I have had two friends in the last month say they are leaving big brand companies (Yahoo, Sony, etc) to go to a startup. Not surprising you say? AH, but they say it is partly because they want a more balanced lifestyle.
You don't choose startups for the balanced lifestyle. You choose it to be bleary eyed, stressed beyond belief, and incredibly happy to be pursuing your American.com dream.
To hear these two people tell it, with the big company they do get the cushy salary, but they also get soul-crushing deadlines that sound more reminiscent of the 1999 tech startup. That coupled with mind-numbing boredom hardly makes for a nice lifestyle. This has been particularly egregious in gaming, but I have heard similar anecdotes across all large tech companies about the faceless boss who changes strategy one month before ship, causing weeks and weeks of crunch time.
This of course is happening alongside many Web 1.0 entrepreneurs setting out to start their second, third, or fourth startup. Some of these seasoned veterans have tried to maintain their unbelievable passion, but find a way to have respect for their outside lives (and of their employees).
Locally in Boston, Hank Howie of Blue Fang has been a very strong advocate of the 40 hour work week, making the very credible case that it increases productivity by not wearing everyone down to the bone. I also hear good things about the hours over at 37 Signals.
Are these balanced startups working smarter instead of harder, or is this really us entrepreneurs trying to justify slowing down in "old age?"
If some startups represent the ability to chase a dream, work on something unique, AND have a balanced lifestyle. What the hell does a big company offer again?
(PS - Speaking of lifestyle, as Brad noticed it is yet to really snow in Boston and I heard on the radio they don't expect a big snow the whole winter. Without the shit winters what are we going to complain about?)