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startup company offering 1000$ a month


A startup company is offering 1000$ a month to work full-time, is it possible to survive off this amount? Is this kind of thing also going on in other places?

anon
Thursday, April 10, 2003

Freedom Indiana.  You can live there on $1,000/month.

Jannis Joplin
Thursday, April 10, 2003

Who in their right mind would work for $12,000/year in the USA developing software - startup or not?

GiorgioG
Thursday, April 10, 2003

If it was 1000/mo and I liked the idea, and I had a percentage (i.e. not x shares but x percent of the shares), and I was unemployed, I would consider it.

Daniel Shchyokin
Thursday, April 10, 2003

1000 a month?  Thats what a 1 bedroom studio apt. costs in the city I live in.  Do you get a company car and an expense account with this salary?  :-)

Vincent Marquez
Thursday, April 10, 2003

Work it out.  Can you get rent a place you'd want to live in for 1/3 of what they pay you?  Will you be able to pay for utilities and taxes after this?

Is there any real big reasons for taking this job, like stock offerings, etc?

How will you pay for benefits?

flamebait sr.
Thursday, April 10, 2003

I think people are taking advantage of the ongoing recession

Stephen
Thursday, April 10, 2003

That's not much less than what I'm making on unemployment. At least at the startup I'm working... and then I can always go back on unemployment if it doesn't work out.

www.marktaw.com
Thursday, April 10, 2003

I used to be able to survive on that amount.  Probably still could if forced, but I don't have a clue as to how...

I agree that I would want a percentage of the company for that price...

     
Thursday, April 10, 2003

I always thought that a company could be founded by people working in their spare time who only got "a piece of the pie" without getting paid an hourly wage.

I'd seen something like it a few years ago called the Beeehive Collective, but they only did mac software. People would contribute ideas, and the ones that were popular got people who would branch off and make it. Then the collective would market it & profits would be split.

www.marktaw.com
Thursday, April 10, 2003

I would not really consider it unless I was really really desperate and had been unemployed for ages.  The company will never get anywhere.  If they can't get funding or figure out how to get funding then they will always have problems making the payroll in the future especially when turbulent times hit.

HeyMacarana
Thursday, April 10, 2003

> Who in their right mind would work for $12,000/year in the USA developing software - startup or not?

Umm, someone who makes less than $12,000/year.
Any other questions?

Bella
Thursday, April 10, 2003

> The company will never get anywhere.

Says You. 

Bella
Thursday, April 10, 2003

>> Who in their right mind would work for $12,000/year in the USA developing software - startup or not?

>Umm, someone who makes less than $12,000/year.
Any other questions?

This person can go work at a call center, assuming he's even semi-competant and make $9-10/hr sitting around reading from a script.  You do the math. 

GiorgioG
Thursday, April 10, 2003

Isn't there a recent phenomenon in the Bay Area of unemployed techies and others taking jobs for options only and no pay, and even competing for the chance? Measured by that metric,  $12,000 is 'competitive' for the right person and the right opportunity.

Now, my rant, based on simple deductive logic. If the venture has no money backing it to pay even 1/2 a market rate salary, then the chances of any payoff are nebulous to say the least.  Why? It's basically implying that there's no business plan in existence that justifies an investment of cash. Sweat equity co-ops generally have a poor dynamic because most people require a reasonable above-poverty income in order to allocate time to such a venture. It's far more likely that an unfunded voluntary effort will fracture because most people simply can't afford to live on a s*** income level of $12K/yr.
My experience with startups has been uniformly negative. Not only is the pay scab level but if you're not in the core group of "inner party members" (AKA founders) you have no vote, so you can expect to spend your time doing things that make no sense and which are wastes of your talent.
Screw that.  Someone else's clueless unfinanced dreams of being "the next Netscape" are pie in the sky crap. Instead, work pro bono for charities on visible projects. Toot your own horn, on projects that create goodwill for your own talents, rather than contributing to someone else's selfishly shortsighted commercial gimmick. Build your own equity rather than flushing it down some other SOB's bottomless rathole.

Bored Bystander
Friday, April 11, 2003

PS:

Bella:

>> > The company will never get anywhere.

>> Says You.

You say you've been around. This isn't meant as a flame, but I really thought you were wiser and more experienced than to say something like that, unless you simply mean to be contrarian for contrarity's sake.

Most small businesses fail. And most small businesses fail due to lack of capital. $12K/yr salary says "almost no capital". Surely, from years in industry, you know these things. Or do you?

Or do you feel that there's some special sauce that justifies pitching in on such an effort?

Bored Bystander
Friday, April 11, 2003

Like HeyMacarana says, if u have are really desperate and have been unemployed for ages you should take up the job. This is considering that you do not have any other job options.

Can you live on $1000 a month?

Assuming you are single, you live in a not so great area and have 3 flatmates, and that you are very frugal about expenses, I am sure you can pull it off.

All the best,

Prakash S
Friday, April 11, 2003

I think the first thing you should do before accepting this job offer (and really any job offer) is to look at a company and its products.  The company can have little money not because of bad idea or bad business plan, but because of many other reasons. Not least of them is a current climate in tech biz.

Most venture investment companies don't like to fund from the day 1, they prefer to give money to companies with some history (even relatively short). Don't forget that first version of google was made with money from maxed out credit cards.

So my advice is - if you really need a job, go to the company and look around. May be you will find a great project or very good climate.

smm
Friday, April 11, 2003

Bored - any company which can hire s/w developers (that is what we are talking about, right? this isn't a Burger startup or something like that?) at 12k/year has a better than average chance of surviving. Whether such cheapskates would make good employers or not is another question. They probably charge to use the toilet as well.


Friday, April 11, 2003

i'm going to say that someone in the US offering 12k a year isn't doing something right.  Assuming that there is a good chance of future success, why doesn't the business owner go  get himself a loan so he can hire someone decent.  If  he really believes in the idea enough, he (they) should do that.  Now, if they said they were looking for senior people and willing to pay 35 or 40k with ownership, i'd understand, but for 12k, they have to have known they wouldn't attract anything but the most useless developers.

Vincent Marquez
Friday, April 11, 2003

Giorgio,

Given the choice between going back to the call centre and working as a developer for less money, I'd choose the developer option.

Sure, the call centre is easier, but is also boring and GOING NOWHERE.

If a company has a good product, and the type of business smarts needed to exploit unempoloyed developers, then it can be a good learning experience.  If nothing else, your keeping yourself in the field and dveloping your skills.

I still remember in my early 20s being made redundant.  I was the king of Wordperfect, Lotus123 and the dos prompt.

3 Years later I'm back on the job and looking preety clueless trying to use Excel and Microsoft Word.  I took me 3 months of cramming to get back up to speed.

Ged Byrne
Friday, April 11, 2003


Run, don't walk away from this. If they need extra an developer so badly that they must have him, yet can't afford even basic pay, then they do not have a clue.

This would not be a development job at all. You would find yourself being blamed for not completing the product in the generous time they gave you ( 2 weeks? ) and then for having bugs etc etc. They they would blame you for them missing out on the financing they were after.

If they had any hope, or any business expertise, they would either have the money to pay you, or would be able to achieve their goals without you.

Help a charity.


Friday, April 11, 2003

>no business plan in existence that justifies
>an investment of cash

That's what I'd look for:

"How are we gonna make money?"

Specifically:

"How am _I_ gonna make boatloads of cash?"

Think about this:

Assuming you could relocate and make 50K, you are intesting 38K/year in this job.  Because of the risk involved, it should return about 25% interest.

When is the company going to become wildly successful?

If it's in six months, I'd try and figure out what kind of massive salary bump i'd get after 6 months.

If it's > 6 months, I'd start talking about equity and profit sharing.

If the hiring manager gets wierd when you bring these things up - saying things like "we'll take care of you" "hmm, equity, that would be nice - I'll talk to the CEO about that" (then he tries to hire you on the spot BEFORE talking to the CEO) walk away.  If it sounds like a used-car-pitch ...

Seriously.  I joined a start-up a few years ago that was a spin off of a traditional business.  The salary was what I asked for, so I didn't let the vague promises of equity bother me - I thought of it as a possible bonus, no big deal if I didn't get it. (Hey, it was the late 1990's, waddaya want?)

A year later, the company was sold and shut down by the new owners - after all, they also owned competing websites. 

Our owner realized millions in cash.  I was put out on the street with my earned vacation, and that's all.

At the very least, a lesson learned ...

regards,

Matt H.
Friday, April 11, 2003

----" At least at the startup I'm working... "----

As opposed to having all the day to do what you want?

Is it only developers who have been so profoundly brainwashed as to think those preferences normal?

Stephen Jones
Friday, April 11, 2003

Ged wrote:

>Sure, the call centre is easier, but is also boring and GOING NOWHERE.

Ged,

I worked at a call center up until my junior year in college.  In that time, I met alot of people (even a few intelligent ones.)  Some of these people went on to work in the operations dept, dev dept and those contacts gave me opportunities to jump to the operations dept, babysitting HP-UX servers, etc.  Not too long after that, another contact from the call center hooked me up with my current employer doing software development.  Not bad for a kid with zero dev experience and (then) without a college degree (this is Buffalo, NY - grads have trouble finding jobs in good economic times.)  I've done the same thing for other people as well who worked at the call center.

My point is it really isn't a dead end job unless you treat it as such.  And all the while I made $11/hr for a job with very little responsibility.  Sure, it's not for everyone - it can be stressful - but the contacts I made and good times (working with other young people) made it worthwhile.

GiorgioG
Friday, April 11, 2003

Giorigio,

I'm afraid the nature of call centres has changed dramitically during the 90s.  They are now nothing more than factories, with similar conditions and hopes.  Most positions are now on a temporary contract basis.

Since most companies are now seeking to move their call centre operations to the pacific rim, it is most definately a career to avoid.

Ged Byrne
Friday, April 11, 2003

You'd have to be nuts to take this $1000/month gig. If you're a halfway decent developer, and have any connections in the industry _at_all_, you should be able to do a little bit of networking and land yourself a few contract gigs that will let you earn twice this amount (easily). And YOU will be making the big decisions, YOU'LL be impressing clients. YOU will be learning how to manage projects. That type of experience is very valuable.

If the BEST offer you've currently got is a job that pays $5.76 an hour, you owe it to yourself to do some freelance work. You should have no trouble beating that rate by doing freelance projects, even if you bill yourself out at one tenth of industry-standard billing rates. At least you'll get some good experience. And at least you'll be the boss. And at least you can pick your own projects.

Benji Smith
Friday, April 11, 2003

By the way...

$12,000 per year / (40 hours per week * 52 weeks in the year) = $5.76 per hour

Benji Smith
Friday, April 11, 2003

Matt H. - that's exactly what I meant. Generally, when an employer makes a dirt cheap offer to a candidate, they are generally trolling for that candidate who is decent AND desperate AND who doesn't have the financial insight to assign a value to the "salary forgone". Believe it or not, many programmers and other techies with above average work ethics share this combination. It's not exactly stupidity, it's the trained naivete that this industry expects technical implementors to share. We're supposed to respect the process and honor the bigger picture like they're a damned religion, even if our own needs are disrespected. Typically there's some manager or owner sitting on us preaching at us to "BE PROFESSIONAL" as they line their own pockets.


A value must be assigned to the salary that is forgone, and the probability of the success of the operation relative to one's own defined stake in  equity must be be assigned as well. Otherwise, it's random chance weighted extremely favorably toward the "house's" interests.


And almost nobody in our field seems to get any of these things, at least not in a well verbalized way, which is why underfunded pipe dreams can always seem to find someone slightly down on their luck to work for almost nothing.

Bored Bystander
Friday, April 11, 2003

Bored Bystander has recently finished his "option pricing" MBA course? ;)

anon
Friday, April 11, 2003

>> Bored Bystander has recently finished his "option pricing" MBA course? ;)

Ha hah. It might have come off as slightly technical or pompous sounding but it's basic common sense in negotiation: if someone doesn't want to put much of anything on the table, then why should you either? That's the bottom line.

Bored Bystander
Friday, April 11, 2003

I once rented the upstairs of a rabbi's widow's home for $100 a month.  If you can find a deal like this, it's possible to live on $1000 a month.  Would you want to?  Well, if you're thinking of pursuing monasticism, I'd say $1000 a month is a good place to start.

$1000/month, $12,000/year, works out to about $5.77 an hour...assuming you're working 40 hours a week, not 60 or 80.  McDonald's pays better.  And remember, a dollar in the hand is worth 1000 shares in the bush.

Kyralessa
Friday, April 11, 2003

I can think of exactly *ONE* set of conditions under which a deal like this would be OK for the right person. The employer would have tightly specified and conservatively defined deliverables in hand and would pay your salary as long as you made your goals, no matter what. Also, the location where the work is performed and the number of hours would be entirely irrelevant, and, you would not be precluded from doing work on the side as your primary job permitted.

Fat chance. The sad reality is that pay rate usually implies the level of respect you're likely to receive. When you're cheap, you're usually assumed to be quite clueless, therefore you will probably lack any voice in decision making.

Also, startups I've been around are run like cargo cults, so lots of luck asserting your right to flexible conditions in exchange for low pay.  The M.O. of most startups is to sweat a lot with no-process heroics and to assume that anyone on salary at a low rate is supposed to be worked to death.

Better option: deliver pizzas for real income, and work on an open source project in the evenings that you can lay claim to bragging rights on.
PS: I don't attribute any particular immorality to the notion of paying someone intentionally low. However, there has been a consistently positive correlation in my life between abusive employers and low pay.

Bored Bystander
Friday, April 11, 2003

Bored,

Your making in sense. 

Ged Byrne
Friday, April 11, 2003

I disagree with the advices given to take the job. $12k is $6/hr, which is loss than minimum wage in some parts of the country.

It has been suggested that you do it yfor partial ownnership if that is offered. I disagree. If you believe their idea makes sense and could be profitable, you should steal it. Get a part time job loading newspapers into trucks for $12/hr and you will have the same income AND lots of free time. Use that free time to implement the undeveloped idea they had yourself since you are obviously capable of doing so or you would not be considering doing this in the first place. Then' take it public yourself. You will be 100% owner, not 5% owner or whatever. By the way, regarding ownership, if you are planning such a deal, you need to hire a competant lawyer to negotiate the terms on your behalf and make sure all the agreements are in order. Getting this done right will cost you $10,000-$50,000, which is unlikely to be worth it for a $6/hr job.

X. J. Scott
Friday, April 11, 2003

Don't do it. The low pay offer is the thin end of the wedge - next you'll be working 18 hour days for a big fat zero extra. You'll get bollocked for such heinous timewasting as checking the news web sites each morning (bearing in mind this was sept 2001). And you'll be sniffed at for wantonly leaving the office for a walk during your lunch break. And for what? The boss man's ego, basically.

Believe me, it's happened to me and it's horrible. Never again. I wouldn't wish it on anyone else, either. Hence the posting, I guess.

PS. Bored Bystander and Stephen Jones - you truly are the kings of this board.

optimistic coder
Friday, April 11, 2003

My local supermarket is paying $7/hr for people to stock the shelves.  That's about $1200/month.  Do something like that in the evenings and weekends, and use the daytime to update your skills by helping your local public library build a web-based searchable catalog or a develop a web site for a charity to enable them to accept online credit card donations.

T. Norman
Friday, April 11, 2003

And speaking of minimum wage, not only may that salary be less than your state's minimum wage, but it is almost definitely too low for it to qualify as an "exempt" position (i.e. exempt from paying overtime). If so, it would be illegal for them to pay you $1000/month for working 60+ hour weeks without overtime pay.  If they would break the law so openly like that, they're quite likely to be unscrupulous in other ways.


(Please let's not go over the minimum wage debate again.  For the time period of this job's existence, it is an unavoidable reality.)

T. Norman
Friday, April 11, 2003

anon, have you asked them for more money?

bot123
Saturday, April 12, 2003

bot123, no that's the max they can afford

anon
Saturday, April 12, 2003

Are they offering other incentives (profit-share, stock)?

From the above comments it looks like they are offering around 80% of supermarket pay.

This sounds like they are trying to take advantage of the current economy. I find it hard to believe that they couldn't even find the extra 20% (of not much) to even meet supermarket pay.

If you are out of work and considering this, I would not accept it without first pushing hard for more money. A company as cheap is not going to be generous with pay rises.

If they won't move on money, consider negotiating on working hours/terms. Agree on a maximum number of hours per week, and then overtime pay. If you are productive, it will better for them to pay you the overtime, instead of hiring another budget programmer.

Maybe offer to work 3/4 days a week for the same money; if you find you are struggling on the $1000, you have the spare time to for additional work.

Maybe offer to work from home, and flexible hours.

bot123
Sunday, April 13, 2003

>  $12K/yr salary says "almost no capital".

12k/yr salary says to me, "Take advantage of curent market circumstances, and preserve capital."  Who is to say they don't have 16 mil in the bank?  (Yes, I'm playing devil's advocate)

I would accept this job if you are unemployed.  (and continue loooking for a "real" job.)  You will gain experience, and will not be unemployed. 

Remember, lenghty unemp. can stigmatize you, and create a vicious cycle of further unemployement.  Sadly, if you have been laid off too long something "must" be wrong with you.  It's the same reason guys can't get laid during a drought, and have girls swarming to them when they are taken.  "Forbidden Fruit"

Bella
Sunday, April 13, 2003

"I would accept this job if you are unemployed.  (and continue loooking for a "real" job.)  You will gain experience, and will not be unemployed."

Chances are 99% that the company will not last very long if its capital is so limited.  More money can be made by working in the supermarket or McDonalds, and experience can be gained by working on open source or doing a volunteer project for a library, school, or charity.

T. Norman
Sunday, April 13, 2003

Bella, I think what most of us here are expressing concern about is the fact that a job like this will tend to displace this guy from looking for a job paying a decent salary. It's clearly an opportunity cost.

On "stigma": Lengthy periods of unemployment can stigmatize you, but so can accepting a level of pay so low that it doesn't sound possible.  Yeah, right, employers want to know if you've been busy but they also want to know that the candidate is good enough that he or she has *some* personal standards. Instead of "Ok, you were laid off for 8 months" it would be "OK, you worked below minimum wage... at a SOFTWARE JOB!?"

I worked with a guy once who had almost no self esteem. A C whiz. He developed the core of his company's software product line. He started at $5/hr in 1982 with no BS degree. He also stayed with the same employer for 20 years. And he lived in his parent's house until he socked away a couple of hundred $K. Yeah, he eventually progressed to a market level salary but that didn't happen until the mid 1990s. And this company was WILDLY successful in the interim, building on his work.

Bottom line: sounds like a long shot to me in terms of personal advantage, no matter if the company makes it or not, because I've seen exactly how that kind of progression starts out.

I'm hoping for anon's sake that there's an as yet untold story behind this offer.

Bored Bystander
Sunday, April 13, 2003

Oppty cost?  Displace him from looking for work?  I disagree.  He can send resumes on his lunch hour, and take a 1/2 day to do some interviewing.  Finding a job is not a FT endeavour.  It only becomes one when you let it become that.  When you are unemployed have nothing but time on your hands.

NEVER EVER pass up experience when you have NO other opportunity cost.  His oppty cost is watching Oprah, or working as a laborer at anything >= $5/hr. 

Yes, McDonalds pays the same.  But, what would you rather have on your resume, "Cashier" or "Web architect".  Don't be so spiteful and shortsighted.

PS: Do not tell future employers what you were paid. 

Bella
Monday, April 14, 2003

> Instead of "Ok, you were laid off for 8 months" it would be "OK, you worked below minimum wage... at a SOFTWARE JOB!?"


Or, "you were so arrogant that you passed up chances to work and sit home instead?"  Working cheap ALSO says he likes his career, and has lacks a huge ego, and does what he needs to do to keep current (ie: takes owndership of his situation in life). 

This would be a plus if I were hiring, and would be glad to give a $50k job to someone like this, vis a vis, someone who sat around "expecting" what he's worth.  You are worth what the market dictates, not what your morgage/car payment is, or what your last gig paid you.  Sadly, many people have stubbornly sat home for 2 years, passed up many great jobs, and blown out all their savings coming to this realization. 

Bella
Monday, April 14, 2003

http://www.fuckthatjob.com

Benji Smith
Tuesday, April 15, 2003

Yawn, yawn, yawn Bella. You really don't need to think when you have free market cliches, do you? Maybe people derive benefit from time off. I know I did. You can
go somewhere interesting, do something interesting, call it a 'year out' or a 'sabbatical'. That might sound more interesting to a recruiter than 'sat doing a job I hated and got bitter and twisted.

Why does your way of thinking dictate that people should bang their heads against the wall in crappy jobs just because the market says so? Do we all have to have nervous breakdowns before the market says we have any worth? What the hell are we *doing* this for anyway?

oc
Tuesday, April 15, 2003

>> Do we all have to have nervous breakdowns before the market says we have any worth?

No. In counterpoint to Bella's opinion, I know for a fact that I've held several jobs in my career that I simply shouldn't have taken and which actually damaged my prospects later. At those times I should have either held out for better or done something entirely different. In a couple of instances my self esteem suffered more than the money was worth. In *every* instance the pay was sub-par.

My guess is that $1000/mo is probably intended to staff a "code tech" position, regardless how it's presented to anon. Maybe someone to do builds, set up CVS, handle email and/or FTP transfers for programmers, etc. That's my guess why it's so low.

PS: Bella's pattern appears to be to not acknowledge any alternative point of view whatsoever.

Bored Bystander
Tuesday, April 15, 2003

Bella

I think it was you who said in a recent post that there should be no minimum wage law, because if someone didn't like the wages offered they were free to reject it. That's how the market works.

Above you seem to say that if you see a job that pays too low, you should accept it, because that's how the market works.

Care to expand on these?

David Clayworth
Wednesday, April 16, 2003

Yes, people are free to accept or reject any job that comes their way.  I did not imply that my advice was the only right way. 

I suggested 'anon' accept the job, if he can afford it.  I assume he is unemployed.  I assume he wants to gain experience.  I also suggested he keep looking for a job while working for the paltry $1000/mo.  Working there just 3 days still beats sitting on the couch for 3 days. 

If he needs the time off to relax, recharge, etc, then by all means.  But I didn't get the impression he needed that.  My impression was that his only concern was about the money.  So, my *advice* is to take it, b/c you arent getting paid at home anyways, and quit he second he can get a salary that suits your liking.

Bella
Wednesday, April 16, 2003

"Working there just 3 days still beats sitting on the couch for 3 days."

No, it doesn't. Especially if the three days are each 18 hours long, which will happen if he's paid pro rata. Sit on the couch and read some books, it'll be better in the long run.

 
Friday, April 18, 2003

I disagree.  3 days of REAL WORLD experience beats any bullshit you'll read in a book.  After the 3 days of work are over, THEN you can read the book all you want.  Or read the book on the weekend.  You stupid shortsighted fucking IDIOT.  I'm sure you're unemployed, jackass.

Bella
Tuesday, April 22, 2003

Ha ha, I'm not unemployed, I win! And you smell of poo!

 
Tuesday, April 22, 2003

>> I disagree.  3 days of REAL WORLD experience beats any !@^* you'll read in a book.  After the 3 days of work are over, THEN you can read the book all you want.  Or read the book on the weekend.  You stupid shortsighted !@&%ing IDIOT.  I'm sure you're unemployed, jackass.

Bella, have you ever worked with anyone, ever? You rant like a psycho.  All the guy did was disagree with you.  Even if you don't use your name, you don't seem to have the self respect to watch what you say and how you act.

Nasty Curmudgeon
Wednesday, April 23, 2003

NC, we're talking about the sort of person who thinks that calling one 'unemployed' is an insult. Way to highly strung!


Thursday, April 24, 2003

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