Sunday, March 27, 2011

It's On Again

The tech industry out in Kallyforhneeya is on another hiring binge and this piece in the NYT brought back some fond memories...
Computer whiz kids have long been prize hires in Silicon Valley. But these days tech companies are dreaming up new perks and incentives as the industry wages its fiercest war for talent in more than a decade. 

Free meals, shuttle buses and stock options are de rigueur. So the game maker Zynga dangles free haircuts and iPads to recruits, who are also told that they can bring their dogs to work. Path, a photo-sharing site, moved its offices so it could offer sweeping views of the San Francisco Bay. At Instagram, another photo-sharing start-up, workers take personal food and drink orders from employees, fill them at Costco and keep the supplies on hand for lunches and snacks. 
Big money and perks!  Yup, I remember that.  I came out of my first whirl with (civilian) retirement to take a job with an SFO web services start-up in 2000.  The money was good great (including a tremendous furnish-your-trendy-apartment-in-Berkeley-with-Swedish-furniture signing bonus), there was a virtually unlimited supply of free Sierra Nevada and Anchor Steam in the company fridge, weekly catered lunches from SFO's best eateries, stock options, and a chance to get in on the ground floor with a start-up.  What's not to like about that?  

The dot-bomb implosion, that's what.  My company went from around 350 people a few months after I hired on to about 70 by the time I got tired of doing a lot more with a lot less (a lil over two years later) and said goodbye.  And those stock options?  They should have been printed on a roll, because then they would have been useful if less than absorbent.  And scratchy.

Let's hope this latest tech boom works out better than the last.

Photo:  In the office, October of 2000.  Don't I look pleased with myself!


  1. Just LUUUVV that hi-tech equip surrounding you, Buck. LOL. As they say, their are only TWO kinds of computers: Experimental & obsolete..

  2. Well, that was nearly 11 years ago, Virg. Flat-panel monitors had just barely hit the market then. I did get a big-ass Sun 24-inch workstation monitor shortly after that pic was taken...

  3. Actually, the great thing about that NYT piece is the characterization of Startups-As-Nursery-School, which is why I avoided those places like the plague. Got a job for me? Tell me what it is, and if I do it, pay me.

    I don't wanna be graded on Plays Well With Others. I expect (unreasonably, apparently) to be treated as an adult, and in return (or first, actually) I'll treat everybody else as an adult - and if they're committed to being a child, they're probly not gonna like it much.

    Let's pretend to be grown-ups for 8 hours a day, and do business and make some money. I don't mind dressing up for work, since I'd have no other opportunity - and short pants and Hawaiian shirts would never be acceptable in an office. And I don't have any use for Dockers and Bananary Public togs, so if I haveta buy clothes for work I'd rather they looked better.

    Have potlucks on your own time, and no, I don't care about what you watch on TV, either. In return, I won't try to explain my own weird life to you at work.

    All of which, sans doute, adequately describes why I was such a poor prospect for corporate life, and why I viewed the hip-startup-it's-not-like-work world as essentially The Man In The Gray Flannel Suit with different uniforms.


    Oh yeah....
    Guess you didn't take 'em up on the free haircuts, huh?

  4. Heh.

    Lots to comment on your comment. To begin with... I waxed and waned periodically on the dress code thang. On the one hand, I loved the fact ol' Ross had some serious standards in place at EDS when I hired on (suits & ties for the men, and only dresses for the wimmen). The suit and tie thang is also cheaper than "corporate casual," by FAR. I learned that the hard way when EDS went that way in the mid-90s. OTOH, there was an "anything goes, as long as it's clean" culture in place at the start-up I worked at. I literally saw shorts and flip-flops at work every damned day. But you get used to that. I was a "levis and sweater" sort, but upgraded to CorpCasual when I knew I'd be having clients in -- The Management has to look that way; that much is STILL expected, even in SFO.

    As for the rest... I was pleasantly surprised at the general professionalism of everyone at that start-up. I worked with some seriously smart and creative people there and don't regret the experience at all.

    And yeah... there weren't any free haircuts at my company. So I saved quite a bit of money while I was there. ;-)

  5. Flowing locks!

    I like the idea of taking your dog to work, though. Maybe. One time Pepper took Bouie to his office on the 22nd floor on a Sunday. The elevator experience must've unnerved the pup because he proceeded to "water" the first potted plant he encountered. Shhh.don't tell anyone!

  6. From the pic, doesn't seem you took advantage of the free hair cuts. Actually I like that pic of you - quite pleased with yourself.

    my husband took the rat terrier to work with him. The dog wandered off and got lost in the cubicles. Toby found him when he started howling.

  7. Moogie: I took my dogs to work from time to time, too, and I also had to perform minor clean-up operations. Funny, that!

    Lou: I like that pic, too... not to toot my own horn or anything. It just brings back some fond memories.

  8. Very interesting stuff Buck. There is a hmassive tech boom ongoing in East London at the moment. Good for us as we live there I guess

  9. 2000 was right when I entered corporate America from installing HVAC, and I think I'm all the better for it. Everyone was impacted by the dot bomb in some fashion or another. I think had I been a part of those who reaped the benefits, I'd be pretty disenfranchised even still to settle for what I've got now. Having never known it, I think I'm pretty comfortable.

  10. That kind of smug, self-satisfied look is - sexy. Shows a man confident and comfortable with who he is.

    Ain't nuthin wrong with that.

    I've worked the fortune 100 corporate america cubicle-farm for a very long time now. And the one thing I hated more than anything else in the farm? Those low cubicle walls. Damned irritating things. We don't have any of those where I am now - and thank the maker for it.

  11. I guess you were going for the General Custer look. ;) Of course not the era of Little Big Horn though...

  12. Damn, Buck. You wasted no time ditching the military haircut, did you? Looks damn good on you, by the way. Sort of a old west gunslinger look.

  13. Alison: I think booms are good for everyone, no matter where they live. There is a downside, tho... real estate values sometimes spike upwards to unsustainable levels.

    Matt: It was kinda crazy in SFO back then, at least in the IT world. I don't think ya missed a whole helluva lot, actually.

    Kris: Thanks for the first, as as for the second... The ONLY two people who had hard-wall offices in the company were the CEO and CFO. Everyone else... VPs, directors, managers, wage-slaves... sat in those damned low-wall cubes. You're right: they sucked.

    Jim: I actually DID wait quite a while before I wore long hair: 14 years. EDS had a strict short-hair dress code.

  14. How things have changed: computers, monitors, phones...haircuts. Your hair does look like it could be from the Old West...or the New West.

  15. Thanks, Red. There are times I wish I'd have stuck around in the biz for a few more years, yanno? But those moments are VERY fleeting, thank The Deity At Hand. ;-)

  16. I'm pretty sure I've got a pack of braid-binders in the office that can take care of that hair for ya.
    I used to be able to take my dogs to work with me. Because I had 3 at the time, I'd rotate them durng the week. Worked out pretty well. Yes there were 'moments' but not too many. I miss that.

  17. My standard daily working outfit: Shorts, Hawaiian Shirt, Tennis Shoes. Even in Winter (Who can think with a tie cutting off the blood flow to your brain?). Life's too short, and if my management team wore polyester pants, then their brains would get no air.

  18. Deb: I had a big-ass collection of hair bands back in the day. I absolutely NEEDED them for riding around with the top down. ;-)

    Dan: That's a great polyester line!

    Sharon: Thank ya, Ma'am!


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