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PUBLISHED : Thursday, 17 January, 2013, 11:02am
UPDATED : Thursday, 17 January, 2013, 7:00pm

US programmer caught outsourcing his own job to China

BIO

Amy Li began her journalism career as a crime news reporter in Queens, New York, in 2004. She joined Reuters in Beijing in 2008 as a multimedia editor. Amy taught journalism at Southwestern University of Finance and Economics in Chengdu before joining SCMP in Hong Kong in 2012. She is now an online news editor for SCMP.com. Amy can be reached at chunxiao.li@scmp.com, or follow her on Twitter @AmyLiSCMP
 

A star software developer at a company in the US recently shocked his boss and inspired peers by outsourcing work to a China-based tech company for less than one fifth of his six-figure salary. 

In return, the 40-year-old engineer, Bob (not his real name), gets to take it easy at work: taking long breaks, chatting on Facebook and shopping on eBay. On top of that, Bob has been continually awarded “the best developer in the building".

Bob’s employer, after discovering unauthorised VPN logins from China last year, had turned to US telecom services provider Verizon for an investigation. The company, whose US location was not disclosed, was particularly nervous because it is billed as a "critical infrastructure company", and a security breach would imply severe consequences. 

After Verizon resolved the mystery and shared it as a case study on its security blog, the story was quickly translated into Chinese and posted on China’s social network sites, including on Sina Weibo. The case soon triggered heated discussions on both sides of the Pacific.

“Where’s the problem? He improved his personal profit and the quality and efficiency of his work,” said one comment on Verizon’s blog. “This guy is an American hero and deserves a medal.”

While many Verizon commenters hail Bob as a genius who understands the art of delegation, Chinese developers seem disheartened after finding out how much Bob is making.

“Learn English and let’s find work in US,” read one of 1,600 comments on Sina Weibo. "Why do we have to do the dirty work for such a cheap price in China?"

The identity of the Chinese tech company doing Bob's job remains unknown, although many Chinese commentators on Weibo speculate that Shenyang-based Neusoft is the most likely provider. Neusoft's website says it is the largest IT services provider in China, with more than 20,000 employees.

 

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