Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Quickies #4, Hiring Talent

Now enjoying my status as a sage of the industry, which is to say I am older than 20, but alas, not a billionaire, God fuck-it; people are all the time asking me for nuggets of wisdom from my vast experience at the top.

Quickies from marcf #4: More on hiring talent.

K.D asks: "Marc, my company is growing and I need to hire people across the organization, how do I go about recruiting the right talent".

Answer: "K.D. hiring the right people into your organization is important. Don't start hiring too early or you will lose money on a cash flow basis and you won't be able to sustain growth without more VC money and dilution. Don't hire too late, you will lose out on your opportunity. Employ pay-as-go if you have the luxury.
But most important: HIRE "A" PLAYERS and tap their network. In the classic dictum of the industry: "A players attract A players, B players attract C players".

At JBoss we had 3 cultures interwoven:
1- an historical JBoss core, the original OSS project developers. This group started growing by recruiting more outside projects (Gavin with Hibernate, Remy with Tomcat, Bela with JGroups etc).
2- Bob Bickel's gang. Bob was the business development head behind the growth of JBoss inc. He joined us prior to VC funding, was instrumental in getting VC funding and brought with him a lot of experienced business talent from the Bluestone days (Joe McGonnell, Shaun Connelly in marketing, Tom Leonard in sales)
3- David Skok's influence. David was our lead VC from Matrix partners. He helped bringing on operational talent (Rob Bearden, COO, Brad Murdoch, VP support, Cary Smith CFO) that really grew the company. These people are usually difficult to afford and attract unless you have VC backing.

Don't kid yourself that you are going to get a superstar for 80 cents on the dollar. I see so many young entrepreneurs, and established companies, being a penny wise and a pound foolish when it comes to paying talent. Not every position needs superstars, but the influence of a few key, experienced individuals can be dramatic, across organizational groups.

You get an added bonus, which is that inexperienced employees with high potential, paired with the right mentors will quickly bloom. Many people from JBoss when they tell me about their experience, mention the opportunity to work with industry veterans and how much they have learned.

8 comments:

Roy Russo said...

[At JBoss we had 3 cultures interwoven: ]

Four: Roy Russo. Roy doesn't "interweave" well with others.

Galder said...

Re: "A players attract A players, B players attract C players"

That is SO true

Andrew C. Oliver said...

Interwoven is an exaggeration from my memory...how about... "at war"?

Ditto for me...I get my own culture....The promethian culture....God of the flame :-)

Clebert Suconic said...

I just wonder how you and others had the cold blood to keep investing even when the future seemed obscure.

Now it's easy to look at the past and look at the route as everything was extremely calculated. Didn't you and others have the feeling of gambling or taking risks?

I have the feeling that leading a business is just like gambling.

Roy Russo said...

[I have the feeling that leading a business is just like gambling.]

Like gambling - if you don't play, you can't win. ;-)

Marcf said...

Andy,
correction: you were at war with most cultures while the rest of us got along just fine. Seriously, while there was normal tension, it never seemed to get out of hand, unlike some horror stories I hear and read about. I insist it was interwoven, you chose to fight it all most of the time. Roy, you seemed to fit in well with most cultures, you didn't constitute a fourth culture, you were clearly part of the décor and interwoven in it all, you quickly adopted the manierisms of all cultures it was kind of funny

Marcf said...

Clebert,
great question. I think the quote is if you don't shoot you can't score, but even that sounds premeditaded. Believe me when I say it wasn't planned at all, the real instance is probably worth a quicky :)

Roy Russo said...

[Roy, you seemed to fit in well with most cultures, you didn't constitute a fourth culture, you were clearly part of the décor and interwoven in it all]

You're ruining my image. I work hard on this facade.