How Mark Zuckerberg Acq-Hires Startup Talent and Attracts Rockstar Employees

The Backstory

The battle for developer talent is raging on in Silicon Valley. The average salary of an engineer in Silicon Valley has jumped up by almost 50-60% in the last couple of years. Everyone, ranging from biggies like Microsoft, Google, Amazon and Apple, and successful startups like Facebook, Twitter, Zynga and Groupon are on a hiring spree.

Despite offering a very high salary, and bucket loads of equity options, they are still not able to hire all the talent they want. Many of the rockstar developers which Google and Facebook want to hire are working on their own startups. In an economic environment where getting millions of dollars in funding with just an idea and an iPhone app prototype has become quite easy, they would be foolish not to.

Yet, Facebook has been quite successful in attracting top talent and convincing them to work at Facebook. I always wondered how Zuck convinced all these startup founders and rockstars to join Facebook, instead of working on the next potential Facebook or Groupon.

Today, thanks to this article in the NYTimes by Nick Bilton, I now know. Apparently, all it takes is a walk in the woods with Mark Zuckerberg.

The Process

Normally, the hiring process comprises of an online application, multiple interviews and sessions with Facebook employees. But a “handful of rock-star engineers and designers get to leapfrog that entire process.”

“Several people who have been courted by Mr. Zuckerberg told the same story. The 27-year-old chief executive surprises them with the idea of a walk through the woods. A little startled by the invite, people often agree, and are then led across the Facebook parking lot where they eventually end up hiking along a trail that reaches a Silicon Valley lookout. This is where Mr. Zuckerberg delivers his pitch.”

Since Facebook is flush with cash, it can much higher than the standard compensation for the top talent. It also has employee stock options to offer, which will be worth more than their weight in gold, when it finally does have its IPO.

To add to that, Zuckerberg also delivers a very convincing pitch.

The Pitch

“Zuckerberg said money wasn’t an object and that if I wanted the job — and why wouldn’t I, he questioned — the paperwork was already ready to go back at the office,said the person who ran a small start-up Mr. Zuckerberg was trying acquire. The entire experience was totally surreal. I really felt like I was on a date. He pointed out Apple’s headquarters, then Hewlett-Packard and a number of other big tech companies,the individual explained. Then he pointed to Facebook and said that it would eventually be bigger than all of the companies he had just mentioned, and that if I joined the company, I could be a part of it all.

After all that courting, who wouldn’t want to join Facebook. Except the next Mark Zuckerbergs, of course.

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