HubSpot Fires First Shot in Boston Battle For Talent: $10,000 Bounty

Written By: Dharmesh Shah January 24, 2011

Over on the west coast, companies like Google and Facebook are duking it out for top tech talent.  There’s all sorts of craziness going on including 10% across the board raises and big bonuses. Back here in Boston, there’s a similar battle for talent brewing.  Except, here in Boston, we’re kind of polite and a tad overly sane (there’s not enough craziness).  So, nobody really comes right out and says that there’s a battle for tech talent going on in Boston.  So, I’m going to go ahead and say it.cannon

There’s a battle for brilliant developers going on in Boston! 

There, I said it.  I feel much better now.  All anyone seems to talk about around here is startup funding and whether or not Boston VCs invest aggressively enough in consumer Internet companies.  But, I’m going to argue that for awesome startups, raising funding is actually easier these days than recruiting great developers.  I personally know a dozen startups in the Boston area that are all looking for great developers (I’m an angel investor in half of them).

So, who wins in the battle for tech talent?  Why, it’s the talent!  Why?  Because as in most situations where demand greatly exceeds supply, it’s a seller’s market.  (That’s an MBA way of saying, “you’re going to do really well….”)  So, instead of startups interviewing developers, in reality, it’s more that developers are interviewing startups.  Life is good for you, esteemed awesome developers!

We’re working on making HubSpot a magnet for technology talent in the Boston area, like Facebook is on the west coast.  We’ve got tough software problems to solve, millions of users, lots of capital, cool office space, and some of the smartest developers around. 

In order to officially kick off the Boston battle for talent, we’re doing a few somewhat crazy things (crazy for Boston, at least). Here’s what we’ve got lined up so far:

a) Refer A Developer, Make $10,000.  If you know a brilliant developer, refer them to HubSpot.  Not only will you be helping them join a great software company in Boston, you’ll get a $10,000 bonus for yourself.  Think of the gadgets you could buy!  Check out the “Refer A Developer” program.hubspot refer developer $10k

b) Many Will Enter, Few Will Emerge — With A Free iPad.  Any developer that gets called in for the final HubSpot interview (you don’t even have to survive it, or be offered a job), gets a free iPad, just for playing.  Oh, and before you think we’re super-crazy, know that we are notoriously selective.  In fact, I’m not sure that if I weren’t the founder, I’d be able to make it that far.  Seriously.  Our dev team is super picky. 

c) $4,000 shopping spree.  Any developer that joins HubSpot gets to go on a $4,000 hardware/gadget shopping spree.  They get to pick out stuff that they can somewhat rationalize will make them more productive and/or happy.  Popular options include the new Macbook Air, a big second monitor and one of the cool new Android phones (which we hear, can actually make phone calls).    [Note to self:  Now that iPhone’s available on Verizon, probably need to stop making iPhone jokes].

So, the question is, is all this craziness diabolically clever or an act of desperation?  That depends.  The difference between crazy and genius is whether it works. 

Of course, we’ve been doing other things to build the awesome team we already have.  If the company sucked, no amount of recruitment shenanigans would work, so we first made sure not to suck. 

Here are some reasons why we think you (or someone you know) should check us out.

Reasons You Or Someone You Know Should Interview (At) HubSpot

1. A compelling vision that helps millions of people:  Great developers like building products with broad appeal and wide reach.  They like to have impact and influence.  We do that at HubSpot.  Our marketing software has been built for small businesses.  We’re rallying against old-school marketing like junk mail, spam and cold calls.  The message is resonating really well.  We reach millions of users every month, and have 4,000 customers.  With this kind of scale comes great challenges.  Like figuring out how to store and analyze terabytes of data (and heading towards petabytes alarmingly fast). Or, creating a user experience that your Uncle Leo could use (because someone’s Uncle Leo does). 

2. Shiny, Happy People:  Last year, we were voted one of the best companies to work for in the Boston area by the Boston Business Journal (our friends at Google were #2).  We asked people why the heck they were so happy (besides the spiked slushies), and they said, somewhat recursively, “…I’m happy because I get to work with other smart, happy, passionate people.”  We have the reverse Lake Wobegon effect.  Several times a week, you will walk into a room and feel you brought the average IQ down.  Seriously, you will. 

3. A Real Salary:  We’ve raised $33 million in venture capital from some of the best VCs on the planet.  We have millions still left in the bank and revenues are growing like wildfire.  So at HubSpot, you don’t have to be paid in hugs and options and work on the “deferred compensation plan” (which is basically, “we can’t really afford to pay you right now — but just as soon as we get those customers/investors/grandparents/governments to give us some cash, you’ll be first in line!”).  You actually get a real salary, making your friends and family proud and/or envious.  We’ve heard that money is useful for buying stuff.  So, come help us spend some of those venture capital dollars towards a good cause.

Note: I’m not suggesting that it’s not a good idea to work for an early-stage startup — they’re totally cool.  But if you do, it should either a) be your own and/or b) be one that you are totally passionate about.

4. Options/Equity:  Yep, we have those too.  Every developer at HubSpot gets a stake in our future.  The difference between options at HubSpot and most other startups, is that the share price has just kept going up and up and up.  And, we think our best years are still ahead of us.  It’s a bit like joining Facebook in the early years, only not. 

5. We don’t want to just build software, we want to build entrepreneurs:  We want to build a big, successful company in the Boston area.  Obviously, creating great software is a big part of that.  But, we’re also passionate about seeding the next generation of entrepreneurs.  If you have the entrepreneurial gene, we fully expect that you’ll meet and work with your future co-founders at HubSpot.  We also have one of the best startup networks imaginable. 

6. We’ll Raise Your Currency:  HubSpot has an exceptionally strong reputation.  We’re known for hiring kick-ass people and not suffering fools.  So, if for some silly reason, you decide to leave us someday, the fact that you’ve been on the HubSpot team is going to wonders for your credibility (not that you needed help on that front).

7. Strict “No Jerks” Rule:  We don’t hire jerks.  Period.  If your normal disposition is to be negative and cranky, and it can’t be explained by a temporary lack of caffeine, you won’t fit in at HubSpot.  We’re intense at HubSpot, but it’s a good intense.  The reason for the “no jerks” rule is simple — for those of us that are not jerks, working with jerks is a whole lot of suckiness.  Life is short.  Why work with jerks?

8. Cool Stuff Shopping Spree:  We got tired of arguing about whether this MacBook Pro or that Thinkpad was better.  Or whether big second monitors really did help productivity (they do).  So, every developer that joins HubSpot gets $4,000 to go buy stuff.  You decide what’s going to make you super-productive.  [Oh, and if you just happen to want to buy that latest Android tablet because you’re thinking about doing a side project some day, I say go for it.  ]

9. Office Space For Happy Humans:  The nice thing about having lots of customers and fast growing revenues is that we can afford to invest in great working conditions.  We work in a well lit, comfortable, fun, cool office space.  Don’t take our word for it, check out some photos, or just come visit [we have every Friday at 4pm — and there’s free beer]. 

10. Hyper Transparency:  One of the core components of HubSpot’s culture is hyper transparency.  Every employee in the company has access to most of the company’s critical data — including financials.  This includes customers, revenue, burn-rate, cash in the bank, valuation of last venture round, notes from “strategic” meetings, plans for future financing.  Just about everything.  Our default position is:  “Unless you have really good reason to keep it secret, don’t make it a secret.”  We trust ourselves to use all of this information wisely, and so our default mode is “open”.

11. The “Take What You Need” Vacation Policy:  Over a year ago, the topic of a vacation policy came up in a management meeting.  We didn’t have a policy, and someone suggested we should have one.  Our CEO pushed back, with a “why”?  Net result:  We decided our policy would be to have no policy.  Members of the team take as much vacation as they need.  There’s no approval, no paperwork, no tracking, no accruing — nothing.  Contrary to what some outsiders may have believed, the company did not die.  It’s working great. 

12. Friends In Cool Places:  We believe in being an active member of the startup community inside and outside of Boston.  As such, we're well connected with a bunch of startup celebrities: Drew Houston (DropBox) -- he's on our advisory board.  Jason Fried (37signals).  Joel Spolsky (Stack Overflow), Mike McDerment (Freshbooks).  Adam Smith (ex-Xobni).  Alexis Ohanian (Y Combinator, Reddit) -- also on our advisory board.  Eric Ries (we're major lean startup fans). Rand Fishkin (SEOmoz, and SEO Extraordinaire). Hiten Shah (KissMetrics).  Dan Martell (Flowtown).    If that isn't enough name dropping for you, we've got more. So, what's the point of all of this (other than showing off)?  Well, we learn from all of these great entrepreneurs.  We hang out with them for beers.  They come do guest talks at HubSpot.  It's awesome.

13. Ping Pong:  Yes, we have a table, that’s not a big deal.  What we’re proud of is that our CEO, CTO, our VP Platform, VP Customer Happiness, VP Sales all play ping-pong.  Heck, even our CFO can play ping pong and chances are he can kick your ass. [Feel free to challenge him, but don't let him charge you for a beer -- they're free at HubSpot].

14. We're Good Peeps:  I know this one's a tad subjective, but ask around.  If you know anyone that knows HubSpot (and you should), ask them about the people.  Chances are they'll say good things. 

OK, I could drone on and on, but I think, you get the point.  We're a fun place to work, growing crazy fast and all modesty aside the place you want to be if you're awesome and can code.  You'll be the envy of your friends and family ("what, you got a job at HubSpot -- that's cool!"). 

I'll even make the initial process painless for you.  Just go to this page and enter your email address and a URL of some page that shows me your awesomeness.  I'll personally check you out and see if it's worth going to the next step.  If you ask me nicely, I'll even tell you what your odds are of making it to the final interview and getting the free iPad.

What do you think?  Any other ideas for attracting great developers?  Did you think this set of ideas was diabolically clever or a tad too desperate?  Would love to read your comments.

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