April 05, 2016

Brave New Corporate World

Timothy Birdnow

Jack Kemp e-mailed this article to me this morning and I thought it may be worth posting a few thoughts on the matter. The New York Post article discusses the way Silicon Valley uses young Millenials as labor cannon fodder, in a cult-like anti-corporatist counter-culture which injects juvenile values into the work environment in lieu of pay or proper benefits.

In a tell-all book, Dan Lyons, former employee of Hubspot, details the way these outfits operate:

‘What is the difference between a loyal employee and a brainwashed cultist?’
- Dan Lyons

"HubSpot’s leaders were not heroes,” says Lyons, "but rather sales and marketing charlatans who spun a good story about magical transformational technology and got rich by selling shares in a company that has still never turned a profit.”

Inside HubSpot’s colorful offices — orange, the official color, is everywhere, as is the company logo, which to Lyons looks like a sprocket with three phalluses sticking out of it — fun is mandatory. Workers, many in shorts and flip-flops, are inordinately proud of the "candy wall” where they can fill up on free snacks. Dogs roam the halls. Occasionally, amid a slave-ship galley of workers hunched over laptops, a Nerf-ball war breaks out. Conference rooms contain beanbag chairs.

For bike commuters, there are showers upstairs, but too many staffers were using them as sex cabins, so a memo went out to discourage that. Oh, and there’s unlimited vacation.

Which turns out to be one of the many traps of HubSpot: Fired employees have no accrued vacation time, which saves the company payouts to its "graduates.” Firms with vacation plans are also required to set aside cash ­reserves to cover the cost. HubSpot dodged this cost.


• An all-pervading sinister air. Calling HubSpot a "startup cult” and comparing it to Scientology, Lyons notes that employees have to wear rubber bracelets containing transponders, which are needed to lock and unlock doors when moving around HQ. Which means, of course, that the Company is tracking you at all times. The Company also gives employees a lengthy, pseudoscientific, entirely scary-sounding personality test (devised by a crackpot whose claim to fame was creating the Wonder Woman comics). All of this sounds kinda like the bizarre questionnaire Scientologists take while grasping tin cans.

So eager are innocent young bunnies to comply with the unique language, rituals and culture of this happy-face corporate police state that "drinking the Kool-Aid,” while a trite phrase in Silicon Valley, is scarily apposite. "What is the difference between a loyal employee and a brainwashed cultist?” asks Lyons. "Perhaps by accident, or perhaps not, tech companies seem to employ techniques similar to those used by cults.”

Groovy young techies, you’ve been played. Tech startups are one gigantic millennial meat-grinder.

A 128-slide PowerPoint presentation that describes HubSpot culture (one slide says "team > individual”) describes "a kind of corporate utopia . . . where people don’t worry about work-life balance because work is their life.” No one, Lyons emphasizes, ever jokes about any of this stuff.

• Unyielding death-grip on childhood. The company’s chief technology officer announces he’s bringing a teddy bear to meetings and invites everyone else to do the same. On Halloween, everyone comes to work in a wacky costume so the company can do a group photo captioned, "We dare to be different.”

To convey the feeling that life means carrying on campus goofiness indefinitely, training sessions are held by "marketing professors” and "faculty” belong to "HubSpot Academy.” Beer taps are installed in the kitchen. The worst thing you can say is that "at my last company, we used to do it this way,” because that implies you’re a grownup with experience instead of a peppy little lamb seeing the world with fresh, dewy eyes.

After serving as technology editor for Newsweek, and with decades’ experience, Lyons finds his intern-age boss is a guy with only one previous job (an entry-level gig doing sales for Google). People constantly talk about imaginary friends such as "Mary,” a marketing person they think of as their typical customer. Mary has a detailed persona: She has an MBA from Babson; she’s 42, has two kids (10 and 6), etc. One Friday, Lyons discovers a group of employees sprawled out on the carpet making "ghastly” paintings on poster board. After a while, Lyons’ children send him off to work mornings with the words, "Have a good day at kindergarten, Daddy!”

• Chaos. The marketing department at HubSpot features so much personnel churn that it acquires the nickname "the French Revolution.” Employees disappear without warning. The human resources people have no clue how to discover talent, asking potential hires, "How weird are you, on a scale from 1 to 10?” Applicants with proven job skills get ignored because, Lyons says, they’re in their 50s and HubSpot prefers young know-nothings.

Due to what Steve Jobs called a "bozo explosion,” mediocrities hire even more mediocre people to work under them. All of these worker bees bustle around doing nonsense work such as creating would-be viral videos that vanish into the void. "Watching this video gave me cancer,” a viewer said in a comment on one such video, a parody of "What Does the Fox Say?”

End excerpts.

Indeed, this would be a dream job for a young person, and I'm not totally certain it is absolutely wrong to discount certain aspects of this; the company, instead of paying a good salary or benefits, offers an alternative form of compensation that only works with the young single person. In a way they ARE offering compensation, just not the type that attracts stable people.

I once spoke with a young Millennial who was moving back to St. Louis from Silicon Valley to get a "real job" as she described it. She loved working at the tech companies; there was little work and a lot of play, but those companies disappeared like the morning dew, and she spent her time mostly trying to get a new job. After a certain point she realized that the time had come to actually start her life, that playtime had to end. It is one of the tragedies of our human existence, but at some point we all have to grow up.

So does a company like Hubspot abuse their employees? Perhaps. It does give them two things; a certain measure of work experience and enough pay to survive. These companies certainly pay as well as other entry-level positions, so to say they are cheating the employees may be accurate from the Liberal mindset but without the poor pay they would get no pay at all and no play, either.

I must say that this sort of thing speaks volumes about our modern American culture. First, it is the final stage in the cult of youth that has gripped America since the coming of the television. Time was age was valued, and the elders ran our society. They did so because they had the experience needed to make proper decisions but also they had settled into a mature mindset, one less interested in testing limits (as do the young) and more interested in bearing the burdens, the responsibilities of life. The young like to play, and don't really want responsibility. Oh, there are plenty of responsible young men and women, don't misunderstand, but their natural inclination is to play or to seek their own advancement. It is the older generation that, as Ayn Rand would say, maintains the engine of the world. They learned this responsibility from their fathers, who in turn learned from their fathers. Once they were old enough they began their own careers, taking the less desirable jobs as part of the training process. It used to take a long time to become a boss in the old America.

Not any longer. Children often don't have fathers at all, and rarely go into the business that their father was employed in if they do. The breakdown of the family has led to an extended adolescence, with kids staying at home until they are nearly middle aged, living as if they were teenagers. Often the parents, who understand that their children were denied the stability of a strong nuclear family, are permissive in this, since the "kids" need to be watched; they have adopted modern values, juvenile thinking from a culture that values immaturity, and so the parents encourage it out of guilt and necessity. We have created a machine in this country, a machine that represses growth and maturation. Social media is a race to the cradle, with the more juvenile aspects of America on full display as part of "self-fulfillment". We have been told by our liberal friends that the highest good is to be what we wish to be, to do what we wish to do. The end result is everyone wandering around lost, no sense of how to become adult. Adulthood is mocked and despised in popular media, with responsible people being portrayed as doddering fools, old killjoys. The young, with no good role models, revert to their natural state. What is the personality in a natural state? A self-indulgent juvenile, that is what. We are by nature children; we have to be taught to be adults.

America is failing to teach her children to be adults.

Work used to do that. The young took bad, dirty, unpleasant jobs so they could learn. It was not fun, but it was a part of the training that was needed to make a person into a stable, mature adult; if nothing else, the kid learned the value of hard work, and that when he or she finally did graduate to a better job they appreciated it. We don't teach children the value of work anymore. In point of fact, most young teens are not able to find work, and that largely because work is outsourced these days or given to aliens who are not even supposed to be here. As a result they never learn, and they never grow. The price of this is extended adolescence.

In short, companies like Hubspot exist because of the triumph of liberalism in America.

The welfare state, with all of the risk taken out of life, encourages this. The schools, with their ridiculous notions of "everybody's a winner" and either giving everyone a trophy on not keeping score at a sporting event encourages this. My niece attends a school like that; if you want to be on one of the sports teams you will have a place, and be played, no matter how bad you are. If you want to be in any extracurricular you will be. Yes, it may seem to be the kind thing, and it will keep from damaging the fragile self-esteem of the children, but in the end it teaches them worse than nothing. It gives them a false sense of reality, the idea that the world is somehow fair and will bend for you. Work is a terrible shock to such people, because suddenly they are facing the reality that they aren't the center of the Universe but rather that they will be judged on their merits, and will have to take all manner of abuse in the process. It's a terrible wake-up call.

The egalitarianism promoted by the Left necessitates that children do not grow up. Everyone has to be equal, and the only way for that to happen is for everybody to remain on a stagnated plain of development. It really is that simple.

And this gives a great benefit to our would-be leftist overlords in that these young are going to remain eternally dissatisfied and will be easily manipulated. They are the perfect slaves for the New World Order.

Remember Brave New World? The citizenry was so easily manipulated with stock phrases and a culture designed to promote play and avoidance of pain, just like these kids at these tech companies. Hubspot is nothing but a corporate model of the Huxleyan Brave New World.

It's time to grow up, America

Posted by: Timothy Birdnow at 08:44 AM | Comments (1) | Add Comment
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