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I was shocked to stumble on a story in my Twitter feed this weekend about a wage fixing scandal that bilked 65,000 tech workers between 2005 and 2010.

The defendants? A "who's who" of Silicon Valley titans: Google, Intel, Intuit, Adobe, Apple. Pixar and Lucasfilm, too.

The offense? These companies agreed not to compete with one another for talent. In other words, they conspired to suppress the competitive market for human beings in an effort to pad their bottom lines and their stock price.

More rank filth beneath ye old cursive blob.

Here's the money quote:

"Business people talk about competition and free markets, but they dream of monopoly and control," said Jim Balassone, director of business ethics programs at the Markkula Center for Applied Ethics at Santa Clara University in Silicon Valley.
Capitalism is not held in high regard around these parts, and you need look no further than the yawning chasm between America's Gulfstream class and its food stamp class to understand why. As is the case with any "ism" there ever was, there is dissonance between the principles of capitalism and the practice of it.

But whatever you think of capitalism in its execution, the only thing that makes it defensible is the notion that competitive markets reward value. Monopolies and price fixing undermine this principle, depriving consumers and workers of the benefits of competition and siphoning those benefits to corporations.

[For an example of the kind of havoc price fixing in any market can create, consider the McCarran -Ferguson Act of 1945, which exempted insurance companies from price fixing laws and encouraged them to collude to raise premiums. Believe it or not that exemption remains in place, though the "80/20 rule" in Obamacare now mitigates its impact.]

So as these companies face civil penalties for bilking tens of thousands of honest employees, why is this story buried? Why is there no outrage?

I wish I knew. Perhaps it's because we feel an affinity for these brands, as interwoven into our lives as they have become (I found this article this morning via a Google search). Perhaps it's because it's hard to muster sympathy for a programmer who has to get by on $100,000 a year instead of $200,000, when so many others are struggling to pay the fucking rent.

But that isn't the reality. Many tech workers cut their teeth working savage hours for little to no money (in startup parlance this is called "sweat equity") in the hopes that their company will get funded, generate revenue and profit, and go public. Many of these tech workers migrated here from India and other countries to make enough money to give their families back home a better life. These people deserve better than the business end of a long con. These people deserve the protection of the law.

Fairness, we know now, is hard wired in us since long before we evolved into humans. Creatures with the capacity to play games, or participate in markets, do not respond well to the rig. If our society is to go on functioning, and to solve the problems it has created for itself, we need tough and toothy regulation for corporations.

This invisible hand bullshit just ain't gonna cut it.


As Wisper notes in the comments, the complaint in this matter alleges that the collusion was motivated by the defendants' desire to reduce litigation but had the effect of suppressing wages. Given that the players are the architects of our digital reality, it's a bit difficult for me to imagine that the wage suppression effects of their agreement didn't occur to them, which either means "it was a feature and not a bug" or they were willing to accept the risk of civil action.

Originally posted to The Termite on Mon Mar 31, 2014 at 09:11 AM PDT.

Also republished by Silicon Valley Kos, California politics, and Community Spotlight.

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Comment Preferences

  •  a friend in high tech (47+ / 0-)

    says they pay him enough to appreciate how lucky he is, but not enough that he can ever think of retiring early. and of course he works late, often has meetings on weekends, and travels a lot, not for fun. and also of course, his ceo is a megabillionaire.

    The cold passion for truth hunts in no pack. -Robinson Jeffers

    by Laurence Lewis on Mon Mar 31, 2014 at 09:20:21 AM PDT

    •  A devil's bargain (33+ / 0-)

      These companies don't hesitate to ask for and require deep and painful sacrifice from people like your friend.

      To then turn around and conspire to pay him less than the market will bear is inexcusable.

    •  Yup, exactly (20+ / 0-)

      I'm looking at taking the early payout when I hit 50 just so I can switch to a job of any kind with normal hours, or one that at least has more social value than enhancing shareholder value by making things more efficient with IT.

      I can't retire, but I might be able to downsize my life enough to live on a smaller salary with less insane expectations on hours.

      Don't get me wrong.  The "plight" of tech workers is nothing compared to what retail workers or fast food workers are enduring.   I make a very good living at the cost of less time for my family etc and some damage to my health, but at least I AM getting paid well and money worries aren't making the problems worse.

      •  It highlights the conflict of labor and capital (13+ / 0-)

        $20k-a-year single parents who work shifts at fast food chains and have their wages outright stolen from them. $50k-a-year factory workers who are facing union busting tactics and a steady stream of anti-union laws in order to prevent them from getting a fair cut of their labor. $110k-a-year tech workers who work late nights and weekends and whose companies are conspiring to depress their salaries. Multimillionaire pro athletes who face government-sanctioned cartels that depress their salaries and are pressured to risk their personal health and safety. There are huge differences between all these people. They might face very different struggles, they live very different lives. And yet, they are all hard workers, while their employers are also hard at work... making sure these workers get a smaller slice of the pie. The story is eerily similar, isn't it?

      •  Not sure how old you are (7+ / 0-)

        and I'm sorry to be negative but if you're still in IT at 50-count yourself lucky. My IT job got in-sourced and I'm no longer in the industry.

        •  Not 50 yet. Getting close. (8+ / 0-)

          My career has been a lot like a cartoon of walking forward on a bridge while it falls apart behind me.

          There are no entry level jobs anymore at my company in IT, and the only time we get new full time staff is in a merger, where we skim off the top 10% of the other company or so.

          I have endured largely because I have always been a jack of all trades and have a knack for making things work better wherever I'm put, and I'm also not competing for management slots as I've always made it clear that I'm not interested in being a mediocre manager instead of a strong individual contributor.  

          That said, I did have to move along from programming to a variety of other things.   Nobody as senior as I am programs except as an emergency hack, or for throwaway code used for analysis or data conversions or similar.   It's architecture, processes, metrics, compliance, etc.   There are very few onsite people who just program, and most of them run a stable of offshore programmers in addition to their own work.

          But yeah, I'm about done with this, and I don't see the 50-65 year old timeframe being good for me, even if I manage to stay employed the whole time.  I'm already running out of IT related challenges that aren't either "been there done that, a solution exists" or "The right way to do this takes more time/resources than we're given, so instead we'll do a mad scramble to do something that will merely not suck".

          I don't see that trend getting better where I'm working.  But I can do a few more years, to get the payout I've earned, and then see what I want to do next.  I'm pretty sure a high-tech multinational IT job isn't going to be it though, so I'm adjusting my expectations accordingly.

    •  Your friend is spot on. (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      shaharazade, The Termite

      I make a great salary and I'll probably get to retire on time, but it's not retire early money.  I don't think I've worked a week of less than 50 hours in who knows how long, and I had to leave Apple for startups to get my salary as high as it is -- and normally, you're taking a salary haircut in exchange for toilet paper pre-IPO stock options, so that should give you an idea of how depressed wages were there even after this collusion supposedly ended.

      Everyday Magic

      Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.
      -- Clarke's Third Law

      by The Technomancer on Tue Apr 01, 2014 at 07:25:17 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  I should mention... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      The Termite

      ...that not all of the Silly Valley is like that.

      I currently work at a place that pays me quite well (if I were only supporting myself, I could probably retire by 50), provides me with a really great working environment (which roughly 90% translates to 'great people to work with'), and lets me come in a little before 9 and go home at 5:15.

      Those jobs do exist. But they definitely aren't the default.

  •  heard of this on XM Progress (8+ / 0-)

    Ari Rabin-Havt was getting pretty worked up over this issue. His biggest outrage was for the reply sent by Steve Jobs to the CEO of Google when that CEO (somebody Schmidt ,iirc) said the HR agent behind recruiting an Apple engineer had been publicly fired; a smiley face icon.
    According to his account, there is a clear trail of emails between the CEOs of these two megacorporations, making this a very clear case of collusion to suppress wages.
    Can't stand Rabin-Havt's style (or really any of the talkers on XMProgress - they are the kings of dead air space) but at least there is attention to these issues.

    Last full month in which the average daily temperature did not exceed twentieth-century norms: 2/1985 - Harper's Index, 2/2013

    by kamarvt on Mon Mar 31, 2014 at 09:26:56 AM PDT

    •  It would be heartening... (14+ / 0-) see a few executives serve prison time for this, assuming they are guilty of wage fixing.

      But I am not holding my breath.

      •  It would be hard to send Steve Jobs to prison (6+ / 0-)

        These are civil violations and the appropriate remedies are monetary. The challenge will be determining the damages. Many engineers moved from Apple to Google and Google to Facebook during the period in question. The agreement was to not actively recruit, not actively decline engineers from the firms involved. There is no doubt this is wrong and a labor law violation. It will be an interesting case to follow. The most difficult part of the case will be to determine what individuals were harmed? Any Apple engineer who wanted to work at Google was free to apply and accept a job. The person who was damaged was the one who never received a call from a recruiter to talk about a possible job. How will anyone know who that was? There will likely be a class action where all engineers employed by the offending firms during a specific time window will receive lump sum payment for amount that is determined by some compensation experts that the collusion depressed salaries.  

        "let's talk about that"

        by VClib on Mon Mar 31, 2014 at 10:17:37 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  Are criminal penalties prescribed by law? (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        The Termite, doingbusinessas

        I'm generally of the opinion that corporate executives and boards should go to prison when their corporations commit crimes, but unfortunately, at the moment, the U.S. criminal code doesn't seem to agree with me.

        If the law doesn't prescribe criminal penalties for wage fixing (which is a form of theft), that needs to change—but the people who did it before still couldn't be prosecuted under the new law.

        "When I give food to the poor, they call me a saint. When I ask why the poor have no food, they call me a communist." --Dom Helder Camara, archbishop of Recife

        by JamesGG on Mon Mar 31, 2014 at 10:22:29 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  Sad to say, any attention this issue gets (0+ / 0-)

      will only be instructive to those who are learning the management ropes, and won't generate much sympathy for the engineers and workers who've been shafted by the practice.

      Just like bankers that are too big to jail, executives are too big to jail, and the practices will continue.  

  •  This is why they want "immigration reform" (29+ / 0-)

    They want an army of tech workers with low expectations.  They don't want to pay trouble-making Americans. So they invent a "skills gap" out of whole cloth.

    We've idealized and elevated these tech CEO's without realizing that behind the scruffy beards and fresh young faces they're playing the same games as the Koch brothers.  Maybe with less lethality now, but as they grow older, the metamorphosis will become more and more obvious to all.


    •  I have seen this in action in real life (14+ / 0-)

      The State of Texas' Department of Health has a wage-range for various positions; a young MD recruited successfully had worked for us for just over three months when he had to go back to India to have a visa update (from student status to H1B) in 2006 -- and we had to hold open the job for him rather than advertise it again; within a year of his return he had left the position to return to a US Medical School where he studied to become a specialist, alongside his wife, also an immigrant.

      There is no shortage of qualified US docs who would be fine in the job except for one thing: the wages top out at $60K per year, making student loans a killer.

      Our regional epidemiologist (as is true of at least two other regions still today) at the time was a veterinarian approaching retirement age.

      This bodes very ill indeed for public health IMO.

      LBJ, Van Cliburn, Ike, Wendy Davis, Lady Bird, Ann Richards, Barbara Jordan, Molly Ivins, Sully Sullenburger, Drew Brees: Texas is NO Bush League!

      by BlackSheep1 on Mon Mar 31, 2014 at 10:17:32 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Most Med students graduate with a $250,000 student (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        The Termite

        loan, then spend 4-5 yrs in residency (at near minimum wage) then attempt to set up a practice where they can start to pay off the loans at $2000+/mo.

        If they happen to serve their residency in a poorly served population they can get some credit off the student loans, but not the whole thing.

        "Death is the winner in any war." - Nightwish/Imaginareum/Song of myself.

        by doingbusinessas on Mon Mar 31, 2014 at 04:28:59 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  this was a decade ago (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          The Termite

          I don't know what his  loans situation was; he had his MD from a UK school.

          LBJ, Van Cliburn, Ike, Wendy Davis, Lady Bird, Ann Richards, Barbara Jordan, Molly Ivins, Sully Sullenburger, Drew Brees: Texas is NO Bush League!

          by BlackSheep1 on Mon Mar 31, 2014 at 09:13:25 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  A doctors degree in UK is a Bachelors degree (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:

            And since they are not a PHD, they have a hard time practicing here in the US without going back to school to get that BS changed to a PHD.

            A decade ago the average student loan on a Medical degree was less than half of what it is now...

            "Death is the winner in any war." - Nightwish/Imaginareum/Song of myself.

            by doingbusinessas on Tue Apr 01, 2014 at 12:11:34 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

    •  I work at one of these companies, and (0+ / 0-)

      know people who work at others.  While there certainly are companies that play games with low skilled H1B employees, I don't think that's the case with any of these.  These companies want good engineers, and they provide the perks to attract them.

      I live comfortably enough (More than comfortably enough, actually), that this wage fixing scandal doesn't bother me nearly as much as it doubtless should.  Hadn't been working there long when the scandal came to light, though, so probably hasn't affected me as much as others.

      Show me wage fixing that affects teachers, truckers, clerks of all stripes, and I get all worked up.  Show me one that affects a wealthy worker, and it just doesn't get me going nearly as much.

  •  Meh.. thats not REALLY why they did it (7+ / 0-)

    They did it because they didn't want a company with the deep pockets of Apple coupled with the Meglomaniacal zeal of Steve Jobs to relentlessly sue the SHIT out of them for even so much as a whiff of a non-compete violation.

    (Which is exactly what Mr. Jobs threatened to do)

    The plaintiffs are then contending that this had the effect of suppressing their wages across an industry, or at least regionally.

    And while they may very well have a compelling argument (we'll see how it fares in actual court now that it has survived this motion for SumJudge), that is still far from describing this as some kind of malicious "long con" to screw people in an over-arching bid for control.

    Красота спасет мир --F. Dostoevsky

    by Wisper on Mon Mar 31, 2014 at 10:00:37 AM PDT

    •  Collusion to suppress wages by ending any active.. (9+ / 0-)

      ..competition for the best workers is a crime. Period, full stop, end of sentence.

      There is no way to read this any other way. The billionaire tech oligarchs conspired to avoid actually competing for the best workers to make sure wages were kept as low as possible. Otherwise Apple might have to offer a higher salary to attract that genius programmer away from Google, or whatever.

      •  And yet, even the plaintiffs (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        thestructureguy, Neuroptimalian

        state this was an attempt to avoid litigation liability that had the effect of limiting wages... which could entitle them to judicial relief under the Anti-Trust laws provided they can substantially prove their case.

        But whatever.. your version sounds much more dramatic and invokes words like "CRIME", which seems odd since this is a civil suit brought by individuals who have zero authority to allege, much less prosecute, "CRIME".

        I suspect we'll see a settlement on this soon.

        Oh sorry, um... termination, finis, {another word that means "end"...or something}, end of post.

        Красота спасет мир --F. Dostoevsky

        by Wisper on Mon Mar 31, 2014 at 10:16:50 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  Meh (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      stagemom, kimoconnor

      Non-competes are very common in not just tech but non-tech sectors, and corporations often employ teams of in-house attorneys focused on drafting NCAs, enforcing their own NCAs, and ensuring that recruiters do not hire talent who is currently bound by the NCA of a former employer. It is part of the cost of staffing your business and running your business.

      While it's possible that this collusion was originally motivated by the desire to eliminate litigation and other legal costs, the idea that the "side effect" of wage suppression did not immediately occur to them is obviously preposterous on its face. If the allegations are true, it doesn't matter why they did it. They knew it was worker-unfriendly and they damn well knew it was illegal.

    •  Another point (7+ / 0-)

      Non-competes are contracts between corporations and employees.

      They are not agreements between corporations and other corporations.

      What corporations are supposed to do, if they are following the law, is to compete with each other.

      •  um, not exactly (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        If I hire someone with a non-compete from my competitor they will sue that person AND ME.  

        Which is why my company, being in tech, asks everyone on the first page of the application webpage "Are you currently under the terms of a Non-Compete Agreement?".

        There is actual liability.  And while the terms of which companies might or might not be a competitor are vague, this is exactly the grey area Jobs was personally threatening to use to bring endless lawsuits to other companies.  

        Google hires someone from Apple to work on their search algorithms?  Technically that probably wouldn't trigger a non-compete with an Apple employee since Apple is not in the search engine business but Jobs could allege that the person was hired to obtain proprietary algorithm code and concepts that iTunes uses in its recommendation engine or that is used in the AppStore to search against disparate 3rd party databases or something..  all he needs is an angle so he could send the Apple Lawyers out FULL BORE just to send a message.

        Who is better positioned to afford a lawsuit, regardless of eventual outcome, Apple or any other company in the World?

        If I was the lawyer from Google, I would easily see the wisdom in adopting the "This isn't worth it." recommendation.  

        We'll see what happens.  If the plaintiffs have enough of a case they will get some kind of settlement, I'm sure.

        Красота спасет мир --F. Dostoevsky

        by Wisper on Mon Mar 31, 2014 at 10:24:48 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Nothing you said refutes my point (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          Again, that point was that NCAs traditionally have 2 parties: an employer and employee. As opposed to two different employers.

          Anybody can sue anybody for anything. Steve Jobs certainly had the fuck-you-money to sue competitors into submission and I understand the appeal of quietly striking a truce with someone like that if you are Google or Adobe or whoever. That doesn't excuse it, though.

    •  No, there is more to it than that. (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      The Termite, AnnCetera

      There is one particular email that has been published where Eric Schmidt (Google) is describing a conversation with Meg Whitman (eBay) wherein she complains (as paraphrased by Schmidt):

      Google is the talk of the valley [Silicon Valley] because they are driving up salaries across the board
      According to Whitman, execs at Yahoo and Microsoft were also up in arms over this ‘problem’ and would retaliate against Google if the tables ever turned. So, we know from documents disclosed during pre-trial discovery that constraining wages was not just an unfortunate side effect of a threatened legal war over non-competes. It was a primary topic of discussion between corporations at the C-level.

      I agree with you that, based on what has been disclosed publicly, it is not clear there was an explicit effort by certain tech companies to form a wage cartel. That said, there is more than enough there to lay out a pretty damning narrative.

      Outside of a dog, a book is man's best friend. Inside of a dog, it's too dark to read. - Groucho Marx

      by Joe Bob on Tue Apr 01, 2014 at 11:52:04 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Nothing unusual here (18+ / 0-)

    The so-called "dot com bust" was used as a cover to lay off tens of thousands of American tech workers who were replaced with half-price H1Bs. The Silicon Valley execs have been singing the same song ever since: "we can't find Americans with these skills". No, what they mean is that they can't find Americans with these skills who will work 80 hours/week for pizza. Only people terrified of being deported if they lose their jobs will do that.

    American Presidents: 43 men, 0 women. Ready for Hillary

    by atana on Mon Mar 31, 2014 at 11:42:23 AM PDT

  •  H1B Visa Holders Can Be Paid Significantly Less (4+ / 0-)

    than Americans and can be threatened with firing and immediate deportation if they don't blindly and unquestioningly obey and carry out their employers' orders.

    These filthy rich scumbag billionaires are sick (psychopathically GREEDY) and will never have enough money, even if they had it all.  

    •  They're not necessarily (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      The Termite

      all that cheap for the companies for whom they're doing the work. Usually they're on the payroll of a consulting company which may be pocketing a huge cut for every hour they bill.

      What the companies using their services are getting is docile workers who can be gotten rid of at any time. But I don't think they're gotten at a bargain rate.

      •  I worked with a bunch of H1Bs (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        TexasTom, The Termite, shaharazade

        I don't know what they were paid (since we weren't allowed to ask) but they were indeed docile.

        If they lost their position they had, if I recall correctly, a fairly short time to find another employer or they had to leave the country.

        If the pilot's good, see, I mean if he's reeeally sharp, he can barrel that baby in so low... oh you oughta see it sometime. It's a sight. A big plane like a '52... varrrooom! Its jet exhaust... frying chickens in the barnyard!

        by Major Kong on Mon Mar 31, 2014 at 07:33:02 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Me too (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          The Termite

          I admired their ability to remain agreeable and poker-faced no matter what. I always had a hard time hiding my emotions at work, even when I wanted to.

          I suppose maybe if I were in their situation I would be able to do it, but I'm not sure.

    •  not correct. (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      The Termite, Joe Bob

      At the tech firms ive worked at the H1B's were paid just as well as the non H1B's.

      The H1B program just has the effect of  lowering the whole market standard of what talent can expect to be paid.

      •  I've worked where the contracting (0+ / 0-)

        company that employed the h1-b's was billing an hourly rate that was just about the same as the regular employees, but was paying them significantly less, with a really crummy benefit program,  and keeping the difference.   I also wondered if management was getting perks and kickbacks on the payroll -- they sure got nice bottles of scotch at the end of the year.  

        There are all kinds of scams that go with the h1b program  -- pay the h1b into an account in their home country bank, no US/state taxes.   Heck, they might not even require a visa.  A whole department of a major company was doing this with their Mexican national repair/rework technicians over in Sunnyvale, paying them what they would earn in Mexico (like 2 or 3 dollars an hour) and it was about a year or longer before they got caught.  Higher management claimed no knowledge -- but they were enjoying the savings.  

        Keep one h1b visa, and rotate a couple of different people through the same position,  using alias names.   Hire one guy, who takes work home to a couple of his friends and family who work off the books at home and make it appear that he really can code twice or three times as fast, or more.  

        There was a house in our neighborhood where there were about 8 young east Asian men who worked together as a team for the few that had jobs -- if they were out of visa status they helped the guys who had the work.   When they got work, they shared it with their buddies.  Confidentiality?   So many unknown people working on accounts?  

        Sometimes the H1B has to pay the employer for the chance at the job.  His pay will get docked for all the costs of getting him here -- flight tickets, shipping possessions, housing and meals -- and then turn around and bill the major employer for the same.    Sometimes the h1b employer will pay for housing -- and stuff 8 or 16 guys into one house.  

        If I've come across these in my working experience, how the heck do these issues get ignored by the responsible agencies that are supposed to be policing abuses?   They aren't.  

  •  They're also trying to kick Mike Honda from office (9+ / 0-)

    Mike's a staunch pro-labor progressive. He faces a primary challenge from Democrat Ro Khanna, a corporate attorney, because a Republican candidate can't get the time of day at this time in the Bay area to capture a congressional seat. I suspect this is the best corporate Silicon Valley can do to find someone who might be more likely to line their pockets.

    Honda's voting record, as far as I'm aware, is stellar. He was also vice chair of the DCCC in 2012, installed by Howard Dean, which may have helped us seat more and better Democrats. He's been good for the valley and I certainly don't see that we need someone else. Our right-leaning leading local news weekly is very much pro Ro which is enough for me to know that he isn't the guy for the job. Khanna says he's not taking any corporate or special interest money but he's got a lot of CEO's donating to his campaign. Mike may also have some of those donations, but he's not made such a pledge. And if Khanna were to become the primary winner, it would be surprising if he stuck to that pledge/

    Honda's been effective for the bay area and on issues for the country at large.

    •  A lot of the CEO's are immigrant entrepreneurs (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      who are being held up as shining examples of success and the power of diversity.  People that can 'think outside the box.'

      There is a reason that they are called the Indian Émigré Mafia.   With today's Supremes ruling on campaign donations, I expect that it will get worse.  

      With the recent indictments of Leland Yee,  and exposure of some underground gang activities,  we can see how corruption is eating away at our society.   I doubt, though, that our local papers are going to do any kind of in depth coverage of how all this is connected.  

      We're going to have more of challenge from the wealthy members of the Democratic party than we will from the Republicans for at least the next 2 or 3 years, until they get it together to recruit all the small Chinese business owners that are against affirmative action.  

  •  If only there were some way (14+ / 0-)

    for workers to work together against the companies that are working together against them.

    Some sort of group of workers, working collectively as it were.

    There ought to be a name for that sort of thing.


    If the pilot's good, see, I mean if he's reeeally sharp, he can barrel that baby in so low... oh you oughta see it sometime. It's a sight. A big plane like a '52... varrrooom! Its jet exhaust... frying chickens in the barnyard!

    by Major Kong on Mon Mar 31, 2014 at 01:43:50 PM PDT

    •  An onion, maybe? (5+ / 0-)

      Or a bunion?

      Something like that.

      The thing about quotes on the internet is you cannot confirm their validity. ~Abraham Lincoln

      by raboof on Mon Mar 31, 2014 at 04:31:56 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  There is a well established way (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      it's called starting a new company.

      For those with the talent and drive it is a real option in Silicon Valley.

      The most important way to protect the environment is not to have more than one child.

      by nextstep on Mon Mar 31, 2014 at 05:35:52 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I think there is a third ingredient... (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        ...missing in your recipe.

        •  If you are thinking of Capital as the missing (0+ / 0-)


          Those with the talent and drive can get funding.  Silicon Valley startups, including very prominent ones have been started by those without wealth.

          The most important way to protect the environment is not to have more than one child.

          by nextstep on Tue Apr 01, 2014 at 09:54:23 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  I'm wondering (0+ / 0-)

            Have you started a company?

            Are you aware that most don't actually succeed, that it's not an easy path to riches?

            •  Started 3 companies (0+ / 0-)

              The most important way to protect the environment is not to have more than one child.

              by nextstep on Tue Apr 01, 2014 at 10:33:02 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  all succeeded? (0+ / 0-)

                And by succeeded I mean earned back the opportunity cost?

                With you working, say, 50 hours a week with a relatively normal family life, and with above-average but not 1% ability and connections?

                Because if your advice only works for the top 1%, or people who can rely on bank of mom-and-dad, it's useless.

                •  A mix of results (0+ / 0-)

                  One business did exceptionally well by any reasonable measure.  

                  One business completely failed.

                  One business is in play right now, too soon to tell if it succeeds, just started shipping first product in Q4 2013.

                  Technical, sales and marketing skills is far more important than "connections."  These skills give you the ability to make the connections you need.  

                  Initially no connections, education at Stanford and Harvard.  After school had student loans little cash and a cheap car. Over the years developed connections but never through the schools. By having demonstrated expertise in a field companies were highly interested in and with good presentation skills I would routinely get in front of decision makers in companies in the US, Europe and Asia.

                  The most important way to protect the environment is not to have more than one child.

                  by nextstep on Tue Apr 01, 2014 at 11:08:12 AM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  ok, so step back from yourself and look at that (0+ / 0-)

                    and remember that you were giving general advice (which is why I listed the conditions.)

                    Stanford/Harvard puts you in 1% education. (Yes, it's more complicated than that, but I'm simplifying.)

                    It's one thing to show that a startup w/o capital is possible (I don't think anyone would disagree.)

                    •  whoops, didn't mean to post (0+ / 0-)

                      But I'll finish.

                      Not to take away from your accomplishments, but there's a big difference between saying something is possible (for 1-5%), and giving it as general advice, even for the top 40% (which is what you seemed to be doing).

                      •  Companies can be of different sizes and (0+ / 0-)

                        there are many opportunities for early employees in startups if those employees join early stage companies that have shipping product with good customer acceptance.  While these situations don't have as great an upside as for the founders, they have much lower risk and don't require as high a level of talent and drive to join.

                        Even in the case of the business I had that failed, the technical and marketing employees developed expertise in a new field and received excellent offers at other companies interested in the new field.

                        The most important way to protect the environment is not to have more than one child.

                        by nextstep on Tue Apr 01, 2014 at 11:33:20 AM PDT

                        [ Parent ]

                        •  Recent studies indicate that Capital (2+ / 0-)
                          Recommended by:
                          llywrch, The Termite

                          specifically Venture Capital, will not talk to anyone who is over 35, doesn't have a specific academic pedigree, and fall out of their gender ratios.  

                          Good ideas get delayed until they are no longer viable because funding can't easily be found.

                          THERE IS NO MERITOCRACY

            •  Yes there is a high rate of failure (0+ / 0-)

              But, you have more than one shot at starting and joining early stage companies.  It is important that the potential upside is sufficient to more than compensate you for the risk (as most people will underestimate the risk).

              The most important way to protect the environment is not to have more than one child.

              by nextstep on Tue Apr 01, 2014 at 10:38:53 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

          •  You are ducking the point (0+ / 0-)

            I have started a company. A digital publishing company. I went out and found an investor along w/ my co-founders. We made it 20 months and I had to exit because I ran out of runway.

            During that time I immersed myself in the startup culture/ecosystem/whatever you want to call it. I read all the books. I went to all the conferences. And I asked a lot of questions.

            The fact is that if you do not have some mode of support, whether that be a nest egg or a trust fund or a spouse that works a paying job, you are a fool for trying to start a company. You will starve, and the odds are you will starve en route to a failure.

            Seed or angel rounds no longer accommodate salaries, so if you're lucky enough to get that far (most won't) you still have to demonstrate viable product and "traction" before a Series A gets you to some modicum of survivable compensation. That's probably a 2 year proposition for most startups. So it's 3 years of 7 hour days and no money that someone is likely to have to endure to start a business and start to realize some modest income. Are you really pitching that as a viable solution for a code jockey at a company that he thinks is stiffing him?

            Are you serious?

            •  Building a business with value Vs building a job (0+ / 0-)

              Some businesses have the potential to build significant equity value.  Some businesses don't build equity value and at best just provide jobs for the owners and some employees.

              The first of these has the potential to make taking the risk worthwhile.  The second is not worth the effort, as it just means success means you have a job, that you could have done otherwise working for someone else.

              The most important way to protect the environment is not to have more than one child.

              by nextstep on Tue Apr 01, 2014 at 02:38:49 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  You are still ducking the question (0+ / 0-)

                You suggested that one viable option for a programmer who's being unfairly compensated is to simply quit and focus on starting his own company. I'm asking you whether you really believe that's an option for anybody without deep pockets or fallback income.

                •  Each situation is unique (0+ / 0-)

                  Ranging from individual cash compensation needs, and how attractive the business is to investors can determining if one's personal finances work to start a business. Founders need an initial team of driven people, with exceptional talents in product development, sales and marketing.  Few people can do this and have the focus to succeed at this level.

                  If the programmer is an exceptional talent but not exceptionally business or product savy, and not fitting into what it takes to be a founder, taking a job with meaningful stock options in an early stage company that is already shipping a product with market acceptance would be better that starting their own company. Thousands of people have become millionaires this way in Silicon Valley.

                  The most important way to protect the environment is not to have more than one child.

                  by nextstep on Tue Apr 01, 2014 at 04:41:06 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

  •  If there was an agreement not to hire away (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    The Termite, nextstep, Joe Bob

    from competitors, it was a huge failure, because every big tech company has plenty of employees that used to work at another.

    What I heard was that there was an agreement not to RECRUIT other tech companies' employees. But if a qualified employee of one tech company applied to another tech company, they'd be interviewed and hired in the normal way.

    I know of many tech employees who moved from one tech company to another. It has never been a rare occurrence.

  •  I used to live in Mountain View (6+ / 0-)

    Home of Google. I played a key role in growing an entire market in North America for a certain technology, and with that the profits of the foreign company I worked for who had its U.S. office there.

    My direct boss was the U.S. subsidiary's president and he was the guy who created the position I did, just for me in light of my talents and what I'd been doing to drive the market in essentially previously unsanctioned marketing activity. I made good money, as much as about $190 one year. But, between his salary and options, he spent 4 years at the company and left it a rich man (several million) since the company IPOed 6 months into his gig and he was given gobs of options. I worked there 10 years, directly reporting to him his entire time there and over lapping him on both ends of his tenure. Despite my accomplishments, I was always a working stiff, paid for my own transfers, etc.

    Of course, he from the foreign country where the company was based. None of the Americans, save for one, ever really reaped a windfall. Very frustrating to hit a ceiling in income with all I had done to earn my way past it.

    I distrust those people who know so well what God wants them to do, because I notice it always coincides with their own desires. - Susan B. Anthony

    by pajoly on Mon Mar 31, 2014 at 02:36:02 PM PDT

    •  The way it's done in Silicon Valley for those with (0+ / 0-)

      talent and courage is if one is not rapidly advancing at a company, you either leave for another or start a new company.

      Since the 1990s in Silicon Valley  if  a hiring engineering, marketing or sales executive saw a resume where a person was in the same position, at the same company for 4 or more years, there would be doubt if the person was a top performer.

      The most important way to protect the environment is not to have more than one child.

      by nextstep on Mon Mar 31, 2014 at 05:42:19 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  The positions changed (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        ever so slightly, as did the money, but I'll concede the point to some extent. I admit I did not have the stones or the stomach to start my own company. I choose to work to live at this point in my life, not the other way around.

        I distrust those people who know so well what God wants them to do, because I notice it always coincides with their own desires. - Susan B. Anthony

        by pajoly on Tue Apr 01, 2014 at 08:37:03 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  This story illustrates why I think unions are (4+ / 0-)

    necessary. The exalted Free Market&tm  did not do right by the workers of those companies, because said companies were able to collude to restrict it. If employers can organize, workers should be able to as well.

    Where are all the jobs, Boehner?

    by Dirtandiron on Mon Mar 31, 2014 at 04:16:34 PM PDT

  •  Don’t need you bums, got all those H-1B visas (0+ / 0-)

    They don’t need you bums they got all those H-1B visas kids who will work for rice...

  •  Silicon Valley Issue of technical cooperation (0+ / 0-)

    A large part of making things work in the computer/software/internet/etc marketplace is technical cooperation between firms.

    This technical cooperation frequently means top people from various firms work together to develop technical specifications, interoperability testing, product specifications (sometime public, sometimes not) so different products work together and next generation products are defined.

    Even back in the 1980s, when companies would work together, part of the agreement to work together would include a do not solicit section.  

    So in cross company meetings or collaborations on the Internet meant companies tell each other who they think their top people are, as well as one can see how others work.  

    Companies will be far less likely to cooperate with each other with their top talent without do not solicit agreements.  Keep in mind top people in this situation are able to go to the other companies to see if they are interested in hiring them - and the other company has some valuable information about how talented the person is. This also provides a foundation where several people from different companies meet each other and later decide to all leave their

    I have not reached an opinion yet on whether or not continuing to allow this is a good or bad idea from a US economy or individual tech employee perspective.

    The way Silicon Valley works is dramatically different than how much of the country and rest of the world works.  Cross company cooperation has been a massive part of why Silicon Valley has been the technology company center for the world. Many regions around the world have tried to develop new "Silicon Valleys" with little success. A vastly disproportionate part of US GDP growth and income growth has come from Silicon Valley - Apple, Oracle, HP, Google, Facebook, Varian, Cisco, eBay, Adobe, VMware, etc..  

    A change here should be made with extreme caution.

    The most important way to protect the environment is not to have more than one child.

    by nextstep on Mon Mar 31, 2014 at 05:12:34 PM PDT

  •  Not a model to emulate (5+ / 0-)

    Having been associated with Silicon Valley from the 1970s hardware startups through the 1990s, and having seen it through both booms and busts, it always amazes me that people see it as a model to emulate.

    People who succeed usually step all over others on the way up, neglect their families and their communities, and generally act like spoiled two year olds. The latest crop of vaporware entrepreneurs are continuing the trend of thinking they are special and the rules are made for little people.

    Then there is Tom Perkins. What more do I need to say, really?

  •  Been reading 1600s-1800s history. Aristocracy. (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    The Termite, shaharazade, ferg

    Before the Euro/Anglo Aristocracy hit on 'managed democracy' to manage the people, they'd get together and fix the maximum wages you could have; where (even if) you could travel or look for work; ...

    We've been 'educated' to not use the word that ties the priorities of Our Betters with the priorities of the pigs who have made life miserable for humanity for generations. Now, sophisticated and modern, we say 'Corporations' and 'Banks' and not 'Aristocrats' but it's all the one game.

    Keep 'em down, bleed them, use them to help you make wars to steal from the other Aristocrats (or even just because you need some 'war cred' with your peers), steal the Commons, define profit as the be-all and end-all of life, avoid taxes, get the laws written to favor you...

    ... same fucking play, generation after the generation. It's just the props that have changed.

    The only possible cure is 'democracy' of the unqualified kind.

    Real fixes, outside the coffin fixes, ain't ever pragmatic says DC Bubble Conventional Wisdoom.

    by Jim P on Mon Mar 31, 2014 at 11:16:08 PM PDT

  •  "Labor is an cost, not a Constituancy" (0+ / 0-)

    Bill Gates knows that as well as Scott Walker does ...

    And what does a Capitalist do about "costs" ... well, he controls them, as best he can.

    And "legal" does "make it Right," Billy Jack ... the more so when the Job Creating, Innovating, Risk Taking Promethean Supermen have hired help that WRITES the laws that enable their Profit Taking.

    Oh ... was anyone expecting the second wave of Silicon Valley innovators to "share" with the lesser beings who write their code and debug their systems ?

    Soooooo Twentieth Century ...

  •  I'm shocked! Shocked that there is age (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    The Termite

    discrimination in Silicon Valley and IT in general. Shocked!

    So, it comes as no surprise regarding the fixing scandal.

    Corporate America will use every means possible to shove a giant red white and blue dildo up workers ass.

    When I cannot sing my heart. I can only speak my mind.

    by Unbozo on Wed Apr 02, 2014 at 12:04:56 PM PDT

  •  the original story is old news (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    The Termite

    but glad to see it is moving forward

  •  It's not just the 65,000 direct employees (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    The Termite

    that were affected. This collusion depressed the wage scale across board in multiple professions. That is 100s of thousands of workers.

    "What could BPossibly go wrong??" -RLMiller "God is just pretend." - eru

    by nosleep4u on Wed Apr 02, 2014 at 10:39:19 PM PDT

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