Programmers with the ‘downtrodden air of refugees’

How many times have you read or heard something and thought, ‘ah, that is what is bugging me!’. Today I had such a moment, while reading an essay of Paul Graham titled “You weren’t meant to have a boss”.

It starts with Paul observing a bunch of programmers on some “team-building” exercise and a hunch that something was not quite right about them. Pursuing that unease he arrives at a set of insights on what distinguishes programmers as founders and programmers as serfs! This is a must read.

I have worked in a variety of organizations, from dot-coms to large multi-nationals. The happiest I have been has been in dot-coms and consulting type organizations. And seldom has a large company surprised me in how it functions.

Just to whet your appetite, I bring a morsel from my scavenging, Bon appetite!

Working for a small company doesn’t ensure freedom. The tree structure of large organizations sets an upper bound on freedom, not a lower bound. The head of a small company may still choose to be a tyrant. The point is that a large organization is compelled by its structure to be one.


  1. A very true article… very practical thinking and evident one..Having worked in startups and large companies, I see it happening around me.

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