Dave Carvajal



Ride services Lyft and Uber have poached dozens of key Twitter Inc employees over the past year, including top engineering managers, to help personalize their apps.

Twitter’s management turmoil and 44 percent stock fall over the last 12 months have helped Lyft and Uber recruit key talent, as the micro-blogging site’s employees look to recreate its early success elsewhere, tech recruiters said.

At least 25 former Twitter employees have joined Uber since January 2014, according to a search by Reuters of LinkedIn, including top managers such as Raffi Krikorian, an engineering lead at Uber since March.

Lyft has poached approximately 15 former Twitter employees, including senior managers and engineers such as Peter Morelli, now a key engineering manager at Lyft.

That is an unusually large number of people leaving in a short time span, tech recruiters said.

Ride-sharing companies are especially attractive because they aim to disrupt the transportation industry, much as Twitter disrupted communication, said Dave Carvajal, founder and CEO of Dave Partners, a tech recruiting firm.

“Twitter is having harder times and there are only a few places in town that are larger companies that are going to go public. Lyft and Uber are some of the best of those places,” added Mehul Patel, CEO of Hired, a tech recruiting firm.

Twitter employees are especially valuable as they have data skills that help Lyft and Uber understand consumer behavior, critical for the ride services as they look to personalize customers’ experiences with their apps.

“These people are some of the brightest talent out there,” Carvajal said.

Recruiting has grown increasingly competitive in Silicon Valley as start-ups valued at more than $1 billion, including Lyft and Uber, ramp up hiring as they look to go public.

Lyft’s staff has grown more than 70 percent since the start of 2015, a spokeswoman told Reuters, but she declined to say how many employees it has. Uber has added nearly 1,000 employees over the past year, according to the company. The numbers do not include drivers, who the firms class as contractors rather than employees.

Twitter did not respond to repeated requests for comment.

Via: Business Insider



For the last year, Google’s work force has increasingly been under attack from a herd of unicorns.

The unicorns, a class of hot start-ups valued at $1 billion or more, are all aggressively pursuing the best and brightest minds in Silicon Valley with promises of talked-about workplaces and eye-popping payouts. Amid a general scramble for talent, Google, the Internet search company, has undergone specific raids from unicorns for engineers who specialize in crucial technologies like mapping.

In particular, Uber — the largest unicorn, with a valuation of more than $50 billion — has plundered Google’s mapping unit over the last 12 months, aiming to bolster its own map research. Airbnb, the popular short-term rental start-up, has gone on a more general hiring spree, poaching more than 100 workers.

The recruiting is not confined to the best engineers; sometimes it spills over to nontechnical employees too. Two of the chefs who prepared meals for Googlers, Alvin San and Rafael Monfort, have been hired away by Uber and Airbnb in the last 18 months.

“It’s an employee’s market right now,” said Rodrigo Ipince, 28, a software engineer who recently left Google and was pursued by unicorns, but chose to join a mobile gaming video start-up, Kamcord. Mr. Ipince, who worked at Google for five years, said he received at least one to two emails from recruiters daily, asking if he was eager for a new job.

“It was fairly easy to get my foot in the door of whatever company I want,” he added.

Recruiting battles are a perennial tale in Silicon Valley, where technology companies wage war on one another for top prospects by doling out six-figure salaries and generous stock packages as if they were Halloween candy. The difference now is the scale of the talent clashes, with a large and growing number of young companies jumping into the fight, boasting fat war chests and claiming $1 billion-plus valuations.

There are now more than 124 unicorn companies, according to CB Insights, a research firm that tracks start-ups.

The competition is recognized at the very top. Amazon’s chief executive, Jeff Bezos, in a memo written over the weekend in response to a New York Times article about the company’s workplace, referred to a “highly competitive tech hiring market” and how his employees “are recruited every day by other world-class companies.” He was not specific about which companies were after Amazon workers.

While the unicorns typically pick off small groups of engineers at a time, making little impression on a large company’s total employee numbers, the poaching attacks are often aimed at siphoning off the best talent in strategic technologies. That can sting the likes of a Google, where executives have said one skilled engineer can be worth many times the average.

To snag employees from large rivals, unicorns have a simple recruiting pitch: They are on a path to success, as illustrated by their rising valuations. Many offer generous equity packages of restricted stock units that can later translate to big paydays for employees if the unicorn goes public or is sold — a lure that neither Google nor any other public tech company can dangle. Also, the unicorns say they are far more fleet-footed and cutting-edge than large organizations.

“The things that excite young tech workers are high growth and fast execution,” said Dave Carvajal, founder of Dave Partners, a tech recruiting company. “It’s not that tough for the new unicorns to swing by these big, older tech companies and pick up busloads of talent.”

Mike Curtis, vice president for engineering at Airbnb, which has a $24 billion valuation, said new hires were drawn to the youth of the company, which was founded in 2008. Airbnb, based in San Francisco, has doubled its work force over the last year, now employing about 2,000 people globally.

“These people think quite a bit about what our future growth potential is, what kind of impact we will have on the world, and, yes, what that would mean in terms of their equity,” Mr. Curtis said in an interview.

Apart from Google, the onetime Internet darlings Yelp and Twitter have become prime poaching targets, especially as their share prices have plummeted, reducing their employees’ potential for big gains from equity compensation. Over the last 18 months, Yelp’s stock price has fallen 73 percent from its peak, while Twitter shares are trading near a low.

Yelp’s chief operating officer, Geoff Donaker, acknowledged the unicorn poaching phenomenon in a conference call with analysts last month after the company reported disappointing earnings. About what he called “the unicorn bubble question,” Mr. Donaker said, “We are certainly feeling those impacts.”

The company said that it was having to spend more to hire sales representatives, and that recruiting was not happening as fast as Yelp would like because of the competitive environment.

“We will do what we can to hold the dam on that whole thing and ride it out,” Mr. Donaker added.

Representatives of Twitter and Yelp said their total employee numbers had risen on an annual basis.

“This competition for talent has a better chance at being solved if tech companies work together to increase the talent pool,” said Shannon Eis, a spokeswoman at Yelp. “We have to encourage students to train for careers in the fields that are growing our industry and our economy.”

Among the most aggressive unicorn recruiters is Uber, the ride-hailing company based in San Francisco, which has expanded operations to 59 countries. Uber promises a fast-paced work environment and “world changing” ambitions, according to multiple people who have been approached by the company or work for it. Uber has more than 3,500 employees, up from roughly 1,300 a year ago, not counting its so-called driver partners, who are contract workers.

Uber does not shy away from dangling generous compensation packages to important hires, especially in engineering. In the case of some highly sought-after engineers from Yelp last year, Uber offered millions of dollars in restricted stock units, according to two people with knowledge of the recruiting practices, who spoke on the condition of anonymity.

One of Uber’s prime picking grounds is Google. Uber has systematically hired Google’s experts in mapping technology, a crucial component of Uber’s plans to reduce its reliance on outside companies for mapping. In June, Uber hired Brian McClendon, a Google vice president for engineering who now leads Uber’s driverless car and robotics research center. Uber has also raided Google’s Geo unit, according to people close to the company, hiring at least a dozen mapping specialists over the last year.

Mr. McClendon declined to comment, as did an Uber spokeswoman. Google declined to comment for this article.

Google is not letting its employees go without a fight. Offers from a short list of companies — including Uber, Airbnb, Pinterest and Palantir — will often produce counteroffers, according to two people with direct knowledge of the matter.

The most senior Google employees may get a one-on-one meeting with Larry Page, a Google co-founder, to try to persuade the executive to stay, according to one of these people. Google is often willing to go “over the top” to keep top talent, the two people said.

Now may be an especially opportune time for unicorns to pick off Google workers. The company is in the midst of restructuring into a holding company named Alphabet. That has raised questions as to how employees, and their pet projects, will be situated and funded under the new regime.

In addition, a nimble recruiter from a much-talked-out start-up can still move faster than even the most competitive companies like Google. And sometimes, moving fast enough is all it takes.

“In one case, I replied to a recruiter on Thursday. I was interviewing on-site by Saturday, and I had an offer by Monday,” said Mr. Ipince, the software engineer.

Via: New York Times



One of the basic tenets of any successful negotiation is to know your worth. Having a sound understanding of what you bring to the table and how important or valuable it is to the other party gives you an important edge, especially when you’re trying to advance your career.

But, sometimes, it can be tough to get a realistic view of where our value actually lies, says Cheryl Hunter, a performance coach and founder of The Hunter Group. Hunter believes this is an area that too few people take seriously, to their own detriment.

“What I like to charge people with is that it’s your responsibility to have a strong sense of worth. It’s your responsibility for those that will follow in your footsteps,” Hunter says.

So, it’s important to infuse a little results-based swagger into your being. But how do you know what to measure—and whether you’ve got it right? These steps can help.


You’ve probably had a long history of people telling you exactly what you do well, Hunter says. Performance reviews, 360 evaluations, and other assessment tools your employers have used can give insight into some of those strengths. Where have you consistently gotten high marks and where do you have a track record of accomplishments?


Executive recruiter Dave Carvajal, founder of Dave Partners, says having strengths is one thing, but interpreting them into the value you deliver requires additional thought. Think of how those strengths and abilities matter to the decision-maker with whom you’re negotiating and create a scorecard of the key areas of value the job or negotiation requires.


For example, it’s great that you’re a terrific team builder, but what might really matter to the person hiring for the job you want is that you can assemble groups of people and help them find ways to collaborate efficiently and finish projects within the allotted time. Spell out what you believe are the most important credentials, skills, or other attributes necessary to win over the decision-maker and put forth your best foot in each area.


Carvajal suggests tapping the people who you’d ask for references or to be mentors to get a beat on your true value. These are people who think enough of you to go to bat for you, he says. Find out what it is about you that makes them willing to do so. What, exactly, would they say about you if asked for a recommendation? They may reveal strengths or attributes you never considered before.

“These are people who, for whatever reason, already have a vested interest in you. Get them on board to help you in your negotiation or job search early in the game,” he says.


When people talk about your work, listen for phrases like, “you always” or “you’re known for.” As you review your work history, look for achievements that you’ve racked up again and again. Do your campaigns always win awards? Are you the office peacemaker? Do coworkers come to you for breakthrough ideas? Our strongest attributes tend to make repeat appearances, Hunter says.


We’re all acquainted with that inner critic. But Hunter says it’s quieter when we’re focused on things at which we’re very adept. When you’re thinking about a task and that incessant chatter lets up a bit, that’s a clue that you’re focused on one of your stronger skills. Similarly, Carvajal says thinking about the job tasks or aspects you truly enjoy can also help you see the areas in which you’re strongest and bring more value.

“We tend to be happier when we’re doing something we’re good at and where we’re successful. When you’re happy, it’s a good sign you’ve found some of where you bring value,” he says.

Via: Fast Company

War for Tech Talent Hits ‘White Hot’ New York Startup Scene

War for Tech Talent Hits ‘White Hot’ New York Startup Scene

IT’S A GOOD time to be a software programmer in New York City.

Although the unemployment rate in the Big Apple remains over 9 percent — roughly double what’s considered healthy — the demand for programmers and engineers to work in the city’s burgeoning internet startup scene is stronger than it’s been in a decade.

New York-based startups like Gilt Group, Etsy, Foursquare, Tumblr, Intent Media and Rent-the-Runway, among others, are all fighting for the best talent. So are old media titans like NBC Universal, News Corp., Time Warner and AOL (my previous employer.)

Meanwhile, West Coast tech giants like Google are increasing their footprint in the city. The web search leader just closed a nearly $2 billion dollar deal to purchase 111 Eighth Avenue, the gargantuan, high-tech mega-building in the Chelsea neighborhood.

In short, experienced programmers and engineers based in New York City have a virtual smorgasboard of companies seeking their talents. The competition is so fierce that some of the top New York startups, like Foursquare, are actually opening Silicon Valley offices to gain access to the wealth of talent there.

“We’ve been lucky in New York to build such a great team, but we don’t have it easy because there’s a lot of competition between different startups and the big guys like Google and big finance,” said Dennis Crowley, the founder and CEO of Foursquare, the booming mobile networking site with a valuation somewhere north of $100 million. “Part of the reason we started our San Francisco office was to help us recruit great engineers faster, since not everyone is ready to move to New York.”

Meanwhile, major Silicon Valley companies like Facebook are poaching New York’s top talent, like Sam Lessin, co-founder of Drop.io, which the social networking juggernaut just acquired in a move designed to, well, acquire Lessin, who has moved to Palo Alto to work at Facebook full-time.

Jacob Robbins, who ran the engineering team at Drop.io for three years, says that in the six weeks since the acquisition was announced, he has fielded several offers.

“There are all kinds of companies hiring aggressively,” Robbins said. “As soon as the Drop.io announcement went out, Sam began receiving inquires asking if the engineering team were looking for new opportunities.”

“A lot of the developers from the Drop.io team are deciding between starting their own companies and engineering jobs,” he added.

Some top candidates are holding as many as four job offers at once, according to Dave Carvajal, the founder and CEO of Dave Partners, a boutique headhunting firm that places engineers, programmers and executives at tech startups in New York.

“Right now in New York City every technology company is hiring engineers, programmers, Java developers or PHP/Perl developers,” Carvajal said. “I haven’t seen it this hot since 1997. It’s white-hot. In the past week I’ve had five top-notch programmers and four of them each had four offers, and we closed three of those five.”

Carvajal co-founded the successful career website HotJobs.com in the mid-1990s before serving as a top executive at TheLadders, a high-end job site that caters to the $100,000-and-over set. A year and a half ago, Carvajal left the TheLadders to start his own firm. It was good timing.

Carvajal says that in the middle of 2009 he noticed two trends emerging. First, the barrier to entrepreneurship was decreasing, meaning it was becoming easier to start a company and secure funding. Second, more investors — particularly early stage investors — were willing to make smaller investments in nascent startups.

In other words, venture capital was opening up to new entrepreneurs who previously might not have been able to secure funding. This meant more startups, and thus more competition for talent.

And then, of course, there was the recession. “When the economy tightens, it forces people to be a lot more creative and innovative,” Carvajal said. “I don’t know if the United States is going to continue to be a leader in auto manufacturing, but the New York internet, e-commerce and digital scene is certainly one of the ‘green shoots’ in the U.S. economy,” said Carvajal.

He highlighted three main areas of labor shortage in the New York startup scene. First, engineers and programmers. Second, online marketing people who “really understand marketing analytics.” And, third, product developers.

With the implosion of Wall Street and subsequent layoffs, all of a sudden many smart young people who might have aspired to work at an investment bank or hedge fund are finding startups appealing. (Last year, Wired.com profiled some of the new Big Apple tech startups.)

“One of the things that is attractive to a lot of the top talent is the alternative lifestyle that startups can offer, where they can actually have fun, they can actually be surrounded by people who are highly intellectual and are highly committed to making something great happen on the web,” Carvajal said. “They can work equally hard, but just have a lot more fun than being in the rigid confines of finance or consulting.”

The competition for talent in New York is so intense, in fact, that Carvajal is actively looking to poach people from West Coast firms. “We are specifically looking for all of those graduates from the top East Coast universities over the past five to eight years who had to go to the West Coast to get a great job at a great startup,” he said. “We’re going to bring them back home.”