The #1 request I hear when talking to founders in San Francisco is: “We are hiring engineers. Know any?” We all know this is a big issue that’s only getting worse, and so do most of the investors. But, I’m now starting to hear this so often, I’m beginning to worry that all the conventional tactics simply won’t work. Early-stage startups that don’t start experimenting with new ideas to source, recruit, and close engineers and other technical hires may end up running out of money or never achieving the product traction they need to get to the next level. I don’t have data to support this, but my intuition is that technical talent is so fragmented right now, all options need to be reexamined and placed on the table.
In that spirit of investigating all available options, here are 10 tactics your startup may consider given today’s conditions. And, while we often read high-level posts about how to hire people, the on-the-ground reality is that so many early-stage companies are being funded every day that when the founders close that first round, they often turn into (near) full-time recruiters, and many of them don’t succeed at it because they either don’t understand the weight of the issue before them and/or because they aren’t willing to consider these kind of options below, some of which require a serious change in thinking:
- Hire Remote Employees: Conventional wisdom says that your team should all be together, in person. Unfortunately, there are many great potential hires who are not located in NYC or SF and, for a host of reasons, cannot move.
- Hire Contractors (onsite or remote): Conventional wisdom says that this can backfire and cause more work because of incongruous development, but some great people may not be in the mood to commit to something so early and may want to work on other side projects for a host of reasons.
- Hire Qualified Candidates And Help Them Relocate: Early-stage companies don’t like to get into the game of relocation expenses, but if that’s the only thing stopping the close of a great potential hire who doesn’t live around here, it may be worth considering breaking that rule.
- Referral Systems: I’m sure most startups do some form of this, whether through gifts or cash incentives. But, maybe they need to be more robust and creative.
- Pay More Money and Share More Equity: If it’s that hard to land good technical talent, maybe a startup cannot afford the market price, or maybe the conventional wisdom around 15-20% option pools and current salary bands are not in line with this reality.
- Acqui-hire Teams That Can’t Survive: The Series A Crunch is real and might be just beginning. For companies that have raised more growth capital and/or those who are making enough money to warrant reinvestment into their core business, there are lots of teams out there who can be slimmed down and gobbled up, usually for a salaried offer, some equity, and a modest bonus.
- Open A Second Office: To get around the fear of remote and/or contract workers, there could be situations where a small group of qualified candidates reside close to each other but far away from your HQ. If this core group is open to setting up a new office and could hire more people through their own networks, it may not be a bad approach for a startup that has enough cash runway to handle it.
- Publicize Your Infrastructure And Stack: Talented folks want to see what your company has under the hood, so one approach is to invest the time and resources into a real engineering blog and sharing what goes on behind the scenes. This kind of openness attracts others who may be like-minded and could send a strong signal about how differentiated your approach is.
- Hire Less-Developed Candidates And Train Them: What if a founding team found raw talent and made the decision to hire these folks and train them? Without reducing the bar on quality, these teams may be able to hire folks like this and devote time and resources to developing them into full team players.
- Everyday Improvements: It’s obvious, but any list like this would have to include options like making your office the best place to work, by spending more time on recruiting, or actually hiring an accomplished recruiter who can demonstrably earn the respect of good candidates, or organize more tech talks, or more hackathons, or more competitions. [And, continually learn from experts like Dan Portillo, who captures all of his knowledge and tricks in this great slide deck.]
Naval Ravikant tweeted a great line last year: “It’s never been easier to start a company, but it’s never been harder to build one.” This fragmentation of talent is the other side of the coin in this bubble we are in — and yes, it is a bubble, but the bubble isn’t where you may think it is. Today, the asset that is overvalued is the amount of funds and shares of equity that founders are in control of and chose to hold on to — to recruit the right people, founders now have to work extra harder or be even more creative and daring to fill in their open slots. Put another way, in order to win in today’s game, many founders are going to have to make uncomfortable decisions, especially with respect to money for salaries and equity as incentives.
I am not an expert on all of this. And, I know it’s not cool to suggest these tactics because everyone says it’s all about “team” and because you want to protect your culture and because you don’t want to manage people remotely or hire contractors or spend time training a diamond in the rough, but for many early-stage companies in a flooded market like San Francisco, the harsh truth of 2013 is that everyone and their mom has a tech startup now, and everyone and their dad has a new seed fund, and you, as a founder, are caught right in the middle, forced to make suboptimal tradeoffs between quality and speed. It’s not a pretty choice, but in order to survive or succeed in this environment, I simply don’t see another way.
When Halo creator Bungie managed to steal away from Microsoft back in 2007, Master Chief's forefathers were afforded a few years to go dark and head down on a brand new gaming universe. Today, Bungie and its new benefactor, Activision, revealed that new franchise as "Destiny," an online-required persistent world first-person shooter. Even though the game's not due out this year, Bungie says it's headed to Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3, with no mention of next-gen.
The online requirement extends to both single-player and multiplayer campaigns -- your character's achievements remain persistent, and your avatar will seamlessly populate friends' games (rather than futzing with menus and the like), allowing for on-the-fly pairings. Bungie's shying away from outright referring to Destiny as an MMO, a la World of Warcraft. "[The] amount of players you see is design controlled. It's not about stuffing as many people in there as possible," Bungie COO Pete Parsons told our sister site, Joystiq. Of course, with next-gen sounding online connectivity, Bungie's silence on next-gen consoles is little more than a temporary vow -- Destiny seems a lock for (at very least) Sony and Microsoft's next consoles, if not also the PC (Wii U's looking unlikely).
Hard details on Destiny are a bit scarce at the moment -- when it launches, if it's part of a series, how exactly the game will work -- but we've dropped concept art below and a debut video just beyond the break. The video goes into a bit more detail on the universe, and briefly touches on the smartphone tie-in that Destiny will have (think Halo Waypoint), but for a more exhaustive approach to Destiny's debut, Joystiq's got you covered.
Update: In Activision's official PR, Destiny is listed as heading to Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 and, "other future console platforms."
Gallery: Destiny (concept art)
Read more of this story at Slashdot.
It might be hard at first to see the similarities between the White House and Downton Abbey, a drama about aristocrats and their gaggle of staff, but trust us, it's almost as if the British show was created about the Obamas.
Namely, the extensive live-in help that the Executive Office must have. Who wouldn't want to see the drama boiling up between the White House chef and the presidential dog walker?
And just throw some period clothing on the First Family (Barack and Michelle are shoo-ins as Lord and Lady Grantham, and Sasha and Malia were meant to play Mary and Edith Crawley) and you've got yourself an inte…
More About: Downton Abbey
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Over the years, Mophie has become synonymous with extending the iPhone's battery life. The outfit's range of battery-filled iPhone cases has garnered rave reviews across the industry, and even I religiously used one on an iPhone 3G. In more recent days, the company has cautiously expanded into a few new areas -- namely, building battery cases for non-Apple phones, and creating the contraption shown above. The Mophie Outride is an action-cam case that's designed to be strapped onto helmets, automobile hoods and any other place where your average X Games wannabe would look to capture extreme sports footage.
But, unlike the myriad rivals on the market today, the Outride doesn't actually include a camera. Instead, you're supposed to strap your iPhone 4 or 4S into it (an iPhone 5 model has yet to be announced), allowing the smartphone you already own to handle the bulk of the work. At first blush, it sounded like an ideal solution to me. After all, I'm generally in favor of convergence and consolidation, and as an avid traveler, having one less thing to carry (in this case, a dedicated camera) is a godsend. In practice, however, the Outride did little outside of convincing me that GoPro exists for a reason.
Not the Puget Serenity Pro, the world's quietest computer. It's so quiet, you can't hear any noise coming from it at all. Yet it runs the fastest third-generation Intel Core i7 quad-core processor, and has a graphics card that can drive four monitors at the same time and play serious games.
Impressive specs -- but does it deliver?
I know, we're all hearing that the trend is toward tablets and mobile platforms, even beyond ultrabooks. Desktops are dead, we're told. People want to get their information on the go -- on mobile phones, on tiny ultrabook laptops, on tablets, on convertible notebooks and on devices that ar…
CrunchWeek: Elon Musk Vs. NYT, The Uber For Private Jets, Zynga Settles With EA, Everyone Harlem Shakes
Congratulations! You’ve managed to avoid the intergalactic debris that’s been flying around to survive another action-packed week in the tech industry. And you know what else that means? It’s time for CrunchWeek, the weekly show where a few of us writers hang out in the TechCrunch TV studio and dish on the biggest stories from the past seven days.
In this edition, Ryan Lawler, Drew Olanoff and I (our usual host Leena Rao was working out of town this past week) got together to discuss Elon Musk very publicly going to bat for his electric car company Tesla after the New York Times published a less than flattering (and perhaps less than truthful) review of the Model S, the big San Francisco launch of Blackjet, the company that aims to be the Uber for private jet travel, Zynga’s surprise settlement with its gaming nemesis Electronic Arts, and TechCrunch’s help in nailing the coffin shut on the Harlem Shake meme.
U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) -- or as he's known now, the thirstiest man to ever have walked the planet -- sat down with Seth Meyers from Saturday Night Live to prove he can make it through a sentence without needing to guzzle down some H2O.
He insists that it was just nerves that got him all cotton-mouthed during his rebuttal of President Obama's State of the Union address, but really we all know that Rubio's on-air stunt was just a way to boost the economy by promoting sales of tiny water bottles.
But from what this SNL skit shows us, Rubio should just get a permanent I-V drip of some aqua -- maybe even…
Read more of this story at Slashdot.
Set your astronomical clocks and prepare your best space queries, Earthlings -- you're about to get a direct dispatch from the cosmos. Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield, who is currently circling the earth on the International Space Station, will be hosting a live Reddit AMA from space on Sunday at 9 p.m. GMT (4 p.m. ET).
A note to all Redditors: I will be doing an AMA from Station this Sunday at 9 p.m. GMT (4 p.m. EST). I look forward to your questions! -- Chris Hadfield (@Cmdr_Hadfield) February 15, 2013
Hadfield follows in the hallowed footsteps of U.S. President Barack Obama, entrepreneur/philanthropist Bill Gates and rapper Snoop Lion, who have all hosted successful and fascinat…
Apple entering the games space has been a topic of discussion for a long time. Some people think they already made their move and it’s still playing out. Some people think they are yet to drop the bomb. Most oversimplify the issue.
There’s a funny thing, though, about the way proponents of Apple (I say this without denigration) cheerlead their champion. In a lot of ways, there’s already an Apple in the games industry: it’s the games industry. Apple is filling the position in the games industry that Android fills in the mobile world.
Part of what makes it problematic to discuss is that is that it’s really difficult to disentangle content from platform these days, both in mobile and gaming (and mobile gaming, for that matter). The complex network of relationships, channels, and emerging methods for distribution make practically every comparison apples to oranges.
I’m not going to unravel that knot just now. I’ll get to the nut of the issue instead of dancing around it.
One of Apple’s greatest strengths, something that it understood early and has exploited continuously, is the value of the premium platform — including hardware, of course. They were always, and remain, the premium choice in consumer tech. As others have put it, this moots certain comparisons: you can’t, they say, compare a Ferrari to a Toyota. And that idea is not without legitimacy.
So it’s funny when the opposite seems to apply for the games industry. There’s already a premium product out there: the triple-A games produced by huge studios like Ubisoft, EA, Valve, and so on. The Xbox 360 and PS3, and soon the Xbox 720 and PS4, or whatever they’re called, have always been and will continue to be the premium platform — something that has worked well for Apple elsewhere, and something they’ll never be in the games space.
Why? Here’s that content-platform thing again. Apple simply isn’t a triple-A platform for games. Sure, there are great games on it, good-looking games, expensive games. And millions of people play them. But let’s not kid ourselves.
Notice that almost everything relating to the success of games on iOS is in terms of numbers downloaded and hours played. In like wise, one could say that YouTube is far more of a success than Hollywood, based on viewer hours. In a way, it’s true! But what is iOS’s Godfather? What is its Shadow of the Colossus? Angry Birds and Infinity Blade are arguably is the closest thing to either. Talk about comparing a Ferrari to a Toyota.
In the other corner is a premium platform with exclusive, popular content — the very thing Apple was when Android entered the scene. And now Apple is playing the scrappy underdog, eating up all the low-end users, winning on volume instead of quality. It’s the same strategy that provokes such venom against Android! Thousands of options, barely differentiated, priced to sell, with wildly varying quality, except for a few high-end flagship items – am I talking about Android handsets or the games in the App Store? Hard to tell, isn’t it?
And of course, that’s a recipe for success, as either Apple or Google can tell you. But again, as either can tell you, it’s hardly a recipe for total domination. For that, one must control the vertical and the horizontal.
All the same, it’s funny to see the bottom-up strategy of the App Store and Android reviled one moment and then praised the next.
So far, so obvious. But the unknown creeps in when you consider how platforms may evolve over the next five years — which is about what we can realistically expect for the life of the next consoles, with increased entropy due to changing markets.
The platform/content thing enters again, bringing with it quite a bit of uncertainty. How long is Call of Duty and its ilk going to remain a console exclusive? It’s practical now, and I’m willing to speculate that it will be practical two years from now. After that, things get more hazy.
The way people acquire and play games is changing in a serious way. Will the next consoles have huge hard drives to store downloaded games? Will they stream them over high-speed internet? Will they integrate with smartphones? Will they use discs? Will they allow used games? Will they replace your set-top box? Will they be open to hacking? The answers to the questions are maybe, maybe, maybe, maybe, maybe, maybe, and that’s hilarious. And there are a lot of other questions that will need to be answered before we can really start making predictions.
What about Microsoft, whose long-term three-screen plan is in serious jeopardy? What about Sony, which is in many ways falling to pieces (not in all cases a bad thing)? What about Google, which is a total wildcard? What about the publishers, who know which way the wind is blowing but can’t abandon ship yet?
There are too many variables to say with any kind of assurance how things will be in a few years. Apple will continue to make its play for the living room, but supplanting the consoles is out of the question (not that many have advanced this notion). But it isn’t going to enter the space in a way that requires them to abandon the last five years of app and device development, and they’re not going to compete directly against an opponent that offers a product they can’t hope to match. They may like to lead the charge, but they’re no Leeroy Jenkins.
Read more of this story at Slashdot.
Professionals who are in careers today will change jobs much more frequently than in previous generations. Therefore, you need to be prepared and proactive in managing your career. People’s lives are busy enough balancing work and family without having to think about finding time for their career as well.
Wrestling -- one of the oldest Olympic sports -- was dropped from the Summer Games last week, causing confusion and a lot of online protest.
What if Twitter were a "core sport"? Get those thumbs in shape for 2020.
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Editor’s note: Dan Greenberg is the founder & CEO of Sharethrough, the native video advertising company. Follow him on Twitter at @dgreenberg. James Navin is the vice president of Strategic Operations for Sharethrough. Follow him on Twitter @jnavin.
There has been a lot of talk in the digital media trade press about native advertising and the opportunities for advertisers. Yet, much less has been written about the opportunities and implications for digital publishers. But, first things first…What Is “Native Advertising”?
Native advertising is a concept that gained traction in the digital ad industry in 2012. It refers to digital ad formats that integrate more seamlessly (yet transparently) into website aesthetics, user experiences and/or editorial in ways that offer more value to both advertisers and readers. Put simply, native ads follow the format, style and voice of whatever platform they appear on.
Over recent months, the conversation about native advertising has focused largely on the pros and cons of just one facet of the larger movement: publisher-produced sponsored posts on editorial sites. However, native advertising is an umbrella concept that encompasses much more, starting with Google Search Ads and now extending to Promoted Videos on YouTube, Sponsored Stories on Facebook, Promoted Tweets on Twitter, promoted videos on sites like Devour and Viddy, promoted content on apps like Pulse and Flipboard, branded playlists on Spotify, promoted posts on Tumblr, sponsored check-ins on Foursquare, and brand-video content integrations produced by sites like Men’s Journal and Vice.
What ties these seemingly disparate ad products together is one common theme: The ad’s visual design and user experience are native to the site itself, and these native ad placements are filled with quality brand content of the same atomic unit (videos, posts, images) as is natural to that site.
Native ad executions are not new. For decades brands have been integrated in unique ways into media, such as product placements in TV sponsorships or in “Special Advertising Sections” in print magazines. But it’s only recently that digital advertisers and publishers have started to conceive analogous executions on the web.Benefits Of “Native” To Advertisers
Brand advertisers are expecting to benefit from native advertising in at least two ways:
- Higher perception and ad effectiveness via placements to which the reader isn’t blind. Native placements are not simply right rail boxes, but integrated with the native user experience of the site, whether a stream, feed, pin layout, check-in flow or video list. For example, Facebook and Twitter both integrate native ad placements directly into users’ content feeds with Sponsored Stories, rather than just relying on 300 x 250 banner ad placements sitting on the right column of their sites.
- Increased brand perception because the brand isn’t detracting from user experience by merely consuming webpage real estate. In fact, when done well, the ad execution can actually enhance the user experience. For example, sponsored posts on BuzzFeed regularly generate sharing numbers that are equivalent to their editorial content.
The result of the above will be higher brand engagement (whether measurable by clicks, engagements, sharing or brand-awareness studies) and brand perception, and, therefore, higher ad effectiveness.
The benefits to publishers are, naturally, the inverse of the above:
- A user experience that isn’t compromised by the advertiser but, in good ad executions, enhanced by it.
- The willingness of the advertiser to pay a higher CPM due to the increased effectiveness of the ad.
Unfortunately, the biggest benefit of native digital ads is also their biggest drawback. That is, to the extent that the best native ads are customized for a given web publication and its audience, they become more difficult to produce and sell at scale. And if a publisher lacks a direct sales team and/or sufficient scale to be interesting to advertisers and agencies, it may have trouble monetizing the ad opportunities most native to its site.
Twitter’s Promoted Tweets and Facebook’s Sponsored Stories are probably the most oft-cited examples of native digital advertising. And, until relatively recently, these large platforms have been the primary beneficiaries of the native movement because they’ve offered the only opportunity for digital media buyers to distribute brand content through native ads at scale.
But what if the Facebook or Twitter ad products aren’t the best strategy for a given marketing execution? Likewise, how might the more conventional, editorially driven digital publishers capitalize on the desire by advertisers to leverage “native” across the rest of the web?The Native “Adscape”
To answer the questions posed above, it might be helpful to consider the wider native advertising landscape. As previously mentioned, the major web platforms of record have set the tone for native by providing brands the opportunity to run advertisements at scale within users’ news feeds. However, these ad opportunities, as large as they are, are currently both specific and limited to each social network. And while rumors have emerged about a potential Facebook ad network that would distribute Facebook’s ads to the rest of the web, nothing has emerged quite yet. This limitation to a given site or platform represents a “closed” platform model.
So what about marketers who want other opportunities, different audiences or new environments for their videos, posts or other forms of branded content? What options might they have?
Top-tier publishers and platforms, such as Forbes, Flixster, The Atlantic, Devour and Pulse, as well as ad platforms such as Outbrain, Inpowered and Sharethrough, have developed strategies and tools that allow marketers to distribute brand content on publishers across the web. These “open” environments provide both advertisers and publishers with flexibility to “go native” with their media strategies without having to be limited to a single ad execution or platform for promotion.
In the “Native Adscape” (left) we attempt to define the leading players in this nascent market in order to shine a floodlight on the exciting and extended world of native advertising — beyond Facebook, Twitter and sponsored posts.
We categorize their distribution models as “social”, “editorial” and “open” or “closed” so as to inform the advertisers and publishers of their opportunities to participate in the native movement. It represents many of the companies that are currently moving the digital advertising industry forward with more effective native ad solutions.
Each week our friends at Inhabitat recap the week's most interesting green developments and clean tech news for us -- it's the Week in Green.
This week President Barack Obama set the tone for the coming year in his 2013 State of the Union address, which advocated 3D printing and called for a speedy transition towards renewable energy to help combat climate change. The future of clean tech is already looking bright, as the world's solar power capacity just hit a record 101 gigawatts, and researchers found a new way to charge batteries by harvesting ambient electromagnetic waves from thin air. Speaking of batteries, a new lithium-ion battery developed by USC utilizes nano-sphere technology to store three times more energy while cutting charge time down to just 10 minutes. Clean tech is invading the kitchen as well -- behold the Biobot, a tabletop device that converts waste cooking oil into biodiesel.