startups are annoying

Nobody Is Applying To This Tech Company Because Its Riddle Is Too Hard to Solve

Good reason not to work there is they call it the "batphone."
Too hard. (Photo: Bigcommerce)

Too hard. (Photo: Bigcommerce)

When giant tech companies try to lure fresh talent, they tend to do wacky, attention-grabbing stunts. Remember when Google installed a billboard in Silicon Valley with a mysterious mathematical equation that, once figured out, pointed smart people (a.k.a. engineers) to an employment page? 

Taking a note from Google, Australian tech firm Bigcommerce slapped signs around Sydney with a numerical riddle that has to be solved to get the company’s telephone number. In true startup fashion, the office is equipped with an Xbox, ping pong tables and dubs the phone that the number directs to as the “batphone.”

Problem is, the riddle is ridiculously complicated and not even the brightest of engineers can figure it out.

Soren Harner, the company’s VP of Engineering, said the stunt is going exactly as planned and told everyone not to worry. He said that since traditional recruiting is “hit and miss,” the impossibly difficult riddle is a good way not to recruit at all. Or something.

“We want engineers who are enthusiastic and passionate and crack puzzles for fun. It also creates an element of scarcity,” he told news.com.au. “We are recruiting a lot of people but compared to the number of people who would like to work in a tech start up there is a scarcity.”

Just open Linkedin in an incognito browser and no one will know you failed, Mr. Harner.

Follow Jordan Valinsky on Twitter or via RSS. jvalinsky@observer.com