back to article Nice People Matter? NPM may stand for Not Politely Managed – job cuts leave staff sore

NPM, Inc, the company behind the widely used NPM JavaScript package repository, stands for Node Package Manager. Inside the small but vital biz, the name gave rise to an alternative de-abbreviation, Nice People Matter – but that might be about to change. For those who don't know, NPM is the default package manager for the …

  1. Dan 55 Silver badge
    Go

    This looks promising...

    How one developer just broke Node, Babel and thousands of projects in 11 lines of JavaScript

    Code pulled from NPM – which everyone was using

    "I think was a great disturbance in NPM, as if millions of Stack Overflow copypasters cried out in terror as their remotely hosted scripts were suddenly deleted."

    And then security and reliability go up at least ten fold when they fix and self-host.

    1. phuzz Silver badge

      Re: This looks promising...

      "And then security and reliability go up at least ten fold when they fix and self-host."

      Except they'll never bother to update, so they'll never get any security or bug fixes.

  2. Gene Cash Silver badge

    Stupid buzzwords

    > The organization needs an enterprise product

    Why? They've got a very unique product already, if they don't fumble it by firing all the developers.

    I don't see a huge increase in utility by slapping "enterprise" in front of "package manager"

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Stupid buzzwords

      Because big $$$ is not made by individual subscribers... no sir, like Github, they want to make this by spinning out self-hosted or private services with SLA's to big companies, where they can charge 1000x the price (I kid you not!). But "Enterprise" level apps require a whole suite of additional features, including multiple authentication mechanisms, access logging etc.

      1. Aitor 1 Silver badge

        Re: Stupid buzzwords

        Agree.

        Essentially you need curated repositories, private ones, etc.

        That is all good, but it is expensive, and HAS to be safe, as it will be a target for hackers using reflection, or whatever you want to call it (poisoned wells?)

    2. Mark 85 Silver badge

      Re: Stupid buzzwords

      if they don't fumble it by firing all the developers.

      Well, no where does it state the increased numbers are developers. It only states about replacements. So maybe the increased positions are manglement and marketing?

      1. Youngone Silver badge

        Re: Stupid buzzwords

        Every company needs more management and marketing. You can never have too many HR bods either.

        1. Teiwaz Silver badge

          Re: Stupid buzzwords

          Every company needs more management and marketing. You can never have too many HR bods either.

          Quite, it's the corporate equivalent of hiring more security. A company goes to far along that road (and it's a short drive these days) and it's the corporate equivalent to the Ministries for Peace, Plenty and Truth.

          HPE and the Truth Squad is a good example, but they are so far down the road, they've parked up alongside the rundown 1920's farm of the crazies.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Stupid buzzwords

      "Why? They've got a very unique product already, if they don't fumble it by firing all the developers."

      Because VC's invested US$10.6m in NPM and are looking to make money from their investment.

      Can NPM support concurrent models (i.e. free/enterprise)?

      Apart from providing a convenient place for others to host their javascript, does npm provide much at all? i.e. CPAN etc

  3. Adrian 4 Silver badge

    "Silverio worries about how the remade NPM will handle its stewardship of a critical piece of JavaScript infrastructure."

    Maybe if Javascript is important for anything it shouldn't be dependent on a small company that sees a need to increase its profits ?

    1. Tom 64
      Pirate

      NPM should really be handled by a non-profit given how widely it is used.

      1. Azerty

        How difficult would it be to move from NPM to an association the like Linux or Apache Foundation ?

        1. pmrcunha

          Quite difficult. Linux and Apache's costs don't grow with usage, so a yearly donation from big companies can sustain their development. NPM's costs grow with every user, so the more they grow, the more donations they would need, and they can't even control the cadence at which they need that money.

    2. J27 Bronze badge

      I'm sure the whole community will pivot on a dime if they make a single misstep. It's happened before and it'll happen again.

      1. Notas Badoff

        Clickety-clack

        I wonder what Yarn is knitting together, fer instance?

    3. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

      Maybe if Javascript is important for anything it shouldn't be dependent on a small company

      It isn't. It is entirely possible to use Javascript1 without using NPM. Reliance on a single-point-of-failure package manager is entirely a developer or organizational choice.

      1Which should actually be ECMA... oh, forget it.

  4. eldakka Silver badge
    Unhappy

    "Nice People Matter"

    NPM, "Nice People Matter".

    More like Nice People (are) Muppets.

    1. Teiwaz Silver badge

      Re: "Nice People Matter"

      Nice people are matter - get the corporate mince grinder out, we'll get a nice gravel fill for the senior management car park.

      1. not.known@this.address Bronze badge
        Trollface

        Re: "Nice People Matter"

        "Nice people are matter - get the corporate mince grinder out, we'll get a nice gravel fill for the senior management car park."

        Closer, but not quite. It's actually "nice people matter" like "fecal matter".

    2. macjules Silver badge

      Re: "Nice People Matter"

      "Compassion is our strategy"

      Nice People Matter

      Sounds right up there with "We are all one big happy family" or "We have listened to our customers". In the UK it is normally time to dust off the CV when companies start trolling out those phrases.

  5. J27 Bronze badge

    I don't think this will be enough for people to learn that integrating package managers deeply into the build toolchain with no local caching is a bad idea.

    1. Azerty

      It does in fact use local caching.

  6. revenant Bronze badge

    "...there appeared to be a disconnect between the company's professed values and its behavior."

    Not trying to downplay the victims' hurt (been there myself), but why the surprise? Once a company gets large enough to need a HR department, people tend to become just things.

    1. Adrian 4 Silver badge

      Re: "...there appeared to be a disconnect between the company's professed values and its behavior."

      Or 'resources', in fact. The entire name HR is pretty much a giveaway. Once you're a Human Resource, you're not Human any more.

  7. John70

    It sounds like developers need to remove their dependencies of just linking packages from other places and install local copies before NPM hits the fan.

    1. yoganmahew

      @John70

      How do they handle the licensing in that enfironment? Does every developer need to understand the licensing of every component? The idea behind a centrally managed repositiory is that it provides understandable usage criteria - the language as a whole is covered, not the individual components.

      As an aside, would you contribute for nothing to the development of NPM Big Corp Inc. when it is run by scrubs?

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    the answer is on cruchbase..

    Quick check. The company is there. Raised $10M for what is a $1M/$1.5M a year dev team operation. Max. Last money raised 4 years ago so coming near the end of the 5 year kill or find some other VC sucker limit. That what happens when you take money from 2/20 business model loan shark operations. i.e.VC's.

    So this is year four. No new money so fire people to reduce burn rate to drag out another 12 to 18 months. Maybe. The people who are fired at this stage of the game are the few dot com employees who actually, you know, do product work. Not many of those in dot coms. They were only worth keeping around the first few years to make the company look like it was actually doing some real work. New work. Beyond the original pre VC product that actually was used as bait to raise the original cash.

    Unless they can find a sucker to put up more cash in the next 12 they will be either folded into some other operation, with the cumulative loses going into the blender. Made disappear. Through the magic of GAAP. Or failing that, restructured into a holding company that goes to somewhere like a office park in Canada to die. With any i.p been stripped off and sold on a separate deal.

    Welcome to the wonderful world of VC Dot Coms. Which makes Berie Madoff look like a straight talking straight dealing financial advisor.

    1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: the answer is on cruchbase..

      "The people who are fired at this stage of the game are the few dot com employees who actually, you know, do product work."

      That makes them the people who can create a competing product and do so with hindsight of what worked and what didn't the last time round.

      1. Tomato42 Silver badge

        Re: the answer is on cruchbase..

        unless they fall the victim to second system syndrome

  9. This post has been deleted by its author

  10. caffeine addict Silver badge

    Sometimes I wonder if I'm the only developer left who likes getting his 3rd party code as a self contained zip file...

    1. James 47

      Did you pay for winrar?

      1. caffeine addict Silver badge

        That's a trick question, right?

  11. Daedalus Silver badge

    Old story

    Take over at the top, bring in your cronies, use creative accounting, milk the company dry, move on.

  12. ForthIsNotDead
    Mushroom

    55 People?

    I could write a package manager myself in less than a week. If one hosted it on something like AWS it could dynamically scale according to demand. What are these 55 people at NPM doing FFS? It's a *package manager*, not Google Docs.

    WTF?

    There should be two devs working on this, max. If they split the $3 million between them that's a nice little number they've got going.

    It doesn't need to, and shouldn't be, some bullshitty glossy American corporate vehicle of evil. Bah.

    1. caffeine addict Silver badge

      Re: 55 People?

      2 devs, sure. But what about the management? You've got to have at least 4 layers of management with that many devs...

    2. Ben Burch

      Re: 55 People?

      It’s a whole lot more complicated than that. Especially once you roll in infrastructure.

      1. Tomato42 Silver badge

        Re: 55 People?

        Using AWS means that you don't shuffle servers.

    3. PrivateCitizen

      Re: 55 People?

      "I could write a package manager myself in less than a week. If one hosted it on something like AWS it could dynamically scale according to demand. What are these 55 people at NPM doing FFS? It's a *package manager*, not Google Docs."

      Go on then, write an alternative. That way even if you only take half their business, you still have the chance of trousering $1m for a week's work.

      I can't for the life of me see why everyone doesn't try this....

  13. ckm5

    Yup`

    WhatsApp had 50 people and 450 million users. Obviously there is something wrong with the way this is being managed.

  14. chrisb2k

    No surprises

    VCs buy on profit potential. A company can spend years developing its people and good practices, getting a great reputation (and profitability) along the way which will get noticed. When the VC sees the potential and smells the profit, they swoop and strip back expenditure to make it lean enough to sell on or float, riding on the wave of the previous good name in the industry and the artificially healthy bottom line. Increasing profitability includes ramping up prices to where the analysts think they should be (regardless of existing market and sentiment), often re-branding at (wasted) expense to pitch at the bigger players and identifying "synergies" or "optimisation", or what the rest of us call redundancies.

    As you can tell I'm still a bit bruised from the last portfolio company I was at.

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Choice of CEO

    Isaac Schlueter of npm, Inc. on hiring a CEO, in Founders Talk #61:

    "And I have to really trust that he’s not gonna screw it up. It’s my baby, and you’re hiring somebody else to be your baby’s new parent."

    "If I hire somebody else, they might not be good, the team might reject them, we might have this massive upheaval…"

  16. Daedalus Silver badge

    LinkedIn can be a goldmine

    Looks like Bryan Bogensberger is a pretty mobile guy, the sort who does facilitation and "strategic partnerships" for company after company, a few years here, a few years there.

    His last gig, Quiver Media, are all about "communications".

    Just the sort of guy to make engineers polish up their resumes.

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