This language conveys so much more competence than the standard 'seeking unix ninja rockstar' stuff that seems to be de rigeur these days.
And not every company wants to pay for them. If you need rockstar results expect to pay rockstar prices.
When I was younger, I was also producing software faster, doing in 1 week what the senior were expecting in 1 month. Well, in reality it took the rest of the month to make it really works, but in my mind at the time I made it faster.
Nowadays I would still beat the deadlines with working software most of the time. Most of the time is the kicker. I know that I could need 1 month even though I will likely do it faster.
The more I know the more I find stuff that I don't and the less I would present myself as "the best".
Unreliable, delusional, unexperimented people, ... will reply to that offer.
There are two extremes. The first one is the Dunning-Krugger effect, where the person is so incompetent that they are not able to even recognize their incompetence, and instead think they are awesome. The second one is the opposite, called the Imposter Syndrome, where the person is extremely competent but believes that they are actually a sham who just got lucky.
There are many extremely competent people who are aware of their own competence, though.
Tons and tons and tons of people meet those requirements, and they surely get a mountain of resumes, most of which never even get a phone screen. But they don't scare away people who are actually qualified but just don't see themselves as 'rockstars' or 'ninjas' or 'the best in the World' - even though they are.
Yah, they select against self-awareness. I think the dirty truth is that thinking you're the best in the world is more important to these companies than actually being good. If you have an outsized self-perception, you'll put up with unreasonable deadlines and terrible conditions on account of pride. That's attractive to someone who's in the business of exploiting naivete.
I'm a mediocre (96-97th percentile) software engineer whose expertise pertains more to the software ecosystem and economy. Knowing it (and myself) as well as I do, I know I'm not the best in the world. I even have that rare trait of knowing what I'm missing, and there's quite a lot in that category. But I'm more than good enough for 99.8% of the tasks that people need done, given reasonable learning time.
These percentiles are a bit shady, I'll admit, because "programmers" isn't a well-defined group. I have a pretty strong sense that I'm 1.7-1.8 on the software engineer scale but a weak sense of how to define the population. Whether I'm 96th percentile vs. 99th depends more on how tightly or loosely we define "programmer". I tend to think of myself as about 94th because I define it tightly, but I would usually say that I'm 96-97th in congruence with the looser definition that a lot of people use.
Granted, they made it, but this kind of language would not build faith in a company if I were to read a job ad for them.
The added Alan Kay quote would further fuel my doubt that the submitter is just another worthless startup guy thinking he can get the best of the best with some shallow knowledge of what hackers think.
I would have been wrong this time, but I don't doubt for a second there are hundreds of ads like this for companies that crashed and burned shortly after.
That kind of high-performance environment is all about the team, not the individual. Usually it's hard to know who you will gel with until you have some sort of history of working together, then you self select. However, like I say, this advert really appeals to me and could possibly help me get over that pre-selection process in my head.
Back in the day a large quantity of the emails that I received (or postings that I saw) contained some tag line or quote such as that. I'm not sure exactly over what years that practice disappeared, but I can't remember the last time I received an email with a tag line.
Bezos was just doing what was quite common at the time.
The language requirements gives the ad a certain solemnity in today's context, but I don't think it would have conveyed anything out of the ordinary in 1994.
Edit: I think I slightly misread your post, so you have my apologies.
It is much in the same vein as the silly "requirements" of x years in y, z years in w, etc. And a stack of degrees. Usually it's just a way to keep the walls high to weed out the truly unqualified.
Is it a good programmer who knows all the bits and bolts of a given language or an adaptable developer who can master concepts from another programming language? Will the ideal candidate write good code AND good tests?
It's just too vague... Simply doesn't rock my confusion.
People do that because they are mimicking seeing others do that and additionally haven't seen it enough (apparently) to realize how annoying and cliche it sounds. If the ads that the wannabees read said something different repeatedly (like "extremely talented c/c++/unix developers" and then listed 20 specifics for example) they might be mimicking that instead.
Phrases like: "You must have experience designing and building large and complex (yet maintainable) systems" are so vague and ambiguous that if I honestly saw this post from some guy named "Bezos" in '94, I would have written off as a jokester.
At least in '94 they haven't started using the word "disruptive" as if it's something you can do to a whole industry overnight. Thank goodness.
In this case though, I would have been wrong.
It happened on Usenet, before most people had heard of Usenet, naming technologies that were brand spanking new. How new? The most popular browser was Mosaic. Netscape was barely founded and had not released a browser yet. http://oreilly.com/gnn/ was the first commercial website and was under 1 year old.
That shows a lot of knowledge of the tech world of the day. "Overreaching startup founders" weren't yet a significant concern. The target audience would realize quickly that this was risky, but unlikely to be a BS ad.
Wait what? Usenet had been established for many years by 1994, and many people were using it. You could access it via several online providers and their Internet gateways. (Here's the first message from an AOL account: (https://groups.google.com/forum/?fromgroups=#!msg/comp.dcom....) )
That means that the language or style used to convey a job opening is probably NOT a good indicator of the success of a company. Maybe it's time to rethink prejudices?
Depending on what you want, of course, you should look for different things. I'm not going to make the judgment call on whether a company will be wildly successful - I don't have the background for that. I'll see if they have any chance of surviving and if they do, if it would be a pleasant environment to work in.
It's like going to a museum and seeing chewing gum stuck to the sides of the exhibits. "OMG 30 Years..." - yes mate, thanks for that.
I agree with you, but on a fun side-note, I remember climbing the bell tower of a centuries-old church in the middle of nowhere, and being staggered by the amount of Victorian-era graffiti carved in to the walls.
I guess that the need to write "TOM WOZ 'ERE" goes back a long way.
The only people to do this were DejaNews.com, later acquired by Google.
Then there was the 'look, we recovered all this old stuff off tapes' which is locked behind captchas and against the open spirit of usenet. [edit: the tape archive is available here http://archive.org/details/utzoo-wiseman-usenet-archive]
Perhaps the Internet Archive should archive usenet?
I'd happily pay a small amount for that.
"I wish Lucas & Co. would get the thing going a little faster. I can't really imagine waiting until 1997 to see all nine parts of the Star Wars series."
- Randal L. Schwartz, 6/9/82
You poor bastard...
> Hurd will be out in a year (or two, or next month, who knows) [..]
Even if I was the founder of a well-capitalized StartUp, I'd have great difficulty in promising people that work for me that we were going to be big. I just don't have that kind of confidence, yet it shows Bezos knew very clearly and intuitively that he was going to hit it big.
Sense and definiteness of purpose i think contribute way more to success than anything else.
I also think it's interesting to see that Bezos shares similar traits to Henry Ford in that he knew intuitively that it was possible to do certain things that were seemingly against the grain.
So much learning. So impressed with that job post, even if i can see the flipside for the candidates assessing that vacancy, since it does seem a little "out there".
I do wonder if that technique would attract someone like that today. In my own experience i've found hiring slowly and using non conventional methods for bringing people into a business seem to work quite well, so perhaps the economy has changed on this.
Either way, great posting.
This is ultra-common with startup founders. They believe unwaveringly in their eventual success, which is why they're founding a company in the first place. Who would choose to be a founder if they thought they'd be mediocre and eating ramen forever?
Some are right, some are deluded. Sometimes with the really good ideas, you can only decide which after the fact. For every Bezos there are 10,000 or more guys with the same intuition that failed.
Ultimately, that unwavering belief is table-stakes as a founder. It's what gets engineers and lawyers and marketing people to come on board and fight the good fight with you.
See this: http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=4845645
Posted again, today (as of writing, of course).