So you want some work for free?

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So last night, we had one of those Berlin PHP usergroup meetings without a speaker/talk and some of us decided to meet anyway for a drink and chat. So at first, there were three of us and then we met two people from a new startup who asked if they could join in. And so it began.

Enter spiel

These two people (from the startup) told us right away (I think before taking a seat), that they are looking for people who are interested in working for a startup. Probably nothing new for most people, especially since two of us work for startups already.

But since all of us seemed rather reserved and — well — booked, we kindly asked what kind of startup but they replied they would share this information if anyone was really interested.

One of them (a marketing person) continued to bug us if we were so well paid and it basically sounded like, What's your problem? Why don't you work for a startup?. We kindly asked him again to provide more information and from what I can tell now (after a few hours), they work on the next big thing some grass roots music platform, but they did not want to go into details.

They did disclose that they are about to launch and a suitable candidate (for them), would need to start to work right away (long hours are of course expected) and this candidate would also not earn a single cent for the first one, two or three months. He described their ideal person to be a developer with a sense for business. Someone to fulfill their a dream.

I can't say I was not puzzled already, but this marketing guy continued to pester us if we could not recommend people. We suggested multiple times that they write an email to our mailing list to advertise their offering, but they didn't seem to like that one either.

What really outraged me is that he tried to convince one of the younger user group attendees that breaking up their college studies in favor of a job at a startup (!), would make his resume look better in later life. I am not a fan of university and college either, but fuck you for even trying to do that to someone, especially at no pay.

Flashback, 1999, reality check, 2009.

This episode tonight really got me thinking as of what people think. And if they think before they talk.

Obviously there is nothing wrong with being proud of your product, or even being convinced of it. If you are looking to release whatever, there's nothing worse than if you have doubts in your own product and/or abilities. People catch that more sooner than later and if one is not convinced themself, how do you expect anyone else to like it.

But the bottom line is: this did remind of the very early days of what people sum up as new economy today. A lot of promises, maybe even equity, long hours of work and in 99% of all cases it all went up in smoke.

Conclusion?

People are crooks. Just look at (oooh) the so-called financial crisis we are in. Point taken, we Internet people don't feel it as much as others. But the general theme is more than obvious. People will do everything to advance. There's no instance in terms of morals and ethics which steps in to regulate. And in the end, no consequences either. Banks have a safety net, so does GM, Opel, etc..

People who are asked to work for free obviously have none — "It just didn't work out. The market is just not ready for the project.". Yeah, heard it all before.

On a personal level these things are rather disappointing. I do like to believe that people are essentially good. And even though I found it disappointing, I tried hard to not call out names, but maybe someone sees this as room for improvement for next time you attend a user group meeting and try to hire people for your project.

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