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Betabeat’s Most Poachable Players in Tech: The 20 Devs, Designers and Hustlers to Steal for Your Startup

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Daniel Doubrovkine

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. Read More