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. 

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Members have made 44 comments.

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  1. Profile photo of Israel P. Member

    So was he fired or promoted or what?

    Never mind – I see the link.

    • #1
    • January 29, 2013 at 2:03 am
  2. Profile photo of raycon and lindacon Member

    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.

    • #2
    • January 29, 2013 at 2:13 am
  3. Profile photo of Leigh Member

    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.

    • #3
    • January 29, 2013 at 2:15 am
  4. Profile photo of Tom Davis Member

    Delegate, Delegate, Delegate.

    • #4
    • January 29, 2013 at 2:15 am
  5. Profile photo of Morituri Te Member

    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.

    • #5
    • January 29, 2013 at 2:19 am
  6. Profile photo of Pseudodionysius Member

    I photocopied myself once with a cheeky sign that said:

    “In the end is my beginning.”

    The joke was on me.

    • #6
    • January 29, 2013 at 2:19 am
  7. Profile photo of Misthiocracy Member

    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?

    • #7
    • January 29, 2013 at 2:24 am
  8. Profile photo of Spin Thatcher

    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.

    • #8
    • January 29, 2013 at 2:27 am
  9. Profile photo of Misthiocracy Member
    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? 

    • #9
    • January 29, 2013 at 2:28 am
  10. Profile photo of iWe Member
    iWe

    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.

    • #10
    • January 29, 2013 at 2:29 am
  11. Profile photo of Pseudodionysius Member

    Real estate:

    Relocation, relocation, relocation.

    • #11
    • January 29, 2013 at 2:31 am
  12. Profile photo of Misthiocracy Member
    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.

    • #12
    • January 29, 2013 at 2:31 am
  13. Profile photo of Misthiocracy Member
    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.

    • #13
    • January 29, 2013 at 2:33 am
  14. Profile photo of Misthiocracy Member

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

    That … is … nuts.

    • #14
    • January 29, 2013 at 2:34 am
  15. Profile photo of iWe Member
    iWe

    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. 🙂

    • #15
    • January 29, 2013 at 2:46 am
  16. Profile photo of Percival Thatcher
    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.

    • #16
    • January 29, 2013 at 2:47 am
  17. Profile photo of Archie Campbell Member

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

    • #17
    • January 29, 2013 at 2:51 am
  18. Profile photo of Tommy De Seno Contributor

    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.

    • #18
    • January 29, 2013 at 3:01 am
  19. Profile photo of Misthiocracy Member

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

    • #19
    • January 29, 2013 at 3:04 am
  20. Profile photo of Tommy De Seno Contributor
    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.

    • #20
    • January 29, 2013 at 3:08 am
  21. Profile photo of Archie Campbell Member
    Misthiocracy: I do not know how to set the security issues aside. · 22 minutes ago

    Well, then, get cracking on it and figure it out, so we can all do this already.

    • #21
    • January 29, 2013 at 3:33 am
  22. Profile photo of dash Inactive

    Isn’t this the premise of Tim Ferriss’ The 4-Hour Work Week?

    • #22
    • January 29, 2013 at 3:35 am
  23. Profile photo of Pilli Member

    “Give a lazy man the hardest job and he’ll find the easiest way to do it.” A quote from my father. Looks like he was right…again.

    One wonders how much effort this guy put into managing his “employees” especially concerning QA. It couldn’t have been too much or he could have done the work himself more easily.

    • #23
    • January 29, 2013 at 4:37 am
  24. Profile photo of Pseudodionysius Member
    Misthiocracy: I do not know how to set the security issues aside. · 1 hour ago

    On the episode of Law and Order where the physics grad student accidentally killed the professor’s wife with a remote detonated device, he went to prison even though it was clear he was right to believe that his former professor stole his research and took credit for it while dooming his former brilliant student to a demeaning life as a New York City doorman.

    Ben Stone:

    “He’s not your typical murderer, you know.”

    Adam Schiff:

    “Sure he is; he killed a guy, didn’t he?”

    • #24
    • January 29, 2013 at 4:56 am
  25. Profile photo of JimGoneWild Member

    I’m amazed that Rob had any posting after closing the bar NRI Summit on Saturday night, and flying to west coast on Sunday, like me. Ugh. I can’t even think straight.

    He is young.

    • #25
    • January 29, 2013 at 5:05 am
  26. Profile photo of Pseudodionysius Member
    Leigh
    Paul DeRocco: I thought we already had this thread a couple weeks ago. Was I dreaming? Or am I dreaming now? Whatever you do, don’t tell me I’m dead. · 1 hour ago

    The thread got outsourced to the Main Feed. · 6 hours ago

    Rob owes Misthiocracy a royalty cheque, which will be harder to cash when the banking system collapses because unauthorized Chinese subcontractors activate their clandestine subroutines remotely by secret rendez vous at a Dim Sum pastry palace in Chinatown.

    Misthiocracy: Wait till I cash my royalty cheque: I’ll show you.

    Rob: Forget it, thiocracy, its Chinatown.

    • #26
    • January 29, 2013 at 6:17 am
  27. Profile photo of Xennady Member

    I find it… interesting to see this guy defended.

    It reminds me of an incident at the steel mill I once was paid by. A couple guys were granting themselves extra vacation by signing each other out on alternating weeks. As long as the timeclock computer recorded a timecard swipe, they were paid. This went on for at least a year.

    I’ve always thought that sort of behavior a bad thing. 

    But no- they were just entrepreneurs. I’m sure his employer had some sort of policy stating that this behavior wasn’t condoned, just like the steel mill had a policy stating that employees should show up for their shifts.

    And just like the US government has a policy that claims that people who grant themselves a five-fingered discount at Walmart are criminals.

    Crazy-talk, that last. They’re just entrepreneurs, looking to acquire capital.

    Silly government rules. To heck with them.

    • #27
    • January 29, 2013 at 6:34 am
  28. Profile photo of Z in MT Member

    What if he didn’t outsource? What if he just made his underlings do all the work and take all the credit? There are many professions where this is perfectly acceptable, even expected. Professors and grad students and Fareed Zakaria come to mind

    • #28
    • January 29, 2013 at 6:40 am
  29. Profile photo of Z in MT Member

    However, I do think this man was dishonest. If he would have went to his employer and said, “Hey, I have this company in China that will do this coding much more cheaply than I. What if we have this company, do the coding, and I’ll supervise their work and their cost will come out of my salary.” If the company accepted there would have been no issue.

    • #29
    • January 29, 2013 at 6:46 am
  30. Profile photo of Rob Long Founder
    Rob Long Post author
    JimGoneWild: I’m amazed that Rob had any posting after closing the bar NRI Summit on Saturday night, and flying to west coast on Sunday, like me. Ugh. I can’t even think straight.

    He is young. · 1 hour ago

    If it helps, I slept all the way back home. The joys of a window seat.

    • #30
    • January 29, 2013 at 7:07 am
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