Silicon Valley start-ups seek optimal work-life balance

Global Business

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The tech sector is playing an increasing role in driving the global economy. But that can come at a cost.

In October, Zhang Rui, the founder of Chinese healthcare startup Chunyu Doctor died from a heart attack at age 44, fueling a social media debate on whether tech workers are simply overworked.

CCTV America’s Mark Niu reports on how start ups are looking to balance the intense work-life balance.

Silicon Valley start-ups seek optimal work-life balance

Silicon Valley start-ups seek optimal work-life balance

The tech sector is playing an increasing role in driving the global economy. But that can come at a cost. In October, Zhang Rui, the founder of Chinese healthcare startup Chunyu Doctor died from a heart attack at age 44, fueling a social media debate on whether tech workers are simply overworked. CCTV America’s Mark Niu reports on how start ups are looking to balance the intense work-life balance.

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Edith Yeung is a partner for investment firm and startup accelerator 500 Startups.

Recently, 500 Startups founder Dave McClure said that of the 3000 founders it’s invested in globally, at least six had passed away, with one committing suicide.

“I can understand why people get to the point where they are so stressed out. Psychologically, it’s really, really hard to build companies,” said Edith Yeung, the partner of 500 Startups.

Yeung also heads up 500 Startup’s operations in China, the place where she said startup stress levels are the very highest.

“Chinese style setup is like we have our cafeteria and own food, so you definitely don’t leave the office for lunch and dinner. That’s why Facebook, Google all these guys have their own cafeteria and even for dinner too. Free food comes with a price. Cause they expect you to work. And a lot of my colleagues work till 10pm, 11pm at night,” Yeung said.

Yeung said in dealing with startup founders she often feels like a psychotherapist. She advises not to stress about the small things, for the ones who are successful are able to compartmentalize their work and not get too emotional.

Some startups are trying to disrupt Silicon Valley’s “work hard, play hard” mantra.

Oakland-based software company NPM advertises on its website: “We aim for a sustainable approach to work and life” and “Compassion is our strategy.”

No catered lunches to handcuff staff to the office and employees are discouraged from working extreme hours.

“Once people push past 60 hours a week, they are actually doing less work than they would have done at 40 hours a week. So if you ask all your employees to work 80 hours a week, you’re paying them extra and you are getting less out of them,” said Isaac Schlueter, the Co-Founder of NPM.

NPM’s employees are even encouraged to go home if they’re having a bad day.

When asked whether investors might be turned off by fewer hours, Schlueter said there’s no hourly equation that leads to success.


Isaac Schlueter on on why working extreme hours is counterproductive

Isaac Schlueter, co-Founder of NPM on why working extreme hours is counterproductive.


Edith Yeung on compares the work levels of tech startups in China to San Francisco

Edith Yeung, partner of 500 Startups talks about compares the work levels of tech startups in China to San Francisco.