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A Devastating Cautionary Tale for Open Source Devs

Jane Ori on January 28, 2022

I don't have the emotional bandwidth to editorialize this. Here is a timeline of recent events and the lesson learned. Skim for ☢️ to catch the h...
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Liviu Lupei

Sorry to hear about your situation.

That's one of the reasons why I never quit a job before I have a signed contract with the new employer.

Good luck with the job hunt!
I'm sure you'll find a great one really fast.

eljayadobe profile image

Virtual hugs. What an ordeal.

When I got my current job, HR strongly emphasized over-and-over that I should not put in my notice until I had the offer letter. Weeks went by. I called them, and was told not to worry. And more weeks. I called them, and was told not to worry. And more weeks. I called them, and was told not to worry. And finally got the offer letter.

Then I put in my notice, and (as is standard practice in these parts) gave my former employer two weeks. Plus I also factored in another two week decompression time, so I could reset my brain.

Very stressful 3 months though, for me. All turned out well in the end.

Your experience sounds like a rocky rollercoaster relationship. From dizzying heights to crushing plummet and crash. Dreadful.

eljayadobe profile image

Addendum, my former employer was awesome. I had no issue or heartburn (or heartache) with my previous employer. They're good people, with a good product, and incredibly awesome motives.

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Jonathan Experton

Really sorry for you. Don't worry tech job market is red hot and passionate people are always in great demand. I'm sure you'll find a nice place.

Since you look open to equity, I recommend you to read Gergely Orosz's post about equity so you can spot a bad offer during your job search.

Hope your nose is fine now.

janeori profile image
Jane Ori

I'm going to read every word of this in the morning, thank you for sharing!
And thank you for the support, I appreciate it :)

janeori profile image
Jane Ori

Thank you all for the support. Truly.

afif profile image
Temani Afif

@inhuofficial Can you spread this into the 4C community?

Let's make some noise!

grahamthedev profile image

Shared it there 👍

sherrydays profile image
Sherry Day

Thank you for sharing. I am sure it is going to help someone. You seem very talented and hard working. You'll make it through this.

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Clifford Fajardo • Edited

Man, I've been in a similar situation trying to assess start up offers in the past - its can be stressful!
My recommendation for anyone new to this (who may stumble upon this is), leverage the community to help you 🙏

1) website OR their phone app (I'm not affiliated, happy user for years)

  • people will happily answer questions related to job offers, startup equity, negotiation's, whether a situation is fishy & what follow up questions to ask. 2)

Wishing you the best Jane, you got this!

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Brandon Rockhold

Thank you for sharing this story and your lesson learned. It sounds like a terrible experience and I'm sorry you went through it. I hope you are feeling 100% soon. I had a sick feeling in the pit of my stomach that this post would end with you losing ownership of your work. I'm glad that's not the case and I hope this company is somehow held accountable for this sleazy behavior. Good luck in getting things resolved and with whatever your next role ends up being!

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Ben Calder

Don't give notice to your current employer before all of the new agreements/documents are signed.

^ this

If you left your previous employer on good terms it wouldn't hurt to contact them, explain the situation, and see whether you could figure something out. The worst thing that can happen is they say no...

Sadly this cautionary tale also confirms all my current preconceptions about "Web 3.0" and those leading the charge on the next gold rush: immoral, get rich quick types who have no concerns about who or what gets trampled in the process.

Good luck!

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Pierre Vahlberg

I really admire you for reading and pursuing understanding the CIIAA, many I know would not and would likely get shredded if a disagrement arose. Its really unfortunate about the notice but you sound smart and I doubt you will have an issue finding a job in this business! Best of luck 🙏

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Klaus Donnert

One of the guys I work with got a bad faith offer and quit. Two weeks after he quit, he called our boss and explained the situation and asked if he could come back. Boss said yes.

feng_xie_297f6d9ed28c6e0a profile image
Feng Xie

Sorry to hear your situation Jane. I think they are playing a game with you, who apparently own an IP that they have a very strong desire to take, and they hope they can get it for free by hiring you - which might be a economical decision for them (I.e. ‘cheaper’) or makes better legal sense (I.e. ‘safer’). I’m not as an awesome as you, so I never owned an IP, and that’s why I have not had any reply from my potential employer telling me they have to get their lawyers involved to finalize my offer. It’s just money, equity, take it or leave it, plain simple So the fact they are having so much back and forth with you and their lawyer meaning they are customizing what should be standard hiring practice - to obtain more than what they deserve from a simple employment relationship. This company seems fishy and does not deserve your time. And the equity with their token looks riskier than say the equity offers from other startup or public companies. It’s just standard offer which is not more attractive than any other offer which you can get from this red hot market. Their CEO seems nice but it’s his job to be nice to all top talents he wants to hire. And seems he didn’t do anything meaningful for YOU and he didn’t really put himself in your situation. And your guess is right for #2 - pretty sure they are doing this to add duress. Hope you feel better soon and find a better opportunity than this one. You deserve better.

feng_xie_297f6d9ed28c6e0a profile image
Feng Xie

And yeah like everyone else in this thread said - in the future don’t quit until you have a signed offer in hand. Insurance running out is tough, but there are options like COBRA (google it) or going back to your current employer. Or just start looking right away. Good luck!

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Kyle R. Conway

I'll just note separately that I also had some conversations with a company about mostly part-time design work and they wanted an overbroad signed CIIAA as well. Needless to say, we did not end up working together. I got the impression this was unreasonable lawyers with boilerplate rather than bad intent from the lovely people I would have been working with, but coming from an art background into tech, with a large appreciation for permissive licenses in tech and art (e.g. Creative Commons) I find it strange that these are described as "standard" for the industry (and I hope they aren't).

If anyone wants to compile a list of this CIIAA language to share and break down what it means I think that would be a service to the workers in this space. (and yes, I confirmed the overbroadness with an IP lawyer... things like, unless I specifically list every piece of art I've ever created I transfer ownership to the company).

Sorry this happened to you. Your work looks amazing, your ability to tell a story (while stressed and sick) is impressive, and I have no doubt you'll soon be employed.

Thank you, thank you, thank you for sharing!

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TED Vortex (Teodor Eugen Duțulescu)

I remember messaging you on twitter ~2 years ago when you just released augmented-ui. Didn't want to ghost you, never got around to building what I proposed because essentially the same thing happened to me ... never got around to a stable job since and my only comfort is contributing to open source projects.

One community that was especially welcoming and helped me cope with everything happening in my life was open-sauced - met a lot of great people and other communities there, made friends that made me feel that all this struggle was worth it. Can't promise anything but I can introduce you to some people if we reconnect on discord, polywork or even linkedin.

Fingers crossed, never stop fighting!

janeori profile image
Jane Ori

Just found the DM; I still think that's a great idea :)

That seems like a great path to get started with OS contributions! I've had people ask for advice in that direction and never really knew how to answer; I'll keep this link handy for the future. Thank you!

Feel free to reach out on twitter any time! I prefer the async communication there and I try to keep discord connections at a minimum because they ping me real time. :)

rajvirsingh1313 profile image
Rajvir Singh

Damn, I feel sorry for you. It would hurt anyone who would have gone through a situation like this.

oinak profile image

Lesson learned
Don't give notice to your current employer before all of the new agreements/documents are signed.

My mother has been telling me this, but replacing "offer letter" with "legally binding job contract" since before I was old enough to sign one.

I never gave my notice over something as apparently (to my mother's eyes) brittle as an Offer Letter, until I first worked for a US company.

On top of that, government sponsored healthcare and unemployment protection are a thing where I live, so I can't really wrap my head around how horribly distressing this situation gets on places where Workers Rights are laughing matter.

I am terribly sorry for you. I hope you get soon back on your feet, and I suggest you to join a Union, or any kind of worker-driven mutual-aid association that is accesible to you where you live.

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Christian Petersen

Sad to see such sleezy behavior. Hope you find a place that embraces your work without trying to steal it from you.

robole profile image
Rob OLeary

Dang! At least, you caught the sneaky clause before you went further. A lesson learned the hard way. Good luck with the job hunt

jasterix profile image

I'm sorry this was your experience. Any chance you could go back to your old company?

janeori profile image
Jane Ori • Edited

They've reached out in support, I need to be very conscientious of returning though because they deserve my full attention while I'm on the clock, and that may not be possible in the immediate future.

janeori profile image
Jane Ori
doughall profile image
Doug Hall

That really sucks. Thanks for passing along your lessons learned. Best of luck to you, going forward. I'm sure you'll land on your feet.

joejohnston1989 profile image

Stay strong. Your hard work, determination and honesty, will persevere! I spent years of early mornings/late nights working on my own OS project:

Keep the head high!

brianmcbride profile image
Brian McBride

the distribution of crypto they offered initially was not in the official offer letter at all

Crazy red flags here. The first is crypto. One step away from a ponzi scheme, ecologically unethical, and used mainly by people avoiding law... If a company wants to offer you crypto coins that should just be icing on top, not part of your base comp plan.

The second, however, is the fact that they are leaving out terms in your offical paperwork. I've personally had poorly worded terms of stock options in a past offer letter, only to be put off month after month, "Next board meeting we are issuing the stock." with only an ecuse to follow. In that instance, we were aquried within a year and the owners made millions, the few people hired shortly before a few of us went and bought houses, and the the rest of our very small team was offered a $40k check and "sign this that says you give up the rights to sue us" (and keep your job) to get it. Oh, by the way, the annoucement to our "sign or leave" all happened within 6 hours on a Friday.

My mistake was not joining without that litteral stock assignment in hand. If someone is going to be as dishonest to leave out something they offered - they are going to be that way forever more. Walk away. You don't want to work for anyone who will dangle fake promises in front of you.

You are clearly very talented. Stand up for your values, both morally and financially.

I imagine this must be pretty stressful.

wonder profile image
Wonder • Edited

Hey Jane,

We have no intention of stealing your IP - we sent you a standard contract from our lawyers, which we are happy to publish. We sent you multiple emails trying to amend the contract as soon as we learned that the contract wording was problematic for you.

We also sent you two emails trying to change the contract to your liking but received no response.

This post surprised us because we thought we were going to be working together. On the phone you told us you still wanted to work with us the day before you made the post.

Screenshots included in this tweet:

janeori profile image
Jane Ori • Edited

Gaslighting won't work either, sorry.

January 19th was when you learned the contract wording was problematic for me. And you fought it and doubled down and doubled down.

The first email you sent accepting to change the contract was after I tore into Adam on that phone call Jan 27th. That first email is at the bottom of the article, the 2nd one came after time of publishing.

You would have gotten a response, and we could have worked together, if Adam had not told me twice on the call that you wouldn't use augmented-ui if you couldn't own it.

You can only rebuild trust by being honest. The public vision wonder has for the world is something I fully believe in. I wish you success and growth proportionate to the future improvement of your integrity.

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Terry Li

Hey, Im genuinely sorry about the situation we put you in. We just learned about your articale this morning. Up until 2 hours ago, i thought we were going to be working together.

I think perhaps Adam who's not an engineer doesn't quite understand what owning an open source project means. Lesson learned to let engineers interface with engineers haha. Our lawyers just wanted to protect us from the possibility of you changing the license on the library. But I tried to explain to them that it wasn't a concern because we can always keep using a fork of your library (at least that's my understanding).

btw if you look at this tweet,
we did send you an email the day before this publication as well

Thread Thread
janeori profile image
Jane Ori

I appreciate that, and I'm grateful it happened to me and not someone else.

I suspected I might have got more traction from someone other than Adam, which is why I addressed Andros in my Jan 24th email pointing out the specific section.subsection that's problematic in the contract.
This was the response:
andros response

That email in your linked tweet is in the article

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Mandar Vaze

Don't give notice to your current employer before all of the new agreements/documents are signed.


texcessive profile image

Shared in Twitter.

Hope you find a company with really trustworthy people.

erickgonzalez profile image