My first startup job was as an early employee at PayPal. When I first started working there, I only made it home for dinner 3-5 times a month. I worked, usually at the office not remotely, at least part of every weekend for the first year or so. There were frequently late nights. One of my fellow PMs did sleep routinely under his desk in a sleeping bag he kept there for that purpose. On multiple occasions I’d get in to the office in the morning and find our CEO (Elon Musk at the time) asleep on the couch.
I fear a meaningful number of people are “playing startup” today.
What I mean is that people are joining startups because working in a startup seems cool or lucrative, not because they want to change the world and they’re fundamentally committed to putting in all the blood, sweat, and tears that entails. We’re hearing more about people new to startups asking their seed stage company how many months of severance is included in their package. We see co-working spaces where the ratio of work to non-work (ping pong, beer, startup talks, etc) is pretty low. Entire startups exude a rah-rah environment during the all hands, and then at 5:15pm the office is a ghost town (even though everybody rolled in after 10am).