Silicon Alley’s startups are cooking, and no fewer than 130 out of 184 “Made in NYC” companies are hiring. “We are hiring for all positions,” said Jason Goldberg of the fast-growing Fab.com. “We’re staffing up in all facets of the business.” Says Jenny Fleiss, of Rent the Runway: “We are hiring. Although I’d say with engineering, we’re kind of always hiring.” “We are hiring right now, absolutely. For pretty much every team at the company,” said Foursquare’s Susan Loh. “We are trying to grow as quickly as possible.”
The competition for developers has been especially aggressive: startups from Artsicle to Gilt Groupe are plagued with recruiters rabid for anyone who’s spent a weekend with Ruby on Rails. Because while we know local startups like to be cheerleaders for the city’s tech scene as a whole, there’s arguably nothing less important than who you have in your stables.
So some founders are wondering: why scramble for talent when you can poach?
If you can catch a startup on the meltdown, like Jumo, BuyWithMe or flash sales aggregator MyNines, lucky you. But even better if you can capture the talent before the world knows it’s available. “The betaworks companies are a good place to poach from, they’re known to have pretty good tech people and their business models are questionable,” one source who works in tech recruiting told Betabeat. “Chartbeat and bitly are hot poaching areas.” Gilt Groupe is another prime target: although the company is on track for an IPO, it has several hundred employees and at least a few probably miss the startup life. The in-house Gawker tech team would be good candidates, one source told Betabeat. “I just know they get so much shit,” he said. From Nick Denton? “And the public. You’ve heard how supposedly he thinks Gawker is a tech company.”
Some of the questions that have to be answered for in coming up with a serviceable list of Tech Poachables were: Who’s really good, but working at a really bad company? Who are the allstars who could kick ass anywhere, any time, at any gig, and even be fun to be around? Who would we want to hire, if we had an infinite pot of gold? How likely is it they’ll leave? Are they bored, underpaid, or underutilized? And who is in line, or should be, to score a raise? We restricted our list to those who have already taken the leap into the uncertainty of startup world, and left out the very well-paid developers at financial companies, for example.
In addition, we developed a fairly-but-not-completely arbitrary Observer Media-patented number to deal with it: the B.P.N. (or Ballpark Poachability Number). As Foster Kamer explained in September: “It’s an index compiled from salaries known, either of The Poachables’ or those around them, and then from the kind of offer that could get them to budge; not what they’re paid, it’s what they could get paid. It’s basically a glorified, informed guesstimate, or as we prefer to see it, what is commonly refer to as ‘suggested retail value.’”
We’re sure there are some we missed, despite whittling down an extensive list to our favorite 20. But we trust our eagle-eyed Betabeat readers will drop missed names, their friends’ names, or their own names into the comments. Because you know this won’t be the last time we do this list. Likewise, want to help perfect that B.P.N.? Salaries held, salaries offered, and retention attempts: Give us the numbers, either in the comments or by email.
Click through the list of who-to-hires, and then read today’s feature on the delicacy of poaching etiquette in New York.
Position: CTO — Huffington Post
B.P.N.: $2 million plus sizeable equity
When AOL paid $315 million for the Huffington Post, the market balked and spiked AOL’s stock. But media commentors all agreed that the purchase price had to include one man, Paul Berry, the magician who put the special sauce in HuffPo’s social news. The former CTO just stepped back from his day to day position last week, but hasn’t officially found a new role yet. He is credited as the white (black?) hat wizard who made HuffPo’s SEO the best in the game, so he would be a major win for a company looking to content at scale and flush with cash (we’re looking at you, BI). Considering his long run and outsized reputation, he won’t come cheap, but given the exits of Demand Media and HuffPo, venture backed content plays could use an ace in the hole.
Position: Lead engineer -- Foursquare
B.P.N.: $340,000-$360,000 plus equity
The big brains behind foursquare's backend, Mr. Heymann rewrote the company's entire codebase after being plucked away from Google by Dennis Crowley. Over the last year the service had some issues with stability and scale, but by the end of the summer, Mr. Heymann seems to have things locked down, allowing foursquare to release new features at a break neck pace. After three years Mr. Heymann will have vested nicely and may be looking to step away from his increasingly managerial role and get his hands dirty coding on his next big challenge.
Position: User Experience Designer — Betaworks
B.P.N.: $180-$200K. plus minor equity
Betaworks is an innovation lab, building some of the best real time web companies in New York, and Summer Bedard is their ace in the hole, hired to float among the in-house companies and add her UX magic where needed. Ms. Bedard has earned a reputation for building creative, addictive projects and has experience at startups and corporate shops, having worked at Sticky Bits, Yahoo and Area/Code. Stopping by her website shows her hyperactive imagination, with half a dozen independent projects like ifounderyourmitten, sharkbites and the human race.
Position: Founder and CEO, Jetsetter (Gilt Groupe)
B.P.N.: $180,000-200,000 plus equity
"Drew is known as a hard-working, super bright guy that has been able to create a travel business from the Gilt Groupe base of members," a source told Betabeat. "And while the travel industry is enormous, growth seems to have plateaued." The Jetsetter community is growing along the lines of 20 percent a year, but it lags behind that of Travelocity. Keeping the momentum at the new Gilt vertical will be a significant challenge and if Jetsetter starts to lag, the headhunters will come for Mr. Patterson. His track record is proven: he was part of the founding team at KAYAK as vice president of marketing and before that was director of distribution and revenue management at Starwood Hotels, where he leveraged online travel agents to increase sales. As someone used to success but lacking direct CEO experience, Mr. Patterson is more poachable than he appears. "Landing somewhere new may be Drew's best move in 2012," the source said. He's likely to need some equity and a company American Express to keep him in swanky hotel rooms and first class, however.
Position: Lead Applications Developer — Thrillist
Mr. Smith and Thrillist CTO Mark O’Neill “would be major gets for any tech company because they can literally build ANYTHING on any platform,” a source told Betabeat. Certainly, poaching a member of the Thrillist tech team would be a major coup, as the Thrillist office is notoriously jubilant and the company treats its tech team like precious, headphoned geniuses. “We’re geeks, and we require particular care and feeding,” Mr. O’Neill told IT Insider Online.
But Mr. Smith in particular, who describes himself as a “focused PHP/MySQL programmer with interests in Ruby, Python, Objective-C and CoreData,” is a catch, we're told. A front and back end web developer with a varied resume and a hungry curiosity for tech knowledge, the apps developer still fields calls to Rackspace and works overtime without complaint. Perhaps he's still "interested in new projects and exciting opportunities, especially in the startup arena," as he says on his LinkedIn. But if you want to poach this wizard, be prepared for a fight: Thrillist was extremely not-thrilled to get wind of his inclusion on the Poachables list.
Position: SVP Engineering
B.P.N.: $225,000-$250,000 and 1.5 percent equity
Mr. Betz’s ears must be burning. Rent the Runway’s senior vice president of engineering is apparently a popular request for startups and tech companies looking for a high-level tech talent. “Personally, I think Jonathan Betz will leave in late-ish 2012,” predicted one recruiter, who claimed to have gotten three calls for Mr. Betz last week alone. “Their new strategy seems to be working. In 12 months, [Rent the Runway] is going to have to make some big decisions.” That timeline sounds fairly reasonable for a rambling man like Mr. Betz. Since leaving Google as an engineering manager in 2008, he served as senior director of engineering at Clickable for a year and eight months and the VP of engineering at Yext for a year and seven months. But you’re going to need more than cash and equity to lure Mr. Betz, a principal at Hudson River Angels, an early stage firm made up of Googlers and Xooglers engineers and product managers. A couple months ago, Mr. Betz told We Are Tech NY, “I'm very fortunate to have carved out a role where I get the fun developing and operating a team, while still churning out loads of code every day.” Besides getting his hands dirty on a website’s back end, the other element Mr. Betz is likely looking for? Founders who make up for their product’s shortcomings with passion. “He is still subjected to the whims and changing moods of two very passionate and first-time entrepreneurs . . . Word on the street is that he's already been 'networking' with CEOs around town,” said the source."
Position: VP Engineering — Tumblr
B.P.N.: $170,000 to $200,000
Matt Hackett is the quiet-minded Brooklyn sophisticate who has headed up engineering at Tumblr for over a year and a half, struggling with the startup’s frequent downtime due to scaling challenges and a staff bloated with non-technical employees. Time to poach? Given his general competence and relative maturity, we’d speculate that he might be frustrated with the design-centric attitude and hipster haplessness at
LivejournalTumblr. So, is he poachable? To start, scaling is not the most interesting engineering challenge, local developers told Betabeat. “If TimeOut NY is saying it's the best job in New York City, you know you're not getting to the scene very early,” one source said. We also heard that now that Tumblr has beefed up its engineering staff, Mr. Hackett is stepping back into a more nebulous role. The Quora question, “Matt Hackett: What’s the best thing you learned while working at Tumblr?” stands unanswered.
The Portland, Ore. native wrote software at MixZon, Inc. for over five years before he became lead architect at BlackBook Media, adapting an old-media publisher to the web. But he’s nothing if not well-rounded: in addition to HTML5 and big data, the Vassar grad harbors an affinity for art history, Victorian studies and French, and has organized a 42-mile five-borough hike for the past two years. Perhaps Pinterest might take an interest?
Position: CTO -- LocalResponse
A tech lead with experience in social, local and advertising, Ms. Lowe has a diverse resume with one constant: she expertly managed teams of engineers and pushed them to refine their product. In fact, she was serving as the tech lead at Philo, a social TV check in service, when it was acquired by LocalResponse this summer. Sensing her skills, the company promoted her to the position of CTO. That is her 10th company in as many years, so it would seem Ms. Lowe likes a fresh challenge.
Position: VP Product Development, Knewton
B.P.N.: $150,000-$170,000 plus options and flextime
A well respected product development exec, Mr. Fitzgerald is a highly regarded leader that 'gets-it-done' and inspires loyalty and dedication from his staff. He worked at Yahoo for eight years in product management roles in Silicon Valley and Europe before heading to Adible.com, where he created AudibleKids and VangoNotes among other products. In total, he’s had 15 years of experience and while he may be in love with the idea of disrupting education, Knewton is still in the “prove yourself” stage--and Mr. Fitzgerald is a tier below having a personal stake. For a family man, Mr. Fitzgerald needs more stability and a more senior role, sources intimated. We’d advise offering stability, a respectable salary, daddy-friendly hours and generous benefits. “With some new liquidity from the Audible acquisition, all eyes are on Brian's next move as he is likely to join as a co-founder,” a source told Betabeat.
Position: Mobile and front end developer — Hashable
A former Candian Hockey player and full-time Freddie Mercury fan, Joe Lallouz is an Android developer and web engineer at Hashable. He’s a front end, back end, soup to nuts stud with a keen eye for product that he refines by working on his own side projects. Some of his home grown hacks, like recip.io, were cooked up on a whim. Other, like Cloud Assassin, have become a part time passion. “What makes him so great is that he builds his own companies, so he approaches things from a real product perspective, not like a wonky code monkey,” said one former co-worker. Before heading to Hashable, Mr. Lallouz drove every day from Brooklyn, NY to Norfolk, CT, where he worked at the financial analytics firm Factset, so you know he has a head for deep data as well. The only problem, he and fellow Hashable developer Aaron Henshaw are known to be inseprable, so you may need to pick up a matched pair.
Position: SVP, Product Management
B.P.N.: $225,000 and a $100,000 bonus, he could be your CPO. Make it $125,000 and 10 percent equity if you're looking for a CPO/co-founder
They say the hardest positions to fill New York, aside from engineering of course, are in product. Ari Paparo has product experience in interactive advertising and marketing from some of the biggest name’s in tech, as a former product director at Google and VP of rich media at DoubleClick. Mr. Paparo, whose deft touch at unveiling new products got compared to the ultimate salesman Steve Jobs , took a position as SVP of product management at AppNexus, the platform for real-time online ad buying, just nine months ago. But the life-long New Yorker only stuck around his previous position, as EVP of product leadership at Nielsen for ten months. Mr. Paparo was a high profile get for AppNexus, however, “it remains to be seen if he will be allowed into the inner circle,” said one source familiar with the company. The Microsoft-backed company has promised an IPO next year, but has yet to tap any investment banks in the rocky climate for going public. As a regular pundit for places like AdAge and ClickZ on online advertising, Mr. Paparo might not want to be content to toil on the sidelines. Just keep your M&M supply hidden.
Position: Vice President, Mobile & Global Engineering -- Gilt Groupe B.P.N.: $250,000, 1 percent to 1.5 percent equity, and a $100,000 bonus, to exercise his options and pay taxes It’s no secret that Gilt Groupe is ripe for the plucking, especially on the engineering side of things where devs complain of being overworked and under appreciated. “I think in the next six months at Gilt Groupe, the stuff is going to hit the wall. There’s a lot of speculation around the margins on the business and whether it is sustainable. They’ve raised so much money and they’ve burned through it. They’re going after travel, home, daily deals, but not one of the businesses is a really strong stand alone,” said one source familiar with the company’s business model. That might be why a Gilt Groupe director took to Glass Door with complaints of an “ADD Culture.” A more focused startup might be able lure Yonatan Feldman, Gilt’s vice president of mobile and global engineering, with a CTO gig to tap his experience in mobile and iPad. Since joining Gilt in 2007 as director of engineering, Mr. Feldman has been promoted twice, but Gilt’s CTO Michael Bryzek is also a co-founder and unlikely to budge pre-IPO. After four years, even an early employee like Mr. Feldman has vested and might looking for a C-level title like the one he held prior to joining Gilt. Coding-wise, insiders say he hasn't been hands on for awhile, and managing a team might be his strong suit. Getting called a “savvy technology genius” by New York Times food critic Melissa Clark probably caught some folks’ eyes.
Position: CEO -- AdMeld
B.P.N.: For $350,000, a bonus of $100,000 or more, and performance incentive pay, he might be willing to call himself an Xoogler
The founders of Google’s acquisition targets don’t typically make a permanent home for themselves once their baby has been subsumed into the Googleplex. So it may be with Michael Barrett, CEO of AdMeld, which Google acquired for a reported $400 million in June. Mr. Barrett is actually not a co-founder of AdMeld, which was built by publishing veterans to help online publishers make their ad inventory smarter, which means he’s probably got a little less skin in the game. "As soon as he is free from his golden handcuffs (typically 1 yr) from Google acquisition, he is likely to follow in Tim Armstrongs's path and become Commander in Chief of some large enterprise or a turnaround situation," said a source. The veteran of Fox Interactive Media, who also held senior positions at Meredith Publishing, Newsweek magazine, and Disney Online, is reportedly “getting along swimmingly with Google top brass,” added the source, who predicted, “If AOL gets chopped up to unlock value with a private equity firm, this guy could be the first draft pick to create value.” It looks as though Mr. Barrett, who also held a senior sales position at AOL in his long career, is more than happy to dole out advice about what AOL needs to do to change its future.
Position: Social media director — Bookish.com
The bookish UPenn grad may seem like she’s at the right place. But Bookish, the reading recommendation tool backed by industry heavyweights like Penguin Group and Simon & Schuster as well as the Huffington Post, has already missed its summer launch date and seems just as dubious as most of the startups that attempt to modernize a printed medium. Which all leaves this gifted organizer without much of a community to manage. Ms. Fershleiser managed about 150 events a year and coordinated partnerships from Rolling Stone to the National Book Foundation to Kickstarter while scraping together a social media presence for the iconic nonprofit bookstore and event space. “She built Housing Works's entire social strategy,” said a source, who implied Ms. Fershleiser would be a catch for any employer. Anyone with the patience to put a hallowed literary institution on Tumblr is worth poaching from this startup while it’s still spinning its wheels. (Photo: Brian van Nieuwenhoven)
Position: SVP Software Engineering
B.P.N.: For $250,000, a $100,00 bonus, and 1 percent- 5 percent equity, you may have just met your next CTO
A few tech scenesters who caught the livestream of Mayor Bloomberg’s recent press conference about the tech campus were left scratching their heads: Who is that man behind him at the podium? Later, he was introduced as Charlie Kim, founder of NextJump, a company that provides Internet-based rewards and loyalty programs to corporations and institutions. Mr. Kim’s 141 Twitter followers are, perhaps, a testament to how peripheral NextJump, which was founded in 1994, is from the rest of New York’s bubbilicious tech ecosystem. So after four and half years as NextJump’s SVP of engineering, we imagine Albert Balcells is ready for a more high-profile, better-funded gig. Mr. Balcells, who graduated with honors from a top technical school in Europe is “credited with salvaging NextJump from extinction,” said a source familiar with the company, adding. “He attracts top talent and has been able to keep a strong team chugging along on yet another strategy pivot.” He might not show up at those Find a Tech Co-Founder events, but he should.
Position: CEO — Authy
A former quant for Goldman Sachs, Mr. Chuvpilo worked alongside Peter Thiel on a number of ventures, including the mysterious Palantir, where he helped grow their finance division. At MIT he studied computer science and artificial intelligence. These days he's trying his hand as an early stage investor and working as the CEO of Authy, a cloud security company. How would this play out. Well the tech industry is known to be fond of the "acqui-hire", so this would probably be a situation where you would need to buy the company to get at the talent. An expensive proposition, but one that would pay dividends for any company looking to acquire that killer double threat of financial acumen and engineering talent.
Position: CTO — OnSwipe
B.P.N.: $120,000-$140,000 plus cofounder equity but most importantly, an interesting project. This kid’s not doing it for the money.
Has there ever been an entrepreneur more serial than Mark Bao? The 19-year-old has built and completed so many projects that he doesn’t have time to update his LinkedIn page with them all. From ThreeWords.me, a three-day project that Mr. Bao sold in short order, to two nonprofits, the young CTO is too prolific to imagine him being tied to any one startup for long. Through his various viral projects and putting videos of the thief that stole his laptop dancing on YouTube, Mr. Bao has become a veritable media darling. With that much exposure, we’re surprised OnSwipe--not that the TechStars company is lacking in any capacity--has been able to keep him. It would be tough to imagine Mr. Bao at a big company like Google or Facebook. But maybe your startup could!
Position: Senior manager, Business Development -- AOL
B.P.N.: $100,000-120,000, and give this chick some equity
In addition to rocking biz dev at Aol, Ms. Hong is a fixture on the startup scene. She handles marketing for the Taiwanese American Foundation and was named a fellow at Startingbloc, an organization that fosters social innovation leadership. Ms. Hong's career path has gotten progressively more startup-y: she started at Bloomberg LP, moved on to mega-accounting firms Deloitte & Touche and PriceWaterhouseCoopers, then to Disney/ABC, where she worked on product strategy and business development before landing at AOL. "She is ALWAYS at startup events, knows everyone in the community. Her boss at AOL just left, the main biz dev guy," a source told Betabeat. "Whenever I see her at stuff I wonder why she isn't more involved or at a startup."
Position: Cofounder — Beansprout.co
One of the most well-rounded hustlers on the scene, Mr. Kehayias has been attempting to raise cash for his mini startup, Beansprout.co, a noble effort to create a website for businesses to source partnerships that hasn’t gone as well as hoped. Despite securing some partnerships, the company didn’t make the cut for TechStars and Mr. Kehayias has been peddling small side projects (he launched the goal-tracking app GoalSay this week) and teaching himself back end development. He’s also versed in marketing, sales and business development, but most of his experience is in product management. Before embarking on the adventure of tech entrepreneurship, he spent two years as a product manager at Comodo and two years as a product manager at Morgan Stanley. Who wants to rescue him from the indignities of begging VCs for dollars? Perhaps an acqui-hire would be appropriate in this case.
Position: Head of Engineering — Art.sy
One of the "sexiest" programmers in New York, Daniell Doubrovkine currently runs engineering at Art.sy. But he may be getting ant.sy, as the well funded site, working on a sort of visual genome akin to what Pandora does for music, has been in private beta for nearly 2 years now. Dblock, as he is know on Github, moved to New York back in 2004 after several years as a development lead at Microsoft. Back then he was scouting gigs offering as much as $180 K. range, but seemed turned off by the world of finance. He prefers to work for a startup that, as he put it on his blog, "treats you like the engineering princess slash rare animal that you are."