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BYOT: Bring your own team (stripe.com)
826 points by hepha1979 on April 25, 2016 | hide | past | favorite | 180 comments

There are already groups that function this way, they are called consultants. If you are a high functioning team and want to keep working together, then form a consultancy together. You will probably get paid more over time.

The idea that all will be hired or none will be hired is kinda odd as well. You are ceeding your career to bunch of other people in a non-entrepreneurial way. You are doing more work, giving more to Stripe than you are getting back. You are lowering their risk and not being compensated for that. Neither as a team nor as individuals.

It'd be interesting if you could collaborate and bid for your salaries as a group and/or make sure everyone got at least a minimum. It would be a failure if everyone in the group got the same amount.

The collective bargaining that would go on would be force multiplied in either direction. Either people wouldn't negotiate and companies like Stripe would get a great bargain of a team that already works together or they would get reamed as the team realizes that together they are more valuable than what they could bargain for individually.

Lastly, it's probably a risky move in that if a group leaves one company together successfully, they are more likely to move on from the second company together as well. If they are all working on the same project, you could have a disastrous and instantaneous brain-drain.

It's like building in a massive artificial bus factor into your company.

If people took an adversarial or merely valued their small in-group more than the company, they could get hired as a group, build an important system for Stripe and then en-masse, quit to create a consultancy and have Stripe as their first (reluctant) customer because they have knowledge of an important subsystem. In fact, this would be an excellent way to launch a consultancy.

Stripe, you may have opened a can of worms with this move. Teams hopping from startup to startup like individual employees do now would make startups even more chaotic.

Maybe they are banking on the downturn and think they can get high quality teams on the cheap. Seems like a way to open the business to alot of risk.

You are assuming that money is the motivation for people to get jobs. I'm an older developer, and I definitely have my favorites of past co-workers. We're all established enough financially that the extra stress and pain of consulting doesn't sound good to us. Same for doing a startup -- just not the lifestyle we are after. But being able to settle down, spend our working hours with people we have grown to love, whom we know work well together, working on a shared vision for a company, and staying there for years, watching our work have a positive influence on the world... that sounds pretty good.

It is a question of where your ambitions lie - if you have already accomplished your financial goals, already written software that is used worldwide, already done the startup thing, and still want to code instead of going the management or investor route... why would you not pursue something like this?

Admittedly, Stripe is a poor candidate for this... nothing against them as a company, but people in my situation tend to look for work that has meaning on a charitable level -- environmental, education, health care, or other such areas where we can really make a difference in the world would be appealing.

> The idea that all will be hired or none will be hired is kinda odd as well.

It mentions on the page "you’d all be free to accept or decline individually".

Yes this is a risky move by Stripe, but as they say, it's an experiment and i'm sure a lot of people would be interested to see how this pans out. Kudos to Stripe for taking the initiative to open this up.

But the offer is made either to everyone, or to no one.

> But the offer is made either to everyone, or to no one.

That is indeed what they say. But, say they interview a 5 person team, and really like 2 of them, but not the other 3. So, no offer is extended.

Now they are left with these two resumes of people that are just perfect. They know what those two people want for comp. Are they going to be disciplined enough to shred those two resumes right then and there? No discussion about "what if we wait a month or two, and...?"

> Are they going to be disciplined enough to shred those two resumes right then and there? No discussion about "what if we wait a month or two, and...?"

Yeah. This just sounds like a great way to get more people's resumes, and cheaper hires than consultants. Tech individuals move around after a few projects anyway so the only difference between full time and consultants is the pay.

I could see the strategy appealing to some people. But at the end of the day, once you're in the company, there's no guarantee they won't break you up unless that's in the contract. Further, you will be limited to working with certain people via that company. As a consultant you need to do more legwork but have more freedom. I guess this could be seen as middle ground.

I'd like to hear from more people who've actually tried joining a company as a team. I recall one blog post from someone who tried it a year ago. I think she said the whole group didn't actually get hired and in the end they didn't get to work together as they had set out to. But she was glad to have tried.

Ultimately, this is a whole new model for companies. Nobody has established a track record at doing it successfully and the early players could make or break some of their reputation based on how successful these teams are and whether or not they stick together. I think it is riskier for the company and the employees than they realize. The company is, in a sense, outsourcing their management by allowing people to form their own teams. That could be the missing piece of the pizzle in software development, or it could be a disaster. I look forward to hearing more.

> It'd be interesting if you could collaborate and bid for your salaries as a group and/or make sure everyone got at least a minimum. It would be a failure if everyone in the group got the same amount.

This might or might not be a failure. The central cast of Friends legendarily all pulled very high salaries because they formed an informal 6-person labor union, a key principle of which was that everyone got the same pay.

It's like you've never heard of an acquihire before.

Companies do this all the time.

OK, do they put a few millions on the table when they hire the team, with an additional retention bonus for each person of the team?

Otherwise it's nothing like an acquihire.

It's not really the same thing as an acquihire. In an acquihire a company acquires another company and then chooses which employees to give job offers to. In many cases only a handful of top employees are actually hired, the rest are fired. Stripe is saying that it wants to try to hire whole teams.

Acquihires of companies that only have 2-5 members usually involve the entire team.

Well now it's becoming cheaper for them to hire a team.

I don't think this is the same thing. If you want to hire the vast majority of people, it may well be easier to acquire the company. What happens if the other company is much bigger than you though? Stripe would never be able to buy Google, Microsoft, Apple etc., but they could potentially hire a small internal team from them.

Acquihires don't necessarily involve the entire team. I've certainly heard of people who were on the wrong end of "We'd like to buy your company and offer jobs to n-1 of you."

It's an interesting point you mention regards Consultants. I've been operating as a strategic consultant for the last 2 years, but purely as a one-man band. At every step of the way, I've been constantly asked to assist with the implementation/execution as well (since I only focus on the planning element).

The thing is, I read a book called Million Dollar Consulting by Alan Weiss, and he always stated that consultants don't ever do execution, that they only focus on the thinking/strategising side. I'm now starting to think that was a big mistake and that I should indeed form a team.

Any thoughts or suggestions in light of the above?

I'm a freelance consultant, and I charge for my time rather than per-project (except for very small well-defined projects), so I end up doing planning and execution for some clients. If someone is paying me by the hour/day, I'm happy to jump in wherever they want in the process -- I'll even make tea all day if required. :)

I don't think there's anything wrong with an individual choosing only to do strategy though, in the same way that I only choose to work with certain programming languages. I do think it's wrong to say that consultants should never do execution, unless you have a very narrow view of 'consultant'.

I do value pricing and for execution that was always difficult, but i've realised I can do value pricing on the actual strategising that I do, and just time based or project based on the execution my staff will do.

The "consultants don't do execution" mindset is extremely outdated and you're leaving a lot of money on the table if you follow that mantra (as well as giving those of us who do execution a bad name). Even McKinsey staffed up a large Digital & Services org because their strategy-only approach hit a wall. The only thing to look out for is to differentiate your team's billable time between strategy and execution and charge for each accordingly. Clients will often want strategic guidance at execution rates if you're not firm about it.

Thanks for the response. Really appreciate it. OK, I am going to forge ahead with execution.

Check out goElevator.com we have already built a platform to allow teams to do this in a flexible way that allows them to avoid violating a non-solicit.

Starting up a consultancy is much more complicated for people with immigration issues. It might not be impossible, but I don't think anyone I know on an H1B would be eager to try to navigate U.S. immigration law without the support and legal resources of a stable company.

I've only rarely seen this sort of phenomenon with consultants. It's pretty tough to keep the pipeline full for individuals, much less skilled teams.

I can see the appeal of this sort of technique. Within the mega-org that I worked in, we'd always try to keep good teams at least partially intact as members got promoted or reassigned.

But that's the trick, when would employees of a mega-org leave as a group, even in small numbers? I can only see it happening in a layoff or after the shares vest from an acqui-hire. Neither scenario is a recipe for picking up a strong team.

Consultants who struggle to keep the pipeline full are, by definition, struggling. The small firms who have steady clients do tend to shed the "consultant" label pretty quickly, so I can see some selection bias. I've known plenty of firms that don't have a tough time keeping a steady stream of work. I've even worked in a few.

I think Stripe's bid will work because it will stay small. If it really caught on, the idea is deeply flawed. But for small teams, some of the time, it will work.

You never know... I used to work with a smart bunch of IBM guys who were marked for RIF due to some crazy corporate politics.

> The collective bargaining that would go on would be force multiplied in either direction.

But I thought HN hated the idea of unions!? How is this any different.

People hate bad and abusive unions. They're ok with it when they actually improve the collective's pay, healthcare, better hours, treatment from management personnel etc.

Probably because the team here would still be acting as an individual unit - this isn't a union for all workers that cuts across the entire industry and it's workforce.

If forming a team massively benefits the hirer, the bar of hiring will go down thusly, meaning that people being hired also get compensated indirectly.

No. Salaries are relatively inelastic while profit is wildly elastic.

Per engineer, Google, Facebook, Apple make multiple millions of dollars in profit per fiscal year and yet very, very few engineers make $1m+. Even $500k is out of reach of most non-managerial engineers.

So, no if Google made 2x or 4x the profit with the same engineers, they company would pay them the same exact rate if they could. Often times they do.

The only way to really gain serious income is ownership of a technology that you can sell either directly to the market or to another company.

No matter how much you make, as an employee you are always trading lower risk for lower or linear rewards. The company compensates you for your years of experience at a market rate but, retains the fullest share of the profits that they can. They also own the code of your labor after you leave the company so there's that. You work (especially as a developer) makes the company money even after you've left.

If code wasn't so complex and hard to maintain, there would be even lower salaries (compared to profits) at software-based companies.

To put it another way, the only way Google, Apple or Facebook pay an engineer $1M+ is either because of an accu-hire, to stop them from jumping ship to one of their competitors or to stop them from jumping ship to start a startup.

Brilliant programming that creates even billions of dollars of value for one of those companies isn't even going to net the engineer 1% of the value they create.

I'd really love to see a contribution from a single brilliant programmer that generates a billion in profit.

These kinds of profits are only made by teams, and that's why individual programmers only get a fraction of it.

> I'd really love to see a contribution from a single brilliant programmer that generates a billion in profit.

While I am not answering your question directly, Jeff Dean and Shel Kaphan come to mind, in their key, fundamental roles of building massive scalable systems - information search and retail selling, respectively.



I have detected bugs that where costing several hundred thousands of pounds a week and back in the 80's I and the company accountant fixed a problem that ment we could collect over 3/4 million of uncollected direct debits.

Neither of us got even a thank you :-(

Not billions, but I've seen a small team of 5 clearly account for $10M+ before.

This is an amazing idea. Kudos to the Stripe team for putting it into action!

Personally I can feel this "flow", and I have some favorite pair programming friends; it's hard to beat the feeling of having someone else that completes your sentences or writes down in code the idea that you were thinking out after just saying a couple of words or exchanging a single glance. The probability of this happening on a new workplace with people that you don't know doesn't seem so high to me, so this idea really makes sense.

Has any other company thought of this before?

There is a startup that specialises in recruiting teams rather than individuals. https://goelevator.com/

I can't see many downsides - except for the poor companies that have whole teams disappear on them.

Isn't that, uh.. a pretty big downside?

If a team is even considering going somewhere else, and are willing to do though the effort of interviewing like this, chances are you are already losing any and all members of the team that you wanted to keep.

I've actually seen entire teams quit a few times in my career, but instead of them all quitting the same day, they quit within month or so, and it's the one that have the highest market value that go first.

If a company is afraid that an ENTIRE TEAM is going to quit on them, they have to make sure they are paid market rate, and happy with what they are doing, and who is managing them: There's no magic. Happy teams don't spend their time interviewing for new jobs.

So the minute you are worried one of your teams will submit a job application to Stripe, this means you know they are unhappy, and you aren't doing anything about it: Don't worry about third parties and fix it!

I've seen this too. It is important to remember that these people are very likely good friends outside of work, talk frequently and openly about work issues, job prospects, etc., and have been through hell together and back.

If things are getting to the point where one person in the group has soured on the company, you can bet they have all been griping about it for months over beers. This in turn sours the rest of the group and then they inevitably start dropping like flies once the first one leaves.

In the instance I saw that occur, I think they had their valid reasons, and it wasn't anything horrible about the company they were at--just found something better. But I started placing mental bets with myself on how soon it would be until the rest of the group left--turns out I was more or less right, except for one of them.

That said, the impact was definitely felt as they were all super talented people I'd love to work with in the future. So for companies afraid of hiring groups or several close referrals from a single person (which are essentially the same thing), the best thing you can do outside of providing an awesome and competitively compensated place to work is ensure there is solid documentation for things, and when possible ensuring that critical business knowledge won't be lost if someone leaves.

Possibly. However, I would counter that if you have a whole team leave you then, as a first step, you should look at yourself as to why. On the other hand, any company should be prepared for that kind of departure -- which I know is difficult.

If it helps, let's remove the human element and think about it from a disaster recovery perspective. You need a replacement plan for the whole group. It's vital if you want to do things like take your team out to lunch (food poisoning) or to any group activity (transport accident) or be in a single office (anything that takes out the building will take out your team).

Could you rebuild your product team from scratch and still proceed with the deliverables that have actually been checked into source control and the issues that have been entered into the issue tracker? It's a good question to ask.

Unfortunately the people element is too big to remove from this equation and should be included in your risk model. Another thing to consider is that people are just generally assholes and will take advantage of a system like this. Like I said in a previous comment, I was part of a small group that joined a company, and the outcome was awful for everybody included. Disaster isn't really relevant here, everything started to fall apart, people quit included me, morale was awful, etc. When I joined, all I wanted was to have an interesting job, but they wanted an "alliance" with me. It was fucked in the most Machiavelian, spoiled brat way. I can't imagine that won't happen elsewhere. Anecdata, n=1, blah blah.

Incidentally, their DR test at one point wasn't really a valid DR test, since it didn't do of any sort of rigor. Not to mention the other DR tests/events I've seen at other companies ;).

Yeah, fair enough. It does introduce an interesting social dynamic.

> people are just generally assholes and will take advantage of a system like this.

Not to belabour the point but could you expand on what you mean? I would think that a rational economic actor would take advantage of a beneficial opportunity that presents itself.

Sure - I'll give you my real world example. Apologies in advance for the long story.

I was "poached" into another company in a relatively large company in finance as a linux admin along with a PM coworker who I viewed as a good person and incredibly technically savvy. She was brought on by the AMRS CTO of the previous company. In a lot of ways, when we joined, we were viewed as a single unit with a single agenda by many of the other folk at the company. I tried steering of it as hard as I could, but it got pretty hectic for the entire company when the two "agendas" didn't work that well together. It might've just been the culture, but a few other things at the company gave me an off feeling that threw an enormous Machiavellian vibe all throughout, but that's a different story.

The guy who brought me in, though. He pulled me to the side after they decided that the dynamics were too much and switched me to a different team where my old PM coworker would act as my boss. The idea was nice and I had more freedom (they never took away my root access), but he completely confirmed that people can, and do, take advantage of "teams" to push an idea. He told me three things all paraphrased, but not inaccurate things:

"You're my fall boy. If something happens, I want you to fall in my place."

"I want you to outperform all of the other teams in the company." No pressure, right.

"You're here to push my agenda." I believe that his end goal with his 'agenda' was to become CTO, which.. thankfully.. didn't happen. Instead, [edit: very large company]'s head of tech stepped into that position.


The reason this gets to me and how I can see that attitude being incredibly expansive if adapted, is because this is a well known name in finance right now with increasingly large names from other companies coming in. Nobody's really batted an eye at it. This also isn't the first time I've seen this kind of attitude before. It's incredibly systemic finance and I see the same attitudes in SV. It doesn't seem like a leap of faith to say that the same bleedingly charismatic and moralistically dead attitudes exist there, too.

There's a certain attitude and behavior from those who feel that they're at the top that distorts the way they act. Watching House of Cards felt all too familiar. It was all very creepy, and I don't see that behavior going away any time soon.

My 2c.

For those specific companies that lose good teams, yes. But you could certainly argue that anything that moves workers into better jobs more efficiently is improving the allocation of resources in the economy, so it's a net upside.

Yes, but people are dickholes who take advantage of these setups. I was part of one of those setups, but only realized what was going on after I joined.

There's absolutely a middle ground, but I'm not sure that direct hire of teams is not of them - yet. For that to work, many other things would need to happen first. I'm looking forward to the day that happens. For now, I'll stick with freelancing and hope others hop on this bandwagon with me.

I'm sure there are older precedents, but the first thing I read about this concept was from this article from 2015, in which a team applied together to various companies: http://chocolatetin.org/2015/09/30/team-job-hunt.html

HN discussion about it here: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=10390834

I remember reading a blog post about a year ago where this guy talked about going through a similar process of "applying as a team" at a different company - just commenting now so if someone who also read it (but unlike me actually remembers who it was) can post it here. This is definitely not the first time I've seen this concept on HN, though

clay_to_n posted the one article I read!

Why wouldn't you try to work together with these collaborators and then get acqui-hired. Would probably be a better deal. It's innovative, for sure, but I don't see this as being in the applicants' favour.

EDIT> Actually ... there is a benefit over acqui-hiring. If your teammates are unable or unwilling to forgo salaried employment, this could be a win. Could definitely bring in more experienced people who have families / mortgages, etc.

Interesting. Seems like a cheaper alternative to acquihiring. :-)

Long term I'd love to see stats on this. My intuition is you'd wind up more successful, similar to how referrals make better employees. There does seem like some risk though - the team will likely succeed or fail as a group.

Seems like a cheaper alternative to acquihiring

I was thinking exactly the same thing: This is like acquihiring except that it skips the "spend a year on a proof-of-talent product which gets thrown away after the acquisition".

Of course, the downside is that the team interview process isn't likely to be anywhere near as effective a filtering tool as spending a year building a product.

An acquired company's owners also get to pocket whatever the purchase price of the company was, less investors' take. Sweet deal! You get paid for your "company" and you also all get jobs! A team-hired group foregoes this, unless they negotiate an up-front "team acquisition fee".

And two programmers that work well together isn't equivalent to two technical co-founders that work well together.

It also skips the part where the team being hired gets a large signing bonus.

I'd imagine any smart working team would negotiate this heavily. This setup appeals heavily to someone like me (with 2 other people specifically), but I would also be personally be asking for $300k+ salaries for each person + signing bonus + RSUs. It would be a happy medium between a lengthy and pricey acquihire and getting 3 developers/PM people who you know already will work well together.

I'd recommend that anyone doing this that they negotiate their salaries very heavily.

What experience are you drawing on for that recommendation? Big companies don't typically negotiate wildly on salary, as it's tied to a leveling system that breaks too many things if your numbers don't fit. They would have to negotiate on levels and make everyone VPs to meet your salary demands, which would cause other problems. So, this might not be the best advice. Acquihirees get a few knobs to turn, but salary is the least turnable.

> * What experience are you drawing on for that recommendation?*

I work on tech M&A.

Is your experience different from mine then? You do see companies negotiating on salary?

Is there that much room for a company like Strike to negotiate on salary? I hope they're that entrepreneurial.

For better or worse, I've seen large companies sometimes acquihire (amongst other reasons) as a way to pay up without killing their salary bands.

Sure, but an (acqui)hiring bonus is balanced by the time spent creating the acquired company. I'd think of it as being part signing bonus and part back pay.

  > There does seem like some risk though - the team will
  > likely succeed or fail as a group.
And the team may also leave as a group.

Yes. Live by the sword, die by the sword. :-)

No, acquihires require the consent of management. Stripe makes it clear this is primarily for software engineers, not "managers".*

This is for "group defectors" i.e. engineering coworkers who are unhappy at their current company, complain about it together, and can coordinate their migration. This (potentially) gives them a way to move together as a team.

*(Granted, some startups are 100% engineers, but they could make much more money via an acquihire than this route.)

> Stripe makes it clear this is primarily for software engineers, not "managers".*

If a team already works well together, what is their new Stripe manager going to do?

That sounds a bit awkward for said manager. He or she would be in a weak negotiating position with the group.

I'd argue that although Stripe isn't seeking to hire more managers, they are outsourcing management a little bit by allowing these not-yet-hires to form their own teams. It does relieve some burden. I wonder what happens when something goes awry and a correction is needed. Will the group follow the new manager's suggestions? So many things could go right or wrong with this.

Don't you think they'd separate if they failed? Or is separating the same as failing?

If I had a team I'd want to keep it together but not so much if it doesn't actually work.

I don't know, to me it just sounds like a gimmicky way to get more people to apply. That's what recruiters do. They try to get as many people to apply as possible, and then filter the hell out of them. So just because a recruiter "reached out" to you via linkedin or something, it doesn't mean they think highly of you. Actually, you should assume that they don't care at all about what you've achieved. You're just one of many fish they're trying to pass through their funnel.

That's why I am genuinely curious what they plan to do once they hire teams. Let's say you hire a team of a designer and a developer. It's not like they will be always working together and with no one else in the company. Chances are you won't be working as the tag team forever. That would be stupid both for the company and for these people because you are being too closed minded and won't learn much by only interacting with the other person when there are so many other talented people in the company. I presume that isn't what they plan to do. Then that leaves us with the option of just hiring them "as a team" but once they're in, there's no guarantee that they will work as the same team, just like how most acquisitions work--when they acquire a company they say stuff like "Company A's expertise will be helpful in us developing our such and such core features", but after the acquisition they all disperse and get assigned to different teams after a while.

So... what's the point? Well that's why I think it's a gimmicky way to attract attention and get more people to apply. Any counter argument?

I think you have hit the nail on the head. With the HN exposure all the better.

Any team that gets an offer should come back and ask for +50% since they have as a united team the upper hand.

There was a post a few months ago by a guy who was doing the opposite, I think his entire team got fired together but they got on really well so they were trying to apply to places as a group, so there is at least some interest in this out there.

there is really little downside. Imagine a team of 3 applies and one guy is just brilliant and the other two are just average. First of all, average people are worth it if you can get 1 brilliant guy or girl. Secondly, you can always let the average people go few months later and keep the brilliant person, if you so choose

It is NOT worth hiring a few average people just for one brilliant person. First of all "brilliant" person is overrated, unless we're talking about hiring someone at a CTO level. One could be brilliant yet a perfect disaster for the company if he doesn't fit in, not to mention many other factors. Also you seem to think mediocre employees don't hurt the company but mediocre people hire/attract less than mediocre people, who in turn hires/attracts people even worse, and so on. As a startup you don't have that luxury. And the company culture goes to shit. I would never make that decision. I've had both cases, one of the employees was a brilliant guy but was lazy, and he fucked up the company culture by acting as a "role model". Soon everyone in the company started acting like him. I've also hired someone who didn't really fit in and was passive aggressive, and it was hard to communicate with him. Thinking back it wasn't because he was not talented, but because he just didn't care much (This is equivalent to having a mediocre employee). Because of this the entire team had hard time making decisions. When your team is small even one person can influence the culture in negative ways.

Sure, don't hire brilliant and lazy people. hire brilliant and hardworking people. With a team it should be easier, because average people don't want to be on a team with brilliant lazy people

So what's your point? I commented because you said hiring average people is ok, but now you're saying average people don't want to work with hardworking brilliant people so it would be easier. Make up your mind man.

my point is hiring a team of people, as long as just one person on that team is really great, is no riskier for a company than hiring separately

You're just re-iterating your initial comment. I said it's bad to hire mediocre talent in any circumstances. You said something that doesn't make sense as a response to my comment.

> Secondly, you can always let the average people go few months later and keep the brilliant person, if you so choose

After this initial PR, said fired average people could write quite an exposé on their experience joining Stripe as a team. Sounds like a recipe for disaster to me and I don't think Stripe is ignorant enough to believe this strategy only has upsides.

Sure, but people are let go for poor performance all the time, team hires will be no different once they join. So from that standpoint, there is not much more risk than any regular hire ( who could also write an expose about whatever )

> there is not much more risk than any regular hire ( who could also write an expose about whatever )

Comparing a regular hire / fire to firing an individual from a team is not apples to apples.

For a regular hire, that person is a "team" of skills that can do many things. For example, Joe can program and do technical writing. If MegaTech hires Joe for a programming job, and then only assigns him technical-writing work, they've "laid off" his programming skill. Joe might be a little unhappy that he didn't get to do the job for which he was hired. He may mention it in his Glassdoor review, and that may impact future developers' opinions of MegaTech a smidge.

If MegaTech does a team hire and then lays off one person, it could appear that the initial idea of hiring the whole team was not sincere. That is risking more reputation than hiring and firing one person. When you hire/fire one person, it's clear the company and individual's initial plan failed. When firing a person from a team after a few months, it's not so clear whether the company ever really wanted that person or not.

So I think there are potential downsides. I also think Stripe is aware of these.

I look forward to hearing about this model and hope it works for the companies and groups who try it.

Which would almost certainly impact the brilliant guy's work. People aren't robots - if you hire them as a team (presumably because they liked working together) and then fire half the team within a few months, the ones left will start looking for something else.

well, you would only fire half the team if that half was for some reason performing really poorly. in which case, the brilliant guy would probably not be too upset.

I'm a recruiter (yeah, yeah, recruiters know nothing) and I'm going to call this as a fail. It's INCREDIBLY hard to get even one person employed. The bar is so high at most employers that almost every applicant gets rejected.

So the likelihood of all members of a given set of X people being employed is almost zero.

What happens to the team dynamic when the employer wants to employ Jenny and Steve but not Bill, Mike and Vivek?

This might sound good but it aint going to work.

That argument assumes the probability of Bill, Mike, and Vivek being hired is independent of them applying with Jenny and Steve. Bill might do better in an interview if Jenny is present. Or if Steve gets to vouch for him during the process. And the quality of the people who apply as a team may be higher than those who apply individually.

This is basically just acqui-hiring without the acquisition. And acqui-hires are common enough -- not as common as straight up hiring, but enough to be interesting.

As far as I know acqui-hires hire the whole team. Here they may pick only some team members.

from the article:

If we make an offer, we’ll make it to all of you, at the same time; you’d all be free to accept or decline individually, but of course we’d hope you’d all accept — and if you do, we’d work with all of you to find a place at Stripe where you can all start off working together.

This has been a common practice in enterprise sales organizations for while.

- Hire new CRO or President of sales.

- He "builds out a team" generally consisting of people he's already worked with in the past.

- Sales org grows.

- CRO moves to next company. wash rinse repeat ad infinitum.

Why would this process breakdown given a team of proven, successful engineers who have shown to be capable of building/scaling a product in the past?

Why not the same?

Cause sales ain't software.

Care to explain what the relevant differences are?

Among other factors, salespeople have a large variable component to their compensation. They tend to be highly economic animals in a way that most engineers are not. Hence a former boss can easily convince them to join up by making a compelling argument about their prospective earnings.

Between software engineers and salespeople? Really?

A better question would be "what do they have in common?"

Fail? They wrote a blog post and setup an email alias. It's not like they have a real cost of failure here. Besides, they already reached #1 on HN. That's a hell of a lot more success than most recruiters achieve in a week.

Well yes I concede maybe as a recruiting/marketing gimmick it is a success.

I think (know) many companies actually do this informally all the time. It's fairly common to hire designers in particular this way. Stripe is smart to formally and publically announce a streamlined process. Obviously the whole point here is either everyone or no one gets an offer - honestly if I had to guess the amount of people they actually hire this way will be really small, but making it formal will increase the number of talented people they see total.

> I'm a recruiter (yeah, yeah, recruiters know nothing) and I'm going to call this as a fail. It's INCREDIBLY hard to get even one person employed. The bar is so high at most employers that almost every applicant gets rejected.

To be a bit blunt here: I've only experienced once that talking to a recruiter helped for anything. (OK, twice if I'm generous, it wasn't a recruiter, it was a hiring manager at a consulting company and I ended up rejecting the job.)

I have however sold myself in a number of times the last few years.

So if anyone in recruiting needs a good idea, here is one:

* do get back to devs with updates, not only customer

* know what you are talking about, don't ask if I still know how to bike (or program) just because I haven't been doing it full time in 12 months

* do sell

* in Europe

Also: * Java != JavaScript

I generally don't have a hard time getting hired, nor do the people I work best with. I mean it's trivially true that p(A and B) is probably smaller than p(A) or p(B) alone, but I don't think that's what you were getting at.

Could you be experiencing a bias because of your deal/people flow?

>The bar is so high at most employers that almost every applicant gets rejected.

There might be some network bias here since it sounds like your experience (first- and second-hand data) is from outside recruiter-referred candidates.

if Jenny and Steve are really good, you can always give them more stock and let go of Bill, Mike and Vivek at a later point.

I have very big concerns about culture.

When you bring new people to a company, they tend to work the way they use to in their previous occupation. More often than not, a new employee will start his sentences with "What we used to do in this situation" or "that's why we did it that way at X", trying to both build up on his past experience, and to find an anchor of familiarity in an unfamiliar environment.

This is normal phase and usually wears off after a few weeks/months. But for as long as it lasts, this behavior can be annoying for your current employees as they have built up their own thing, and they don't necessarily want to be reminded that there were other options that they didn't follow.

The risk that you take when bringing a team of 3 to 5 people is that they go in their own corner, dismiss all the tools that already exist, recreate the work environment they are used to, don't mix well at all with other employees, etc.

And what you get from people being used to work together, you loose in management pain. I think the usual way of hiring one person, who then can refer to the good guys in his previous team is a much sounder approach, as it lets time for the culture to adapt.

Great in theory, unworkable in practice.

The downside to this will be the negotiated rate, and that is the upside for Stripe.... along with the lower risk hiring outcome they also receive.

When time is not on your side your negotiating ability is severely hampered.

There will always be an imperative for someone in a team to "hurry the paperwork" along faster than someone else because they need the financial security of a job etc etc. So unless the "team" is happy to delegate the entire negotiating process to one person with complete authority this situation will be unavoidable. And let's face it, not many people will blindly put their faith in someone else to negotiate every aspect of their next full time permanent position, including whether or not to accept it and give notice at their current employer.

Money isn't everything of course, but this is a sure-fire approach to limiting your income, thus don't think there will be many takers.

As someone else said in the comments here, the more practical alternative that actually does work is called consulting.

> Great in theory, unworkable in practice.

In advertising agencies it's not unheard of to hire creative teams (for example an art director + copywriter duo) who are used to working together. In fact where I work most hires and departures in the creative departament in the past few years were in teams of two or three people.

At the advertising agencies I'll bet the senior person is hired, then they bring along their support team.

I've never seen this sort of collective bargaining work in action for the reasons I outlined originally.

Not to mention: If you believe you have the skills necessary to pass an interview at Stripe individually, there's only down-side risk to doing a team interview. Therefore only people who do not believe they are lock-ins individually will choose this option. End result: Only teams of mediocre or less-confident employees will use it.

> less-confident employees will use it.

Given that the Dunning-Kruger effect has two parts (incompetent people overestimate themselves AND competent people underestimate themselves) this looks like a plus: You get a chance to hire people which are competent but aren't confident in their own competence and wouldn't apply if not for the team.

Not necessarily true. If you're part of a team you really like, being able to guarantee that you can work with people you like at a new job is a pretty big upside. And if you're really good and are confident in your interviewing skills, then you can afford for the team interview to not work out, because you can probably find just as good a job somewhere else (or reapply as an individual).

That's fine, money isn't everything. But this is definitely not the strategy to employ if money is high on your priority list.

We had to do this the old fashioned way with my current team: One person gets in the door at the new company, talks up the abilities of the old team members and how they would slot in nicely with new company's needs and gets another person in, then another until the old team is fully reunited in the new company. We've been a very effective unit once we removed the road blocks in the new company!

So exactly like immigration to a new country. Interesting. But given the short expected tenure of an average employee these days, I wonder how many are willing to wait for this long pipeline to complete. Getting hired all at once could mean working together for three years starting today rather than starting in a year or two, when attrition is already ripe to occur at the new company.

I call this "getting the band back together," and is a thing that does not always endear you to your coworkers.

Yeah, we slowly "outlasted" the coworkers and now it's just us over here. Management is happy, we're happy, old coworkers have jobs elsewhere. Side note: we only brought the good parts of the "gang" over, left the deadweight behind.

Something like this happened with Rackspace cloud management about 6 years back.. :|

Great idea ! But if they are going to be interviewing all team members separately through the normal process, it seems unlikely that a team as a whole would pass their bar.

I think they'd judge the team as a whole, rather than individuals. So it would be "Does the whole team average X?" as opposed to "Does the weakest individual hit bar X?"

It sounds like the interview process is still mostly individual (emphasis mine):

> Once you’ve applied, we’ll take you all through the hiring process together: we’ll make sure you hit the same stages of interviews at the same time, bring you all to the office on the same day, and try to design at least one interview problem that you can work on as a team.

That's not what I understood from the post.

Rereading, I think you're right.

If we make an offer, we’ll make it to all of you, at the same time; you’d all be free to accept or decline individually, but of course we’d hope you’d all accept

This implies individual hiring criteria. It's interesting that they let the group try and solve a problem as a team.

I wonder how this will impact compensation and offer acceptances.

I thought that too. Maybe the team should be evaluated as a _team_? I mean, forget the individual resumes altogether. If everyone on the proposed incoming team says they're happy with everyone else on the proposed incoming team, then just accept that at face value and hire the team.

Also, if the conventional wisdom is that hiring excellent tech individuals is difficult, then hiring excellent tech teams -- would that be easier or harder than hiring individuals?

If you believe the dogma that one poor hire is worse than several good hires, then you must hire a team without any poor performers:

P(goodhire) > P(goodhire)^teamsize

But you are assuming your filtering mechanism, in a short window of interviewing, si actually any better than the people that have worked with that person for many months, if not years! Haven't you ever recommended someone, just to see them not get hired for reasons that don't seem realistic? I have, it happens all the time. Companies are often selective, in the same way that asking a candidate to roll a D20 and only hiring them if they roll a 3 is selective.

If 4 people that work together and I want to hire happen to bring in a 5th person that did worse in my interviews, I don't worry about their judgement: I wonder about my interview process!

Damn. I just talked with our CEO about that exact concept as our new innovative hiring method. Now I look like a copycat. -_-

well if he accuses you of being a copycat, you can bring your team to stripe.

Lol he doesn't, we just hired our second team and I just formalized the process.

hype, good job.

Just use GoElevator.com we make it simple.

I'm a bit confused as to how this works in an employment scenario where the contractual terms aren't fixed.

How is salary negotiated? What happens over time - do you just become discrete employees? What about internal promotion - does it just not happen?

I would find it incredibly difficult to get together with friends and decide 'right, i guess we're all worth X each then, let's go for that'.

What if some members of the team are more senior than others? What if members specialize in areas with differing market rates? It just feels somewhat clumsy.

Great for the situation where everyone is a clone. Shitty in real life where some people are clearly better than others.

This idea sounds excellent and definitely some outside of the box thinking! However, if I had a team that I really work great with and trust, I'd probably do a startup instead with said team. That's just me though.

I think this concept might attract fresh grads more and could be integrated into a BYOT internship program.

And after you do a startup with said team, this provides you a way of keeping the team even if the startup ultimately fails for non-team related reasons.

Fresh grads creating a startup before they've worked at one, or been closely mentored by another founder, leads to repeating a lot of unnecessary founder mistakes.

I think it's far better to be an early to mid-stage startup employee out of school vs. start a company directly. It's also really nice to be able to focus on things like just product or code vs. how to make the business successful, customers, legal, BD, etc.

Not all engineers want to be entrepreneurs ;)

I for one am a big fan of getting paid. "Doing a startup" is no trivial task. Just getting the funding in place to provide enough money to pay everyones bills is more than almost any "startup" ever achieves.

This might be an interesting way to ensure that I work with people I'm inspired by. I dig what they're doing.

You can "do a startup" while working at an existing company. People do it all the time working nights and weekends on a project.

You can also "start a family" while working for an existing company. People so it all the time on nights and weekends. See what I did there?

Starting a company isn't the most important thing in the world, especially when you aren't doing anything innovation and when you are just doing it because. Believe it or not, just cause you call your startup "Uber of X" doesn't mean it's innovative and doesn't mean you need to spend time building it.

Not so easy once you have a family, I barely have time to mess with new tools in my home lab, working a second job just sounds taxing (the only reason I even have an LLC is legal shielding for the odd repair / small business IT job I have on the side).

People with families create things all the time. Not an excuse.

Be very, very careful with this. I was once brought to a company where my boss and her boss came from the same company essentially at the same time. My boss was considered overly aggressive with wanting to make (good) changes and "spoke too fast" (seriously, grown ass people made that complaint) this, but her boss was pretty much universally hated. That attitude reflected extensively downwards onto me and her. I couldn't handle it and had to leave after four months.

Yeah. I think you've hit on another danger: group culture clashes.

It seems like an entire team would be more difficult to beat into submission, I mean, acculturate, than just one single person.

The HR person at that same place told me that they often hired people knowing that they'd quit sometime into their employment and hinted they were there for only for political weight. So yeah, acculturation often runs deep and sharp.

Pros for Stipe: hire a lot of people at once, hire a bunch of people who are probably working well together.

Cons for stripe: risk of the team bringing not only their previous company culture, but also their group micro culture. Risk of all of them leaving Stripe all at once (they did it once).

Pros for the new team: I can't think of any, I've never been in a group where I thought everybody was great (and beside I see meeting new people as a perk of changing job).

But then how do you prevent your fate as an individual in the company from being tied to the others? Do you get put on the same team? Do you get promoted together?

The devil you know is better than the one you don't. You'll be joining a team either way.

We started a company for exactly this purpose. It's called goElevator.com and it allows you to make multiple teams of people you'd love to work with—we present dozens of interesting companies with anonymized profiles and let you know the potential opportunities before you ever have to interact with a recruiter or hiring manager.

Such a great Idea. I feel thers a lot of programmers out there who like to work with certain people and personalities in any capacity, whether that means at a startup or on side projects. Its rare to find programmers that you can get in a pair programming "zone" with, once you do, you're reluctant to lose them.

This definitely happens all the time formally and informally in SV. Sometimes a manager is poached and brings a bunch of old employees along...sometimes a small acquihire happens. Or after an acquisition event some portion of the company decides they would rather be elsewhere and talk to execs at a larger company.

This is cool, but to really make this game changing they'd revamp their interview process to interview all members together (or in pairs of 2-3) some people just perform better with their partner and the interview process itself should account for it (if they're assuming that's true).

Didn't they already cover that in the article?

  "... we’ll make sure you hit the same stages of interviews at
   the same time, bring you all to the office on the same day..."
Or are you saying even the initial interview should be as a team rather than starting with individual ones?

It would be awesome if they could interview as a team instead of individually.

An interesting idea. I'd like to see some numbers on how many teams does Stripe get applying for jobs this way. (I'd love to also see measures on how well the teams hired this way perform, and how well are employees retained, but that seems hard to measure.)

I am somewhat skeptical that this will be a great success. Just because a team performed well in one environment, it doesn't mean it will continue to do well in new circumstances (unless they are hired as external or independent consultants, as others have suggested in this thread).

As an individual looking for a job, I would also want to know if applying as a team lowers or increases my chances of getting an offer.

To whomever at Stripe: is this only for on-site teams, or are you open to remote teams?

We're open to remote or distributed teams within the US and Canada. All else being equal, we'd prefer to hire people in SF, but for a sufficiently great team, being elsewhere wouldn't be a showstopper. We're conscious of not wanting to miss out on the diverse, talented set of people that happen to be outside of the bay area.

(I may be biased here: I work for Stripe from a small community off the Canadian coast).

I have a mostly US based team that might be interested but we have one employee in Mexico. Would that be a disqualifier? We'd be willing to transfer the infrastructure for that (foreign subsidiary and payroll and all that which is already in place.)

You should apply anyway and describe your situation! Supporting additional countries is challenging from several angles (payroll, international tax structure, compliance, etc), but we can talk through your particular situation individually.

> from a small community off the Canadian coast


That was awkwardly phrased, I guess. I live in the Gulf Islands in British Columbia.

Whew. Almost blew the cover of your seasteading community there for a moment.

Totally fascinated to see how this plays out.

Been thinking about "crew hiring" as I've roughly termed it, cohorts of flexible, ad-hoc, a-gamers who like to move around, groove on idea and commit when it feels solid, interesting and a great fit for them.

Taking this further, we see companies becoming an "atelier/studio methodology of multiple "teams" working within a collective space for a unified aim..

We can all easily see how this could degenerate as well as succeed.

It's a super fascinating idea, and I am genuinely fascinated to see what plays out. I have yet to bet against Stripe.

Also known as consultants, who get hired full time if the company likes them and viceversa.

I wonder how much litigation risk is involved with this. If you poach one key employee, the original company is likely to be a bit grumpy but probably won't do anything. If you poach an entire team, litigation may be worthwhile - especially if that team is their entire development staff (I've seen this happen in the UK insurance industry, cases go on for months and potentially involve millions of pounds).

Kudos for trying something outside the box.

I swear I read a blog post about a year ago where someone detailed their experience applying somewhere as a team.

That's a pretty creative way to get rid of referral bonuses. I suppose you could refer a whole team though.

Stripe doesn't have referral bonuses.

Sounds nice.

There are probably many people who want to work with their friends, especially when they did OSS stuff together.

On the other hand, I have different opinions than other people about when to leave a company, so I'm mostly on my own, even if I have worked with many good people who I'd love to take with me, haha.

Even if they all get hired together any organization of size would have problems keeping them together. I have seen many team acquihires that immediately get broken up and they at least get a huge premium relative to this offer.

Nice to see this idea starting to start up: I've founded a slack group of all my Devops folks uber exactly this philosophy...

We are starting SVOPs (Silicon Valley ops) - we have built some shit... But mostly we just wanted to start a consortium. Join us if you'd like...

SVOPs.slack.com - we are all actively looking for people or help - or even jokes or learning or what not...

Silicon Valley needs much more community (not in the Facebook kind, but in the "hey lets play DnD and drink and talk shit and be like OMG I heard about that and dos you know also....") kind...

We have a culture - it's not evenly distributed but it's here and it drives a lot of shit...

Come join. Where you are physically located doesn't matter: Sam@sstave.com

BTW, are there any London based companies reading this, who'd be interested in a BYOT ? I might be interested in applying together with another developer.

Id love to do this with each person working 2.5 days and splitting the salary. That way I could work part time and the company gets full time work.

BobTom, I had a long discussion with you on Monday about exactly how we could solve this problem affecting our production systems. Now it's Thursday and you're telling me you have no idea what we decided three days ago? You're fired.

I imagine they share an email account. And have some overlap in their schedules to debrief.

Yes, finally, a company that realizes that bringing a team is much better than bringing one employee at a time.

If you have a problem, if no one else can help, and if you can find them....maybe you can hire The A-Team.

Can we bring our own CTO & CEO :)?

They can certainly apply as part of your team! Though you should give some thought ahead of time as to what their roles would be at Stripe. We're not currently hiring for the roles of CEO or CTO ;).

reminds me of the dual interview in Stepbrothers https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r1DAJxwWv2E

Cool idea.

It's basically trying to cheaply scale the concept behind acquihires.

meta. Interesting idea, and I like it very much, however the wording of this metaphor is a bit offensive?

>the industry has always focused on hiring atoms; we’d like to try hiring molecules.

What about this is offensive?

non native so might be that, it just sounds weird comparing humans to atoms, like saying to your future employee we will treat you as a cog in the machine. OTOH, I think you are right, I was oversensitive.

Was just curious as I wasn't getting the same vibe from it myself. Plus, these guys - http://www.mediamolecule.com/jobs/working_here - already have the whole "molecule" thing covered :)

Stripe changing the game again. Well done team Stripe!

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