Thursday, January 17, 2013

US-China software arbitrage

Who says outsourcing doesn't work?  :-)

This is just a single anecdote, but it suggests that US software developers cost many times more than coders of similar quality in China ...
Verizon RISK team security blog: ... As it turns out, Bob had simply outsourced his own job to a Chinese consulting firm. Bob spent less that one fifth of his six-figure salary for a Chinese firm to do his job for him. Authentication was no problem, he physically FedExed his RSA token to China so that the third-party contractor could log-in under his credentials during the workday. It would appear that he was working an average 9 to 5 work day. Investigators checked his web browsing history, and that told the whole story.

A typical ‘work day’ for Bob looked like this:

9:00 a.m. – Arrive and surf Reddit for a couple of hours. Watch cat videos
11:30 a.m. – Take lunch
1:00 p.m. – Ebay time.
2:00 – ish p.m Facebook updates – LinkedIn
4:30 p.m. – End of day update e-mail to management.
5:00 p.m. – Go home

Evidence even suggested he had the same scam going across multiple companies in the area. All told, it looked like he earned several hundred thousand dollars a year, and only had to pay the Chinese consulting firm about fifty grand annually. The best part? Investigators had the opportunity to read through his performance reviews while working alongside HR. For the last several years in a row he received excellent remarks. His code was clean, well written, and submitted in a timely fashion. Quarter after quarter, his performance review noted him as the best developer in the building.


Liam Finley said...

His "typical workday" sounds unremarkable for a worker in a large US company. Sounds like he did a good job managing the Chinese contractors. I say he earned his pay.

Anonymous said...

I agree with Liam.... Its no small feat to create and communicate a relevant spec.
Value added exchange, yes... Arbitrage, no..

Robert Sykes said...

Agreed. He gave his employers good value. And how is he business any different from Apple's or numerous other American companies that outsource their manufacturing?

By the way, where did the Chinese coders learn their craft? American graduate programs in engineering and the sciences are populated primarily by foreign students a great many of whom are Chinese.

Steve Hsu said...

Very few developers in China these days were trained in the US. Most students who come here for grad school actually stay.

steve hsu said...

Very few Chinese developers in China were educated in the US. Most graduate students admitted to US programs stay here, and the ones that go back tend to take more senior positions.

Bobdisqus said...

Non- disclosure agreements would seem to be a problem, and I wonder what it cost them reviewing for unexpected prizes. My co-workers in China liked this when I sent it and asked for updated contact info for the sub we use there.

Kyrilluk said...

His daily routine seems incredibly boring. I don't believe this. He seems to be a clever guy. Any person with half a brain would end up killing himself only surfing on the Net. I think that there is more to this story that what is being said.

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