This Happened

Silicon Alley VC Is No Lion King: ‘You Could Have All This,’ Points to Xbox

Behold, a kingdom fit for a kid!
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Mr. Bodge (Photo: Twitter)

Okay, we knew tech recruiting in New York City was bad, but we didn’t realize it had gotten embarrassing. Earlier today, “hybrid designer and technologist” Mike Bodge offered up a first-hand account of the wooing techniques of Silicon Alley venture capitalists on his tumblr.

Be warned, it involves a Segway, and what might soon become a catchphrase worthy of its own meme. In fact, it’s so deliciously sad, we wonder if we’re being punked. Let’s consider the evidence, shall we?

Mr. Bodge recounts the story of meeting request from a “rather notorious New York venture capitalist.” As much as we’d love a local super-villain in our midst, Silicon Alley is a little low-wattage for real notoriety. Red flag one. Mr. Bodge, who ran the digital agency Lolz LLC before setting up his own shop, described himself as wholly uninterested in looking for a job, “as I am pretty comfortable sitting on my ass making dumb shit all day.” But decided to take the meeting anyways based on the VC’s reputation.

Blah blah blah two hours later and I’m being propositioned for a position as a staff programmer in a language I don’t even know. I’m not a programmer. I can put some together with code and make it work, but I’m the last guy you want to hire to be a “programmer.” They were adamant that they would send me to a school to learn said language and when I was done I’d start immediately on their product.

Training underqualified developers when the talent pool is so shallow doesn’t sound like the worst idea in the world. But the money quote comes next [emphasis ours]:

Then the real pitch came…the guy says to me “look around, you could have all this” as he pointed at a flat panel tv and an xbox 360. “We even have a segway in the lobby and take company field trips sometimes.” Do people still go into offices and go “OH MY GOD THIS PLACE HAS A PING PONG TABLE!!! I AM IN HEAVEN!!!!”? I mean seriously is this how people are hiring at startups in New York or was this a particularly sad example?

ALL OF THE TOYS! Swoon, between the Segway, video games, and field trips, it sounds like every 13-year-old boy’s dream come true. We reached out to Mr. Bodge to see if he’d be willing to name the man behind his supposed offer. Mr. Bodge would only say that VC is the CEO of the startup in question. He did, however, add that the Segway was hardly utilitarian:

I can note that the hallways in the office weren’t even wide enough to ride a Segway through. Probably was just a prop? Regardless, I’m 30 years old and if I wanted to use an xbox or a TV I’d probably just buy one.

He also assured us the company in question is fact, not fiction. “They are very well known,” Mr. Bodge said by email. “I didn’t mean notorious as in he’s known for being a jerk. Actually a really nice and smart guy.” Complaints about being offered a job and perks in a sluggish economic climate? Only in the Alley, folks!

Follow Nitasha Tiku on Twitter or via RSS. ntiku@observer.com