real MBAs". Sounds like a line used to get engineers to underprice themselves and bend over while management inserts the dildo and collects the fruit of their efforts. I call shenanigans.
posted by theorique at 11:28 AM on April 17, 2016 [2 favorites]


Haha, I had that open in a tab from Twitter but didn't remember who posted it. I just read it an hour ago, and since I didn't remember where I got it couldn't be sure what I had just read. It was pretty depressing.
posted by rhizome at 9:40 PM on April 17, 2016


"RULE 1: You don’t recruit and retain male engineers you recruit and retain Wives and Girlfriends
• If the wife or GF is unhappy the engineer is gone
• If the relationship breaks down the engineer is gone
• The paycheck goes to HER
• Why does SHE want her husband or BF to work for you?"

WHAT.
(From Artw's link).
posted by Pink Frost at 9:43 PM on April 17, 2016 [2 favorites]


In a series of flabbergasting lists, that one confused me the most.
posted by rhizome at 10:04 PM on April 17, 2016


The advice to prioritize hiring men with Aspergers and only women without Aspergers was also... charming.
posted by lazuli at 5:48 AM on April 18, 2016 [1 favorite]


FYI, Alex St John's accomplishments in life are 1) working on the first version of DirectX and 2) founding Wildtangent, a shovelware games publisher and studio. You probably know Wildtangent as one of the bits of bloatware that used to show up on all new Dell computers for a long while there.

So basically he delivered something worth making in 1992 and has spent the rest of his life as a cancer on gaming and software development. He wants employees to be so passionate about work that they want to do nothing with their lives but make terrible games for his profits.

He's scum.
posted by Pope Guilty at 7:04 AM on April 18, 2016 [5 favorites]


Rami Ismail breaks down and rebuts St. John.
posted by NoxAeternum at 9:56 AM on April 18, 2016 [2 favorites]


In a series of flabbergasting lists, that one confused me the most.

It makes a twisted sort of sense if you read the later slides. He argues that "real" coders don't care about money, but their family does, so the benefits are for them, not the developer.

That turd of a presentation manages to be both misogynistic and misandrist at the same time. I want to shake St. John hard, to see if I can get the stupid to fall out.
posted by NoxAeternum at 10:28 AM on April 18, 2016


In addition to the blatant misogyny, he targets people with Asperger's Syndrome. Truly, workers are cattle to this PowerPointing shit of a person.
posted by ignignokt at 10:28 AM on April 18, 2016 [1 favorite]


At this point, "career X is a calling" is pretty much code for "I'm going to shame you into accepting lower pay for doing X."
posted by NoxAeternum at 10:30 AM on April 18, 2016 [7 favorites]


It makes a twisted sort of sense if you read the later slides. He argues that "real" coders don't care about money, but their family does, so the benefits are for them, not the developer.

Thank you. I had started trying to puzzle it out based on later slides but I fell into a pit, and surprise, quicksand doesn't taste like the oatmeal it appears to be.
posted by rhizome at 11:25 AM on April 18, 2016


Ha ha ha, what a fun guy, look at those happy guys in the trenches.
posted by maryr at 2:59 PM on April 19, 2016


Seriously, I don't even know what the hell he means in the final aside here.
The short of it is that women in high-tech have it made (fetch a premium on the block), the only real obstacle many face to rapid promotion and total career freedom is letting go of the constant gender introspection and victimology to allow themselves to be challenged, to face and overcome failures and to hear feedback without a gender-victim filter in place to deflect negative feedback or criticism. (Shhhh don’t think, just put on the chains honey)
posted by maryr at 3:05 PM on April 19, 2016


He means that the only obstacle to success for women in tech is the unwillingness to accept the pervasive cultural misogyny.

You know, someone should tell him a closed mouth gathers no foot.
posted by NoxAeternum at 4:31 PM on April 19, 2016 [2 favorites]


Why add "honey"? His argument would have been just as "good" if he hadn't said "honey". Is he being sarcastic? I don't think he is, but the phrasing makes more sense that way. I just...I... flames... flames up the side of my face...
posted by maryr at 7:55 AM on April 20, 2016 [3 favorites]




Meanwhile, in other Boston news, get the fuck out of town for Labor Day.
posted by maryr at 8:41 PM on April 20, 2016


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