ex-Yahoo! Japan Employee Blogs About Irrational Cost Saving And Micro Management

An Engineer, who recently resigned Yahoo! Japan, the country’s most successful web company, wrote his experiences in his 4 years – as a foreigner in English.

From the article by Jon Keating (@emostar ), he wrote many interesting observations which can be applied to many Japanese establishment companies.

“Creating quarterly goals that must be met creates a culture of procrastination. Instead of making harder to meet goals, people opt to take the conservative route. This makes everything much slower and projects take longer than they should.”

“Paying hourly for overtime encourages laziness and procrastination. All while punishing the workers that are efficient.”

That’s why many Japanese work until the last train.

“Is it really necessary to pay someone to keep track of how much each printer is used, and warn people when the number of pages printed have increased over a monthly basis? I’m not sure you are really saving any money by doing that.”

I remember that Yahoo! Japan removed free water servers from their Roppongi head office (the rent must be pretty expensive) in early 2009.

At that time I noticed the incident because a famous tech blogger (subtly telling he works for Y!J) wrote an article “How to choose a good handy water filter for case your company remove free water from office”, and many other tech bloggers (vaguely implied they work for Y!J) made “Oh! You, too? My company also took away free water server” comments. I was amused to see it, but also sad that the top-level engineers running the nation’s most successful service got such ill treatment.

# this guy already left Y!J so I think it is safe for him to link 😉

“Having everyone try to make bug free software is ambitious (i.e. impossible), but does making quarterly bonuses correspond to the bug count make sense?”

This was corrected by other that it is not by number of bugs but by number of failure on deployed services, but still…

Yahoo! Japan is a typical conservative Japanese company, which means that most employees are Japanese, work in Japanese language. There should not be so many foreign workers and the work style is not so internationalized. If he was a Japanese, he would probably not write these direct words. His this article was translated to Japanese by a blogger Nokuno and got over 1,000 Hatena bookmarks.

According to the database on Yahoo! Finance, the average age of Yahoo! Japan employers is 33.1 yo and the average salary of them 4,981 people is 5.91 million yen, which is 72,000 USD (for all type of jobs, but generally in Japan, engineers’ salary is not so different, even lower than average). That 72,000 USD is by recent strong yen, which rose 50% in last 4 years. It was about $50,000 value and that value stayed same for Japanese, even its dollar value became higher.

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@akky is one of the first Japanese pro-bloggers [J]. He also leads Asiajin, writes a tech column on The Japan Times, consults for some foreign companies interested in Japanese web market. (please inquire to akimoto on gmail.com).

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Akky Akimoto

@akky is one of the first Japanese pro-bloggers [J]. He also leads Asiajin, writes a tech column on The Japan Times, consults for some foreign companies interested in Japanese web market. (please inquire to akimoto on gmail.com).