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Top Coders Tell Agents, "Show Me the Money!"

samzenpus posted about a year ago | from the pay-me dept.

Businesses 288

theodp writes "So, you're a 10x developer or a 25x programmer, but not getting paid like one? Keep your chin up! BusinessWeek reports that Silicon Valley is going Hollywood and top software developers can now get their very own agent through 10x Management, which bills itself as 'the talent agency for the technology industry.'"

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can I get (4, Funny)

geekoid (135745) | about a year ago | (#43427877)

residuals on the software I write?

Re:can I get (2)

drakaan (688386) | about a year ago | (#43428051)

What I want to know is what the qualifications for a "Software Programmer Agent" look like. Also, will I need to bathe regularly and get my hair cut? Will I need to have headshots distributed?

Re:can I get (5, Funny)

geekoid (135745) | about a year ago | (#43428141)

"Will I need to have headshots distributed?"
only if you are going to be making FPSs.

Re:can I get (5, Informative)

WaywardGeek (1480513) | about a year ago | (#43428185)

"Agent" is just a rebranding of "head hunter", which up to now has been used to describe both the people representing companies, and the engineers and programmers looking for work. I suppose "agent" just means the head hunters who pitch talent to companies. It's clever. Athletes and movie stars have agents, not head hunters, so why not programmers?

Maybe there's no difference, but head hunter always seemed like an appropriate term to me, because so many of them use questionable tactics, like pretending to be someone related to an engineer in a department to get past the receptionist, and after gaining confidence of one person, milking them for all their knowledge about who might be willing to leave their current job. I remember one very fine looking lady who we hired to help us fill a position who then worked hard to strip our current employees. That's why "agent" doesn't sound right to me, because head hunters quickly switch back and forth from representing companies to representing potential employees, depending on the economy.

That said, the really good ones gain reputations based on their integrity, and these are good people to know. Most head hunters don't know anything about engineering or programming, and couldn't evaluate talent if their life depended on it. The good ones have personally hired plenty, and have an exceptional ability to match talents to roles. Moving a guy from a dead end job to a place where he can really make a difference is huge. These guys are rare, and don't deserve to be called head hunters, but "agent" doesn't do them justice either. They're more like match makers.

Re:can I get (1)

Penguinisto (415985) | about a year ago | (#43428461)

The good ones have personally hired plenty, and have an exceptional ability to match talents to roles. Moving a guy from a dead end job to a place where he can really make a difference is huge. These guys are rare, and don't deserve to be called head hunters, but "agent" doesn't do them justice either. They're more like match makers.

This, right here.

I've run the gamut recently (and over the years) from folks who only represent you, to those who only represent the company. Some will keep in constant contact with you, others will call once, say "you'll make an excellent fit! I'll get you two together immediately!", then you never hear from 'em again. Way too many flop out an email to you and do nothing more.

Very damned few ever take into account the corporate culture, let alone compare it to your own. The ones who can make sure of both are worth keeping in touch with at all costs.

Re:can I get (4, Funny)

PopeRatzo (965947) | about a year ago | (#43428567)

These guys are rare, and don't deserve to be called head hunters, but "agent" doesn't do them justice either. They're more like match makers.

I think the word you're looking for is "pimp".

Re:can I get (5, Interesting)

dristoph (1207920) | about a year ago | (#43428695)

10x Management has found me gigs in the last year, after I'd been doing freelance Rails work for the year prior to that. I can tell you one thing for sure, there is a big difference between their agency and your typical headhunter. Ever try finding an actual short-term contract gig through a headhunter? It doesn't happen. Headhunters are not incentivized for that sort of thing. They want to get you into a full time position so they can score a percentage of your salary as a reward. So it follows that they aren't really looking out for the needs of freelancers.

10x Management, on the other hand, gets a cut of your hourly rate; they're setup for exactly what a freelancer needs. They do a great job of representing you in negotiations so you can earn as high a rate as possible, which of course increases their own cut as well. And they're always looking for new gigs for you so you don't have to. If you're not getting paid, neither are they, which makes for a much more rewarding long-term relationship compared with a headhunter who just wants to get you placed in some salary, take their cut, and move on. 10x also takes care of the dirty work that comes with freelancing, from invoicing and making sure you get paid as agreed to mediating if expectations are not met on either side of the relationship. I feel that eliminating the burden of the administrative drudgery that comes with freelancing is alone well worth their cut.

Overall, I understand your cynicism, especially since an agent and a headhunter look quite similar on a superficial level, and I certainly share your disdain for the vast majority of headhunters. But, in this particular case, I would say that cynicism is unwarranted. Headhunters and freelancers just don't mix. Speaking from experience, 10x has done a good job of filling that gap.

Re:can I get (2)

phantomfive (622387) | about a year ago | (#43428941)

What is the pay like? That is my question. Overall I could see this as a good thing, because developer salaries are too low right now, considering the demand. A company like this could help increase developers' awareness of what they are worth. But that is only true if they are getting decent pay for people.

Re:can I get (5, Interesting)

dristoph (1207920) | about a year ago | (#43428971)

Without getting too detailed, I'll say that they've negotiated rates for me which are above what I'd get on average representing myself, even after their cut. Considering that I didn't have to do any of the extra work of finding the gig, negotiating the contract (besides specifying what I will and won't do in general terms), handling the paperwork, or invoicing, it's been a very profitable arrangement for myself. If you've done a significant amount of freelance work, you'll well know that this extra overhead cuts significantly into your time.

Re:can I get (2, Insightful)

TheRealMindChild (743925) | about a year ago | (#43428977)

Nice try, 10x management CEO

Re:can I get (2, Informative)

dristoph (1207920) | about a year ago | (#43429053)

I figured someone would make this claim. Sorry, you've got the wrong guy! I'm actually the CTO of an entirely different company: http://sweetstak.es/ [sweetstak.es] As such I haven't had a whole lot of time for freelancing, so I haven't worked with 10x in a few months, but I do give my honest recommendation. I hope more talented engineers can make the leap to freelance work, which can be far more rewarding than working the wrong salaried position.

Re:can I get (0)

WaywardGeek (1480513) | about a year ago | (#43428981)

Well, from TFA, and, your post, 10X sounds like people well worth knowing, both from the point of view of a contractor/consultant, and the company hiring them. From the article, it sounds like they're real engineers, not kids who pester us all the time with social engineering attacks like typical headhunters. 15% is entirely fair.

Is this a new business model, or a resurgence of what we had back in the 90's when you could work with a software consulting firm?

Re:can I get (1)

dristoph (1207920) | about a year ago | (#43429031)

It's certainly analogous to a consulting firm, but not so much in the vein as a place like ThoughtWorks or Pivotal Labs. You're still very much a freelancer, and the work isn't guaranteed like at a consulting firm. You don't get a paycheck every two weeks; you get what you earn in billable hours until the gig is finished. The agency model certainly isn't new. I've worked with one before 10x which actually specialized more in representing designers and UX types, but a company they were working with had an emergency need for a fast front-end engineer and I got roped in by a friend who they represented. I would say that 10x is the first agency model I've seen myself which specializes in software development, but I'm sure others are out there.

Re:can I get (1)

fahrbot-bot (874524) | about a year ago | (#43428467)

residuals on the software I write?

Are you going to accept responsibility for any trouble your software causes,
or just offer it without "Warranties of Merchantability or Fitness for a Particular Purpose?"

Re:can I get (1)

iamgnat (1015755) | about a year ago | (#43428663)

residuals on the software I write?

Are you going to accept responsibility for any trouble your software causes, or just offer it without "Warranties of Merchantability or Fitness for a Particular Purpose?"

Do any of the idiots in the movie/music industry that get residuals take responsibility for the crap that they produce?

How's that... (1, Insightful)

TWX (665546) | about a year ago | (#43427885)

...10x unemployment line looking?

In all seriousness, working for someone else sometimes sucks. Being in management and already having to deal with headhunters on top of all of the bloated resumes sucks. Adding in another agent is just one more thing that those trying to hire doesn't need to deal with.

Re:How's that... (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43428561)

Well a few years ago I was working full time as a web developer, making 60k/year and working a 40 hr work week. I am over 50, and those jobs have disappeared because by that age you are expected to have management experience. I don't. I am not interested in management in fact. So, no more development. With the current economy up here in Canada, and the tendency of companies to outsource whatever the fuck they can, there are very few jobs available. I have loads of experience but I am self-taught. I am thus more or less screwed I fear.
I now drive pizzas, and work around 50+hours a week to make around 25k a year (but spend around 6k of that on gas etc). Its funny to see articles like this extolling programmer agents, because I am sure that both of those jobs up here in Canada are currently filled. If I Canadian company needs a developer, they hire them for the 1 project then kick them out unceremoniously. The only full time development positions I have seen locally seem to be developing for collection services/marketing companies and they pay very poorly for long hours.

Zuckerberg (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43427921)

Good ole Zuckerberg is out there begging for immigration reform using one of the biggest soap boxes on the face of the planet. Top developers will be working for food money if he and Obama get their way and fuck the tax payers. The only thing standing in the way is a bunch of "racist hillbillies" who want the law to actually be enforced.

Re:Zuckerberg (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43428043)

After technology has destroyed millions upon millions of jobs, I see absolutely no reason why technology jobs should be protected at all. On the contrary, I say if you can bring in people to get the labor costs down, bring 'em in by the boatload. At this point, one of the only silver linings in an era of across the board wage stagnation is cheap tech, and I support anything that works towards that end. As a matter of fact, I think I will type up an e-mail to my senator tonight urging increased H1-B quantities in this country - or even unlimited quantities. If you're a good programmer you'll find a job, and if you don't make as much as you think you should, perhaps it's because you think a little too much of yourself.

Re:Zuckerberg (5, Insightful)

Reality Man (2890429) | about a year ago | (#43428063)

I see that it's time to accept that technology means not everyone has to work. We create our own social model, we can change it. Why can't we accept a 20 hour work week for the same standard of living? What else is technology good for if not to help us?

Re:Zuckerberg (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43428325)

A 40-hour work week pays for our current standard of living. A 20-hour work week would reduce that standard of living. Between the loss of income for "you" and the increased demand by those gaining that income, the standard of living would not return to current levels for about a decade. There is also the fact that one worker at 40 hours is cheaper than two at 20 due to various laws.

After seeing how Greece reacted to austerity measures, I think it would be a pretty tough sell.

On the other hand, we've done it before during the Great Depression. It was unconstitutional as hell, but we did it.

Re:Zuckerberg (1)

dadelbunts (1727498) | about a year ago | (#43428355)

Two workers would probably be cheaper actually because you wouldnt have to pay various insurances on a part time person, and dont heve to worry about overtime if they go over 2 hours.

Re:Zuckerberg (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43428535)

On the other side you have HR costs (both going through the interview and hiring process and doing ongoing paperwork that is approximately fixed per employee). I suspect you are right that full-time benefits are more expensive, but hiring people isn't free.

On the other hand, halving the workweek to 20 hours a week without significantly raising the hourly wage (or salary equivalent) of workers would just mean a lot more people being paid not enough to live on. It's an incomplete solution to the problem of unemployment. Social credit [wikipedia.org] or basic income guarantee [wikipedia.org] are more complete solutions, but it's unclear what variant of that actually makes sense and those ideas are far, far left of the Overton window in the United States.

Re:Zuckerberg (3, Insightful)

genkernel (1761338) | about a year ago | (#43428491)

A 40-hour work week pays for our current standard of living. A 20-hour work week would reduce that standard of living.

There are some people, and a considerable number of them, for whom that doesn't really matter. Cheap house, cheap car, decent food, good computer, good internet. I don't need that many luxury goods. I just wish I had more time to make use of what I have.

More importantly, if people are becoming more efficient (since machines and computers can assist with or even take over some tasks that humans used to do), but don't work less, then we must find more to do. Finally and perhaps more interestingly, working less may make people more efficient, which should presumably increase the standard of living.

Re:Zuckerberg (2)

Gr8Apes (679165) | about a year ago | (#43428603)

A) reduce the work week gradually. 38 hours, then 36, you get the idea.

B) have basic healthcare provided, This means preventative care, ER visits, and some relatively well-known and general diseases. If you want cancer, chronic diseases, etc covered, you'll need to pay for supplemental insurance, just like today. This would significantly lower the bill on businesses hiring individuals

Re:Zuckerberg (1)

norpy (1277318) | about a year ago | (#43428661)

Australia reduced it's maximum work week to 38, all the employers just reigned their employees to contracts that expected unpaid "reasonable overtime" every week. Reasonable being 2 hours or more.

Re:Zuckerberg (2)

Anonymous Brave Guy (457657) | about a year ago | (#43428833)

I'm genuinely curious to know whether that has ever been formally challenged.

I'm no expert on Australian law, but for employment law and tax purposes here in the UK, the actual working arrangements can be at least as relevant as any theoretical employment arrangement set out in a contract.

Re: Zuckerberg (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43428929)

Go ahead and work 38 hours while your coworker works 40 to seem like he's more dedicated than you.

Re:Zuckerberg (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43428887)

really? I have a aussie contract for 40 hrs a week + 5 hrs unpaid overtime per f/n... its crap to have that expected but the work is interesting and overall thats better than a shorter week doing mind numbing stuff.

Re:Zuckerberg (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43428471)

i voluntarily worked a 20 hour workweek for years and absolutely loved it. for once in my life i finally achieved the elusive work-life balance. i never had a problem paying any bills and have more savings than ever.

unfortunately my boss eventually asked me to go back to full time and i did. the only better thing is the more money but once again i hate getting home at 6 or later and having little left of my day.

the only other negative thing about going part time is it's not like your workload cuts in half too. i had the same amount of work and less hours to do it, so some days were extremely stressful.

Re:Zuckerberg (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43428487)

Why can't we accept a 20 hour work week for the same standard of living?

I'd be happy to work only 20 hours a week, but I'd have to make 2x the hourly rate. I live very simply as it is but that fact is, the biggest living costs are pretty much beyond my control - unless I want to forgoe medical, eat junk food and default on my student loans - which they'd just come after me for it.

Unless medical, education, food, energy and transporation costs come into parity, that will never ever happen.

Just image telling the CEO and stockholders of the pharmaceutical companies: "Due to the new social order, you'll be making 1/10th of what you did before."

Yep, that's gonna happen.

Re:Zuckerberg (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43428653)

You need to work 40 hours a week to keep paying for our military to protect nations under threat such as Japan, Germany and France. It also does well to keep the same deadbeats who vote for entitlement up to their tits in free junk food, booze and cigarettes.

Re:Zuckerberg (1)

oldhack (1037484) | about a year ago | (#43429057)

Simple. On the other side of the globe, there are people who'd do the same work for a tenth of the price.

That's why.

BTW, which of you modded the parent "insightful"? Everyday more morons collect at this website.

Abosultely! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43428327)

I agree totally! In the meantime, all the wage stagnation and the technology becoming dirt cheap is awesome! Why having cheap tech is great compensation for medical costs becoming too expensive, education becoming too expensive, and needed things like food and transportaton taking a larger and larger cut out of one's pay. It'll be wonderful to have that cheap computer while I have that budding colon cancer eating me away because I couldn't afford the $500 copay for that colonoscopy. I'll surf the web on that iPad - no wait! Can't afford that. Nevermind.

OH Yeah, and those crappy programmers who can't get jobs! They should stop their whining! really! I mean, just because your older and a company prefers younger people or an H1-B because of this mistaken beleif that they are more productive is totally your fault! Or that they think you'll demand more money - your fault!

And keeping up with new technology and keeping your skills up is very important! Why back in the 90s when there was new technology coming out everyday, it was up to me to keep up with it and spend the thousands and thousands of dollars on books, education and hardware.

I spent all that money on Palm development and look where it is now! And when the iOS stuf came out, I should have known - everybody can predict the future after all and what technology is going to take off! - that it would be a HUGE hit!

And then those poor poor saps who are STILL developing with VB.NET - that's what? Over 15 years old?! Those people's skills are out of date!! Obviously all of those stick in the mud .NET developers are all unemployed!

You should spend every waking moment learning new things and all of your disposable income learning all the "new" technology that comes out. Why back in the late 90s, Microsoft constantly had new technology and all you had to do was upgrade your development tools at several hundred dollars a pop!

Of course, learning on your own and reading books isn't enough. Employers demand that you have on the job experience for anything. Just having a class or doing it as a hobby doesn't count. You need to find a way to work it into your current job - if you want an iOS dev job and you're on a COBOL mainframe; well, it's up to you to work that into your job! Show some inititiative! Dump the COBOL and just program the mainframe in Obj-C!

I tell you the whiners here!

Re:Zuckerberg (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43428197)

I know you guys don't like to hear this, but me and my wife are H-1Bs in the US, we both have doctorate degrees and we paid more than US$50k in taxes last year. Do you think this is a bad deal for the US?

Re:Zuckerberg (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43428363)

One the other hand me and my wife are citizens in the US, we both have doctorate degrees and we paid more than US$50k in taxes last year. Are we a better deal for the US?

Follow the money (1, Interesting)

mangu (126918) | about a year ago | (#43427935)

Developers who want to be paid really well should do what I did, go where the money is.

First step, learn the ropes [google.com.br] .

Second step, use your knowledge of software to program your way to riches.

Re:Follow the money (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Brave Guy (457657) | about a year ago | (#43428843)

...do what I did, go where the money is.

I would, but I'm not sure I could ever make enough working in the financial markets to buy back my soul...

How about a 10x admin? (1, Redundant)

MAXOMENOS (9802) | about a year ago | (#43427939)

No?

I think it might be easier (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43427945)

...to sell my services as a professional Slashdot spam article submitter instead.

Silicon Valley echo chamber (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43427957)

Developers and programmers are not rock stars.

Context dependent (1)

Omnifarious (11933) | about a year ago | (#43427965)

Who the 10x developer or 25x programmer is is often highly context dependent. And it also tends to discount people who play supporting roles, who I think can often be even more valuable than your main developers.

Just maybe... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43427971)

We need to stop pushing programming as something that can be taught in 24 hours [amazon.com] and start valuing coders the way foreign language translators and interpreters are valued: precious assets of high quality that could cost you a lot if they do a poor quality job.

Re:Just maybe... (4, Informative)

CRCulver (715279) | about a year ago | (#43428217)

start valuing coders the way foreign language translators and interpreters are valued: precious assets of high quality that could cost you a lot if they do a poor quality job.

You are joking, right? Translators face an increasingly tough market. Sure, there will always be some documents that need smooth, polished renderings into a foreign language. But the truth is, a lot of more informal texts that used to go through professional translators at decent wages are now just put through Google Translate for free. Machine translation is not perfect, but it's often considered good enough

I struggle with this trend with my own clients, who don't send their texts to me unless they feel they absolutely have to, and are pretty upfront about the fact that they'd rather gamble on some lost sales due to low-quality machine translation than pay the high rates professional translators demand.

Re:Just maybe... (1)

rossz (67331) | about a year ago | (#43428399)

My ex was a translator and she was constantly complaining about the steady decrease in work because of machine translations being used. The machine results were crap, but they were free, so the businesses didn't care.

Re:Just maybe... (2)

Kjella (173770) | about a year ago | (#43428665)

My ex was a translator and she was constantly complaining about the steady decrease in work because of machine translations being used. The machine results were crap, but they were free, so the businesses didn't care.

They've also taken a clue from Project Gutenberg, the last time I saw a rather major translation project (English -> foreign) it went like this:

1. Start with machine translation - it's faster to correct than start from scratch and their equivalent of OCR.
2. First round pass by third world worker who knows it as a foreign language
3. Second round pass by a native who will do QA until it's "good enough"

I've found you can also improve quality considerably "on the cheap" if you do reverse translation and try various synonyms and different sentence structures until what you get back double translated resembles what you originally wrote.

"Hollywood wages" = Unions. (4, Insightful)

femtobyte (710429) | about a year ago | (#43427973)

Want "Hollywood" money? How about programmers banding together and insisting on the protections that stop Hollywood management from moving every aspect of production to the cheapest outsourced labor: Unions. Writers, actors, makeup, costume, camera --- they've all got unions, so their jobs aren't competing with $9/hour H1-B labor.

Re:"Hollywood wages" = Unions. (2)

Nidi62 (1525137) | about a year ago | (#43427987)

Want "Hollywood" money? How about programmers banding together and insisting on the protections that stop Hollywood management from moving every aspect of production to the cheapest outsourced labor: Unions. Writers, actors, makeup, costume, camera --- they've all got unions, so their jobs aren't competing with $9/hour H1-B labor.

So, without the SAG we would be swamped with actors coming over from Bollywood?

Re:"Hollywood wages" = Unions. (5, Insightful)

femtobyte (710429) | about a year ago | (#43428067)

Actors, gaffers, electricians, focus pullers, you name it. Do you think the typical Hollywood studio exec pays the folks who man the lights a living wage out of the goodness of his generous heart? Hell, no; they're greedy bastards just like the folks who run every other industry into a race-for-the-bottom cash-grab. Thanks to unions (a large variety of unions supporting each other in solidarity, so the actors don't say "screw cameramen, pay them less and us more"), the whole working class gets enough money to support their families and live with dignity (even in an expensive part of the country). And behold: having the "burden" of all those unions doesn't seem to make Hollywood a terribly unprofitable place, or prevent top talent from earning megabucks, or drive away the industry to some labor-hating hellhole of an anti-union town.

Re:"Hollywood wages" = Unions. (4, Interesting)

geekoid (135745) | about a year ago | (#43428171)

Hollywood doesn't make a profit. Just ask any studio accountant~

You are correct. Funny, I'm in a software union and I work 40 hour weeks and make a livable wage. I find that when paid by the hour the amount of extra work you must do after 40 hours approaches zero.

Did you know most software developer who are paid salary shouldn't be?

Re:"Hollywood wages" = Unions. (1)

Livius (318358) | about a year ago | (#43428649)

Unions are their own class, and the actual working class resents them for it.

Re:"Hollywood wages" = Unions. (4, Informative)

femtobyte (710429) | about a year ago | (#43428677)

Then join the class (or make your own), instead of resenting it. It's a lot easier to join the union class than to join the billionaire class, and a lot more pleasant than joining the homeless unemployed class.

Re:"Hollywood wages" = Unions. (1)

Trepidity (597) | about a year ago | (#43428819)

In countries with functioning union systems, there is no working class that isn't represented by their own union.

Re:"Hollywood wages" = Unions. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43428163)

It won't work. Unions only work when you want to hire at least some of the members. If you are simply moving all your work abroad a union of American workers will mean nothing to you.

I'm very skeptical of your reasoning. Hollywood is successful because it uses (and creates) American celebrities and spends a lot of money on things that only Americans can really do–specifically, make American-style movies. (That's not to say American movies are necessarily the best, only that Americans are the best at making those types of movies.) And the actual filming in Hollywood requires all those people to be in the same place. You can probably offshore post production stuff, but you can't film American actors in American locations and put their makeup on in Brazil.

If Hollywood decided it wanted to start using Bollywood actors and crew, it would simply be making Bollywood movies at best, and poorly-done American movies at worst.

Re:"Hollywood wages" = Unions. (4, Insightful)

femtobyte (710429) | about a year ago | (#43428257)

Right, because there's no demand for programmers that speak American English natively, or for folks to make American-specific games, American-specific websites, provide software for American unionized companies, so unions are hopeless. It's not like scads of top technology companies all tend to cluster in tight geographic regions, as though there was some benefit to being in particular American locations. Nope, if all the American programmers walked off the job right now on strike, no one in the tech industry would even notice.

Oh, wait, none of the preceding is true --- if American programmers got their act together and pooled resources to fight back against the Zuckerbergs of the world, they could bring the entire US IT industry to a grinding halt, and get basically whatever concessions they asked for.

Now, this might not always be true in the future, so if you don't want to wait until you're really powerless (already entirely replaced by a crew in India), then you'd better start organizing *now* while you've still got a chance.

Re:"Hollywood wages" = Unions. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43428921)

If Bollywood suddenly started churning out quality American-style movies at (say) 1/10th the price, do you really believe studios wouldn't tell unions to go fuck themselves and start hiring Indians?

You're taking a niche (game programming) and trying to expand it to the entire programming population. After that you seem to have missed my point completely.

A union only works if a company has no other alternative but to hire union workers. In the case of film, the American-centric parts matter. You need American actors (for the most part) because the actors are part of the outward facing product. People want to see (for some god awful reason) Tom Cruise. You can't outsource Tom. And you need an American boom mike operator, because he has to be on the set (which is in the U.S.). But you don't care who or where the animators are, so you hire Koreans. As long as the quality is fine, you *will* outsource whatever *can* be outsourced.

Programmers in general are "behind the scenes" and as long as they code they write works, it doesn't matter *who* or *where* they are. You don't need an American programmer to write American-centric applications, websites, or software. You may need American designers or writers, but those aren't the same thing.

There are some programming fields were Americans are the best programmers. In those specific niches a union may help. (And in that case a more general union of people working in that industry may make more sense.) Game programming may be one of them. For the general programmer though... he's expendable as hell.

Re:"Hollywood wages" = Unions. (1)

mjwalshe (1680392) | about a year ago | (#43428221)

scale for a lead actor in a TV show at SAG rates is less than a lot of developers get

Re:"Hollywood wages" = Unions. (1)

femtobyte (710429) | about a year ago | (#43428275)

SAG rates set the lowest you can go; it's all uphill from there. A lot of developers earn more --- so do a lot of actors. A lot of developers will also be earning a lot less (or have no job at all) if they let the race-to-the-bottom in wages Walmartize their industry sector.

Re:"Hollywood wages" = Unions. (1)

mjwalshe (1680392) | about a year ago | (#43428365)

But most actors never get to be a lead actor in a show and earn far less on average than we do.

Re:"Hollywood wages" = Unions. (1)

femtobyte (710429) | about a year ago | (#43428435)

And most union hotel maids get paid less than programmers (and actors) do, too --- but better than their non-union counterparts (unless there is a high enough concentration of union shops in an area to force everyone else to compete on higher wages/benefits, instead of lower). Unionize, and you're better off than not --- not only in wages, but, perhaps more importantly, in not being treated as disposable and subject to whimsical brutalization by management.

Re:"Hollywood wages" = Unions. (1)

mjwalshe (1680392) | about a year ago | (#43428631)

I am not disagreeing I was branch secretary and area secretary for the largest M&P union in the EU. just pointing out that the free agent model that trade unions like BECTU and Equity/SAG have isn't perfect and might not be the best fit for Programmers.

Re:"Hollywood wages" = Unions. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43428635)

Whenever there's a story about professionals in the music, publishing, and newspaper industries losing their careers as a result of the shift to digital distribution (legal and illegal), the reaction here seems to be always, Tough. The world has changed, you now have serious competition for the first time so you'd better get a grip. Don't go whining to the government for protection.

Well now. All you coders and IT administrators who are scuffling... the world has changed.

Re:"Hollywood wages" = Unions. (1)

Osgeld (1900440) | about a year ago | (#43428855)

yea that has produced a bunch of talent and quality for hollywood without ballooning costs hasn't it

I have a no nudity clause in my contract. (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43427993)

But I will do implied for union scale......

What an amazing coincidence! (2)

tlambert (566799) | about a year ago | (#43428783)

I have a no nudity clause in my contract.

But I will do implied for union scale......

What an amazing coincidence! As your employer, we also have a no-nudity clause in your contract....

Standard agents' cut (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43428013)

These guys take the same cut as hollywood or sports agents do: 15%
Say you're a top flight programmer with an expected $150K+ salary... that's over $25K a year to the agent. Not a bad deal at all for them.

Re:Standard agents' cut (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43428039)

These guys take the same cut as hollywood or sports agents do: 15%
Say you're a top flight programmer with an expected $150K+ salary... that's over $25K a year to the agent. Not a bad deal at all for them.

Sorry, meant to say over $22.5K to the agent. Failure at basic math. I'll clearly never be rep'd by these guys.

I was wondering when this was going to happen. (4, Insightful)

undeadbill (2490070) | about a year ago | (#43428025)

15% is a very reasonable cut to do basic business management and cold calling for freelancers. It is much better than what a lot of "recruiters" (aka pimps) take as a cut for their "consulting agencies", which can be as high as 80% of the hourly rate. Even using something like TriNet to handle most of the business stuff still doesn't compare because you still have to either find someone with business contacts or do all the calling yourself on unpaid time (which you then need to charge for later as part of your bill rate, or starve).

I really hope this practice starts putting some downward pressure on the pimps and time wasters who populate the IT recruiting market to start doing better work for a more reasonable rate. Nobody deserves 80% of a developer's pay just because they made a few phone calls. I would definitely consider working for or with a group of freelancers if someone was handling the business side at 15%.

Re:I was wondering when this was going to happen. (1, Interesting)

dristoph (1207920) | about a year ago | (#43428723)

I've done work with 10x Management in the past year, and I can attest that it is well worth it to have them as an extra pair of eyes looking out for your next gig. They also handle negotiation, mediation, and making sure your invoices are fulfilled as agreed. Definitely worth it. If you want to get in touch with them, let them know Chris V gave you the recommendation. :)

Not new (5, Informative)

TheEffigy (2666397) | about a year ago | (#43428029)

I am a programmer in Sydney, Australia, and for a few years I have had a contract management company handling all my sourcing and negotiations. They get 2% and I make the final decisions on accepting the work. The demand for non permanent programmers to tackle one-off projects is huge here, especially from the financial sector. Conversely the supply of decent people to fill it is low.

How do we know that they are 10x coders? (1)

bigsexyjoe (581721) | about a year ago | (#43428075)

Oh, because the business representing them asserts that that is the case. I think an agent for freelancers is an interesting idea. but others are saying that's not new.

What's new? (1)

sosume (680416) | about a year ago | (#43428099)

Did they patent the business method? I have been working through similar agencies for years, they charge $1-2 per hour to do the billing and get me new jobs. Nothing shocking here.

Re:What's new? (1)

arf_barf (639612) | about a year ago | (#43428269)

What part of the country? $1-$2 is really low....Can you tell me who you use?

Re:What's new? (1)

sosume (680416) | about a year ago | (#43428331)

Actually it's in the Netherlands, rates vary between €0.75 to €2.50 for this agency [goo.gl] for example, including insurance.

Everything should work like that (0)

Kimomaru (2579489) | about a year ago | (#43428117)

Probably the biggest problem today is separating the exceptional, dedicated employee from the ones who aren't. Hard working, results driven workers should be rewarded the same way. Sadly, it's very difficult to find good ones in our area.

10x or 20x should exist in every profession.

recruiting company (1)

phantomfive (622387) | about a year ago | (#43428137)

Basically looks like a recruiting company that has found a novel way to search for programmers.

Can we just have unions already? (5, Insightful)

rsilvergun (571051) | about a year ago | (#43428235)

seriously. Can we? You're not a star. You're not special. You're a cog, and you will be replaced by an Indian or Malaysian or some other *-ian that makes less than you do because they don't have indoor plumbing and clean air/water.

If you want a good life you need to start protecting it. That means Unions + a strong Federal Gov't (states are too weak to stand up to corps).

Re:Can we just have unions already? (1)

0123456 (636235) | about a year ago | (#43428421)

You're a cog, and you will be replaced by an Indian or Malaysian or some other *-ian that makes less than you do because they don't have indoor plumbing and clean air/water.

If you're one of those people, I'm not surprised you want a union. But those of us who aren't have no desire to be lumbered with dragging along dead weight just because their union says they can't be sacked.

Re:Can we just have unions already? (5, Interesting)

sandytaru (1158959) | about a year ago | (#43428497)

So be a picky union. Like the plumber's unions - you don't get to join a plumber's union without a decade of apprenticeship, peer recommendations, and a practical test. Union shops may coerce everyone into joining, but independent unions can leverage the brand name to guarantee star power. And can kick out dead weight, to boot.

IT apprenticeship seem better then CS for helpdesk (1)

Joe_Dragon (2206452) | about a year ago | (#43429003)

IT apprenticeship seem better then a BA/BS or more in CS for helpdesk / desktop / networking.

A mixed tech school / apprenticeship will be good for tech / IT work and it will take less time / lower cost then college

Re:Can we just have unions already? (2, Insightful)

dristoph (1207920) | about a year ago | (#43428739)

I'm probably one of the guys who gets paid the big bucks to fix the code you write in the drudgery that you call your career. Seriously, if that's your attitude toward the craft, then you can't possibly be very good at it. I don't doubt for a second that it would be easy to replace you with anyone from any country ever. There are all kinds of problems with outsourcing development work, but they don't stack up to nearly the same problem as a developer putting code into production without a drop of passion or pride for his/her work.

Re:Can we just have unions already? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43428861)

The ignorance is strong with this one.

Re:Can we just have unions already? (3, Insightful)

phantomfive (622387) | about a year ago | (#43428963)

Programmers are wary of unions for a few unions:

1) We see in other industries they make it hard to fire incompetents. Do you really want to have it impossible to get rid of lousy coders? Unions tend to be based on seniority, which is only somewhat related to skill.
2) We see in other industries that unions slow everything down. That's basically the opposite of Agile and Extreme. Do you really want yet another bureaucracy to deal with?
3) It's not clear what benefit a union will provide. If a union doesn't promise to provide me with something tangible, why support it?

Shame (4, Funny)

HRbnjR (12398) | about a year ago | (#43428277)

I would clearly deserve to be recognized as a Top Coder through representation by such an agent, if it weren't for those Dunning-Kruger assholes.

Re:Shame (1)

Impy the Impiuos Imp (442658) | about a year ago | (#43428449)

I, too, would be a Topcoder. As the best programmer in the world, my Topmodel equivalent would be a young Christy Turlington, complete with hip-to-waist ratio, but with lips somewhere berween Angelina Jolie and Amanda Seyfried.

The lips I got, the hip-to-waist ratio is, in actuality, much more programmerish.

Re:Shame (1)

hey hey hey (659173) | about a year ago | (#43428529)

Me, I keep having trouble with that damn Voight-Kampff test...

So, software developers using agents (3, Interesting)

Shinobi (19308) | about a year ago | (#43428283)

And that's supposed to be news?

Common practice for high-end/specialist freelancers here in northern europe at least.

I commonly work with one agent(who's also my lawyer), and sometimes with another agent, in a slightly different field. In fact, if you get a trustworthy agent, it's one of the best way to sort out the "grinders"(clients who try to pile on more and more work on a project), scammers and other undesirables.

In fact, those two agents and those of us who use their services have formed a guild of sorts, blacklisting bad clients, blacklisting devs who negatively impact the reputation of freelancers by being scammers or just failures, helping each other out in case of sickness, or just the need for a vacation, yet we still compete with each other in bids for projects etc, so yes, it requires blacklisting out the sociopaths that can't cooperate.

Might not work quite as well in the US though, US geeks seeming content with being exploited and seeing banding together in mutual defense as anathema......

Re:So, software developers using agents (1)

Shados (741919) | about a year ago | (#43428667)

Agent the way you describe it is very close to being the norm in the industry, give or take a few big name companies that will only deal straight with potential employees.

The article is talking about agents in the artist sense....which is honestly the same thing, just with some pretense of being more than that tacked on.

called headhunters in the old days (1)

peter303 (12292) | about a year ago | (#43428293)

I used a few

agents GET the best For the Best (1)

turkeydance (1266624) | about a year ago | (#43428395)

the top 1% get 99% of the money. basketball ex: if you are the one-and-only LeBron, get you some. if you are the starting forward for Fordham...good luck with that.

Re:agents GET the best For the Best (1)

dugancent (2616577) | about a year ago | (#43428959)

Minimum pay for a NBA member is over $450k, even if you never step foot on the court.

Ian Restil FTW (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43428413)

Let me guess, their first client is Ian Restil [wikipedia.org] (same level of credibility on this and Stephen Glass' story).

Not news. (2)

jcr (53032) | about a year ago | (#43428437)

Headhunters with staggering levels of pretense have been around the software industry for as long as I can remember. These guys decided to try out a new label. Big deal.

-jcr

Can I call myself a 10x document writer? (1)

sandytaru (1158959) | about a year ago | (#43428475)

I'm a 1X programmer, but when it comes to writing user manuals, I can crank out a rough draft in a few hours and a polished version in a day. (The downside is putting out a gorgeous, finished user manual, only to have the front end guy change around the menus and graphics the next day. Doh!)

Re:Can I call myself a 10x document writer? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43428867)

you are the reason why our user manuals have less pages than a pamplet at the rest stop, and tells us even less information, why even fucking bother if we are going to have to use google 97% of the time anyway.

yea thanks for telling me to insert the disk, now how do I select only blank spaces in excel, google fit it in in less than a sentence, why couldn't you?

The only software agent I want (1)

dlingman (1757250) | about a year ago | (#43428585)

is called "Smith"...

Really, Slashdot? (1)

menot (2583945) | about a year ago | (#43428693)

First post a story about how difficult is to get a well paid job in the IT field because of the inmigration policies, and then post an obvious advertisement that starts with the phrase "So, you're a 10x developer or a 25x programmer, but not getting paid like one?".

Am I being paranoid?

Hi Tech Agents (1)

byteherder (722785) | about a year ago | (#43428849)

I had this same idea back in 1999. Why shouldn't top software programmer/developer/engineers have agents similar to sports agents or hollywood agents. They would be constantly looking out for a better position or your next position if you are coming off of a contract. They would also negotiate the best contract for you. They would know the market rates for your skills and would tell you how to be more marketable. They work for you and that they get 10% of you salary. Companies would love them because they don't have to pay the placement agency the finder's fee or the higher bill rate for contract positions. Programmers would love them because they get better jobs at better salaries or a higher percentage of the bill rate. Agents could have many programmer clients so they could earn a decent living too.. A win, win, win situation.

You are probably thinking that is what recruiters today do. WRONG. Recruiters act as the middlemen and only get paid if you take the position they have available. They don't work for you. I am talking mostly about contract positions here. Consider what a recruiter will say, if you desire a higher rate then what the company is offering. They will try and talk down your rate. If you don't take the position, they make nothing, if you take a reduced rate, they at least make something. Also, consider if you want a higher rate after being on contract a while. A recruiter will never tell you to leave the job and find another position. They don't work for you.

Top programmers (100K+) should have agents. The 10% you paid the agent would be worth it just to negotiate better starting contracts and raises. This does not count the value of their services of always being on the lookout for that ideal job. How many of us spent time looking for a better jobs when we are employed?

I liek this (1)

CuteSteveJobs (1343851) | about a year ago | (#43428923)

I'm suspicious that this is just an fancy marketing gimmick by the agency. but I like the idea. Over the years I've worked with many programmers and I've noticed a huge range in talent. It's interesting because that range rarely occurs within a single company. Instead some companies attract very good talent and some attract mostly mediocre.

I've seen small companies with just a few excellent programmers produce systems where larger companies with many more mediocre programmers have struggled.

The question is, how can you tell the difference? It's extremely hard to pick them. Merely listing some nice projects on their CV doesn't help, because the IT industry hides it failures. We have all seen projects that were a disaster but everyone smiled nervously and declared an outstanding success. Technical interviews by interviewers without a chip on their shoulder help, but only when you work with someone for about a year on a hard project do you really get to see how they perform. Mates referrals don't help, because mates look after mates no matter how shit they are.

I like the idea, but I'm yet to see an agency who could consistently deliver good programmers. The *best* idea I saw was at a big company who only hired people who were the top of their class.
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