Tech Stories: The Rich Boy Contractor Who Did No Work

After the race parts company, I ended up doing some contract work for a person search site. This was probably around the height of the dot com boom in terms of how much money was floating around and companies were in no slow down of finding people to flood their ranks with the enormous competition to grow big and take advantage of this growing market. Sometimes though those decisions weren’t necessarily for the best as many didn’t screen candidates heavily enough.

The kid I worked with was named Lester, a “poor” rich kid who was still attending college over at USC for computer science. I call him a “poor” rich kid because his family lived on the poor side of Beverly Hills. Yeah, I know. The kid was chauffeured to the office by his nanny, who would pack a fairly decent lunch almost on a daily basis. Back then at the little warehouse where this information company was located, packing a lunch was almost a necessity as there were little spots to eat within a reasonable distance. In fact, the only spot within walking distance was a tiny McDonalds built into the Home Depot (if you’re in Playa Vista, you’ll know the Home Depot I’m talking about).

At any rate, this kid’s father helped him incorporate a business, which allowed him to run a consulting gig, giving him a pretty big boost in terms of earnings for both his age and skill level. I think combined, he possibly earned more than the other H1B contractor and myself (after fees were gutted that is).

He had reasonable Perl hacking skills from what I could tell but he really didn’t do anything…at least work on things related to what was required of him. In fact, once they moved us to this one room, I constantly spotted him working on his friend’s site which seemed to consist of some wheel-of-fortune like spinner. Whenever the manager showed up, he’d hide his side project and pretend to be studying code or reworking some piece of SQL.

Now, this kid was a real fucker and probably wouldn’t even be considered for anything above an intern position these days. He somehow acquired my old UC Berkeley OCF email and put it on some pr0n site. As a result that email address pretty much became unusable as it was filled with spam.

Later on, when our contracts were up, the in-house recruiter informed me that they decided not to renew Lester’s contract (although they were open to giving me a full time gig). Despite the fact that Lester did nothing of use, the real decision to not hire him was that he would add extra hours to his billing. I think one of the IT people even spotted the unusual activity of him coding non-related projects. Sadly, the company did not pursue any legal action at the time (not sure why).

At any rate, situations like that are probably why many companies ended up resorting to Google-like interviews to really screen their candidates. I wouldn’t be surprised at how many people ended up getting away with financial murder through these loose contracts around that time. Of course, it really was a workers’ market back then (and to a degree right now). The chief difference is that there’s a lot more wariness and awareness within companies to prevent these situations from commonly occurring. But I feel back then it wasn’t out of control since the people entering in the new frontier of internet businesses simply did not know any better.

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