Hacker News new | past | comments | ask | show | jobs | submit login
DeveloperAuction gets developers paid what they're worth (techcrunch.com)
155 points by allangrant on Sept 6, 2012 | hide | past | favorite | 138 comments

"DeveloperAuction.com is currently open only to employees of Facebook, Apple, Twitter, Zynga, and Google as well as Stanford & MIT graduates. If you'd like to be notified as we expand, please contact us."

Only Stanford and MIT graduates? What about the other 99.9% of tech grads?

Kind of rude of them not to mention this when you create your profile. Am I supposed to spend my time filling it out only to be rejected because I'm not already part of their club? Message received!

Edit: It seems there is no way to delete my profile either.

Agreed, I was very irritated when an elitist is calling me second-rate and couldn't bother to implement a destroy method for me to delete my profile.

How about us ghetto developers who taught ourselves everything and know just as much, perhaps sometimes even more than those who endured years of study? I hate the way society works. Just because someone went to a good university doesn't make them a great engineer/developer. I've encountered numerous developers who went to good universities and knew half as much as I did.

I'm certainly not in the elite ranks that they are targeting and I don't feel too bad about it, but this makes me wonder about the general purported software developer shortage.

How much of it is genuine (some of it certainly is), and how much of it is chasing this same small pool of people (ivy league CS education, worked at Google or Microsoft, or significantly contributions to a major open source project)?

I've had similar thoughts: everyone seems to be chasing the developer with 5 years Rsils experience, worked at Zynga, lives in the Bay Area, went to Stanford, (probably) is willing to take stock options for a reduced salary, and is a JavaScript genius on the front end and server-side.

So, of course you csn't find your rockstar.

It seems in the tech world today, the answer is to not lower your requirements, or find one Ruby person and one JS person, or look at non-Zynga alumni, or (gasp!) look at remote workers, but to LOOK HARDER AND LOUDER for the same thing. Which is, from someone slightly on the outside of, well, the Valley, grating.

You will bow down to the Ivy-League appointed nobility and accept society's <del>educational</del> caste system without complaint.

Neither Stanford nor MIT are Ivy-League. Ivy-League alumni are actually disqualified by default, and will have to qualify by some other means like working at Google or Facebook.


Isn't the only way to get a job at Facebook or Google to be a developer fresh out of college/university with a degree in CS or equivalent anyway? I have a friend who got a job working at Google Australia in Sydney and he had a CS degree, I doubt he would have been hired, let alone got through their strenuous interview process without his education papers in tow.

Not that there is anything wrong with wanting to undertake some kind of degree, I respect that. It's when having a degree is considered the only real entry into Facebook or Google, or any large Internet company which in turn gets you into a service like this, the gaps start to widen. Unless you work for a company that gets acquired by one of these big companies, you need a degree, no ifs or buts.

I don't mind not being a part of the service myself, it's a great idea. I would just love to get in on it though, I think I am a decent developer with a decent list of Github repositories and code contributions to other projects as well as years of experience.

I work for Facebook on infrastructure and I don't have a degree of any kind.

Wow, really? How did you get an interview and was getting a job at Facebook without a degree any harder than getting a job somewhere else?

Most big companies won't hire you without your educational papers in tow.. (for the majority of cases)

Well, to be fair I went to an Ivy League school and am not eligible to participate either.

As a fellow self-taught "ghetto" developer, and one of the cofounders of Developer Auction -- believe me, this is a problem we plan to solve. :)

Limiting it to developers from places that already have rigorous selection practices is just a starting point. Any suggestions for how to evaluate talent otherwise? We have a few ideas, but would love to hear yours.

Maybe you should have called your service Developer Provenance or Developer Pedigree if you want people to delegate their hiring decisions to you based on the rigidity of your screening criteria.

I wouldn't want to work for a place that was so technically strapped that they couldn't evaluate me as a candidate on my own merits. But I do like the idea of a "Developer Auction" where anyone can participate, like in a real market.

It's a shame that after creating a profile I have to go through the trouble of contacting you to be notified if you decide to start offering such a service.

Why limit it? Collect all relevant info (like college) as fielded data and allow employers to create whatever filters they want to focus on the type of employee they want.

If the employer got his/her degree from Cornell (for example), he/she might not be too thrilled to find that you've decided that job applicants from Cornell aren't even worth letting into the system.

Their value proposition is that you don't know how to identify the best candidates but you can outsource the problem to Developer Auction, which applies arbitrary criteria for you because as they admit, they also don't know.

Yeah, I don't get it either.

How was your talent evaluated? Probably a good starting point.

How about you let us solve it for you: let me delete my profile.

Agreed. I hate how because I don't have a degree, I somehow don't know programming as someone who took english classes for 3 years.

My reading was that the choice was more or less arbitrary in order to get a sufficiently small set to use as a test/proof of concept.

Having no knowledge of the founders at all, I would guess that some of the founders graduated from those universities and either worked at or know people who worked at those companies, and so they chose that list to start with because they were familiar with the range of quality they could expect of programmers from those places.

The second sentence in the quote outright tells you that they plan to expand this list. Presumably they could be convinced to advance their expansion schedule if there was a lot of demand from people not fitting their stated starter profile.

Basically, I think commenters here are making a big deal about something that's really just a temporary filter to reduce the volume of applicants until the company is ready to scale up. Maybe I'm being too trusting, but I didn't read anything sinister into it.

You hit the nail on the head.

It was/is a temporary filter, it's a band-aid awaiting a better long-term fix. Certainly the list of half a dozen or so companies isn't meant to be all inclusive.

We'd love to hear your suggestions/feedback on how we can avoid being spammed with 100,000+ applications and how we can better determine which candidates will attract job offers & interest from employers.

You forgot "notable github profiles". Although their standards are probably extremely high, and anyone who measures up is buried under recruiter emails anyway.

Rather than being buried under recruiter emails (who frequently keep their client identities a secret), we hope they'd participate on DeveloperAuction instead in order to be exposed to some cool companies & interesting opportunities in a condensed time-frame.

It's just so they seem exclusive. Also makes launching easier. Two birds with one stone.

Someone watched The Social Network a few too many times.

This is just the starting point, because these organizations already have rigorous hiring practices. I know - this sucks. But it's just a starting point.

We're trying to come up with ideas for how to open it up to a wider audience while still keeping up quality. Any ideas?

Non-trivial coding challenges with entries evaluated by existing members. Coming up evaluation/scoring criteria may be tricky, as would enticing the engineers to take the time / effort to do a thorough evaluation of submissions, and a diverse enough set of challenges to appeal to a broad cross-section of candidates.

Presumably the other 99.9% are already being paid what they are worth.

If I wanted to get the best developers for my new startup, perhaps I'd launch a company like DeveloperAuction first, find all the vetted A-list engineers, and secretly swoop in on the best ones for my DeveloperAuction clone. Then that clone would pivot and become the startup I was actually planning to build. Meta enough?

My head is spinning.

> “notable GitHub profiles,” CS degrees from Stanford or MIT or currently employed at Google, Zynga, Facebook, Twitter, Apple, Yelp and Square for upcoming auctions.

That is a narrow field, artificially scarce, driving up prices.

If you think that group of, hmm, 200,000 people is a narrow field which gets priced to match, wait until what happens when you start pitching yourself as being from a reference class of one.

It's not nearly 200,000 people. It's a few thousand at best. Not only do they need to meet the criteria listed, they need to also meet the criterion of wanting to freelance.

I agree with you that for practical hiring purposes the supply of people with a credential available for hire is significantly smaller than the supply of people with the credential. From the perspective of somebody who is not in this in-group and wants to get hired, I would use the broadest possible reading of who holds these credentials (n.b. I really don't think I'm wrong about 200k) and the narrowest possible reading of people capable of substituting for my labor ("me").

I got snippy with a potential client last year who balked at my rate. We'd talked earlier about how hard it was finding developers, and I mentioned a bit of a labor shortage, and he agreed.

When rate came up, he balked, and started saying that lots of people could do what I was doing, blah blah blah, this was 'only' PHP (although it wasn't), etc. I calmly pointed out I was the only person talking to him who was available to come on site the next day to get started. We didn't get started - I suspect the 'this is an emergency crisis' issue suddenly was downgraded to "let's wait until we can find a part time person for $20/hour".

I don't think I'm cocky about this, but I've grown more comfortable in knowing that while I'm not the best, I'm usually the best available. And that's not that I'm bottom of the barrel, but for pretty much any set of tech skills, I personally know people better than me. It's just that they're all employed (or over-employed), and I'm available. Some times. :)

So this person sees no correlation between "its hard to find staff" and "staff are too expensive"?!?!?

If you go out to the market and offer €X for someone to do a thing, and noone takes you up on it, than the market rate (by definition) higher than X, ie you are not paying market rates.

pretty much agreed. I think people grasp a concept academically, but when it comes to actually facing the realit with cold hard cash, there's a lot of denial that floods to the surface. :/

Not everyone is like that, but it amazes me how many people want "rockstar" developers and sr-level engineers with 8-10+ years of experience in major metro areas in the US, and only want to pay $70k. I don't care how many foosball tables you have. Actually, I take that back - yes I do. 1 is too many until you're paying higher wages. Or you risk only being able to attract a certain type of developer... I may just be far too mercenary in my old age. :/

"while I'm not the best, I'm usually the best available" love this perspective. gonna keep it in mind

Some would call it a circle jerk.

Ninja rockstars are notoriously protective.

Those were the developers represented in our first auction, but we're definitely not going to be turning away senior talent in the future just because they work at Amazon, LinkedIn, Etsy or Gilt Groupe.

"...just because they work at Amazon, LinkedIn, Etsy or Gilt Groupe."

What are you trying to say about the engineers at those companies?

That they are from companies that were not represented in the first group.

That we'd love to have them!

I've been reading HN for a long time but I never registed since I never felt the need to comment, until now.

What a bunch of navel gazing, elitist douchebags you are. Do you think actually think working a Zynga or Facebook makes you a good dev. Get a grip. In any sufficiently large set of individuals you will have everything from poseur to star. Facebook, Zynga and others are not immnune to this like you would have us believe.

I was around during the previous tech bubble. Paid my dues in the trenches and earned my stripes. The last startup I was at I was a team lead. It is still around and growing but I guess since I didn't go a fancy school I don't exist. That's ok, keep promoting the hiring of greenhorns who think everything they dream up is new and then proceed to reinvent the wheel. Education does not make you smart, just educated.

BTW: In case your wondering. I'm happily employed making 6 figures for less hours than your screened employers would expect.

Epic. Fail.

I think you're seriously missing the point. The point is not "employees for company X are all awesome!", but rather "company X is a good filter". This is no different than saying "a CS degree is a good filter"; it's not the be-all end-all, but it's a nice initial filter.

(Note: I have neither a CS degree (or even a high school diploma) nor have I worked for any of the companies mentioned.)

Perhaps I was a bit harsh (I don't feel bad), but I don't think I'm missing the point. They are attempting to create an artificial scarcity that promotes their idea of what a good dev is. It is elitist.

"They are attempting to create an artificial scarcity that promotes their idea of what a good dev is."

No. They are catering to a group of people who specifically care about pedigree. They are trying to replace the role of the recruiters who do the same thing.

Yeah, but this 'pedigree' being thrown around in these comments is starting to look more and more like blatant discrimination, which was something the recruiters hide pretty well.

"which was something the recruiters hide pretty well."

The recruiters actively sell the idea that pedigree matters.

I agree. I have worked now 20+ years in finance / technology - get this - before Google and Zynga and pretty much all of your "entrance" companies existed. Since 1999 I have commanded a high salary (but not willing to disclose here) so I would be very interested in seeing if there was any demand for people with skills like mine. Oh well. Let's hope somebody else has the same idea and makes it less elitist - let's be honest - the concept is not very difficult to copy is it ??!

Jumping on this, all of the companies listed are consumer facing at their core product.

I don't think they actually are "elitist douchebags". I think they needed a filter and executed, in that dimension, poorly. I'm sure they'll get better over time. They had to come up with a filter and didn't focus on how it would come across.

I would have partnered with a company that already had peoples' code and some experience using it to find who the good coders are. My recruiting experiences with coding-test sites were not very positive (as with dating, the sites were fine, it's the needle-haystack problem because there were few good ones and they got lots of attention) but Kaggle (which focuses on data science) might have greener pastures.

Cool story bro.

I just applied and have formerly worked at the aforementioned companies. Does that count?


So they think that people who work at medium to large corporations are better engineers than people who work at startups. Personally I've found the opposite to be true.

Why is that bad? People who do art auctions, sell luxury cars or apparel make good money using artificial scarcity.

DeveloperAuction gets developers paid the least the market can pay and get away with

Auctions with a scarce supply get collectors and enthusiasts. Prices soar. Auctions with a constant stream of the same old stuff are just a race to the bottom.

They're currently following the first model by limiting where the engineers can come from. They clearly want to be seen as the Southerby's of the recruitment auction world.

So it'll be interesting to see how long before they figure out they'll probably make more money being Ebay.

I have no idea how this will play out, but note that Sotheby's is still in business and made a profit of $171.4 million. Which is to say, exclusivity can pay pretty well, especially if they manage to keep money that would usually go to recruiters' fees for themselves.

This is the truth but —to continue the analogy— ebay profits are double that... every month.

It is definitely a choice and differentiation is much, much easier when you're snobby about your merchandise but are they going to have enough product to sell to keep the doors open indefinitely? Are there really that many A* candidates in major tech firms and positions that want to move job?

Congrats on the launch, guys!

I like this in theory, but in reality the most important thing when hiring is not how good they look on paper, but how well a developer fits in and works with a team. If they're a team player, how well they can resolve disputes, etc.

We've surveyed a LOT of employers, and that's definitely the number one thing they look for in employees. Culture fit, personality, empathy, etc.

This "culture fit" business is beginning to trend in a dangerous direction in my opinion..where are we going to draw the line between the so-called "fit" and outright discrimination? Can someone be explicit about what EXACTLY culture fit refers to? Referring to a different hiring post from yesterday, does my dislike for techno and alcohol make me un-hirable at companies where it is their "culture" to play techno and drink beer? What if I can't curse and swear like a sailor? Or if I can't hang out after work because I'd rather do something else?

Hopefully, someone can provide a definition for "culture fit" that clears the air on these questions.

I think "culture fit" is just another way of saying "if we like you or not." It doesn't really matter how good you are, if you don't laugh at their jokes, or they don't like the way you dress, or if they think you might be a threat to their intelligence, you might as well be completely unqualified, because you're not going to "fit." Do I sound jaded? :)

I think you're spot on, but I definitely don't see anything wrong with it.

Dead on, I have too much cultural experience. The term is abused.

If the company culture is to listen to techno and drink beer, then sure. For that company you wouldn't be a culture fit if everybody else is going to bother you by doing these things. More important parts of culture could be, say, a reverence of quality, or being nice to people. If a candidate is an asshole, that would fly at some companies, and not at others.

It's not discrimination because one could choose to not be an asshole, or to develop an appreciation for techno. Discrimination is when you don't hire somebody because they were born differently than you, not because you don't get along.

You could try to spin not hiring people who like techno as discrimination, saying they were born not liking techno. You might be able to bend the definition to fit, but I doubt we'll ever see legal protection for people who don't like techno.

When attempting to determine if someone is a culture fit, I am trying to determine if the candidates personality would mesh well with the personalities of the rest of the dev team (and the company overall). Not everyone is exactly the same, and not everyone is going to be a perfect match for what I personally am looking for, but that doesn't necessarily mean that they are ruled out because of that either.

We just want to find someone we can work with on a day to day basis.

Agreed 100%!

The goal is to give every developer 5-7 interesting opportunities (with numbers attached). At the end of the auction, they can create a short-list and go in for in-person interviews to determine cultural fit with the team, etc. and ultimately determine what's best for them.

It's definitely not going to be highest-bidder always wins, hiring is too complex to boil it down to a single number. Every developer will have personal preferences about what sorts of opportunities they want to work on, what work environment they prefer, and whether they want to join an early-stage company or a more mature one.

Yeah congratulations! I like the idea! Good developers deserve their salaries.

And agree, cultural fit is important.

> 142 startups, including Quora and Dropbox, submitted over $30m in job offers.

That $30 million figure is useless. It tells us nothing. Why was it included?

Reminds me of the latest trend in news, "how much were people Twittering when <person> made a political speech".

It doesn't seem that useless to me. Sure a better, less hyperbolic measure would've been saying there were x number of offers given, but assuming ~$100K salaries, that means there were about 300 job offers given out for 88 engineers.

For all we know it was 600 job offers @ $50k, or 1200 @ $25k. Because no where do we learn how many offers took place. Nor does it say if they are counting multiple offers per bidder.

But boy does $30 million in job offers sure sound good for a weary journalist, amirite?

If these were elite software engineers and the compensation was $100,000 per year, then either (a) the auction did not work, or (b) that is a fair market value for engineers (which would mean that the auction worked, but the raison d'etre for it is suspect).

Engineering comp. is a long discussion, but I don't think the best engineers are under-compensated so much as under-utilized. Companies pay appropriate to the work people are doing, but staff engineers 3-5 years below what they're usually capable of.

I don't think he was claiming that $100k was a good or bad offer. He was doing napkin math. If the offers were within the ballpark of $100k (a nice round number), then there were about 300 offers. Which makes the given $30m number not useless at all.

I always liked the story of the "Microsoft Five" who joined Facebook early on. I would pay a little more if I could hire a small team of developers who already had experience working together. I bet a team of 3 or 4 devs who shopped their skills this way could demand a premium.

I'm not familiar with that story but I know teams of copywriters & art directors that do this currently in the ad industry to great success. I'm not sure how well that would work for a startup though, seems like an easy way to mess up the culture.

I wasn't familiar with the story either [1]. Cool idea.

[1] http://www.quora.com/What-is-the-story-behind-the-Microsoft-...

In Facebook's case (see quora link from beambot), it seems like the instant injection of a high-quality core team permanently elevated the engineering culture and probably led to a lot of the success that followed. I could see it going the other way too. Maybe it just accelerates your startup towards its inevitable destiny, one way or the other...

One of the primary factors behind acqui-hires is a preset team.

AKA, a "gelled team".

So... Fully non-binding on both parties, is what I'm reading.

So we can expect, if we interview through there, that we'll see an artificially inflated offer to get us to interview there, followed by a much lower salary on the actual offer letter?

Not that I work for one of those companies anyway.

The best part is the way TC explained how it's non-binding:

> "startups are required to honor their highest bid if follow up, in-person interviews are successful and they want to make a hire."

The people they want to hire are fine with walking away from insulting tactics like lowering the bid. Plus there would be serious reputational damage.

It just seems kind of irrelevant to say that they are "required to honor" anything, given that they are entirely free to decide not to hire someone they bid on, and that someone is entirely free to not accept any offer they make.

I'm not used to actually seeing "serious reputational damage" materialize.

It doesn't help that the company running the auction has a strong vested interest in these stories not coming to light.

Is signing in with AngelList really a requirement? Why must these new services force you to leave your social footprint on their website..

It's nothing social. It's piggybacking on the authenticity of AngelList and their focus on startups. Who else has as good and reliable of a database? If they opened up signups without some sort of verification, it would dilute the usefulness of the product completely.

You only import from AngelList if you're a company. Otherwise if you're a developer you can either go through Twitter/LinkedIn/Github or create an account via e-mail.

I like this upside model of freelancing where the companies have to bid for the freelancer's work. I wish there were more generic freelancing websites that did this, though. Could be a start-up opportunity here.

I know Doug and Matt really well and they are great guys. Fully support what they're doing with DA.

As a co-founder of another tech company, I still get barraged by inbound tech recruiters claiming they have the next great Ruby engineer for us. This approach is much more transparent and fair from an employer perspective, and I think it's friendly to developers too.


Pretty much everything I've done in the last 8 years has been NDA'd.

I'm screwed.

Well by this point most of those NDA's have probably expired. NDA's usually have an expiration date within a few years... Not sure how legal it is to make them arbitrary long.

I've signed many NDAs and have yet to see one with an expiry date. I don't see where there would be a legal issue making them unbounded. Do you think after 5 years, someone can quit coca-cola and divulge the secret recipe with impunity?

As far as I know from various legal issues I've had to deal with, the general issue with unbounded contracts is that 'forever' or 'lifetime' in legal terms actually has a legal definition different from the common definition. So a 'lifetime guarantee' could actually be held to mean 20 years. Different states handle this issue differently. Consult google or attorney friends for specifics.

Real trade secret issues like Coca-Cola's secret formula are very very unusual in the real world, and really shouldn't apply to most software if a company is claiming that their entire code base is a trade secret. I can understand how an incredible 5 line cooking recipe or encryption algorithm could possibly be a trade secret, but it's ludicrous to extend that 'trade secret' protection to an entire 300,000-line software code base. People who worked on trivial and basic parts of a codebase should definitely be able to talk about it after a reasonable amount of time. I believe that this is particularly true after a product is discontinued or a company goes out of business.

NDA's should recognize this and founders should put reasonable time limits in their contracts, even if their attorneys say that they should go for as much protection as possible and try to protect all code/data/etc for 100 years. When a software company discontinues a product, it would be great for them to just release the source code and share with the community. Our laws regarding trade secrets and copyright are outdated, and just because the law allows a company to do something doesn't mean that they should do it.

I totally respect John Carmack for being a great example of putting old code into the public domain. Carmack makes a point to release the source code of his old game engines (see doom3 code review: http://fabiensanglard.net/doom3/index.php ) once they're obsolete. I believe that this has a huge impact, and serves to help educate and inspire the next generation of game engine developers. An attorney or CFO could say that it's irresponsible to do that, but I'm sure that the benefits that he gets indirectly by doing this far outweigh any negative thing that has come out of it.

I don't know about you, but I don't keep copies of NDA code laying around, as it's not my code.

Not only because it just feels wrong, but if the owner got sued, I wouldn't want some cut-rate hack derping his way merrily thru my files doing discovery.

> How do I know the offers I’m receiving are legitimate? Only pre-screened employers, who have raised outside funding, are allowed to bid.

huh, so a company has to have venture capital to be eligible?

Elsewhere it says that employers need to have raised money OR be profitable.

edit: elsewhere= TC article. "The company manually verifies employers via AngelList and only lets approved startups, defined as having raised capital or being profitable, browse engineer profiles."

The goal is to have only credible, vetted, companies browsing profiles who are able to honour the offers they are making.

>"DeveloperAuction says it is accepting applications from developers with “notable GitHub profiles,” CS degrees from Stanford or MIT or currently employed at Google, Zynga, Facebook, Twitter, Apple, Yelp and Square"

>"We help developers get paid what they’re worth through a competitive process,"

Only if worth is exclusively dependent on Academic Pedigree. Or having worked at a large corporation that relies on a consumer product. Seems to me it's a pretty limited service.

Mixed feelings. On one hand: Yay, developers capturing more of their surplus value! On the other: winner's curse, mercenary cultures.

This is a really neat idea, I think this market still can be disrupted in many ways, trying to flip the coin like they do is certainly one. I'm kind of excited with this since I'm also working on an idea related with changing the way in which recruiting works, this proves we are right and that the jobs market needs a change.

10-15% of first year salary sounds like a laughably high commission. Surely it can't cost >$5K to find a good coder... Frankly, I don't see why it should cost more than 1K, tops, to find an excellent, excellent coder...

I have met recruiters that ask for 33% of first year salary. And I'm guessing that many settle for 15-25%.

Many companies pay referrals of $5-10k. So you could be making a lot of money if it's really that easy :)

This is a pretty revolutionary idea is applicable to more than developers. It would be great to see a similar concept/site be developed for UX/UI designers…

We're allowing UX/UI designers into the system, despite our name. Huge, huge unmet demand from the employers that we have in our database. Might have to rebrand to be more all encompassing :)

Just make sure you include a portfolio of your work with your application.

So what's the current average pay for someone that gets an offer using this auction? Any stats?

Great idea, hoping they open this up to UI/UX designers in the near future.

Yep. Despite our name, we're accepting UX/UI designers who are based in major cities (Denver/Boulder, NYC, SF Bay Area, NYC, Boston).

I assume the get paid what they are perceived to be worth.

did they make 15% of the $30M?

From their web page, they only make money if there is a hire:

http://developerauction.com/for_employers "If you end up hiring a candidate within 6 months of viewing their profile, we will invoice you..."

Note the phrasing "142 startups... submitted over $30m in job offers." Sounds like if company A bids $200K for SuperNerd, and company B bids $250K for SuperNerd, they'd count that as $450K of submitted bids. SuperNerd may have declined both offers, so income might be zero. See the "Vanity Metrics" section of this article (but ignore its title):


Once you sign up, they tell you about the "15% feee", that is not public in the website.

Neat concept, but the exclusivity douched it up bad and I'd short-sell it because of that. In the age of the Internet, you have to find a way to create exclusivity that isn't elitist. Hacker News is an exclusive community (the people we don't want here find technology boring) but not elitist.

By the way, I think you should limit your field to people who would never work for Zynga, not people who currently work there.

I get why the developers of this might want to limit the initial pool for practicality's sake (I imagine it is helpful to have people who are at least somewhat pre-vetted), but I have to agree, when I saw that my initial reaction was "you think the only people worth their salt are part of a very small insular world of large companies that are able to overpay talent to keep them off the market?" I'm sure that wasn't the intention, but that's the impression it left me with.

In a sense though, this reminds me of professional sports free agency in a lot of ways. You have the teams/companies that are willing to overpay for names, and you have sort of the moneyball thing going on with groups that are looking for really good bang for their buck and trying to measure undervalued talent. One thing I wonder if this site could have the potential to do is help out the second group, although I don't think the current setup does that.

I'd love to hear your suggestions on how we could better vet that second group, and identify who they are, so that employers place a credible value on them.

I don't care about the other requirements, but the part where you get in if you have a degree from Stanford or MIT is downright mean. Those schools costs tens of thousands of dollars to attend to per semester but does not make you a better developer than having gone to a cheaper college.

There is no correlation between the amount of dollars you spend on your education and how educated you are. There is a correlation between having rich parents that can pay for it and going to an expensive school. But I wish people would stop perpetuating this myth about how a great school automatically makes their alumni great. The schools themselves aren't going to do it because expensive fees is what they live on. People who spent that kind of money aren't either because they gain a lot of free and undeserved opportunities from the reputation the school has. But we, the smart techies should know better. George W Bush graduated from Yale for gods sake.

As an MIT grad, and a PhD, I must say.. you've nailed it. Bravo

I'm curious how you vet the first group, e.g. that someone works for Zynga. Verifying a corporate email address seems like the easy way, but I would imagine many current employees would be reluctant to use their work email to interact with a recruiting service.

It's adverse selection: the type of people who would use this service are probably not the people you want working for your startup. The really successful people would be picked off in other ways (not actively recruiting) so you are left with the B and C players (which ironically are a dime a dozen)

Not entirely true. Really good engineers may not be good at getting what they are worth and be willing to see what they can get. Finding a job for a higher salary is a lot of work, finding the maximum salary (not that that should be your goal) is very difficult, negotiating is a huge challenge while auctions usually increase prices more easily.

Sure, an excellent engineer employed at $200K with a vast network is unlikely to send his resume to Craigslist ads, but they may use a simple way to find out whether they could get $300K and a $500K signing bonus.

They have a hard problem. Looking for a job makes you less attractive, and there are a lot of people on the market who aren't qualified at all (non-Fizzbuzzers). They want to have only desirable applicants, which means they need to control quality (otherwise they'll get spammed) and the intention behind the exclusivity is rate-limiting, which makes a lot of sense, but I think they douched it up by focusing on the wrong things (school and company affiliation). That's especially bad now with all the MBA carpetbaggers in tech. Focusing on degrees and prestigious companies makes you (at least seem like) the wrong kind of people.

I would have made it Silicon Valley only: either you live there, or you'll move there. (I'm in New York, so it might seem unusual that I'm suggesting excluding my city, but you need to limit inflow and that's the best way to do it, because job markets are pretty local. You add cities once you have traction and are looking to scale.)

Then I would have partnered with a company like Kaggle in order to get access to people who can actually code. I've met a lot of mediocrities with prestigious resumes. One of the biggest problems with hiring is the number of people who have established a great connections <-> great jobs loop but don't know anything.

"but I think they douched it up by focusing on the wrong things (school and company affiliation). "

They focused on the right thing. The target audience isn't the startup that cares about getting the best people, just the ones with the best pedigrees. This would be perfect in finance.

That last point is completely wrong. Zynga is a lot more than the flash games you see on the front end, at least from a technical standpoint. Even with your obvious bias, you have to admit that they operate at a huge scale and that alone must pose some interesting technical problems.

Try to leave your distaste for their business model at the door.

I disagree. I believe the ethics of the people you work for are important, maybe even as important as fun technical challenges. Please do take your distaste or love for their business model wherever you like.

The idea behind choosing Apple, Faceboook, Twitter, Zynga etc. is to simply provide a filter for technical skills. Culture-fit, ethics and other flexible, qualitative criteria were not the target of this filter.

Although if you're prepared to make the sweeping accusation that no-one at Zynga is morally righteous enough to work with you, I won't stop you. That reflects on you, not them.

Please don't put words in my mouth.

I second the disagreement. There are a number of companies that deal with interesting technical problems without being complete scum. People like you that don't "discriminate against" morally bankrupt business models are what allow distasteful businesses all the way down to flat-out illegal businesses to continue.

So instead of trying to hire the great technical people from companies like Zynga, you condemn them to continue working there?

Not hiring someone from Zynga does nothing to hurt the company, simply the individual who worked there. The idea that one should be discriminated based on past workplaces is a bizarre one to me.

I agree, this was the same mentality towards Yahoo back when they sued Facebook. We were getting nonsense such as developers having no soul because they still worked for Yahoo after a specified amount of time.

Hey Michael --

The criteria in the story is what we used for our first auction, we love talented engineers that work at all companies not just the half dozen or so listed in the TechCrunch story.

We'd love your feedback on additional testing/vetting criteria that we could use. At the moment though, if you work at Gilt Group, Intuit, Etsy, Square Space, Microsoft, Amazon or any other number of "big brands" in one of the major cities we'll get you approved in one of our upcoming auctions (but only if you're serious about switching jobs).

Two of those companies are headquartered in WA, where unlike CA, non-competes are legally enforceable. I've seen contracts for both Amazon (which had a 18 month non-compete clause) and Microsoft (which had a 12 month non-compete clause). Do you plan to address this at all, or are you leaving that up to the employer/employee?

If I were shopping for candidates on your site, I'd be pretty upset to be sold a candidate that is a liability due to contract violations (especially at a startup). It might be worth flagging for potential employers that a given company is known to force non-compete agreements on their employees.


Please aspire to a higher standard of discussion.

Actually, "douched up" is exactly what I wanted. "Fucked up" would be too severe and suggests irreversibility (which is not the case) and the types of people who would be attracted by the exclusivity would be douchebags.

Guidelines | FAQ | Lists | API | Security | Legal | Apply to YC | Contact