Fuck startups.

Back when I was an wee lad I interviewed for an startup, not knowing that startups are not real companies. The scumbag interviewer, who was also the owner of the outfit, asked me what I was looking in a company. I said "fair wages, a non-antagonic environment and projects with real roadmaps".
He asked me to elaborate. I said, "You know, if today your product is a sales platform, I do not want to come into work next week and discover it is now an air travel tickets marketplace, or come back the very next day and discover it is now an automated pizza factory, or in the next day and it is now a crypto exchange..."

The scumbag looked PISSED. "Sorry, but we are looking for someone who likes the challenges of a dynamic environment (read: we do not have a business model and we hate the very idea of trying to make money out of our company), and you do not fit the profile"

Startups are not real companies, i.e. they do not systematically charge money in exchange for goods or services in amounts that exceed the cost of providing said goods or services. Most startups are just tax fronts for money laundering schemes. The rest are just playthings for rich assholes who can't get a real output-producing job. Those two categories are not mutually exclusive.

Take Facebook, for example. The poster child of startups. The Zucker that owns it just announced they are setting impossible performance targets on purpose, not even attempting to hide the fact that it is just a way to lay off large quantities of employees without using the words "massive lay offs". Companies, real thin-margin, lots-of-regulation profit-driven companies do not do that. They are not some sort of "capitalist woke", real CEOs just know that if their companies largely miss performance targets on their tenure, purposely or not, next it will be their neck on the chopping block. Because they can be fired if the KPI charts say they suck. But the Zucker cannot be fired, not even after commanding their beanbag and tap beer offices to be heated exclusively by burning hundred dollar bills.
So the Zucker is not interested in performance. Not even in lay offs as expense cutting measures - investors are an infinite source of free money for startups. The Zucker just wants to project power, especially now that engineers are not so confident in the stability of they high-paying jobs.

So are irrelevant 500-souls-or-less self-aggrandizing startups. Their owners are there because it is in vogue to have a startup or ten. And will have that startup pivot to whatever sounds fancy that season. After all, only poor people care about things like EBITDA and profit margins repeatability - A.K.A. "getting more money".

Fuck startups.

  • 6
    Hate the system, not the player. Startups not only exist, but thrive, because the world allows it. If you can go for 10 years in the red simply because investors trust you enough to think they will get a good return eventually, why would you not go for it?
  • 7
    What is a startup if not an experiment?

    They have always existed but with the internet and computers as platform they have a lot more flexibility in terms of what they do and can change on a dime.

    If it was manufacturing it would be much harder to pivot.

    But some love the faster pace due to less or no legacy systems, the opportunity to work with the lates ideas or tech even if its not really proven.

    And while many fail, some grow to be stable companies and a small few even grow large.

    Personally I avoided them since I prefer stability and more long term, but who knows what come next.

    Like them or hate them, in some form they will always exist al long as we humans continue to innovate.

    They might just get a different description ;)
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    @ars1 The Holmes-Neumann principle of "suckers gonna suck so it ain't illegal to take advantage of that" falls flat when you directly use credit (or, in other words, societal trust) anywhere in the system.

    For example (but not limited to): when trading shares of the startup in a public exchange or other regulated market, when there is public faith and thus legal accountability; when performing regulated activities like mining, health services, banking, transportation, housing or even employing nationals (in most countries); when receiving any public subsidies including tax breaks; and when receiving credit from public-funded enterprises like state banks and foment institutions.

    There is no startup that avoids all of the above. Most scam the taxpayer out of small-business incentives that should go to small local companies, not scams. Others take loans that they can't repay, or can't pay their taxes or employees.

    The system is integrated. Fucking up with investors screws society too.
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    @Voxera if it was just between them and their own, that would be one thing.
    But in the moment that it's my tax money paying for it, their experiments become purveyor of my representatives on the ethics and standards committee.

    Thus a "company" whose soon-to-be-ex employees are entitled to publically-funded pensions or unemployment benefits must be throughly vetted.
    So are "companies" that bring undisclosed numbers of tourists to overload public health services and transportation infrastructure.

    There will always be scams and pyramid schemes and cooked books and whatnot - such is human nature.
    What must not be allowed is for those to simply thrive. The era of police as big dudes with sticks to catch pickpockets on the street is long gone. Nowadays, we need a horde of auditors on air-conditioned public offices and complex pattern-matching models on legally required company database access to nib the scam in the bud. Or even just to kick them out of the publically-funded safety net.
  • 3
    Of course startups are companies that sell a product to a customer like any other company - well, sortof: The customer is some high risk investor and the product is research and development of some monetizable product. Also there obviously are startups where it is fun to work at and there are startups that are a toxic cesspool of coke noses - just like with the non-startups...
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    @JsonBoa At least in Sweden pensions are not payed for by taxes but separate fee that every one pays as part if their own tax payments, so those benefits are the same for everyone ant it also depends on the time.

    Unemployment benefits is also payed as sort or an insurance so also not really through anyone elses tax.

    And in Sweden at least, if your in IT you should not need to be unemployed unless you have your own problems.
  • 0
    @Voxera if pensions in Sweden are just contributions that aggregate capital on interest alone (i.e. do not work as insurance, you cannot take out more than you have put in + interest), why would they be mandatory, since there is no benefit? There must be at least one, most likely tax deferrance. And that is state subsidy, since the state is making major efforts to maintain the right to property and posterity, including military spending. Those NATO safeguards ain't gonna come cheap.

    Unemployment benefits most likely are insurance. Imagine the chaos if homeowners were allowed to burn their insured houses instead of selling them when the insured value is above the market value.

    Thus adding chaos in the system is a social problem if there is a social safety net infrastructure anywhere in the system that is subject to stress.

    But I do concede that it is unlikely in stable & competitive labour markets, like Sweden's IT sector.
  • 1
    @Oktokolo I agree that my definition can be twisted to your inversion of subjects. It would be reeeealy long if provision sentences were added to prevent it.
    I also agree that "being a startup" is not a necessary condition to "being a cesspool work environment", since there are companies that are definitely not startups in the later set.
    What makes my point still contentious is an startup's disdain for self-sustainable business models.

    If pulling an Uber, an startup plans of using vast external war chests to undercut competition at a loss. This is dumping.

    If pulling a We, an startup continuously pivots to mask it's relative performance. This is a pyramid scheme.

    If pulling a Theranos, an startup abuses the good faith of it's employees, investors, clients, and suppliers, wrecking havoc on the local legal and global financial systems.

    Thus I believe it is in society's best interest to regulate suspiciously unprofitable large scale operations.
  • 2
    i feel like you are not mad on start-ups per se, but on this phenomenon of pumping money without any clear way for making a profit

    I think some call it "blitz-scaling", which is the reason so many giants are still there despite only burning through investors money (such as Discord)
  • 2
    @JsonBoa that are some exceptional startups, but I know people that have worked on smaller startups, maybe 2-3 devs, an owner with an idea and a few investors that waging that they will succeed and dome do, most never get to the billion dollar size, some just enough for a bigger company to buy them and thereby provide the payback for the backers.

    Sure, some of them fail due to miss judging the market, or underestimating the problem or just failing.

    And there are those that try to pull a quick one hoping to get bought before the problems start piling up, but they at least as far as I have heard are also called startups.
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    Yes, like with normal companies, there are tons of startups using unfair market practices or screwing over their investors and customers. We live in a mostly unregulated free market society - and that is the price to pay for such a luxury.
  • 0
    The real problem is that the vast majority of startups are funded by Zuckerberg wannabes who curiously are also non-technical. They also think technical people are kind of stupid and don't understand business, even though the richest people who created the most successful companies are all totally technical people to the point of being on the spectrum for most of them.

    It's a mind fuck.

    Let me tell you, there are two kinds of startups. The one I mentioned above that usually lives under perfusion of investments and is a pointless shithole.

    But the other kind that started with an actual well oiled business plan/model and makes money and already knows how it will scale, without calling itself "innovative" every 10 fucking seconds are fine. These great startups are hard to find though because they're founded by intelligent people, which is a disappearing species.
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