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Dropcam CEO's Beef With Brogramming and Free Dinners 400

waderoush writes "Plenty of technology companies serve free breakfast, lunch, and dinner to their employees, but Dropcam CEO Greg Duffy says that's a form of mind control designed to get people to to work late. To keep employees happy, Duffy says, it's better to make them go home to their families for dinner. Some other suggestions from the San Francisco video monitoring startup: don't fill your engineering department with young, single, childless males (aka brogrammers). Keep your business model simple by making actual stuff that you can sell for a profit. And don't hire assholes. Why pay attention to Duffy's advice? Because Dropcam has a 100 percent employee retention rate — no one who has joined the 4-year-old company has ever left."
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Dropcam CEO's Beef With Brogramming and Free Dinners

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  • by SmallFurryCreature ( 593017 ) on Tuesday April 23, 2013 @01:54PM (#43527309) Journal

    That’s why there are no free dinners at Dropcam—around 6:00 pm the company

    I am sorry, at WHAT time? Ever heard the song 9 to 5? 9 to 5! Dinner is at 6 o'clock. Having to stay at work till six and then the commute means you won't be home close to 8. Kids will be in bed by that time. Dinner will be waiting in the oven.

    A GOOD going home hour is 5... oh wait. that is rush hour, means you leave "early" and arrive home just as late. Do you know what would be even BETTER? A company with FLEXIBLE hours and a max 8 hours on the workfloor. Now THAT would be a social company. Even better if you can take a half day off to deal with plumbers and other stuff.

    Nobody left in the last 4 years. Geez, I wonder why. An economy down the drain may have something to do with it.

    Don't get me wrong, a company that doesn't expect unpaid overtime in exchange for a greasy cold pizza (especially if there is no pizza) everyday gets pretty old pretty fast. But closing the doors at 6 doesn't show much of an improvement. You are still putting in a long day, except now you don't get free dinner at the end of the day. What about those without a family for who a company dinner saves time not having to cook for themselves?

    It is telling that the article calls him a wunderkind idealist and then fails to list any idealistic thing in the next few paragraphs.

  • by AuMatar ( 183847 ) on Tuesday April 23, 2013 @01:59PM (#43527405)

    So in other words statistically insignificant. That's in line with all the startups I've worked for- we didn't lose people unless we fired them with very few exceptions.

  • by AuMatar ( 183847 ) on Tuesday April 23, 2013 @02:03PM (#43527465)

    No, those are things that agile *claims* to do. Whether it does that, what else it does, and how well it actually does those things varies greatly. "Agile" in my experience is usually just a buzzword meaning iterative development of any sort.

  • by Ralph Barbagallo ( 2881145 ) on Tuesday April 23, 2013 @02:04PM (#43527491) Homepage
    The proverbial "brogrammer" is the only type of programmer your average valley C-level Dunning-Kruger sufferer can relate to.
  • by nimbius ( 983462 ) on Tuesday April 23, 2013 @02:14PM (#43527631) Homepage
    once you take away the "works in silicon valley" and "startup." he says dont hire assholes but then goes on to tout "ethical fiber" as a hiring qualification. what even is that? You dont want a bunch of "single childless males" but what about childless women? as a gay male, is a heteronormative marriage a job requirement for me to work here? sure, people can be hit-or-miss socially but thats why you have harassment and discrimination courses, and adhere to them.

    he says he wants a family friendly company that supports paternity and maternity leave but in california those arent things you decide to "do" for employees, theyre state law. saying you're "really diverse" just because you have married couples working for you fails on so many levels to understand what diversity in the workplace means. yes ive worked for startups that buy out bars and clubs for the night, but they also give out baseball and movie tickets too. my last startup work traded in the nightclub perk for a bowling alley because they listened to their employees instead of making vague generalizations about how family friendly or unfriendly the workplace perks needed to be.

    he doesnt buy dinner for the company, which is fine. working weird hours in IT means you've alienated my entire shift by robbing me of a breakfast that for you is a dinner. not buying dinner doesnt inherently prevent people from working late. Making intelligent business decisions like purchasing new hardware based on my MTBF and MTTF calculations instead the cost avoidance of making me work 90 hour weeks failing over infrastructure will keep me from working late.
  • by ilsaloving ( 1534307 ) on Tuesday April 23, 2013 @02:28PM (#43527843)

    An honest to god company that
    a) doesn't trying to abuse it's workers,
    b) hires normal people who are decent workers but also have lives outside the office

    I don't need a camera. I just want to send them money.

  • by dgatwood ( 11270 ) on Tuesday April 23, 2013 @02:31PM (#43527883) Homepage Journal

    Productivity in areas that require actual thought and concentration falls off after about 20 hours. Even 40 hours is a joke for anything but menial physical labor.

    What this means is that the best ways to increase worker productivity are:

    • Ban meetings. Most days should have exactly zero meetings; if you have three meetings per day, you can't get work done because of all the interruptions.
    • Most meetings should be either at the end of the day, the beginning of the day, or at lunch (with food). This minimizes the disruption that they cause.
    • Require all emails to contain a bullet-point executive summary. One person concentrates when writing it so everyone else doesn't have to concentrate while skimming it.
    • Standardize on a 30-hour workweek.
    • Standardize on an office environment so that workers can easily shut their doors and concentrate for periods of time.
    • Suggest specific break times that workers can choose so that they maximize their interaction with other people while minimizing how much they interrupt other workers in between.
    • Encourage workers to take non-work classes, form activity groups, etc. so that they don't burn out.
    • Encourage workers to work on things that they enjoy working on. Hire contractors to deal with the painful crap.

    If you do these things, your productivity will soar.

  • by AuMatar ( 183847 ) on Tuesday April 23, 2013 @02:47PM (#43528129)

    I've worked at 2 startups that were sold for 125M and 225M, each making more than 5x the invested capital. At neither of them would seeing anyone there at 9 be more than an extreme rarity. 8-9 hour workdays were the norm.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday April 23, 2013 @03:39PM (#43528653)

    "A true asshole does quality work" - -really? How is an asshole more likely to do quality work than anyone else? As you state, assholes are as part of the definition thin skinned, and generally overbearing (read, do not consider other, possibly better, solutions) and destory what could be an optimal path for their ego. The asshole has pretty much set all mankind back thousands of years, from the assholes who destroyed the Library of Alexandria, to the assholes who imprisoned Coppernicus, to the assholes who killed Aristotle, to the assholes who burned the Mayan codices, to the assholes who worked in _n_ corporations and led _x_ teams down the drain.

Forty two.