As someone who has worked in LA for quite a while, I’ve come to the general conclusion that the tech scene for the most part is god awful for engineers. At least developers who want to accomplish something meaningful and allow to do something where they feel their soul is being sucked dry. But why is that? What in particular is it that creates such a horrid vacuum for the average developer just trying to get by out here?
First, the landscape of so-called “tech” really isn’t what I would consider core engineering tech. We have the following main categories in terms of the bulk of the jobs:
- Marketing agencies
Let me break down each of these categories in what they mean here.
Los Angeles has a long history of having some of the biggest names in aerospace from JPL to Raytheon/Hughes Aircraft, Boeing, Lockheed Martin, Northrup, etc. and now SpaceX. It’s a literal who’s whom of the aerospace world. I suppose if you manage to get into one of these giants, you will get to work on some hardcore engineering problems. At least on the surface it seems that way.
The reality is that they’re long standing companies (except for SpaceX which is run by a nut with a ton of sycophantic drones surrounding him) that carry with it large amounts of political BS and lifers who won’t help you. The veterans do what they can to secure their spots and if a division gets fucked….well, you know the story.
Besides, how good would you feel as an engineer knowing that what you’re producing will most likely kill innocents?
People tend to forget that e-commerce !== tech. Yes, e-commerce utilizes tech but it does not mean the company itself, nor the users, nor the board and owners and whatever respect tech. The typical e-commerce company is about selling something to someone else. That’s it. Amazon and ebay had solved the majority of the problems and a few newer solutions (well new by comparison) like shopify and Magento handle the deltas that neither site can provide.
Most of e-commerce is horrendously boring and stressful simultaneously. It’s boring because the main problems have been solved but stressful because most management who run e-commerce shops aren’t actual technical people. They generally are people who managed to finagle some moron out of some money and found a connection with a low cost product in a place like China to sell to the masses for a small margin.
Because the founders aren’t technical (or pretend to be), developers are stuck dealing with legacy issues that weren’t thought out such as a bloated orders table, scaling issues or code that’s nearly impossible to modify. This usually occurs because the founders were too cheap to hire the really good people and ended up getting some contractor who wasn’t vetted or an outsourced company off in a 3rd world country that would do work for pennies.
No matter what these companies will never treat the engineers as a partner just because they see them as code monkeys.
This is probably one of the worst areas in LA to join as a developer. Most likely, you’ll be working on either WordPress, Joomal or Drupal, none of which ever were designed to handle what a content companies demands. Worse yet these companies make all their money through ads. Yup, an utterly unreliable source of income.
The thing about content companies is that it’s driven by libtards. That is, some liberal arts major who managed to start up a blog, get popular and decided to scale up that blog by hiring more writers/editors. If it’s not driven by that type of person, then it’s certainly driven by the Hollywood libtards, who are worse by far.
Why do I come down so hard on these people? I’m a blogger and a liberal arts major. But I’m also someone who has worked in tech for 19 years (at this point) and can see both sides of the fence. The problem is that these libtards have an utterly idealistic vision of how the world operates. They live in ivory towers where they rub elbows with other socialites and pretending to be part of a larger cause. But when it comes down to YOU, they couldn’t give a shit. You get paid, more than these 3rd world countries that these bleeding heart bozos espouse to care for thus you don’t factor into their schemes. You are the code monkeys that can do it all just like in their fantasized The Social Network movie that seemingly is how the tech world operates.
But in the end, as with any company whose roots aren’t in tech, these places aren’t meant to last. Content has been solved like I said with things like WordPress. But making it bend to your will is like prying open the space-time continuum with your bare hands. It was meant to do one thing and one thing well so stop asking us to change it!
This is something I believe should no longer exist. It’s so rotten because of the cancerous nature that spreads itself in this ecosystem. Content, e-commerce and ad-tech all seem like this fungal symbiotic relationship that is joined through ass-to-mouth. If ad-tech ceases to exist, then content dies. Without content to broadcast the ads, then e-commerce dies. Pretty wonderful world, right?
So why do I hate it so?
Ad-tech is basically marketing dollars with marketing people sleeping, drinking and fucking other marketing people/execs. They do anything to cut a deal so their platform that does a one-off delta from the core functionality of Adsense and AdWords can spread blithering, obnoxious noise that no one wants to see nor hear around as if it were the most ruthless concoction of aids, ebola, cancer and diabetes rolled up into a single DNA strand.
As an engineer, all you’re doing is feverishly trying to keep your shitty tracking pixel up while some CMS is designed to handle the unrealistic imagination of some crackhead, potsmoking junkie of a marketing designer. The business side works out a formula that makes the subprime loan crisis look like kindergarten math in determining how much a marketing company should be getting back for the money they dump into this shitty system.
But the reality again is that no one wants to see these shitty ads (except senile grandmas because they probably can no longer tell between TV and the internet and that they’re bored in their nursing homes). You see, these ads pop in your face and create brand repudiation as opposed to brand recognition. So instead of desiring to purchase said brand, you end up doing the exact opposite.
As a technologists, you’ll just end up giving up your soul to a bunch of people who long time ago lost their souls. Or maybe they never had any which is why they’re in this business to begin with.
Ah, perhaps the worst of the lot. The truth is that I can’t tell. All of it blends together. But if you do see a marketing agency posing an engineering job that is looking for that special “rockstar” STAY THE FUCK AWAY!
Marketing agencies are run by a few core people that have been sucking each others’ dicks since the dawn of time. They managed to get their business initially by quitting their companies and having a few key contacts where they got contracts and built up their portfolio. When more contracts came their way, they decided to hire more developers. Then once that well dried up, guess where the developers went?
The thing is that unless you have worked with at least one digital marketing agency, you probably may not recognize one from the outset. But it’s easy to see because the company lacks focus and is constantly scrambling to get new contracts. Their sales people lie and have zero experience actually building anything. So all they care about is the commission. As a developer, you get to pick up the pieces left by these fuckers who got to wine and dine.
I suppose the only real benefit to working with an agency is that you might actually get to use a new tech stack. That part is cool because assuredly most of their projects never last beyond 6 months (and probably their team). If you’re completely unlucky, you’ll be forced to use an existing tech stack or worse yet use the client’s.
But don’t ever expect anything outside of a basic check and 1 year with the agency. You’ll be forced to put in serious hours doing what amounts to be a glorified ad (probably for an ad-tech company) or website. You might get to do some small game or social project which can be interesting. But overall you’ll just be frustrated and either be laid off or quit at some point.
Do Good Companies Exist in LA?
This is a rhetorical question to a degree. I assume that a few (besides supposedly Google) do exist here. They’re probably buried or have high barriers of entry. But I don’t think it’s a matter of a company being good, but that LA simply sucks.
You see, LA is all about flash and the surrounding industries like Hollywood, the recording industry or larger companies like Taco Bell are what make so-called tech companies viable. Because they are what fund these categories of companies that I have mentioned.
As a result, LA tech companies must bear the brunt of what amounts to being shoved in the high school locker by the football team bullies. The geeks down here just want a job and get paid to buy their little games, take their little trips and have their fancy BMWs to seemingly rub shoulders with the “big boyz”. And most of the people running these companies are the MBAs or some showboat with a ton of spare cash in their pocket to build something.
But these aren’t what I consider “true” tech companies. They’re just ancillary support for these other industries. When you’re not in control, you’re just someone else’s bitch.
A “real” tech company in my opinion is something trying to solve a real world problem using technology. Solving a problem that isn’t solved already. Not just a delta of an idea with a fancier UI/UX. But something like a improving transportation or getting rid of traffic. Those are real world problems.