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I'm not sure there's any reason to believe the tech industry is any more a meritocracy than most other industries. Look at sales just about anyplace. Your success is very tightly linked to how much stuff you sell.

In any case, how much merit someone has often isn't obvious. Pretty much anyone involved in hiring will tell you that internal referrals are one of the best ways (if not the best way) to at least figure out who to put into hiring pipeline.

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