TechHui

Hawaiʻi's Technology Community

I recently responded to a posting on craigslist (http://honolulu.craigslist.org/oah/sof/1228743261.html) looking for a software engineer to work in exchange for equity in the company, on a project that would provide what they believed to be a unique new service for websites. In my reply to them I asked some questions about the project such as how it would differ from similar services (such as those already offered by Google and others), what their target customer was, how much of the underlying algorithms were already defined, and similar questions.

These all seemed like reasonable questions, given the fact that they were basically looking for a "partner" (paid by equity in the company) and that the success of the project, and therefore any possible income to me, would depend entirely on the true potential of the product and whether they really knew their customers and how to market it to them.

Their response frankly blew me away. They said:

"From a marketing perspective, we are not inviting input or commentary from any potential programmers. In fact, for any potential programmer to harbor qualms, doubts, and/or opinions regarding the marketing aspect of this project would unneccesarily belabor and cloud an already daunting task. If we wanted marketing advice or personnel we would advertise for such."

When I pointed out that anyone taking equity in such a company would of course have questions and concerns about every aspect of the project and the organization, and that most companies would welcome employees who took a sincere interest in the overall success of the company their response was, well, unprintable. Suffice it to say they called me some pretty nasty names.

So, my question for the TechHui crowd: Am I being unreasonable in expecting to get answers to questions about the overall project or should a programmer simply "shut up and code", as this company seems to expect, or are there actually companies who value engineers who look beyond the immediate task at hand and truly take an interest in the viability of the company, especially when the programming is postponing immediate pay for potential future reward through an equity stake in the company?

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Jimen,

Very good point.

In the case of the test I was asked to take, reportedly to test my understanding of C++, it had practically no C++ in it, but rather plain old C. There were only two people in the company (yet another startup), and my gut feeling was that the young software fellow was the one who wrote the test, and the questions sure looked a lot like something you might get in a test in a high school or college programming course, just to make sure you remember the particular details of what was taught during the prior week. It was not at all a well thought out test and I can't imagine how they could deduce anything from it as far as my overall development and design skills.

Also, as far as tests being used to weed out the bad programmers from the good programmers (generally by the HR departmet) so that the real decisin makers dont have to waste time actually interviewing people who clearly won't make the cut, I'd have to ask: "How many programmers can there actually be here in Hawaii?" If every single one of them showed up for an interview, how much time would it actually take to go through them and find the perfect match for the company? :)

And one last thought: If anyone actually does know of a company looking for an experienced (thirty five years!) C++, MFC, application development software engineer who really enjoys the GUI part of a project, let me know !

- Roger
Roger, please contact me.

Ken Berkun: berkun@LTTaloha.com. Our needs are kind of specific, but if you hit them, then I want you!
Ken

PS - I've often wondered: Just how many programmers ARE there in Hawaii?

Roger Garrett said:
Jimen,

Very good point.

In the case of the test I was asked to take, reportedly to test my understanding of C++, it had practically no C++ in it, but rather plain old C. There were only two people in the company (yet another startup), and my gut feeling was that the young software fellow was the one who wrote the test, and the questions sure looked a lot like something you might get in a test in a high school or college programming course, just to make sure you remember the particular details of what was taught during the prior week. It was not at all a well thought out test and I can't imagine how they could deduce anything from it as far as my overall development and design skills.

Also, as far as tests being used to weed out the bad programmers from the good programmers (generally by the HR departmet) so that the real decisin makers dont have to waste time actually interviewing people who clearly won't make the cut, I'd have to ask: "How many programmers can there actually be here in Hawaii?" If every single one of them showed up for an interview, how much time would it actually take to go through them and find the perfect match for the company? :)

And one last thought: If anyone actually does know of a company looking for an experienced (thirty five years!) C++, MFC, application development software engineer who really enjoys the GUI part of a project, let me know !

- Roger

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