Palo Alto’s Silicon Slaves

Before you accept that ego-boosting offer to design ICs for Apple, don’t forget to ask about the hours. A story in the Wall Street Journal this week suggests they may be longer than you think.

Before you accept that ego-boosting offer to design ICs for Apple, don’t forget to ask about the hours. A story in the Wall Street Journal this week suggests they may be longer than you think.


Ever since Apple bought P.A Semis (originally  Palo Alto Semiconductors)  Apple’s  apparently been on a recruitment drive for IC engineers.

The speculation is that Apple wants lower-power chips, or proprietary chips which will prevent the copying of its products, or more powerful graphics chips – or, quite possibly, all three.

But, according to the WSJ, one former P.A.Semis guy got a bit of a shock when he announced at a meeting that he’d rather not answer emails while on holiday.

Apparently it was made clear to the guy that Apple employees do whatever it takes to meet their deadlines.

It’s a terrible sign of the times. When your IS department tell you your Blackberry’s ready, what they’re really saying is: ‘Your boss, your underlings and your customers can now reach you 24/7’. Instead of working 40 hours a week you’re now on 168 hours a week.

Don’t do it, unless: you’re paid a fortune; you’re a workaholic; you’re an insomniac; you’re nuts already.




  1. Echoing the first comment – this is now an industry wide issue. It used to be that only senior execs were expected to sell their souls for profit, now its everyone. From recent experience, working for a multinational semiconductor company is the same as a startup but without the (potential) financial rewards. You work long hours to meet often ridiculous timescales. Meet them. Get no reward. Then they sack you, and move your job to India (or China or wherever is the latest must-have ‘low cost’ centre). In terms of hourly rate many engineers (particular junior ranks) are paid about the same as the cleaners…. Welcome to the real world!

  2. Hi ben jay, I remember in the 1970s were were told that the advent of ‘the microchip’ would automate work to such an extent that we would all have to be ‘educated for leisure’. Wow was that forecast wrong. We’re all working harder. But I have faith in human nature and reckon we’ll wise up to the idea that the Protestant work-ethic isn’t the be-all and end-all of life.

  3. ben jay is home

    The management of Only-Profit-Driven corporates abuses the technology advancement of Communication as slavery tool in the capitalism society especially in Silicon Valley and Financial Streets.
    The solution is in you. Stopping the trend and not being a slave. You may think that you are more productive and become competitive by being compiled as reachable 24/7.
    Indeed, you pay at the price of health, the time of personal life and the depreciation of pay rate (if by hour in long term).

  4. Alan you are so right. Loyalty, if it cuts both ways, is a wonderful thing.

  5. Anyone who has ever worked in startups knows what it takes — and if you can’t invest your time and life into your work, you shouldn’t be doing startups. The disconnect comes in that PA Semi isn’t exactly a startup But if you are doing exciting, interesting work, and if you are getting stock options and compensation, if you *care* about building a future and not just expecting the non-existent government resources will take care of you in this, a most dismal looking future, then go for it. Just make sure your loved ones are bought in, too.
    Yes, show loyalty who, by their actions, deeds, and words (backed by paperwork) show loyalty to you. And that means executives who “get down and dirty” and care about you – and show it.

  6. Good stuff, keep it up

  7. Curious how I always seem to loose signal when my boss calls me out of hours 🙂

  8. It’s not just Apple… It puzzles me why anybody would show any “go the extra mile” kind of loyalty to an industry that’s notorious for ditching their workers at the first hint of a drop in profits.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *