I wrote last week about the Great Resignation, about the surge in the numbers of people quitting their jobs and the dynamics that are driving it.
Just as I published that blog I found myself presented with a great example of exactly the kinds of culture and clashes that are prompting people to hand in their notice in such large numbers — workplaces and projects that seem exciting and empowering but in reality are storing up precisely the kinds of problems that are prompting people to re-evaluate their lives, just those things that underly the Great Resignation.
A couple of weeks ago the launch of Microsoft's first serious attempt at building a web browser, Internet Explorer 3.0, saw its 25 year anniversary. To mark the occasion, one of the engineers who worked on the project, Hadi Partovi, wrote a Twitter thread about how it came to life, and the impact it had on the lives of the team, for better and, candidly, for worse. Partovi later founded the Hour of Code movement, and is CEO of code.org, both of which have egalitarian aims: to broaden paricipation and access to careers and opportunities in computer science.
Much is revealing in the thread about the tech and startup culture that began in the run-up to the dot-com boom and persisted for a long time afterwards. However, one tweet in the thread was particularly telling and embodied the sentiment portrayed in the thread:
In Partovi's story of Internet Explorer 3.0's genesis, the damage it wreaked on the lives of many of the team and those in their home and personal lives comes across as a byline — a necessary sacrifice to larger corporate goals, validated by the success it enabled in the professional realm and the riches granted in swollen pay packets. IE3 also began the browser wars, putting Microsoft on the pathway that ultimately saw its misuse of its market dominance broken up in antitrust cases in the courts.
Since the thread was tweeted, two things have happened: