I will never understand the obsession that modern companies have with reducing headcount. Its almost pathological. I totally understand that the marketplace can be competitive and that sometimes you need to cut costs, but this obsession with not employing any humans hits the hardest with companies that quite definitely have the available cash to take on a few extra staff.
The nature of may business (very long established one-man biz, set in a remote rural location, lots of legacy code, home-brew engine) makes hiring people very difficult, purely for practical and technical reasons. I am definitely not opposed to hiring people, and I actually think I’d feel really good about it. Every month I have to pay out royalty checks to 3 different people, and also pay at least one contractor, and it doesn’t feel bad, it feels GOOD, knowing that I’m contributing to the wider economy, and improving other peoples standards of living by creating employment. In some cases, those payments can help kick-start other small businesses who then employ people, and thats just awesome. Isn’t this the sort of thing we are supposed to be proud of as entrepreneurs?
To see whether or not you fall into the category of business owners who are really not doing their bit, take this simple test:
- Is it technically difficult, or practically difficult for you to hire new staff for some reason? If so, then I’ll let you off.
- Check your profit margin. is it less than 5%? are your company finances looking shaky? are profits falling dramatically? If so, then I’ll let you off.
- When you call the phone number for your company as a customer, do you get through to a real live human within 15 seconds? If so, then I’ll let you off.
- If you email your company as a customer with a technical support or customer services request, do you hear back from a human within one day? If so, then I’ll let you off.
I’m guessing this still leaves a very large number of businesses who could be doing amazing things employment wise, who instead are sitting on money in a bank and twiddling their thumbs.
Apples current cash hoard is 267 billion dollars. Their profit margin is 21.63%. I’m guessing that you cant phone up and speak directly to an apple customer service person right now, anywhere in the world. Why on earth not? (I just tried…and its a slow, irritating computer voice…to save hiring enough people…). The current total apple workforce is 123,000 people.
So the cash on hand for apple would allow them to give every single employee a windfall payment of $2,170731.
Yup, I had to check that several times to ensure its correct because it absolutely fucking cannot be. They can make every single employee of the company a dollar millionaire twice over. Or they could just spend HALF their current *cash* and make them all dollar millionaires. Lets look at it another way. The average salary in the US in the bay area tech firms is $142,000. Lets almost double that (yeah right) to account for employment costs, office space etc, and call it $0.25 million per employee per year.
Apple could afford to hire one million and 68 thousand tech workers for a year and still not burn through its entire cash hoard.
Or to put it another way, assuming all 123k people earn that crazy bay area salary, apple could double its current workforce, have them all sit on their ass doing absolutely nothing all day, and it would still take 8 years for the resulting cash drain to wipe out their *current* cash mountain.
PLEASE someone tell me my sums are wrong because they MUST be right? It couldn’t possibly be the case that despite Tim Cook being a ‘nice guy’ the first openly gay tech CEO who is trendy and right-on, and popular and seemingly one of the good guys, that he would rather sit on that vast obscene pile of capital and not spend a penny of it on increasing the workforce or improving the income of apples employees? Surely that would not be the case, Especially as Donald trumps recent tax changes are apparently designed to boost employment?
And of course, lets not forget that in the very home of tech-financial excess, San Francisco, there is a MAJOR homelessness problem. Its actually truly shocking. Apple could fix this out of their spare change. In the UK today there was an announced plan to completely eradicate rough sleeping which was put at costing £100 million. Say it should be £200 million instead, which is $260 million, and this would be for ONE city not a country. Apple could do that with one thousandth of its cash hoard.
These companies are not innovators who are making our lives better. They are like pharaohs and emperors treating the rest of us like peasants, beneath their contempt, not even worth saving.