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Jason Kottke

1 year ago

Lessons on Leadership from the Dancing Guy

More on Leadership

Aniket

Aniket

1 year ago

Yahoo could have purchased Google for $1 billion

Let's see this once-dominant IT corporation crumble.

Photo by Vikram Sundaramoorthy

What's the capital of Kazakhstan? If you don't know the answer, you can probably find it by Googling. Google Search returned results for Nur-Sultan in 0.66 seconds.

Google is the best search engine I've ever used. Did you know another search engine ruled the Internet? I'm sure you guessed Yahoo!

Google's friendly UI and wide selection of services make it my top choice. Let's explore Yahoo's decline.

Yahoo!

YAHOO stands for Yet Another Hierarchically Organized Oracle. Jerry Yang and David Filo established Yahoo.

Yahoo is primarily a search engine and email provider. It offers News and an advertising platform. It was a popular website in 1995 that let people search the Internet directly. Yahoo began offering free email in 1997 by acquiring RocketMail.

According to a study, Yahoo used Google Search Engine technology until 2000 and then developed its own in 2004.

Yahoo! rejected buying Google for $1 billion

Larry Page and Sergey Brin, Google's founders, approached Yahoo in 1998 to sell Google for $1 billion so they could focus on their studies. Yahoo denied the offer, thinking it was overvalued at the time.

Yahoo realized its error and offered Google $3 billion in 2002, but Google demanded $5 billion since it was more valuable. Yahoo thought $5 billion was overpriced for the existing market.

In 2022, Google is worth $1.56 Trillion.

What happened to Yahoo!

Yahoo refused to buy Google, and Google's valuation rose, making a purchase unfeasible.

Yahoo started losing users when Google launched Gmail. Google's UI was far cleaner than Yahoo's.

Yahoo offered $1 billion to buy Facebook in July 2006, but Zuckerberg and the board sought $1.1 billion. Yahoo rejected, and Facebook's valuation rose, making it difficult to buy.

Yahoo was losing users daily while Google and Facebook gained many. Google and Facebook's popularity soared. Yahoo lost value daily.

Microsoft offered $45 billion to buy Yahoo in February 2008, but Yahoo declined. Microsoft increased its bid to $47 billion after Yahoo said it was too low, but Yahoo rejected it. Then Microsoft rejected Yahoo’s 10% bid increase in May 2008.

In 2015, Verizon bought Yahoo for $4.5 billion, and Apollo Global Management bought 90% of Yahoo's shares for $5 billion in May 2021. Verizon kept 10%.

Yahoo's opportunity to acquire Google and Facebook could have been a turning moment. It declined Microsoft's $45 billion deal in 2008 and was sold to Verizon for $4.5 billion in 2015. Poor decisions and lack of vision caused its downfall. Yahoo's aim wasn't obvious and it didn't stick to a single domain.

Hence, a corporation needs a clear vision and a leader who can see its future.

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Alexander Nguyen

Alexander Nguyen

1 year ago

A Comparison of Amazon, Microsoft, and Google's Compensation

Learn or earn

In 2020, I started software engineering. My base wage has progressed as follows:

Amazon (2020): $112,000

Microsoft (2021): $123,000

Google (2022): $169,000

I didn't major in math, but those jumps appear more than a 7% wage increase. Here's a deeper look at the three.

The Three Categories of Compensation

Most software engineering compensation packages at IT organizations follow this format.

Minimum Salary

Base salary is pre-tax income. Most organizations give a base pay. This is paid biweekly, twice monthly, or monthly.

Recruiting Bonus

Sign-On incentives are one-time rewards to new hires. Companies need an incentive to switch. If you leave early, you must pay back the whole cost or a pro-rated amount.

Equity

Equity is complex and requires its own post. A company will promise to give you a certain amount of company stock but when you get it depends on your offer. 25% per year for 4 years, then it's gone.

If a company gives you $100,000 and distributes 25% every year for 4 years, expect $25,000 worth of company stock in your stock brokerage on your 1 year work anniversary.

Performance Bonus

Tech offers may include yearly performance bonuses. Depends on performance and funding. I've only seen 0-20%.

Engineers' overall compensation usually includes:

Base Salary + Sign-On + (Total Equity)/4 + Average Performance Bonus

Amazon: (TC: 150k)

Photo by ANIRUDH on Unsplash

Base Pay System

Amazon pays Seattle employees monthly on the first work day. I'd rather have my money sooner than later, even if it saves processing and pay statements.

The company upped its base pay cap from $160,000 to $350,000 to compete with other tech companies.

Performance Bonus

Amazon has no performance bonus, so you can work as little or as much as you like and get paid the same. Amazon is savvy to avoid promising benefits it can't deliver.

Sign-On Bonus

Amazon gives two two-year sign-up bonuses. First-year workers could receive $20,000 and second-year workers $15,000. It's probably to make up for the company's strange equity structure.

If you leave during the first year, you'll owe the entire money and a prorated amount for the second year bonus.

Equity

Most organizations prefer a 25%, 25%, 25%, 25% equity structure. Amazon takes a different approach with end-heavy equity:

  • the first year, 5%

  • 15% after one year.

  • 20% then every six months

We thought it was constructed this way to keep staff longer.

Microsoft (TC: 185k)

Photo by Louis-Philippe Poitras on Unsplash

Base Pay System

Microsoft paid biweekly.

Gainful Performance

My offer letter suggested a 0%-20% performance bonus. Everyone will be satisfied with a 10% raise at year's end.

But misleading press where the budget for the bonus is doubled can upset some employees because they won't earn double their expected bonus. Still barely 10% for 2022 average.

Sign-On Bonus

Microsoft's sign-on bonus is a one-time payout. The contract can require 2-year employment. You must negotiate 1 year. It's pro-rated, so that's fair.

Equity

Microsoft is one of those companies that has standard 25% equity structure. Except if you’re a new graduate.

In that case it’ll be

  • 25% six months later

  • 25% each year following that

New grads will acquire equity in 3.5 years, not 4. I'm guessing it's to keep new grads around longer.

Google (TC: 300k)

Photo by Rubaitul Azad on Unsplash

Base Pay Structure

Google pays biweekly.

Performance Bonus

Google's offer letter specifies a 15% bonus. It's wonderful there's no cap, but I might still get 0%. A little more than Microsoft’s 10% and a lot more than Amazon’s 0%.

Sign-On Bonus

Google gave a 1-year sign-up incentive. If the contract is only 1 year, I can move without any extra obligations.

Not as fantastic as Amazon's sign-up bonuses, but the remainder of the package might compensate.

Equity

We covered Amazon's tail-heavy compensation structure, so Google's front-heavy equity structure may surprise you.

Annual structure breakdown

  • 33% Year 1

  • 33% Year 2

  • 22% Year 3

  • 12% Year 4

The goal is to get them to Google and keep them there.

Final Thoughts

This post hopefully helped you understand the 3 firms' compensation arrangements.

There's always more to discuss, such as refreshers, 401k benefits, and business discounts, but I hope this shows a distinction between these 3 firms.

Sean Bloomfield

Sean Bloomfield

1 year ago

How Jeff Bezos wins meetings over

Photo by Christian Wiediger on Unsplash

We've all been there: You propose a suggestion to your team at a meeting, and most people appear on board, but a handful or small minority aren't. How can we achieve collective buy-in when we need to go forward but don't know how to deal with some team members' perceived intransigence?

Steps:

  1. Investigate the divergent opinions: Begin by sincerely attempting to comprehend the viewpoint of your disagreeing coworkers. Maybe it makes sense to switch horses in the middle of the race. Have you completely overlooked a blind spot, such as a political concern that could arise as an unexpected result of proceeding? This is crucial to ensure that the person or people feel heard as well as to advance the goals of the team. Sometimes all individuals need is a little affirmation before they fully accept your point of view.

  • It says a lot about you as a leader to be someone who always lets the perceived greatest idea win, regardless of the originating channel, if after studying and evaluating you see the necessity to align with the divergent position.

  • If, after investigation and assessment, you determine that you must adhere to the original strategy, we go to Step 2.

2. Disagree and Commit: Jeff Bezos, CEO of Amazon, has had this experience, and Julie Zhuo describes how he handles it in her book The Making of a Manager.

It's OK to disagree when the team is moving in the right direction, but it's not OK to accidentally or purposefully damage the team's efforts because you disagree. Let the team know your opinion, but then help them achieve company goals even if they disagree. Unknown. You could be wrong in today's ever-changing environment.

So next time you have a team member who seems to be dissenting and you've tried the previous tactics, you may ask the individual in the meeting I understand you but I don't want us to leave without you on board I need your permission to commit to this approach would you give us your commitment?

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Hudson Rennie

Hudson Rennie

1 year ago

My Work at a $1.2 Billion Startup That Failed

Sometimes doing everything correctly isn't enough.

Image via: glassdoor.com licensed under CC BY 2.0

In 2020, I could fix my life.

After failing to start a business, I owed $40,000 and had no work.

A $1.2 billion startup on the cusp of going public pulled me up.

Ironically, it was getting ready for an epic fall — with the world watching.

Life sometimes helps. Without a base, even the strongest fall. A corporation that did everything right failed 3 months after going public.

First-row view.

Apple is the creator of Adore.

Out of respect, I've altered the company and employees' names in this account, despite their failure.

Although being a publicly traded company, it may become obvious.

We’ll call it “Adore” — a revolutionary concept in retail shopping.

Two Apple execs established Adore in 2014 with a focus on people-first purchasing.

Jon and Tim:

  • The concept for the stylish Apple retail locations you see today was developed by retail expert Jon Swanson, who collaborated closely with Steve Jobs.

  • Tim Cruiter is a graphic designer who produced the recognizable bouncing lamp video that appears at the start of every Pixar film.

The dynamic duo realized their vision.

“What if you could combine the convenience of online shopping with the confidence of the conventional brick-and-mortar store experience.”

Adore's mobile store concept combined traditional retail with online shopping.

Adore brought joy to 70+ cities and 4 countries over 7 years, including the US, Canada, and the UK.

Being employed on the ground floor, with world dominance and IPO on the horizon, was exciting.

I started as an Adore Expert.

I delivered cell phones, helped consumers set them up, and sold add-ons.

As the company grew, I became a Virtual Learning Facilitator and trained new employees across North America using Zoom.

In this capacity, I gained corporate insider knowledge. I worked with the creative team and Jon and Tim.

Image via Instagram: @goenjoy

It's where I saw company foundation fissures. Despite appearances, investors were concerned.

The business strategy was ground-breaking.

Even after seeing my employee stocks fall from a home down payment to $0 (when Adore filed for bankruptcy), it's hard to pinpoint what went wrong.

Solid business model, well-executed.

Jon and Tim's chase for public funding ended in glory.

Here’s the business model in a nutshell:

Buying cell phones is cumbersome. You have two choices:

  1. Online purchase: not knowing what plan you require or how to operate your device.

  2. Enter a store, which can be troublesome and stressful.

Apple, AT&T, and Rogers offered Adore as a free delivery add-on. Customers could:

  • Have their phone delivered by UPS or Canada Post in 1-2 weeks.

  • Alternately, arrange for a person to visit them the same day (or sometimes even the same hour) to assist them set up their phone and demonstrate how to use it (transferring contacts, switching the SIM card, etc.).

Each Adore Expert brought a van with extra devices and accessories to customers.

Happy customers.

Here’s how Adore and its partners made money:

Adores partners appreciated sending Experts to consumers' homes since they improved customer satisfaction, average sale, and gadget returns.

**Telecom enterprises have low customer satisfaction. The average NPS is 30/100. Adore's global NPS was 80.

Adore made money by:

  • a set cost for each delivery

  • commission on sold warranties and extras

Consumer product applications seemed infinite.

A proprietary scheduling system (“The Adore App”), allowed for same-day, even same-hour deliveries.

It differentiates Adore.

They treated staff generously by:

  • Options on stock

  • health advantages

  • sales enticements

  • high rates per hour

Four-day workweeks were set by experts.

Being hired early felt like joining Uber, Netflix, or Tesla. We hoped the company's stocks would rise.

Exciting times.

I smiled as I greeted more than 1,000 new staff.

I spent a decade in retail before joining Adore. I needed a change.

After a leap of faith, I needed a lifeline. So, I applied for retail sales jobs in the spring of 2019.

The universe typically offers you what you want after you accept what you need. I needed a job to settle my debt and reach $0 again.

And the universe listened.

After being hired as an Adore Expert, I became a Virtual Learning Facilitator. Enough said.

After weeks of economic damage from the pandemic.

This employment let me work from home during the pandemic. It taught me excellent business skills.

I was active in brainstorming, onboarding new personnel, and expanding communication as we grew.

This job gave me vital skills and a regular paycheck during the pandemic.

It wasn’t until January of 2022 that I left on my own accord to try to work for myself again — this time, it’s going much better.

Adore was perfect. We valued:

  • Connection

  • Discovery

  • Empathy

Everything we did centered on compassion, and we held frequent Justice Calls to discuss diversity and work culture.

The last day of onboarding typically ended in tears as employees felt like they'd found a home, as I had.

Like all nice things, the wonderful vibes ended.

First indication of distress

My first day at the workplace was great.

Fun, intuitive, and they wanted creative individuals, not salesman.

While sales were important, the company's vision was more important.

“To deliver joy through life-changing mobile retail experiences.”

Thorough, forward-thinking training. We had a module on intuition. It gave us role ownership.

We were flown cross-country for training, gave feedback, and felt like we made a difference. Multiple contacts responded immediately and enthusiastically.

The atmosphere was genuine.

Making money was secondary, though. Incredible service was a priority.

Jon and Tim answered new hires' questions during Zoom calls during onboarding. CEOs seldom meet new hires this way, but they seemed to enjoy it.

All appeared well.

But in late 2021, things started changing.

Adore's leadership changed after its IPO. From basic values to sales maximization. We lost communication and were forced to fend for ourselves.

Removed the training wheels.

It got tougher to gain instructions from those above me, and new employees told me their roles weren't as advertised.

External money-focused managers were hired.

Instead of creative types, we hired salespeople.

With a new focus on numbers, Adore's uniqueness began to crumble.

Via Zoom, hundreds of workers were let go.

So.

Early in 2022, mass Zoom firings were trending. A CEO firing 900 workers over Zoom went viral.

Adore was special to me, but it became a headline.

30 June 2022, Vice Motherboard published Watch as Adore's CEO Fires Hundreds.

It described a leaked video of Jon Swanson laying off all staff in Canada and the UK.

They called it a “notice of redundancy”.

The corporation couldn't pay its employees.

I loved Adore's underlying ideals, among other things. We called clients Adorers and sold solutions, not add-ons.

But, like anything, a company is only as strong as its weakest link. And obviously, the people-first focus wasn’t making enough money.

There were signs. The expansion was presumably a race against time and money.

Adore finally declared bankruptcy.

Adore declared bankruptcy 3 months after going public. It happened in waves, like any large-scale fall.

  • Initial key players to leave were

  • Then, communication deteriorated.

  • Lastly, the corporate culture disintegrated.

6 months after leaving Adore, I received a letter in the mail from a Law firm — it was about my stocks.

Adore filed Chapter 11. I had to sue to collect my worthless investments.

I hoped those stocks will be valuable someday. Nope. Nope.

Sad, I sighed.

$1.2 billion firm gone.

I left the workplace 3 months before starting a writing business. Despite being mediocre, I'm doing fine.

I got up as Adore fell.

Finally, can we scale kindness?

I trust my gut. Changes at Adore made me leave before it sank.

Adores' unceremonious slide from a top startup to bankruptcy is astonishing to me.

The company did everything perfectly, in my opinion.

  • first to market,

  • provided excellent service

  • paid their staff handsomely.

  • was responsible and attentive to criticism

The company wasn't led by an egotistical eccentric. The crew had centuries of cumulative space experience.

I'm optimistic about the future of work culture, but is compassion scalable?

Jack Burns

Jack Burns

1 year ago

Here's what to expect from NASA Artemis 1 and why it's significant.

NASA's Artemis 1 mission will help return people to the Moon after a half-century break. The mission is a shakedown cruise for NASA's Space Launch System and Orion Crew Capsule.

The spaceship will visit the Moon, deploy satellites, and enter orbit. NASA wants to practice operating the spacecraft, test the conditions people will face on the Moon, and ensure a safe return to Earth.

We asked Jack Burns, a space scientist at the University of Colorado Boulder and former member of NASA's Presidential Transition Team, to describe the mission, explain what the Artemis program promises for space exploration, and reflect on how the space program has changed in the half-century since humans last set foot on the moon.

What distinguishes Artemis 1 from other rockets?

Artemis 1 is the Space Launch System's first launch. NASA calls this a "heavy-lift" vehicle. It will be more powerful than Apollo's Saturn V, which transported people to the Moon in the 1960s and 1970s.

It's a new sort of rocket system with two strap-on solid rocket boosters from the space shuttle. It's a mix of the shuttle and Saturn V.

The Orion Crew Capsule will be tested extensively. It'll spend a month in the high-radiation Moon environment. It will also test the heat shield, which protects the capsule and its occupants at 25,000 mph. The heat shield must work well because this is the fastest capsule descent since Apollo.

This mission will also carry miniature Moon-orbiting satellites. These will undertake vital precursor science, including as examining further into permanently shadowed craters where scientists suspect there is water and measuring the radiation environment to see long-term human consequences.

Diagram depicting earth, moon, and spacecraft travel route

Artemis 1 will launch, fly to the Moon, place satellites, orbit it, return to Earth, and splash down in the ocean. NASA.

What's Artemis's goal? What launches are next?

The mission is a first step toward Artemis 3, which will lead to the first human Moon missions since 1972. Artemis 1 is unmanned.

Artemis 2 will have astronauts a few years later. Like Apollo 8, it will be an orbital mission that circles the Moon and returns. The astronauts will orbit the Moon longer and test everything with a crew.

Eventually, Artemis 3 will meet with the SpaceX Starship on the Moon's surface and transfer people. Orion will stay in orbit while the lunar Starship lands astronauts. They'll go to the Moon's south pole to investigate the water ice there.

Artemis is reminiscent of Apollo. What's changed in 50 years?

Kennedy wanted to beat the Soviets to the Moon with Apollo. The administration didn't care much about space flight or the Moon, but the goal would place America first in space and technology.

You live and die by the sword if you do that. When the U.S. reached the Moon, it was over. Russia lost. We planted flags and did science experiments. Richard Nixon canceled the program after Apollo 11 because the political goals were attained.

Large rocket with two boosters between two gates

NASA's new Space Launch System is brought to a launchpad. NASA

50 years later... It's quite different. We're not trying to beat the Russians, Chinese, or anyone else, but to begin sustainable space exploration.

Artemis has many goals. It includes harnessing in-situ resources like water ice and lunar soil to make food, fuel, and building materials.

SpaceX is part of this first journey to the Moon's surface, therefore the initiative is also helping to develop a lunar and space economy. NASA doesn't own the Starship but is buying seats for astronauts. SpaceX will employ Starship to transport cargo, private astronauts, and foreign astronauts.

Fifty years of technology advancement has made getting to the Moon cheaper and more practical, and computer technology allows for more advanced tests. 50 years of technological progress have changed everything. Anyone with enough money can send a spacecraft to the Moon, but not humans.

Commercial Lunar Payload Services engages commercial companies to develop uncrewed Moon landers. We're sending a radio telescope to the Moon in January. Even 10 years ago, that was impossible.

Since humans last visited the Moon 50 years ago, technology has improved greatly.

What other changes does Artemis have in store?

The government says Artemis 3 will have at least one woman and likely a person of color. 

I'm looking forward to seeing more diversity so young kids can say, "Hey, there's an astronaut that looks like me. I can do this. I can be part of the space program.

Tim Denning

Tim Denning

1 year ago

One of the biggest publishers in the world offered me a book deal, but I don't feel deserving of it.

Image Credit: Pixelstalk Creative Commons

My ego is so huge it won't fit through the door.

I don't know how I feel about it. I should be excited. Many of you have this exact dream to publish a book with a well-known book publisher and get a juicy advance.

Let me dissect how I'm thinking about it to help you.

How it happened

An email comes in. A generic "can we put a backlink on your website and get a freebie" email.

Almost deleted it.

Then I noticed the logo. It seemed shady. I found the URL. Check. I searched the employee's LinkedIn. Legit. I avoided middlemen. Check.

Mixed feelings. LinkedIn hasn't valued my writing for years. I'm just a guy in an unironed t-shirt whose content they sell advertising against.

They get big dollars. I get $0 and a few likes, plus some email subscribers.

Still, I felt adrenaline for hours.

I texted a few friends to see how they felt. I wrapped them.

Messages like "No shocker. You're entertaining online." I didn't like praises, so I blushed.

The thrill faded after hours. Who knows?

Most authors desire this chance.

"You entitled piece of crap, Denning!"

You may think so. Okay. My job is to stand on the internet and get bananas thrown at me.

I approached writing backwards. More important than a book deal was a social media audience converted to an email list.

Romantic authors think backward. They hope a fantastic book will land them a deal and an audience.

Rarely occurs. So I never pursued it. It's like permission-seeking or the lottery.

Not being a professional writer, I've never written a good book. I post online for fun and to express my opinions.

Writing is therapeutic. I overcome mental illness and rebuilt my life this way. Without blogging, I'd be dead.

I've always dreamed of staying alive and doing something I love, not getting a book contract. Writing is my passion. I'm a winner without a book deal.

Why I was given a book deal

You may assume I received a book contract because of my views or follows. Nope.

They gave me a deal because they like my writing style. I've heard this for eight years.

Several authors agree. One asked me to improve their writer's voice.

Takeaway: highlight your writer's voice.

What if they discover I'm writing incompetently?

An edited book is published. It's edited.

I need to master writing mechanics, thus this concerns me. I need help with commas and sentence construction.

I must learn verb, noun, and adjective. Seriously.

Writing a book may reveal my imposter status to a famous publisher. Imagine the email

"It happened again. He doesn't even know how to spell. He thinks 'less' is the correct word, not 'fewer.' Are you sure we should publish his book?"

Fears stink.

Photo by Nathalia Segato on Unsplash

I'm capable of blogging. Even listicles. So what?

Writing for a major publisher feels advanced.

I only blog. I'm good at listicles. Digital media executives have criticized me for this.

  • It is allegedly clickbait.

  • Or it is following trends.

  • Alternately, growth hacking.

Never. I learned copywriting to improve my writing.

Apple, Amazon, and Tesla utilize copywriting to woo customers. Whoever thinks otherwise is the wisest person in the room.

Old-schoolers loathe copywriters.

Their novels sell nothing.

They assume their elitist version of writing is better and that the TikTok generation will invest time in random writing with no subheadings and massive walls of text they can't read on their phones.

I'm terrified of book proposals.

My friend's book proposal suggestion was contradictory and made no sense.

They told him to compose another genre. This book got three Amazon reviews. Is that a good model?

The process disappointed him. I've heard other book proposal horror stories. Tim Ferriss' book "The 4-Hour Workweek" was criticized.

Because he has thick skin, his book came out. He wouldn't be known without that.

I hate book proposals.

An ongoing commitment

Writing a book is time-consuming.

I appreciate time most. I want to focus on my daughter for the next few years. I can't recreate her childhood because of a book.

No idea how parents balance kids' goals.

My silly face in a bookstore. Really?

Genuine thought.

I don't want my face in bookstores. I fear fame. I prefer anonymity.

I want to purchase a property in a bad Australian area, then piss off and play drums. Is bookselling worth it?

Are there even bookstores anymore?

(Except for Ryan Holiday's legendary Painted Porch Bookshop in Texas.)

What's most important about books

Many were duped.

Tweets and TikTok hopscotch vids are their future. Short-form content creates devoted audiences that buy newsletter subscriptions.

Books=depth.

Depth wins (if you can get people to buy your book). Creating a book will strengthen my reader relationships.

It's cheaper than my classes, so more people can benefit from my life lessons.

A deeper justification for writing a book

Mind wandered.

If I write this book, my daughter will follow it. "Look what you can do, love, when you ignore critics."

That's my favorite.

I'll be her best leader and teacher. If her dad can accomplish this, she can too.

My kid can read my book when I'm gone to remember her loving father.

Last paragraph made me cry.

The positive

This book thing might make me sound like Karen.

The upside is... Building in public, like I have with online writing, attracts the right people.

Proof-of-work over proposals, beautiful words, or huge aspirations. If you want a book deal, try writing online instead of the old manner.

Next steps

No idea.

I'm a rural Aussie. Writing a book in the big city is intimidating. Will I do it? Lots to think about. Right now, some level of reflection and gratitude feels most appropriate.

Sometimes when you don't feel worthy, it gives you the greatest lessons. That's how I feel about getting offered this book deal.

Perhaps you can relate.