Hi Penny Kim, thanks for sharing. It certainly brings to life the gritty reality of startups that many don’t envision could happen. Silicon Valley is painted in glory and dubbed the Mecca of the tech world, but hopefully many would-be startup employees will take your advice and cover themselves from this kind of treatment.
I was in a similar situation with a startup in the UK, though not nearly to the extent you suffered. Disorganised management; hidden agendas; a lack of transparency; blowing VC money on pointless things and not using it to address company needs per employee suggestions. I even experienced the CEO doing my work for me, because he used to be a designer and didn’t want to let it go.
Red flag: When you spend a week on demographic research, analysis, basic wireframes and prototypes, only for your boss to tell you we’re “going with this design I did in half an hour last night, because I like it”