Need Advice: Should I bail?
optimusprime subscriber Posts: 1
edited July 2007 in Thought Leadership
Hello,I would like to ask other entrepreneurs for advice on a delicate situation. This is kinda long and all over the place.... I am a Web Developer and beginning of the year I joined an internet startup as employee number #4 to do their web application development. I responded to a job ad of theirs on craigslist and met with one of the founders the next day. They have a very compelling product / service, which was the main reason I joined them. I am always out looking to work on new exciting projects and technology.Anyways, the current team is made up of the 2 founders, both business guys (MBAs from ivy league), and 2 developers (including me). We developers are "only" employees with salaries at 50-60% of typical market rates (no benefits) and in the beginning we received 1% each in stock options. We both will receive full salaries once the company gets funded (series A) The 2 founders don`t pay themselves. However one of them is still full time employed at a large corporation and is still waiting for his green card to come through. Until then he is bound to his current employer due to Hb1 work visa. So he can only work on this after hours and remotely.In the past 6 months we build basically a prototype that allows the founders to go out and seek funding (significantly more angel funding or series A). In 2 months we will have beta release ready for public launch.Beginning of the year, they received $100k angel money from a rich family friend of theirs, and this person promised another $100k in fall to keep us floating.The founders have had meetings including second and thirds meetings with a dozen or so VC firms in the SF Bay Area, NYC and Boston, but ultimately got passed on. Now they are saying that they will try again end of the year, beginning of next year.In the beginning they `assured` us that they are well on their way to get fully funded by June, the main reason I even accepted the offer. As mentioned above that hasn`t happened.Things that have happened that make me think about leaving this startup:- They lied to me. During the interview process / when making the offer they said that they just got angel funding (mentioned above). I told them I needed a couple of days to think about it, since I had another job offer pending. They pressured me into making a decision within 24-48 hours, because they needed to get started. I accepted the offer the next day and told them I will give my current employer a 2 weeks notice. I get an email reply from one of the founders saying that I should wait with that for a few more days, because they don`t actually have the money in the bank yet. I was furious as you can imagine, and should have told them that I will not work for people like that.- They completely disregard my advice as a web developer. They treat us like code monkeys. For example, without consulting with us they hired an outside design firm to create a web design for the application we are working on. This design firm completely ruined the job, and I knew it from the very beginning on. I had to fix it of course. - The current web design for the product is very bad and nowhere near other competing websites. But all my suggestions and advice is being ignored. I mean that`s my job... I am the web developer not them. Just because he owns a Macbook and bought himself a HTML book doesn`t make him a web design expert.- They failed to secure funding for the company. That`s their main job. But they micromanage the company, get involved in things they have no clue about and just waste time.- They have no startup background at all. They only worked for large corporations before. They don`t "get" the work and team culture that needs to exist at startups in order to pull it off.- The founder working with us in the office is very condescending. He also likes to talk on the phone to his friends (right in front of us) and praise himself and how HE build this cool product and how great HIS startup is.- After 6 months of working for them, I think they have no clue about running an internet startup. I think they just want to "try out something cool".If the other developer leaves, I will leave too. If I leave, he will leave as well. So basically if I decide to leave, it means the company is out of developers which is going to be a very hard hit.I don`t blame the founders, they are the way they are. I am blaming myself for putting myself into this position. I should have researched more their background and make sure that the know what they are doing.Any advice?
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1. Do you believe the owners will be able to support your salary?
2. Do you feel comfortable voicing your concerns and communicating what is and isn`t working for you and the firm?
3. Do you like what you are doing?
4. Is the investment in lower salary now for potential gold mine later something you are willing and able to undertake?
I agree w/ Steve in that not all people know how to be good bosses. And lets face it, you have to have some level of ego to be an entrepreneur. With that ego, they tend to rub people the wrong way, especially those that might not be the happiest of campers.
If I were you & could answer yes to the questions above, I would have a sit down w/ both parties, air the issues, and decide how to proceed. If the owners aren`t open to doing this, perhaps you have your answer the easy way. If they are, things could get better. If they don`t, you know where you stand & can make a decision at that point.
Good luck to you & I am interested to hear how you handle it & what transpires.
Are you secure enough to handle being without a job? That is, when you have a talk with them (and you should) they may ask you to leave...are you ok with that? have another job to go to?
Did you sign any contract or agreement about your employment arrangement? Does it specify wages, options, or a promise of future wages? with any conditions? Define your role, job duties?
Did you sign a noncompete agreement? Is the code you`ve developed copyrighted / protected?
Re: your talk... you should have it. Certainly express your view of what your role in the company is... your job responsibilities. Ask if your view is correct? Point out the flaws in the web design and ask why others were hired to do that job, if it was supposed to be your responsibility.
What you consider a lie (about funding) may not be an intentional deception on their part. So, be careful not to label their actions as such. You should express your concern about funding and suggest all employees should be kept up to date on how that is going.
You got stock options? I`m sure this company is not publicly traded. So, esentially you have a promise (option) to own a piece of the company (through shares of stock) correct? This also supports a reason for you to talk with them... you have or may have an ownership interest in the company.