does not use overseas labor

After seeing the WayPath project, I was beginning to like ThinkTank23 as a company. It even had a "community" link and all. Just then, I read the ending lines of their about page:

Think Tank 23 is a privately-held company with service centers in Seattle, Washington, and Denver, Colorado, and a network of U.S. based resources across the country. Think Tank does not use overseas labor.

"does not use overseas labor" - Perhaps I'm being too sensitive, but I didn't like the apparent tone of the phrase. Are they trying to imply that "overseas labor" is something lowly and inferior (the term "labor" being used for software development being a whole different matter), and that their company is superior by not using it? Perhaps not. Perhaps all they're saying is that they're doing their bit for the United States by keeping American jobs in America, and hence appealing to the prospective local clients who would prefer all-American companies.

While I'm happy that the company makes its internal operations transparent, I think it's pretty darn stupid to write something like that in your company profile. For one, the company intends "to focus on delivering affordable solutions to mid-sized businesses that could not previously afford 4th generation solutions.". It seems that the company is oblivious of the fact that there could be SMBs outside of the United States who are looking for affordable Knowledge/Information Management tools. From what I know, ThinkTank23's products would be ideal for companies in regions that are the homeground of the aforementioned "overseas labor". But with text like that, I don't know how many "offshore" CIOs will want to do business with ThinkTank23. [Exercise for the reader: find out which region SixApart gets its funding and major clients from. Clue: it's not the US.]

I'm not saying there's anything wrong with being patriotic and proud that your software is 100% American, or Indian, or Brazilian. To the contrary, I firmly believe we should be publically proud of our countries - it helps make a more vibrant and culturally aware software industry. It's just that companies should be aware that today's software arena is by default a global market, and it makes simple business sense to handle such issues with a little more tact. There are better, friendlier ways to say you care for your country. For example, the wBloggar site has a neat looking "Made in Brazil" button at the bottom. It tells me that Marcello(wBloggar's creator) is proud of his country, and that the rather cool software is 100% Brazilian. That's probably the same message that "does not use overseas labor" was meant to carry, and it didn't make me feel uncomfortable.

[I'd like other people to put forth their views on this as well, so click the comments / trackback buttons!]

About the author:

Arnab Nandi is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Computer Science and Engineering at The Ohio State University. You can read more about him here.

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