Dear tech giants, if you love someone, set them free

You know what really grinds my gears? The industry standard that the company you work for owns your SOUL!

Ok, maybe not your soul. But for the duration of your employment, all your ideas belong to them. Even when you’re outside office hours, even when you’re on vacation, even when you sleep! Your ideas belong to them.

Plus, you’re not really allowed to compete with them. And I’m not talking about working on project X on your day job and starting a company that does product X prime. That’s fair game. I’m talking about building a completely different product, which always happens to compete with some feature of some product of the tech giant you’re currently employed at.

Also, why do they make you jump through hoops if you want to contribute a line of code to your favorite open source project??

Now it’s true that many companies don’t actually sue their employees in a lot of such cases. But would you risk your career on it?

It’s an unfair game, it kills innovation and employees have very little to say about this. Here’s how I think a more fair industry standard should be:

  • You are free to contribute to any open source project out there. Knock yourself out.
  • Ideas unrelated to the project you work on are completely yours. Do whatever the hell you want with them.
  • In some cases, the company you work for may provide the necessary framework to develop your ideas within it and tie you to the outcome of the idea with similar risk / reward as doing it on your own. But you’re free to decline the offer and continue on the side (even while continuing to work on your day job).
  • Your spare time is your time. Go work for anyone else or start your own company. Go work for Nasa or whatever, as long as what you do on your spare time does not directly compete with the project you work on at your day job.
  • All that should matter is that you produce the results on the job you were hired to do. So, whatever you do in your spare time, just make sure it does not impact your ability to perform.

So I hope I speak in the name of all developers out there when I say: dear tech giants, if you love someone, set them free.