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Ask HN: What about a platform for hiring teams instead of individuals?
203 points by dpflucas on July 6, 2017 | hide | past | web | favorite | 157 comments
We see a lot of startups that use existing platforms for individual hiring to team up freelancers. However building teams on in individual hires take too much time and effort, with no knowledge about compatibility or assurance regarding the resulting efficiency of the team.

Startups need more than an group of people, they need an efficient team to move fast. As Aristotle said "the whole is greater than the sum of its parts".

What do you think of a platform where recruiters can search and hire teams based on their portfolio and soft skills, while still having access to each individual technical expertise?




I've almost hired full teams for my clients a few times as a recruiter.

There tend to be a couple issues with this model. For one, what if the hiring company interviews the team and wants 7 of the 10? The team has to make a decision to either look for work where they can all be on the team, or abandon members.

The other issue is timing. The team members need to all be available at (or around) the same time, and they typically will have conflicting interests related to other offers or ventures they are considering.

I've had situations where a startup closed and the team wanted to stay together, and they'd ask me to approach companies on their behalf - almost like an acquihire without the company. You would think a company might pay each member a bit more for a team experienced in working together, as in theory they should be more productive more quickly.

From a platform perspective I think it would be pretty difficult to build just based on how to categorize teams and/or individuals. Any given search of the platform seems like it would yield very similar results.


>> a company might pay each member a bit more for a team experienced in working together, as in theory they should be more productive more quickly.

On the other hand, if you already have an established team, merging them when they see themselves as distinct groups might be tough.

The other issue I see is that I doubt companies will want this to become common in the industry. Even if it's great for hiring (and I think it often would be - especially for new projects), do you want support something that might encourage a group of all the employees in a particular specialization to band together and decide they want to all leave at once? I wouldn't. Especially since that might happen right at the time when new development is slowing down and deep knowledge about the current system is the most valuable asset related to the project.


I guess there is a fine line between collective bargaining and holding a company hostage.

Remember when the cast of Friends all negotiated for $1M/episode, and they pitched it as "you pay us all, or you don't have a product"? I don't recall any public outcry that they were holding NBC hostage.

As we move toward a completely digital society, it only makes sense that the digital gatekeepers will have more leverage. Employers hate that.


>> I don't recall any public outcry that they were holding NBC hostage.

My mental image of the cast of Friends holding NBC hostage is that of two people with guns trained on each other, both yelling, "come any closer and I'll shoot."


> There tend to be a couple issues with this model. For one, what if the hiring company interviews the team and wants 7 of the 10? The team has to make a decision to either look for work where they can all be on the team, or abandon members.

Exactly. We've been approached a few times by intact teams all wanting to join. My approach has always been that I love talking to people in this situation, but that our contracts, interviews, and offers are all between the company and the individual and that while we may have an initial project in mind where they'd all work together, that that was not guaranteed to hold true over time.

I'll also ask them individually if a case like the 7/10 above happens, would they prefer to get 7 offers or 0 offers? (I don't want to be the source of telling Alex, Becky, and Charlie that I didn't think Dave was strong enough to join the company if they don't want to hear that.)


If Alex, Becky, and Charlie have been working with Dave for some time and think he's just fine, you might consider that your short interview appraisal of him might be flawed.


That's possible (and we'd take that into account in interviewing, as would any sensible company).

It's also possible that he's a "really nice guy" and close friend of theirs and they're blind to his weakness.

It's also possible that he's a very strong contributor in a domain and skillset that the hiring company simply doesn't need.


It's also possible that while dave is great, your team doesn't need a dave regardless of how good he is.


And going forward the issue could also become on-the-job performance, where it could potentially come up where one team member underperformed. In a large consulting company environment the solution is easy (remove and replace), but with this kind of model it can be more complex.


  For one, what if the hiring company interviews the
  team and wants 7 of the 10?
In the model OP is talking about, that's not allowed. You either hire the whole team or none of them. The team knows this, so they're mostly not going to be running off to look at unrelated offers.


Thanks, but I'm not sure I understand your comment. Where does it say anything about the rules of this proposed idea? Isn't this a hypothetical?


To take the proposed model to it's logical extreme, what if you only want 3/10, 2/10, 1/10? Now you're suddenly back to hiring individuals again.

The whole point of hiring a team is that you aren't evaluating individual performance or skills; you're evaluating the groups' performance and skills. If the team is good, the people who can't immediately be helpful will re-train so that they can provide skills that are useful in the new context. The team will evolve to become the exact team that you need.


Right, only wanting to hire 7/10 means the company thinks they're better at evaluating team members in a single interview than the team is at evaluating its members after working together. Or they just can't afford a team that large, and it's not the right one for them.


Unless everyone in the team did the same job it's pretty likely you'd end up in a situation of "we really like you 7 for the application layer, but we have a great front end team already, so we don't need you 3. So, do the 7 of you want a job?"

That seems like a best-case scenario to me, unless the team is 3-4 people and someone is looking to create a capability or product from scratch.


Add a filter for team size? That way you're not looking at teams that are bigger than you can afford.


It's a hypothetical that's only meaningful at all if it's an all-or-nothing deal. If it was anything else, it would essentially just be normal hiring and therefore boring.


Understood, but I also would think finding an 'all-or-nothing' deal for a team of any real size would be somewhat unique at that point. If you have a team of 10, and all 10 are required to come along, there is likely some chance of redundancy unless we're talking about pure greenfield projects and buyers with no staff.


It is inferred that the group would always work together on projects, so their availability would be the same... If you sell yourself as a group but everyone still looks for offers of their own, it kind of defeats the purpose


And this is where the rubber hits the road.

In theory, yes, some actions are 'not allowed'. But this isn't an mathematical excercise it involves real people.

e.g. Who get's told the 'offers'? Do they get separate salary offers, or is it a single pot? If the latter, how do they decide what's fair? What happens if evereyone's extremely happy but one person? Or two people? What happens if there are competing offers that different members perfer unequally? How do the ongoing salary reviews go? Can individual members be fired after being hired?

It's going to be very messy, and I would imagine may not work a good proportion of the time. I would imagine a lot of the answers of the above questions would start looking like the answers given by a union, something that the tech community as a whole has avoided so far.


This is starting to sound more like a good old-fashioned agency.


I've heard of a company in Ottawa hiring students who worked on a final project immediately after graduation. They would set up a subsidiary, and give them a project manager to help guide the new projects.


I work at acompany where we usually work as team for several customers. They all have problems that need to be solved. We have an intact team witch broad knowledge and specialized expertise with each team member. Some times we work closely with other "natuve" workers, sometimes on our own. For each project one at our side is responsible for project management and communication. Doing this we are able to do multiple projects simultaniously as we work from remote and meet with skype or whatever. If needed we do onsite workshops. Some customers disn't know that model and had been skeptic about it, but the most are happy because they are wery flexible, for example if the project will be paused for a short while.


Without a doubt it is inherently difficult to hire a whole team. On top of that each team member may have different requirements, availabilities, etc.

Is it so bad that 7 of the 10 individuals from a team get an opportunity together? Referrals are a growing part of business, and who is to say that a whole team cannot eventually work at another company? You have a better chance applying as a team than anything else.

There are team hiring platforms out there, and at least there you can see what type of opportunities exist for you team. Worst case you say no.


Yeah, I've tried to keep a team together an leave a toxic employer. People just aren't interested. It's very rare that the need (or expectations) line up exactly.

Seems like this is better for freelancing when you can sell a solution and maintain autonomy in how you produce that solution.


Usually the closest I have seen to this is a architect or manager will be hired at a startup, and he will high a bunch of people from his own team.


>how to categorize teams and/or individuals

+ web design team name

| team member name | Role |

--

team member 1 - developer

team member 2 - creative director

team member 3 - designer

team member 4 - designer

team member 5 - production artist


Hiring a team is often the basis for buying and selling consulting services. The premium that consultants charge is often based on the value of having assembled a team with specific expertise. The other way teams are bought and sold is via the outright purchase of companies.

It is hard to see why and how a functioning and talented team would be assembled outside those circumstances. I mean a team built to sell suggests that the members are not ideally busy solving technical problems.


Agree here, this is exactly what a good consulting shop should be doing and offering.


I've been studying this whole Team as a Service approach to offering consulting services for my software consulting company. It's interesting, and something I'm going to explore as I like the idea of a customer hiring a subset of my team as they're already optimised working with one another.

As you quite rightly point out this is a long way away from OPs original vision.


This is the way the big guys (Accenture, TCS, etc) went a few years back. Keep that in mind as you try this -- the further you go down this route, the more the market pressures will force you into an offshore sweatshop model. A lot of product design shops have gone to more of an agency model, which makes sense here too.

It actually works pretty well as long as you realize that the "accounting" works differently offshore -- for every good developer you get, you're paying to have someone's dead weight cousin on the project as well. In the end, it's still cheaper than on-shore, just don't expect everyone to pull equal weight.


I totally see the upside of taking an Accenture et al approach but I can't stomach the offshore sweatshop model. In the early days I tried offshore and the quality simply isn't there. I can't sacrifice the quality of what we put out just to make more £££'s.


It's gotten a lot better as everyone figured out the model, tooling and process. As long as you have someone onshore responsible for quality who doesn't let offshore get away with sloppy work, the model can produce high-quality products. The key is having stable teams offshore, and building skills in those teams in the same ways you would build them in an on-shore team.

It's all about learning what work to do on-shore (anything involving client contact / communication, like requirements gathering) and how to package and hand off requirements to offshore.

The big consulting firms will have an advantage over small ones in this model though, because hiring/training developers becomes an operational task that you're doing all the time. If you can grapple with the training and skills development you end up needing to do offshore, the model does work very well.

It will distance you from the technology side of the business, however... and soon enough you'll find that you're working in professional services rather than software development. :)


Stripe does this with BYOT: https://stripe.com/blog/bring-your-own-team

I've also worked at multiple organizations now where a great trick is to hire one "influencer" and then slowly hire everyone they know.


I don't think I've ever seriously considered packing up and moving before -- but this would. I would move to work at Stripe with a great team.

I even have some team members in mind ...


Interesting! I wonder how many teams they have hired this way. Any followups on this?


For me, the interesting parts of Stripe's description of BYOT are the size limit 2-5 and the acknowledgement that it is an experiment. The size because of the current top comment to the question describes a larger team and the problem of pruning for needs and Stripe more or less shifts pruning to the team. The experiment because it seems directly drawn from YC's language regarding new programs -- maybe it will work and we'll try it out and see.


One significant problem is that teams have much more negotiating power than individuals. Which is why teams that stay together are consulting agencies.

To put it simply: The software development department of a company might bring the company $10 mil value. A consulting agency with great sales would bill them $9 mil to do the work. Individually hired developers might be paid a total of $1 mil.

If the company hires an entire team, eventually the team figures out that they bring $10 mil value and can easily negotiate their pay up to that because they coordinate together. Individual developers almost never coordinate like this.


You can't validate an idea by posting on HN and decide what to do by reading the (overwhelmingly negative) comments alone. You would get the same negative responses if you were Travis Kalanick ("hey guys what do you think of starting a ride share app") or Brian Chesky.

You have to "get out of the building" (Steve Blank) and talk to your potential customers.


While you may not get validation, you will get a critical analysis of your idea from multiple perspectives. I've already seen some responses with amazing insights that would've taken an inordinate amount of time to gather.


The shortcoming of that analysis (and I've commented here) is that my comment is based on what I imagine the service to entail rather than what the OP imagines it to entail. Part of that is that the description is thin and could probably use more work at least in the form of diagrams showing the mechanism. But most of my imagining is a bias when I see the word 'platform' toward assuming the premise is "If I build it, they will come" without talking to "they".

I mean, the odds that I would use the service are less than the odds that I will be hiring a team in the near future and the odds that I will hire a team in the near future are approximately zero. So yeah I've got a thoughtful analysis but not from the point of view of a potential user.

Or to put it another way, an inordinate amount of time talking to possible users is much more productive than a few minutes talking to non-potential users or several months building a proto-type. It is also much much harder.


While get out of the building is a great advice (and almost always hard to execute), the biggest risk is not getting too many negative feedback online/in your peer group, but actually getting false positives. If you're determined, you'll give it another shot probably even after a negative validation (e.g. here). If you get an overly positive one, then you might not try hard enough to validate with real potential customers.

Having said that, I think it's OK to ask questions like this here, because you might get good insights, e.g. from people who have tried it.


Please checkout our startup: https://www.superteam.io/

We're currently accepting closed beta testers. We're a platform designed to create teams with freelancers. Our mission is to make freelancing easy as possible, through team collaboration and specialization.


* Why do I have to download an 8MB payload on load, most of which consists of 1MB+ PNGs, which aren't even visible until I scroll?

* Why are you doing some unintuitive scroll-jacking?

* Why are you using React for literally a single scrollable page?

* Why are you putting the scroll position into the URL instead of somewhere like local storage? It's annoying that I can't even leave the page without pressing back multiple times.

ugh


Thank you for the awesome feedback. :-) I am sorry if it frustrated you.

Sorry about the mega payload. I was still in process of optimizing it when this thread came out 5am this morning (I saw it during my morning jog). I knew we had to get this out there ASAP.

Scroll-jacking is annoying, I know. I'm in the process of fixing it. I think we need to optimize our designs first.

I'm using React with next.js, which makes deployment + development super simple.

The point of scroll position was for URL shortcuts, sorry about that! I'll disable the history and maybe that will make things better.


Lol now I feel bad for perhaps coming off a bit too harsh. I appreciate you taking my feedback into consideration. Best of luck with your company!


You had strong valid points :)

Thank you for the feedback! Look forward to hear from us again. ;)


I looked at the website and I couldn't figure out what you actually offer.

Is it just a way to organize a team of freelancers? Or do you also provide client leads?


Yes. During our beta, we will focus on organizing teams. Our platform will have emphasis on matchmaking, with enhanced personal profiles to make it easier to find/join teams. We will be introducing client leads when we officially launch, it will become a marketplace to showcase teams with projects.

The bigger picture is to allow teams to "grow together" which is to showcase the work they've done together as a team. We want to have team-based portfolios to make hiring choices easier for companies.

We feel synergy is an essential part of effective teams, and we are putting a lot of emphasis on showing that.


I've seen at least one other that I won't link because I know the founders and they are dishonest and slightly insane. Suffice it to say, there is a burgeoning market for this service.


We started this service because we felt a strong need for it. As a software engineer working in Bay Area, I've always wanted to freelance because it's too much of a burden living here. I've thought about applying to remote jobs, but freelancing feels like it has more freedom.

We have a strong mission, and we want to make it easy and accessible for anyone that wants to become a freelancer. The answer is through teams, with specialization, collaboration, and having that comparative advantage will allow teams to thrive.


I signed up. Are there any early incentives for signing up early?


Thank you :) We currently don't offer any early incentives, since we're going to be a free service.

If you are selected for our closed beta, you will receive recognition within our platform as early user. Details coming soon!


nice hijacking the thread.


I fail to see how providing exactly what the thread requested counts as "hijacking".


I offer the same service...

versus adding some value.

- challenges they ran into - it's working for them or not.

it's just a blatant ad.


A company called Elevator is trying to do that. From https://goelevator.com/ :

> The world’s first team hiring platform. > Assemble your best colleagues today and start receiving full-time or freelance team jobs.


Thanks for pointing out that we’re already doing this at Elevator. I’m the CEO - AMA.


Where are most of your roles located?


We have teams from all over and try to find the best for them. Our current focus is in San Francisco and Seattle, and are helping a handful of teams and companies throughout the U.S. and neighbors.


I have tried elevator and found it utterly unusable. I gave some detailed feedback in an email a while back but as it stands, it doesn't even do the basic things it says it does.


We've made improvements based on that feedback, thanks! We also sent you a message but didn't hear back. If you're still interested, we'd be happy to help. You also mentioned that we should hire your team - We'd love to if we had the capital, but we'd rather place you somewhere that can pay you a lot better than we can :)

Ravi Grover, Elevator CTO


I haven't been involved with outsourcing for a long time, but back when the company I was working for was outsourcing some work to Indian developers, we outsourced to a team rather than individuals. This was the standard practice at the firm we worked with. Essentially, the team consisted of one guaranteed long-term member who was our primary contact, a small group of senior developers we got to know (and train) who were usually dedicated to our project, and a larger group of junior developers who rotated around projects as needed. We generally didn't know who the junior devs were; the seniors and the manager were responsible for verifying and guaranteeing the quality of their work. My understanding is that we paid a monthly rate based on the amount of work the overall team would do. If the seniors could do the work themselves they got paid more, and if they had to share the work with juniors they got paid less. Basically, they sub-contracted to the juniors.

This arrangement might've worked well for us if the seniors and manager could've kept the quality consistent, but they couldn't. A couple of them were really good, but most were not and problems caused by the juniors kept leaking through to us. At one point I even had to entirely scrap a project their team had worked on, and redo it all myself. (That's one case where I have evidence of being a 10x developer, at least on that project and relative to that team.)

This isn't a great argument for teams vs individuals though, because a lot of the issues we had were more to do with the cultural and logistical difficulties of outsourcing from US to India and the company we were working with, rather than the consulting model.


Some thoughts.

This kind of service might be much more valuable to huge corporations rather than startups. BigCo, Inc. is more likely to have enough cash lying around to hire an extended team all at once. Also, BigCo, Inc. is more likely to suddenly need X, Y, and Z skills to build upon recently acquired product ABC, where hiring a team with said specialty makes sense.

My uncle has been working on the same team for roughly two decades. They've migrated between companies together countless times. I think the main reason they've been able to keep the gang together is because they have a very niche specialty (within the domain of DSP hardware). This kind of service may be more valuable for finding those kinds of niche teams, rather than general BFF web devs.


Isn't a consulting firm the obvious rational economic conclusion of this? Surely a firm specializing in one area would earn more than a collective group of individuals.


Hiring teams will also mean they would be leaving together. If that is unplanned then your project(s) could really be in a pickle. Cheaper to have backup for individuals as opposed to teams.


But that's the originating company's problem, not that of the individuals in a team. If anything, if a company endures an overnight exodus of talent it should probably review how it's paying and treating its existing employees.


I think neebz's comment was more along the lines of the company angle. Company B is hiring a team from company A. Maybe company A screwed up somehow.

The hiring manager at company B has to be thinking, "OK, what happens when company C comes along 18 months from now; am I at higher risk of losing this new team all at once?"


Yeah, but when the team moves on from this new position, now that's the problem of the company that hired the team.


I was on a team that tired this - we Formed, Stormed, Normed and Performed at $big_company then all wanted to leave at once after a change in management. We touted ourselves around as a ready-made team and nearly got hired by a couple of places but it didn't happen. A platform where we could have marketed ourselves to a much larger range of companies would have been great.


I'm not sure how effective it would be for all the same reasons that have been listed below. But I can say that a friend of mine and I just asked for this to be done for us. We work well together and wanted to stay on the same team, at least initially. With that in mind I think the platform would have some interest but I'm not sure how much or the difficulty in creating such a platform.

We told the recruiters to think of us as 'The Bipod' and that we would only go to a new job if we both were hired for the same team, at least initially.

They claimed they had done it one other time so I know it must be asked for occasionally. Long story short, my friend and I are leaving our current employer for the new employer next week. So it can be done. And I think it is nice to have some consistency in a new place of employment. It should make the transition easier for both of us.


I did have two acquaintances from long ago when I was a humanities major at school who did this. They were roommates in college, both worked for the same lab, then worked at the same tech company after college.

They later moved to California, continued living together and working on the same teams at work. Eventually, they got separate houses but still work together as a high functioning mini-team in their own shared office at a huge SV company last I heard. It probably raised eyebrows at interviews saying they wanted to work together, but they excelled technically and in the long run it seems to have been a significant career advantage that raised their productivity and possibly even rate of learning.

The impression I get is that the situation is something almost no manager would ask for or have any desire to disrupt.


Startup coming soon...ahem ahem


I can't imagine either of them putting up with things like doing sales, handling operations or not having a steady paycheck, but anything is possible.


> However building teams on in individual hires take too much time and effort, with no knowledge about compatibility or assurance regarding the resulting efficiency of the team

Yes, but the cost of integrating too different cultures is also pretty steep. A group of people will tend to resist change stronger than an individual person. When you hire new people, they tend to bring what they know, arguing with things like "trust me, we used to do it that way in my previous company and it was great", now if the 10 people you hire think the same, you will have some serious cultural problems.

That said, I've seen a team (6 people) hire happen once, and it actually went well. The hired team was composed of super nice guys though and integrated very well with the existing team.


I can't understand why that's a problem. I am a great believer in "strong opinions, weakly held".

Now, I do agree that "trust me it's cool" is not a very good explanation, but if a good one is provided, and if it's better than what you currently have, you should listen up and change your ways.

Otherwise that new hire will go on HN ranting about you saying "trust me, we're doing it that way for a while and it's great."

Do you hire for skill or obedience?


Well, in fact you do need a certain obedience from your new hires.

It's a bit optimistic to believe that every choice a team makes is 100% rational. Choice of a certain technology, coding language, coding style, management methodology, all these things are fairly cultural in the sense that people tend to push for things they're more confortable with.

My point is that integrating 2 teams of people where each group has a strong culture is a hard thing to do. It's really natural to form camps.

For instance, you're the cto of your company, and one of your principle is to limit your dependency on third party components. And you hire a team, where their culture is to build quickly on a lot of 3rd party libraries.

Nobody's fundamentally right or wrong, but the new hires will think that "we've joined this super controlling company that ties our hands and we can't do shit". And the cto will think: "crap we've hired this team of cowboys who will add a lot of operational risk to our processes".

And in a meeting where you try to explain your principles, it's way harder to impose your culture when you're fighting 10 people than if you fight 1 person.


A "team" means more than one human, and coordination of >1 humans requires a contract.

A group of humans negotiating a contract for employment is "collective bargaining", which is a no-go for business, because divide and conquer is cheaper.


In civilised countries collective bargaining is protected by law.


I thought we were talking about the United States? :)


I was thinking along the same lines. Hiring units of people sounds like a slippery slope to collective bargaining and unions, which have turned into bad words in the US in the last 30 years.


I'm on the demand side of this question. When I hear "hire a team" I think "that will cost more".

With early stage business/startup capital is scarce.

We're hiring one off, using contractors for focused products that ship. Modules of the whole.

100% of the solicitors of team things all have the same juggling and sorting I have to do with individuals. But the cost is more. And the work expectation is more. We'll build your whole app!!

Great! Now I've spent a bunch of time and money to build expertise in my problem domain yet nobody is on MY team.


> Great! Now I've spent a bunch of time and money to build expertise in my problem domain yet nobody is on MY team.

How's it different hiring individual contractors?


It is faster and costs less to evaluate one person on one narrow task than to evaluate a team on a large task.

The resulting work can be incorporated into the main by the existing staff faster.

And a startup has this pattern more often than the large project pattern that needs a team.

Once you grow, it's a different game.


I've worked at a couple of places where they've hired one key "influencer" manager who then proceeded to recruit half of their old team. It can be good or bad depending on the quality of the team. When its bad, its particularly toxic. Favoritism and cliqueness run rampant. Unqualified people are promoted ahead of qualified people. Eventually, it leads to heavy employee churn.

Its risky. Perhaps if it was a whole team, who didn't need to integrate any existing employees, it could work.


Wouldn't that typically be a digital agency?


Permanently and exclusively?


Hire the agency to provide a team. Request that the team work onsite. After a while, offer people to jump ship to your company. If there is a clause in the contract preventing poaching, consider that financial penalty a commission.

Happened to an agency I once worked at. We sent 6 people (4 were full time, 2 were contract) to a client to work on their project. After a year, none of the 6 people were still with the agency. The contractors were let go after the contract expiration, 3 of the 4 full timers took jobs with the client, and I left for another company.


I'm pretty sure if you went to a digital agency and wanted to hire 5 people 40 hours a week and pay the rate they would work for you exclusively until the point you no longer want them to.

Better off is software consultancy groups. They're more used to this set up.


There aren't many permanent arrangements in software.


Ah yeah, in that context it wouldnt be a digital agency.


Seven years ago I had the chance to work on the development of a set of products for "team building", all interconnected as part of a "portal". So instead of looking at the market and hiring a new team, the purpose of the products were to constantly assess the current population of an organization and define possible group arrangements. You have to imagine Myers&Briggs combined with other similar assessments to score individuals according to their: analytical skills, logic, decision making style, proactiveness, care to others etc. This is something useful for large organizations having to reallocate people, form new teams for geographical expansion, for ad-hoc work, for projects, even for downsizing. One of the product managers at the time was trying to sell it to Universities, proposing that academic coordination could be building student cohorts with specific characteristics: high performers, collaborative, innovative/visionary, and even low performers, who'd be managed via a different pedagogical approach and faculty support.

The "portal" company ended up being acquired by an American Educational group and used by a couple of brands for some time until it was finally frozen 3 years ago.


> a platform where recruiters can search and hire teams...

If your team is any good -- you're likely on Talent Acquisition's radar screen already. Relative to an actual platform to enable these deals, it would seem that the enthusiasm for "Aquihires" has piqued > > https://www.cbinsights.com/blog/acquihire/


Do you mean peaked or piqued?


If there's a team of demonstrably awesome people, we already have a word for incorporating them wholesale into a company - acquisition.

If a team is truly great they are indeed more valuable than the sum of their parts so they would be selling themselves short not to shoot for a more lucrative acquisition.

Ultimate I would expect a platform such as this to either turn into an acquisition tool or be filled with mediocre teams while the good teams are acquired elsewhere.


It’s surprisingly hard to find the acqui-hire candidates. Teams strive to present a healthy face until they’re dead.

Maybe we need an anonymous matchmaking platform, no reputational risk to the team for signaling ‘pivoting’ to getting aquihired before they run out of runway.


The easy way to go about this is start a software development or consulting firm and sell services rather than attempting to move a whole team.


This is an anti-capitalistic proposition. The companies don't want strong bond between employees. The simple idea that employees could have stronger bonds between themselves than for their benevolent company is utter anti-capitalistic.

Everyone is responsible just for themselves in a rat race competition. We are just individuals. Unions are bad. Organization is bad. Agglomerations are bad.

Move on.


I read a lot of anti-capitalism jibberish on HN & Reddit but I think this one takes the cake.

Then again, I DO recall when my CEO gave speeches about "fostering less teamwork" and that other time he flipped the table at the company happy hour when he overheard an engineer invite a sales guy over to his apartment. OH and not to mention my company's strict policy on NO employee referrals for hiring... Hmm maybe you're onto something!


This is supposed to be sarcastic


What? Really? You must have had a pretty sad career.


Wait, isn’t HN a platform where one could find teams?

Let’s try it...

If you are a team good at the things in my profile or on my LinkedIn, and would be interested to become full time employees in exchange for a guaranteed global scale “customer” problem to solve for one of 5 largest global banks – I will hire you.

If this works, we’ll report back here that HN can be a match maker between companies and entire dev teams.


Doesn't work like that. OP is talking about a company that would assemble a team that matches those requirements, not one that finds teams that already exist somewhere.


I’ve seen HN work like both.

Also, not really interested in “assembling a team”, that’s not rocket science. I’m interested in a team that already hums, that’s rocket fuel.

PS. It may have already worked, I’ve been contacted about a team. And thank you to anyone reaching out, we’ve got appetite.


It would need to be somehow unique from both an acqui-hire and contracting with a professional service company.

You really don't want to go to the step of individual interviews. The point you're making is that each member contributes in ways that have been demonstrated to have sufficient value from the team's perspective. The evidence is your portfolio of successful projects in the past. Each member's strength may not come through in interviews.

Also, part of the value to your clients is that all the recruiting, hiring and onboarding work has already been done. Saves them time & money.

You're still going to need contracts, accountability, communication overhead, and those aspects are difficult to administer if each member has their own contract. Moreover, you'll need to determine how the payments are going to be divided and how to handle payment terms, collections, etc.

It seems most reflective of a law firm... So at first glance, I'd consider setting the team up as an LLP.


> Hiring teams instead of individuals

Sounds like you want the team to start a contracting business. Build your platform for that instead.


Pinging 'tptacek or 'lvh in the hopes they'll comment on how they do this with Latacora :)

In my experience "hiring a team" is closer to consulting (maybe long-term contracting) than it is to literally taking on a team of W2 contributors. It's not that it can't happen, it's just how I see it manifest itself the most often.

A group of employees being hired as a team need to 1) work well together (so that bandwidth is more than the sum of its parts), 2) complement each others' skillsets to reduce skill gaps and 3) all be more or less looking for work at the same time.

Number 3 is what's really important, but number 1 is also important because a team being hired all at once is (presumably) a team where each member is more or less equal in productivity, but not necessarily redundant. In my experience, that typically defines something closer to a consulting team than an organizational team.


We run teams, consisting mostly of our 6 principals, but we hire individuals. Sorry, we haven't figured out how to hire a whole team at once either. :)


So the concept is that this solution would make it:

* easier to hire multiple individuals

* worry less about their "team-building" struggles

While I haven't been in the freelance hiring scene for a while, I think this could be useful. That being said, you should really sell me on abstracting me away from the parts and selling me the whole.

I should be reaching out to a "team" with a project and a price. Once accepted, I expect that they'll manage all of their own resources accordingly. If my project means two of their team members are useless the onus is on them to handle their dead weight. If I pay the team I am paying an individual entity - they handle their own payroll. And so on.

At no point should I feel like I am just hiring some freelancers who just so happen to be buddies. I should feel like I am hiring a gestalt of parallelized human effort.


I've thought about this myself, since I have a couple of friends who have traveled alongside me through several new ventures. Ultimately, though, I think it's impractical. We talk about building software "modularly"; talent should probably be modular too.


So similar but I think there could be a platform that is approximately, "Kickstarter for teams". As a real example, a few months ago I was trying to build an app. My background is more infrastructure engineering and while I can code up a 'functional' if fugly POC I really needed someone awesome at frontend engineering to get the POC to a state where someone might want to use it.

There is some opportunity to 'disrupt' the founder model a bit where instead of a 'technical' and 'business' founder you could start with 4-5 more specialized individuals with more diverse backgrounds and probably get a lot more done.


I don't see hiring a team full-time like you would hire an individual being practical, just because different people have different needs and no group of people is going to keep exactly the same members for very long. People will come and go as make sense for the individuals and the team.

The situation you're talking about sounds like one where it could make sense to contract out work to a team, outsourcing rather than hiring a team that will likely change soon after you hire them.


To add to what others have said so far, I think the real case where this comes in useful is when a startup is failing and going down. A lot of times startups have good engineering teams but are shutting down for various reasons (most likely failure to get product market fit, etc.). If you already have a good network, it's not hard to land somewhere in an acqu-hire thing, but that's not the case for everyone. Such a platform could help in these cases.


I am part of a startup with founding team of 12 previous coworkers. One of our selling points during the seed round was that we're starting off with an aligned team. It was really attractive to some investors.

In principle the same should go for hiring, but in practice I think it's game theoretically more complicated. I've hired swaths of cohered tech teams before, but it was one by one, to allow for more individualized assessment and negotiation.


I have tried to do this on a couple of occasions. On both the occasions there were startups on the verge of shutdown and we were trying to onboard complete teams. The challenge is fitment of each and every member of the team. It is easier to decide on individuals, but very hard for whole teams unless teams are very homogenous, which they are generally not. In both the occasions we ended up making offers to only few of the members.


At this point, you essentially have a boutique consultancy.


This is basically contracting a company or a small company if you want to talk about small teams. I don't get the difference between this and your proposal.


Sounds like a union hiring hall. Members can choose which fellow members they prefer to be placed with, as has often been the norm in other industries. The union certifies competence to do certain kinds of work, facilitates the training ("professional development") employers largely shirk responsibility for. Developers could bargain more effectively with investors and managers ("founders").


Isn't this what system integrators do though? Like if you call Sapient. Or even a Digital agency like BlastRadius then you basically hire a team.


This is exactly what Questers do. https://www.questers.com/


Here's a company [1] that recruits whole teams instead of individuals. I got a job offer from them, but ended up taking a different contract with another company. However, they're pretty solid and professional.

[1] https://www.linkedin.com/company-beta/10243022/


Just for the sake of clarity: This company recruits individuals with certain skills that match requirements from a hiring company. It doesn't find already assembled teams, but builds them and makes sure they can work together.

I think there's a lot of misinterpretation about what the OP meant.


As a Startup you need an efficient team to go-to-market quickly. You can't waste 4-6 months building a team. At www.swipeguide.com we hired a full stack development team on www.squads.com to help us build our first product. Once you prove to have product-market fit, you can then start growing your own team. Works well for us :)


I think the traditional form of this is the acquihire - though beware that this is much more expensive than hiring individuals.

IMO rightly so - the price paid in acquihires per-employee is reflective of the fact that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts - and a team that has proven itself capable of working well and shipping is worth a lot.


On a side question slightly related to this thread: how do you currently hire freelancers? (for startups in the U.S., hiring worldwide — not referring to the 'finding' part, but rather, the actual ops).

We're using W8BEN + custom contract + TransferWise but it's a real pain to do each time and keep track of…


I have always had my eyes on teams more than individuals. Once I hired too. It works out well when you are starting out a project but not so well in on going efforts. The new teams usually become team within your team. It makes things difficult. So I realized its best when starting out.


Exitround (https://exitround.com) facilitates some of what you are talking about. The primary purpose of the site is to sell an entire company, but it can also be used as a tool for acquihiring.


We've been seeing good results with the experiments we're doing on Squads.com. I think hiring teams is much smarter than hiring individuals. Evolving the teams and keeping those teams together is far from trivial however.


Personally, I love the idea. I have a couple of friends from school who I work especially well with. We will all be applying to jobs come the end of the next school year, and this could greatly increase our job satisfaction and productivity.


It seems to me at the point you decide to hire an entire team you are entering the contracting model instead of building a team per say. Just outsource; it's more flexible with fewer issues than integrating a new team.


This thread may be interesting to you: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=11567135 (Stripe - BYOT: Bring your own team)


What you are describing as teams here would seem to me better served by forming a company and selling their services as a bespoke development house.

I'm not sure exactly how you bootstrap such a thing, but would love to know....


My first thought is that this already exists in the form of consulting firms. My next thought is that a platform that made consulting firm discovery easier could possibly be a great thing.


There is Digital Knights who offer exactly that http://digitalknights.co/


I'm starting to think that most of the companies shared within this thread which does 'exactly that', are built after this discussion..


This resonates with a side project I have been working on with a group for about a year. If you would like to talk deeper about this - I would love to.

Best, TPS


the issue with this is that the fundamental unit of hiring is an individual person. You can hire by hour or hire by unit of work but this is typically called contracting, outsourcing or, quite simply, supply chain. Platforms already exist for those things and, just like in typical hiring platforms, the unit on those platforms is a small undividable amount.


we this, for startups. https://partnerhero.com/


Thats what we are doing at our company however, its not a platform but a service company: VNGRS www.vngrs.com


Isn't this basically the consulting firm model? (Thoughtworks, Happiest Minds, Digital Foundry, etc...)


Why would you go this route instead of hiring, say, an agency or something to do the initial work for you?


Thats what we are doing at our fompany but its not a platform but a service company: VNGRS www.vngrs.com


Isn't this something that largish consultancies already provide?


This is literally the entire value proposition of consulting.


I think each team needs to be niche specific.


We built goelevator.com to do just this.


It is called Acqui-hiring


Because startups don't like business savvy people. Especially organised groups. They want cheap programmers who will make them rich for peanuts.


I think cost is going to be a problem. If you want a team of good people, it will cost $100,000+ per individual. That's before benefits. With benefits, it will be well over $200,000 per person. For a team of five people, this will run you over one million dollars per year.

Now, if you have a lucrative opportunity, and you hire this team, then either the team will figure out they can take the opportunity without you, or the opportunity is only worth slightly more than $1 million per year, so it isn't worth their time to cut you loose (since you, in effect, will be getting a "finder's fee" for finding the opportunity for the team).


Some problems the team could not tackle on their own. The opportunity may be the value of the problem space the company brings to the table.

For instance, if your team is interested in fixing global banking, you might want to get hired together at a global bank where you can own the problem and outcome.

I’m in the market for hiring teams.


Hiring freelancers is itself almost a scam; hiring teams means scam, squared. Easiest way to fail your startup. Hire only locally, people you know. Don't use any online platform for that, you are going to get ripped.


From your profile: "I do freelance Flex, JS and Java work"

Self-hating mood?


What "scam"?

I'm working as a freelancer for a startup that's doing great, thanks.


The market for custom software developers is built in a way that tricksters inevitably outcompete honest people. I.e. any sufficiently attractively looking profile on a freelance developer on any freelance site is likely someone to actually, avoid. They know what they are doing very well, that is their bread, they do it whole their lives, and there is absolutely no chance an outsider can beat them i that game.


I see your point: people who market themselves better do better, regardless of their skillset to back up their claims.

Which happens a lot everywhere, not just with programmers.

But it should be relatively easy to beat the scammers, learn how to market yourself properly, get testimonials to back up your claims, build your marketing message to answer questions and problems that your potential customers have. In other words: build your authority as a freelancer.


Yes, but then you are in the game. And soon you spend more energy and time in building your marketing instead of the things which made you a good developer... It is the market logic which drives us to solutions which aren't really one (but we think we are forced to).


I'd say to people though, if you're not interested in playing the business game, probably best to be an employee instead. You even make more in the short/medium term.


There is definitely an advantage to hiring people you know but...if companies hire a freelancer to save money maybe that's the problem. Don't conflate, "I hired cheap developers and got poor results." with hiring talented developers who freelance.




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