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I was working on a new version of the company website as a side project in addition to my usual work at the company I work for. They made it clear they did not want me to spend a lot of time on it. I built it with a customized WordPress theme with graphics and content, and the feedback was very positive. I told the CEO that I felt it was ready to go live and encouraged him to put it up to use as a marketing tool. I meant to continue working on it after it went live to add more content, but the CEO seemed to assume I would no longer work on it once it went live.

The CEO then asked me for the login info, and I discovered through another coworker that he had found someone in Mexico to continue working on it. I wasn't worried at first because I had plenty of other work to do. But just recently I saw an email that revealed the budget for "reviewing and improving the website" is 2,000,000 pesos or approximately $112,000 US. I'm absolutely blown away by the amount that he is willing to spend on a very, very simple website, that I feel is already very close to being complete. The company is supposedly very tight on money and I was doing it for $16 an hour.

I'm wondering what I should make of this, and if I should be worried about my job. It seems like they feel I am not worth the $16 an hour they pay me but are willing to spend $112,000 on something I already built. I feel like this might be a sign that either my job, or the entire company, is in trouble somehow. Or perhaps I am just being paranoid, and this doesn't have anything to do with me and is just an extremely poor decision by the CEO

To be clear: I do not feel underpaid. I am paid reasonably well considering my experience. I feel like my CEO is massively over-paying someone and I can't figure out why, and don't know what implications it has for me. Clearly something is going on that might not have anything to do with me, but could easily have implications for the company and my job.

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    Keep your CV polished :) Looks like the CEO is preparing to retire in Mexico after a 'bankruptcy' :P
    – user48138
    Commented May 11, 2016 at 15:51
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    Possible duplicate of How should I properly approach my boss if I'm feeling underpaid?
    – gnat
    Commented May 11, 2016 at 16:26
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    Go to Mexico to overpay is either bad management or corruption (over pay a friend or get a kick back). Either way trying to fight it does not work for you. At $16 / hr you probably have better opportunities by looking for another job.
    – paparazzo
    Commented May 11, 2016 at 16:39
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    Are you absolutely certain it's in Mexico and you're not assuming it is because the amount is pesos? There are several other countries who use pesos and the ones I checked have more reasonable conversion rates for a web project. For instance, Phillipine pesos would convert to 43k.
    – Chris E
    Commented May 11, 2016 at 19:47
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    I personally don't see why you should be worried if they gave "very positive feedback" and they should have the perception that you did not "spend a lot of time on it." It does sound like they got seriously swindled though and whether or not that is worth bringing up is a bigger question.
    – Kevin Xu
    Commented May 11, 2016 at 20:15

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Yes, you should be worried about your job security. This is very shady and I would think the money is being siphoned off. Not worried in that your work is not needed. That's not a problem.

Worried in that your CEO is possibly going to be entangled in a financial scandal for this and other dealings and the company might collapse. There is no way in my mind that this is above board and this sort off behaviour feeds of itself, until people are in over their heads.

This is a common corrupt strategy in the Third World, with consultants and politicians family members routinely getting millions they shouldn't be getting. It's pretty safe to do this in the third World, but in your country it would take more than a 'Oops, sorry for getting caught I got a bit too greedy, I'll buy you all lunch.' to fix.

For legitimate purposes you don't go offshore and pay more for the work. The whole idea of going offshore is that you can get the work done cheaper.

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    +1 This sounds like it might be a dodgy tax-avoidance scheme of some kind. Probably not an imminent problem for the OP, but a red flag. Commented May 12, 2016 at 11:07
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    Im glad to hear someone else confirm the possibility of something shady going on. My boss isnt so stupid that he doesnt know how to get work done cheaply overseas since he hires developers in Indonesia for $5 an hour. It is a possibility that it is some kind of bribe or tax avoidance, I will probably never know, but I feel it cant be a good thing for the company
    – Niahc
    Commented May 12, 2016 at 12:54
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In all honesty, it's probably a case of the management not understanding technology, and not being able to appropriately price a software project.

The fact that your company doesn't already have a website should be a pretty big sign that these people can't get organized - this should have been one of the first things they did.

You then talked up the potential importance of a website, and you apparently convinced them! However, you probably also, inadvertently, made it sound like you're not quite the person for the job (Oh, I'm not an expert, but I could put something together for us!)

So your CEO, with the new image in his mind of a website being a very serious and important marketing tool went and contacted an "expert". He probably sent the guy your design, and asked his opinion, etc. And this "expert", seeing that he's dealing with someone completely ignorant probably trash talked your efforts as amateurish, and quoted him a ridiculous sum for his "professional services".

It is what it is - web design is not your focus anyway. Is the company in trouble? Only in so far as the CEO clearly has no idea what he's doing, and can't take 10 minutes to Google the subject before spending ridiculous amounts of money.

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    The company has an existing website, it is just really ugly and seriously outdated. I am a web/developer designer, and my main role within the company is the design of a web-based software application. I definitely downplayed my work because I made it clear that I have limited marketing experience and nobody could provide me with content. I knew my CEO wasn't technical but I had no idea he was so gullible as well! Guess I'll go update my resume.
    – Niahc
    Commented May 11, 2016 at 16:13
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    @Niahc - downplaying your work is probably what prompted your boss to go out and seek professional services. He then got swindled - this last part is not your fault. It's natural that you would feel like your work is undervalued right now, but probably not symptomatic of a bigger issue other than your boss's stupidity.
    – AndreiROM
    Commented May 11, 2016 at 16:16
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This is actually a relatively common situation in companies, particularly in web design which is still a bit of the Wild West when it comes to pricing. :) Allow me to answer inline, as there's a few things going on:

I'm wondering what I should make of this, and if I should be worried about my job. It seems like they feel I am not worth the $16 an hour they pay me but are willing to spend $112,000 on something I already built. I feel like this might be a sign that either my job, or the entire company, is in trouble somehow.

You shouldn't feel worried about your job. I don't know what industry you're in or what specifications the CEO needs for the site, but $112,000 for a typical business website is an astronomical amount of money - out of my many years of freelancing and working with dozens of WordPress specific sites a day, that's certainly an outlier.

One thing to consider is that you did build it, but you don't know the entire scope of what the CEO wants the website to be. Most WordPress sites for businesses are a few product pages, some static content like "About Us", a contact form, and a blog. However, there are hundreds of features that the CEO could want to add now that he's seen how far you've gotten with WordPress, like:

  • Making an online catalog or shopping cart
  • Allowing for custom quotes to be built out
  • Hosting the site in a secure manner so he could store client credit card or payment information
  • Creating a CRM platform where customers can send in issues and have their Account managers handle them through the site instead of email

Some of those require very specific features and while there are certainly cheaper ways to do it, depending on who your clients are it may be a necessity.

Or perhaps I am just being paranoid, and this doesn't have anything to do with me and is just an extremely poor decision by the CEO

I would avoid getting into this line of thought. CEOs with that kind of money to spend on a website aren't usually bad with money and are almost always good negotiators - while I agree the price is very high, it's high to the point I believe someone accidentally added a zero, or something is off. However, if you were someone who had a chance to see that email legitimately (and it wasn't just forwarded to you), then now is your chance to speak up and ask why the cost is what it is.

To be clear: I do not feel underpaid. I am paid reasonably well considering my experience. I feel like my CEO is massively over-paying someone and I can't figure out why, and don't know what implications it has for me. Clearly something is going on that might not have anything to do with me, but could easily have implications for the company and my job.

Unless the CEO or someone involved has asked, or there are other signs, I think you're reading too much into it. There's probably a logic behind it you weren't informed of - it could be an agreement to continually improve on the site for a year, in which case the price becomes a lot less outrageous.

Should I be worried that a project I nearly completed has been sent to someone else, and the new person is paid more than me?

No. This is kind of how the web design world works - sometimes you get the big fish, but a lot of the times you contribute to something bigger. Your ideas may be the core of the final product or it might be something entirely different. If you're concerned about being underpaid (you mentioned you weren't, but it sounds like that's a factor) then next time something like this comes up, you can bring up the numbers, but until then... We've all been there. :)

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  • This pretty much sums it up. I cant agree that my boss didnt obviously make a bad descision, no matter what plans he has for the website. But the truth is, he is certainly free to spend his money however he chooses. I cant imagine his reasoning but I guess there is no reason to assume it has anything to do with me. It isnt a stretch to assume that maybe he has so much money that he doesnt realize it is an unreasonable amount
    – Niahc
    Commented May 11, 2016 at 23:25

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