Jacob Budin is a 29-year-old software developer. He works at Kettle and lives in Jersey City. He graduated Phi Beta Kappa from Penn State with degrees in English and marketing.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Your Time Isn’t Worth Anything

Thomas Friedman, author of the insufferably dull but much lauded The World is Flat, in yesterday’s Times:

Today’s college grads need to be aware that the rising trend in Silicon Valley is to evaluate employees every quarter, not annually. Because the merger of globalization and the I.T. revolution means new products are being phased in and out so fast that companies cannot afford to wait until the end of the year to figure out whether a team leader is doing a good job.

Let’s ignore that Friedman’s credo (“Times are a-changing!”) is both trite and reductive.

His advice? “Add value,” “adapt,” and “reinvent” oneself to be marketable. But in the global economy, that’s impossible. Software engineers in India get paid a small fraction of what they do in America; even if you knew 13 languages, graduated Julliard, and won an Olympic medal, you still wouldn’t be able to justify your salary based on your “value added” alone. Friedman is kidding his readers to suggest otherwise.

Fortunately, it doesn’t make economic sense to outsource the jobs that haven’t already been outsourced. Unfortunately, this won’t remain true. But becoming a brain surgeon-slash-patent lawyer-slash-hedge fund manager won’t be a saving grace.

And what’s this “dynamic sector” Friedman praises really producing? His examples: Facebook, Twitter, Groupon, Zynga, and LinkedIn. There was a Facebook before Facebook; it was called MySpace, and it was sold for less than one-sixteenth of what it was bought for several years ago. The others? Twitter is only marginally profitable. Groupon loses money. Over half of Zynga’s revenues come from fewer than 10% of its players. And there’s already speculation that LinkedIn’s stock, less than two months old, is forming a bubble.

Friedman continues digging his hole:

Finally, you have to strengthen the muscles of resilience. “You may have seen the news that [the] online radio service Pandora went public the other week,” Hoffman said. “What’s lesser known is that in the early days [the founder] pitched his idea more than 300 times to V.C.’s with no luck.”

Angry you didn’t invest in red-hot Pandora sooner? Don’t be. It loses money on every transaction. Even if this type of “innovation” could save the day, surely, bilking losers via their virtual farms isn’t the foundation of a successful economy.