“Hire Great People” is an evergreen priority for every startup founder, whether it’s the company’s first employee or 1,000th. I’ve already written about how mission-driven founders have a recruiting advantage versus those companies just pitching perks and coolness. And when doing the hiring, how the standard interview process is suboptimal. Well, one other undervalued aspect of evaluating talent is judging whether or not they can attract other needed hires. I don’t just mean provide you with some referrals. I mean are they the type of person who once they join your company is going to start telling their friends and former colleagues that this is the place to be. And will those people listen to them.
The ability to attract coworkers is one of the great aspects of Silicon Valley. You can watch talented clusters of engineers move together in loosely joined groups. One factor in YouTube’s success was a bunch of great Paypal talent coming together again. Interestingly a subset of these folks moved over to Dropbox during a multiyear period.
I’d go even further when judging senior execs – the inability to bring former team members over is a major red flag. If all people who’ve worked for or with them in the past don’t want to do the same again, I don’t care how glowing the reference is, something is wrong. It’s why I love to see people like Steve Cheney, ex of GroupMe, bring one of his best former colleagues over to his new company. A hire like Steve can basically turn to the CEO and say “don’t worry, I got this.” You get someone like Steve and you don’t just hire a person, you’ve hired a team.