People Costs vs. Stuff Costs

The fascination with Jason Calacanis as muse in this part of the tech industry is curious to me. He’s not particularly insightful while being exclusively self-serving and self-absorbed, but give him credit for being able to stoke a small brush fire with some regularity. At any rate, I don’t normally read his blog or feel much desire to comment on him, until now.

His post about how to save money running a startup is largely stating the obvious kind of stuff, such as buy your people lunch so they don’t go out and put a good espresso machine with all the “condiments”, use gmail, and skip phones. While I think one could do a lot better than Aeron chairs (I gave the one in my home office to our house cleaner, it hurt my back), I am with him on the merits of a good espresso machine (I have a Jura-Capresso S9 machine at my house.)

But it was the general sentiment represented in this tip about not hiring people who aren’t workaholics that was disquieting. At what point do you pause your quest for world domination and ask of yourself what you are doing for your employees? It’s all well and good to suggest that equity more than makes up for a thin paycheck and long hours, but what about helping young employees establish some sense of professional self and experienced ones a broader spectrum of opportunities, develop business skills, build their personal brands, and much more?

The single biggest cost in any tech company is people and the most disruptive component in the people equation is replacing good ones who leave your company. The fact is that good people always have jobs so the only way to get them is to poach them from another company. People leave their place of employment for a number of reasons, including a loss in confidence in management, greener pastures at a competitor or in some unrelated company, money (never alone a motivator, but by itself can easily become a demotivator) and working conditions.

How many people would read this post and think that any company Calacanis is involved with is somewhere they want to work? In the final equation who is to say one person’s management philosophy is better than another, but were I voting with my own time and money I would certainly not buy into the idea that only those who can work long hours and sleep under their cheap metal restaurant table/desk are the only people you want to hire (but as an aside, I am running off for a noon meeting in SF today, a Saturday…)

Fire people who are not workaholics. don’t love their work… come on folks, this is startup life, it’s not a game. don’t work at a startup if you’re not into it–go work at the post office or stabucks if you’re not into it you want balance in your life. For realz.

[From How to save money running a startup (17 really good tips)]

(JN NOTE: there were some strikethroughs in the paragraph above, but it’s not clear whether they were added after the dustup that Duncan @ Techcrunch started or were they original.)