Your company is watching you – TechCrunch

Call it a public service announcement to kick off your year: If you work at a startup where information technology is a bit opaque, policies evolve as the company builds and the organization evolves rapidly, you’re at greater than usual risk that your employers are willing to move quickly, and do things and ask permission later. It makes sense almost intuitively: early-stage startups generally don’t bundle their crap together, and they move at breakneck speed. Is it legal? Of course not, but in a lot of startup circles, the situation seems to be that if the company doesn’t succeed, that’s a moot point. And if a fast-growing, top-tier company grows quickly, you’ll have enough money and lawyers to find out later.

This article was triggered by a conversation I had with two startup employees who wish to remain anonymous at a company you almost certainly heard about. I haven’t been able to get enough solid information to name the company (don’t worry, I’ll keep trying). For now, here are some anniversaries as you jump into 2022 all with bright eyes and bushy tails.

Be careful what you say in Slack It may sound like direct messages are private, but did you know that a corporate admin can export all direct messages that have ever been sent on an instance of Slack? Of course, there may be laws against exporting data, but if you discuss something illegal or unethical in direct messages, you’ll find it hard to explain as your boss explained how they ended up with a copy of the DMs. Two mistakes don’t correct, and you may have a case to sue your employer if a shady and overzealous CIO decides to do some prospecting, but this kind of thing can be easily avoided by continuing the personal talk with personal channels, and working talk with business channels. Of course, your texts may not remain private, but at least there is a higher bar for accessing them. And as you know, if you’re particularly paranoid, there’s always Signal or Telegram, with expired messages.

Your superiors can monitor your company’s equipment There is often a clause in contracts about how you can and cannot use the equipment your company provides. Some of these are obvious – don’t do illegal things – but others are more obscure. This is all well and good, but read the contract carefully. There may be language saying that your company is allowed to monitor what you do on your computer. I don’t think this sounds particularly innocent, but it is indirectly phrased in a lot of business contracts. In a world where AI tools are getting more and more powerful, and where you sign a contract that says you’re absolutely great at tracking, there are a ton of companies (AktivTrak, ActiveOps, Veratio, to name a few) making software that can monitor you, and employers can install these software on your computer with varying degrees of stealth and obtaining your permission.

AktivTrak claims that it is used by more than 9,000 organizations, and that its tool can be used to “reference detailed logs of user activities and security events to better understand what happened, when and by whom, while providing insights to help ensure compliance.” I don’t know about you, but I feel really safe. (Screenshot: ActiveTrack website)

HR is not on your side Your company’s HR department may be friendly, helpful, and nice, and they may go out of their way to help solve workplace problems, but they’re not on your side: HR works for the company. They exist to protect the interests of the company. And when your interests and the company’s interests collide, remember that people who work in HR – no matter how friendly they may be – still need to pay their bills and have a good working relationship with them. they Presidents after your resignation, dismissal, or transfer within the company. And as James Altcher pointed out in his column, they will eventually fire you.

You do not owe your loyalty to a company Especially in the United States, where there are a lot of “at will” job opportunities, i.e. you can be laid off at any time for any reason, and you remain employed as long as the company can afford you, and you contribute the minimum. This is a mercurial world especially in startups, because goals and objectives can move from a board meeting to a board meeting. One month, the engineering department is everything and the end of the company’s life blood. But the amount of money in a bank account and the fundraising environment can change quickly, and in the next month, everything could change. Especially when things get tough, it can become tempting for the leadership to run the company according to its own KPIs, and focus only on growth and customer acquisition. In this universe, engineering is of low importance in the short run, suddenly advertising spending and sales process becomes a top priority. Even great leaders with strong long-term visions can be forced to make sudden changes. Loyalty in the professional world is a myth that only benefits employers; If they need to let you go, they will, so when a recruiter knocks, answer the call to see how you’re being priced in the market.

Don `t give upIf a manager or someone from HR is trying to get you to quit on your own, as a rule, it’s best to resist. Don’t quit! Lots of mechanisms (including, in some states, unemployment benefits) It only applies to you if you are laid off. If you withdraw — and especially if you sign an agreement in which you pledge not to sue the company — you significantly impair your options in the future.

Has your HR department used your Slack DMs or emails against you? I’m talking to a number of startup employees at the moment – at a few different companies. I want to hear from you. Find me at

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