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On not hiring (2011) (gabrielweinberg.com)
48 points by pushkargaikwad on Apr 10, 2014 | hide | past | web | favorite | 15 comments



> I'm not the world's best designer by any means, nor am I "classically trained" in design as they say, but I like my results

Don't we all. There should be a rule that says "any non-designer can draw something that he himself can't improve upon".

I'm certainly not arguing in favor of hiring for the sake of hiring, and freelance-everything is how I see the future.

But saying anyone can do anything if they just think about it hard enough is a bit of a stretch. "Jack of all trades, master of none" is real. An actual designer will save you lots of time.

Additionally, there is value in dialogue; having someone to talk to about specific problems helps immensely. And who's going to take time to talk with you about minute details of your product if they're not somehow compensated for it?

(Service idea: a Q/A site where people could ask questions about their products as they're building them. Does this exist already? Some subreddit maybe?)


Programming, drawing, they're all just tools of the trade. It's like a hammer in the hand of a sculptor. Depending on talent and time (not either alone) you might get different results coming out.

People like to think in absolutes. You're either a designer, or you're engineer. You're either a scientist, or you're a philosopher. This attitude is not only wrong, but also completely contrary to what our "hero's" have taught us.

I myself went to art school when I was a kid, I didn't even realize until I thought about it a while back. Does that make me a designer? Not really. Could I pick it up if I put enough effort and time into it? Almost certainly, but will I?

The other thing is environment. The creativity part comes from the environment you're in. Good scientists have scientists around them that help them brainstorm even without brainstorming(not in the business sense of hey let's sit down and brainstorm, and more in the sense of discussing random thoughts at lunch or w/e). It's no different from Github, dribbble, conferences or a lot of other things that can be considered "environment". Part of why people want to work at google is because of the environment.

I attached a blog post of a pretty good designer that made the transition from being an engineer. [1]

[1] http://somerandomdude.com/2012/01/10/transition-from-develop...


Totally agree with most of what you are saying, except that there are trades; you can certainly be an engineer and a designer at the same time if you have given each occupation enough work and attention; but mastering anything takes time and just because you got yourself a chisel doesn't make you Phidias.

(Case in point: the new Yahoo! logo, that was drawn according to the principle that if you can start Illustrator, you're Jony Ive http://marissamayr.tumblr.com/post/60336044815/geeking-out-o...)


> An actual designer will save you lots of time.

I think he covers this when he states immediately after your quote, "I bring in the big guns when needed as freelancers". He just advocates employing a designer for specific tasks that he can't do himself.


>(Service idea: a Q/A site where people could ask questions about their products as they're building them. Does this exist already? Some subreddit maybe?)

nreduce when it existed did this. I think there have been similar attempts by others since then.

While I got some value from that myself on one of my projects, I ended up getting more help via feedback from users. (Some had day jobs as programmers, which eased communication a lot.)


I enjoyed clicking through the "more about me" link at the bottom of the article and seeing a big picture of Gabriel next to the text: "We're always hiring!"

A couple people have started picking at the blanket statements in the article, and, granted, none of them are universally true. The point about DIY design irked me a bit, too. With that said, I think the kernel of this article is absolutely right: too many startups are far too intent on raising a bunch of money to hire a ton of people because they think that's what growth is about. (And because running a big organization, even one that doesn't have a customer base to speak of, is a fantastic ego trip.)


> I'm now three years into DuckDuckGo, and still haven't hired.

What? According to the company webpage, they have 20 employees. [1] This post seems purposefully disingenuous, just to make a point.

1: https://duck.co/help/company/hiring


This blog post was from January 2011. The first employee (Caine Tighe) was hired in September 2011.


The blog post is from January 12, 2011


>The wrong person can negatively impact your startup.

Of course this is true however the opposite is not only true, it's more common. Otherwise, companies would fire more people than they hire.

>People also tend to underestimate the time it will require post-hiring and post-ramp-up to manage your hire(s).

Categorically true. Hiring is a massive time sink. Recruitment companies are an exceptionally inefficient attempt at a solution which is why more and more early stage startups are recognising the value of hiring an inhouse recruiter.

>And finally, hiring takes money. It increases your burn rate significantly.

Whilst true, just like the first point, the opposite is also true. Hiring the right people can have an immediate, positive impact on cash flow.

I do tend to agree with the overall premise that more staff != success and I think that's certainly true of early stage companies.


Otherwise, companies would fire more people than they hire.

I don't think that's possible in the long run...


This is the key sentence:

"We need to build x, y and z, ASAP." Before you've figured out distribution? What evidence do you have that x, y and z, once built, will make customer acquisition any easier?

Find the right path, then scale it up. Which yegg (Gabriel Weinberg) did, later that year [1].

One could disagree with him and say that hiring people allows you to find the right path quicker, which may or may not be true.

1: https://duckduckgo.com/traffic.html


Can anyone talk to how well this has held up over time for them? A quick search on LinkedIn suggests only 2 employees. (https://www.linkedin.com/vsearch/p?f_CC=1476706) Is this really the case?


A lot of our employees don't use LinkedIn. A leadership / core team page is on the horizon, but we've been working on cooler / product stuff :). As others have said, we're ~20 people; ~75% remote. I think our unique approach to hiring (inbound / sparingly) has helped us form an excellent team where, once a core team member is added, trust is just built-in. I can't stress enough how important that is to delivering on our mission with a small team.


Thanks for sharing. It's amazing what a small group of talented and engaged employees can accomplish.




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