Outsourcing Yourself

There’s something to admire about this young man, a web developer who outsourced his job to China, and then with his newfound free time took on more jobs, which he also outsourced to China.

Except, of course, he eventually ran out of outsourcing sources. From CNET.com:

Work is an overrated concept, created by those in power to subjugate those who are trusting or have several children.

This might, at least, have been the thinking of a developer who believed he had found a magical ruse to prevent him from being subjugated.

As The Next Web tells it, relying on a case study presented by the security team at Verizon, the gentleman in question was very interested in Reddit, eBay shopping, and watching cat videos during working hours.

So he allegedly outsourced his work to China. Yes, all of his work. He did nothing at all — workwise, that is, according to Verizon.

Nicknamed “Bob” by Verizon, the developer worked at a critical infrastructure company in the U.S.

However, the Verizon folks say he also attempted to perform this liberating ploy simultaneously on other companies — presumably he was accepting freelance projects on the side.

His work must have suffered, right? Wrong:

What some might find amusing — or even dispiriting — is that his employers valued him highly, as the work was of an excellent standard.

Meanwhile, Bob’s trousers were being handsomely filled, as he was paying the Chinese a mere 20 percent of what the work would cost in the U.S., Verizon said.

You might wonder how, given that everyone was happy, he was ever discovered. Well, apparently his company noticed in its VPN logs that there was odd and consistent activity occurring on a connection between it and Shenyang, China.

Arrogant hipster. Lazy, entitled member of the web generation. iPhone-hugging Obama-loving Gen Z’er.  Nope:

Verizon’s report describes him as:

 Mid-40s software developer versed in C, C++, Perl, Java, Ruby, PHP, Python, etc. Relatively long tenure with the company, family man, inoffensive and quiet. Someone you wouldn’t look at twice in an elevator.

Which is why he’s hard to hate, this guy. 

  1. Israel P.

    So was he fired or promoted or what?

    Never mind – I see the link.

  2. raycon and lindacon

    Hard to understand why his subcontracting efforts caused so much consternation.  Bob was merely acting on the entrepreneurial American initiative we all admire.

    Assuming for a minute that there are no security issues, is Bob not a highly productive hero of the American system?  No doubt Verizon, itself, uses outsourced freelancers at times.

  3. Leigh

    The article had a point at the end.  They were getting good work from the Chinese.  Rather than letting Bob outsource the work, why not skip Bob and outsource it themselves? 

    If you outsource your job, your company just might decide to get rid of the middleman.

  4. Tom Davis

    Delegate, Delegate, Delegate.

  5. Daniel Frank

    Had Bob been the owner of a contracting company doing programming for Verizon on a statement of work, he could have done exactly the same thing and no eyebrows would have been raised. He probably would have charged the company more money, though.

    If he was able to get good quality offshore work done promptly at reasonable prices, he must be quite good.  That’s not always easy.  He really should go into business.

    The cat videos are stupid, though.

  6. Pseudodionysius

    I photocopied myself once with a cheeky sign that said:

    “In the end is my beginning.”

    The joke was on me.

  7. Misthiocracy

    We do not know what company he worked for.

    What if he worked on software vital to the national security of the United States?

    Still find it hard to hate the guy?

  8. Spin

    We can guess as to where he worked, that isn’t the point.  The point is that he was lazy and found a way to get out of his work by paying someone else to do it, for less than he was making.  I admire him.  I wish I could pay someone else to do my work for me.  But nobody likes doing my kind of work.  

  9. Misthiocracy
    raycon and lindacon: Hard to understand why his subcontracting efforts caused so much consternation.  Bob was merely acting on the entrepreneurial American initiative we all admire.

    And if he was an entrepreneur whose subcontracting policies were known to his clients, there would be no problem.

    But he wasn’t an entrepreneur, he was an employee. His outsourcing policies were not known to his employer, they were kept secret.

    As I mentioned in another thread on this very topic (Rob, do you ever read the member’s feed?), imagine you hire a chauffeur, and one day you go down to your car and discover a complete stranger in the driver’s seat.  Your chauffeur, it seems, gave the keys to your car to a buddy of his.

    Are we saying you shouldn’t fire your chauffeur because, hey, at least SOMEBODY’S gonna drive your butt around? 

  10. iWc

    The point of hiring someone is that you want the work done, and will pay for it to be done.

    IF there is no security breach, what is wrong with what he did? It may well be that outsourcing at a lower level works better than outsourcing at a higher level. After all, Bob essentially made himself responsible for all the work he was assigned, and he became management to a range of contractors.

  11. Pseudodionysius

    Real estate:

    Relocation, relocation, relocation.

  12. Misthiocracy
    Spin: We can guess as to where he worked, that isn’t the point. 

    The point is about security, and it’s a huge point.

    Imagine if this company’s customers discover that significant parts of its code were done by a FREAKING CHINESE FIRM that the company had no oversight over.

    It doesn’t matter if the company SAYS that the code is “high-quality”.  The customers are still going to always wonder about what sort of malware/spyware the Chinese programmers might have snuck into the source code.

    What this guy did was a HUGE HUGE HUGE breach of his employer’s network security.

  13. Misthiocracy
    iWc: The point of hiring someone is that you want the work done, and will pay for it to be done.

    I also pay for the person I hire to be trustworthy, not to lie to me, and not to hand over the keys to my company’s VITAL FREAKING ASSETS to a Chinese company without my knowledge.

  14. Misthiocracy

    The guy sent his freaking RSA fob to China by FedEx.

    That … is … nuts.

  15. iWc

    OK, OK, so there was a security problem.

    I just recall having a battle with a senior government scientist who was waxing rhapsodically about how she forced an employee to advise his wife and go to counseling after he was caught viewing porn at work.

    I asked her why it was her concern? Well, it turns out that the government cannot make its own employees do their jobs. But it can punish them for  “wasting government resources” by watching porn. And she felt she had the moral obligation to meddle for his own sake, and use the “government resources” argument as her excuse.

    I have been sensitive, ever since, to overreach by stupid employers who don’t actually care whether the job has been done, and they got value for money – but instead have to act in loco parentis for employees.

    But this is clearly not the same. :-)

  16. Percival
    Misthiocracy

    Spin: We can guess as to where he worked, that isn’t the point. 

    The point is about security, and it’s a huge point.

    Imagine if this company’s customers discover that significant parts of its code were done by a FREAKING CHINESE FIRM that the company had no oversight over.

    It doesn’t matter if the company SAYS that the code is “high-quality”.  The customers are still going to always wonder about what sort of malware/spyware the Chinese programmers might have snuck into the source code.

    What this guy did was a HUGE HUGE HUGE breach of his employer’s network security. · 8 minutes ago

    Even if Bob’s work wasn’t security critical, he let who knows who to poke around inside his company’s VPN.  Not only is his former employer going to have to poke around through his code to see if there are any nasty surprises, they are going to have to do the same for anything else that might have been compromised.

  17. Archie Campbell

    Security issues aside, I think I hate him only because he thought of it first.

  18. Tommy De Seno
    C

    Security issues aside, I love the guy.

    Capitalism does not have to be a dollar’s pay for a dollar’s work.   

    Acquire capital legally any way you can.  If you intend upon acquiring lots of it, you are not going to do all the work yourself.  You will hire people.

    His doing it on a micro scale is no different than someone going bigger.

  19. Misthiocracy

    I do not know how to set the security issues aside.

  20. Tommy De Seno
    C
    Misthiocracy: I do not know how to set the security issues aside. · 3 minutes ago

    That’s what I mean.  I’d flag him on that.  But if we were talking about a guy who did this with none, I certainly don’t disagree with him in spirit.

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