Talk about a seller’s market.
Matt Mickiewicz, a Vancouver-raised entrepreneur in Silicon Valley and the founder of SitePoint, a venerable resource for developers, says he’s been witness to some of the excesses of the hiring spree for developers: Coders in New York or San Francisco getting 30 to 60 recruiting queries a month, some arriving by text message; job offers by the dozen; signing bonuses of $100,000 or more. When he himself was hiring for SitePoint and other online properties, he says he had up to 30 recruiters working on his behalf at once.
“We were barely getting any results out of it; it was very frustrating,” he says.
So Mr. Mickiewicz decided to bypass the recruiting scene entirely and started DeveloperAuction.com, which connects developers and suitors directly – not by means of simple online listings, but in an online auction that’s specifically designed to extract the best possible deal for new hires.
The key to DeveloperAuction, says Mr. Mickiewicz, is that it’s curated at both ends: Would-be employers are vetted, and so are the pool of 150 developers they’ll bid on. Candidates are chosen based on factors like Ivy League education credentials, and the vetting offered by previous employers: “Google is known for rigourous hiring,” notes Mr. Mickiewicz. Also, no third-party recruiters are allowed.
The term 'auction' is really a bit of a misnomer, since there’s no actual auction mechanic involved with the site; it’s more of an open marketplace. Once the two-week long 'auction' begins, employers are free to request an initial 30-minute interview with developers using tools on the site, and present them with offers with full compensation numbers attached.
DeveloperAuction takes a 15 per cent cut of the a successful candidate’s first year base salary – paid for by the employer – as a commission, on top of which it offers a cash-back bonus to the employee. Mr. Mickiewicz says that employers are happy to pay: “We’re actually way cheaper than a Silicon Valley recruitment agency,” he says.
The company got its start in April 2013; by November, 153 candidates attracted $78-million in offers in a two-week auction round. The firm itself has been funded to the tune of $2.7-million in venture capital, and is looking to expand into more specific job categories, like mobile developers and recent graduates.
Mr. Mickiewicz says the heart of the concept, though, is to stay aligned with the people doing the work.
“The short-term approach is to align with the people who are writing the cheques,” he says. “The longer-term view is how do we look after the talent?”