HubSpot Fires First Shot in Boston Battle For Talent: $10,000 Bounty

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HubSpot Fires First Shot in Boston Battle For Talent: $10,000 Bounty


Over on the west coast, companies like Google and Facebook are duking it out for top tech talent.  There’s all sorts of craziness going on including 10% across the board raises and big bonuses. Back here in Boston, there’s a similar battle for talent brewing.  Except, here in Boston, we’re kind of polite and a tad overly sane (there’s not enough craziness).  So, nobody really comes right out and says that there’s a battle for tech talent going on in Boston.  So, I’m going to go ahead and say it.cannon

There’s a battle for brilliant developers going on in Boston! 

There, I said it.  I feel much better now.  All anyone seems to talk about around here is startup funding and whether or not Boston VCs invest aggressively enough in consumer Internet companies.  But, I’m going to argue that for awesome startups, raising funding is actually easier these days than recruiting great developers.  I personally know a dozen startups in the Boston area that are all looking for great developers (I’m an angel investor in half of them).

So, who wins in the battle for tech talent?  Why, it’s the talent!  Why?  Because as in most situations where demand greatly exceeds supply, it’s a seller’s market.  (That’s an MBA way of saying, “you’re going to do really well….”)  So, instead of startups interviewing developers, in reality, it’s more that developers are interviewing startups.  Life is good for you, esteemed awesome developers!

We’re working on making HubSpot a magnet for technology talent in the Boston area, like Facebook is on the west coast.  We’ve got tough software problems to solve, millions of users, lots of capital, cool office space, and some of the smartest developers around. 

In order to officially kick off the Boston battle for talent, we’re doing a few somewhat crazy things (crazy for Boston, at least). Here’s what we’ve got lined up so far:

a) Refer A Developer, Make $10,000.  If you know a brilliant developer, refer them to HubSpot.  Not only will you be helping them join a great software company in Boston, you’ll get a $10,000 bonus for yourself.  Think of the gadgets you could buy!  Check out the “Refer A Developer” program.hubspot refer developer $10k

b) Many Will Enter, Few Will Emerge — With A Free iPad.  Any developer that gets called in for the final HubSpot interview (you don’t even have to survive it, or be offered a job), gets a free iPad, just for playing.  Oh, and before you think we’re super-crazy, know that we are notoriously selective.  In fact, I’m not sure that if I weren’t the founder, I’d be able to make it that far.  Seriously.  Our dev team is super picky. 

c) $4,000 shopping spree.  Any developer that joins HubSpot gets to go on a $4,000 hardware/gadget shopping spree.  They get to pick out stuff that they can somewhat rationalize will make them more productive and/or happy.  Popular options include the new Macbook Air, a big second monitor and one of the cool new Android phones (which we hear, can actually make phone calls).    [Note to self:  Now that iPhone’s available on Verizon, probably need to stop making iPhone jokes].

So, the question is, is all this craziness diabolically clever or an act of desperation?  That depends.  The difference between crazy and genius is whether it works. 

Of course, we’ve been doing other things to build the awesome team we already have.  If the company sucked, no amount of recruitment shenanigans would work, so we first made sure not to suck. 

Here are some reasons why we think you (or someone you know) should check us out.

Reasons You Or Someone You Know Should Interview (At) HubSpot

1. A compelling vision that helps millions of people:  Great developers like building products with broad appeal and wide reach.  They like to have impact and influence.  We do that at HubSpot.  Our marketing software has been built for small businesses.  We’re rallying against old-school marketing like junk mail, spam and cold calls.  The message is resonating really well.  We reach millions of users every month, and have 4,000 customers.  With this kind of scale comes great challenges.  Like figuring out how to store and analyze terabytes of data (and heading towards petabytes alarmingly fast). Or, creating a user experience that your Uncle Leo could use (because someone’s Uncle Leo does). 

2. Shiny, Happy People:  Last year, we were voted one of the best companies to work for in the Boston area by the Boston Business Journal (our friends at Google were #2).  We asked people why the heck they were so happy (besides the spiked slushies), and they said, somewhat recursively, “…I’m happy because I get to work with other smart, happy, passionate people.”  We have the reverse Lake Wobegon effect.  Several times a week, you will walk into a room and feel you brought the average IQ down.  Seriously, you will. 

3. A Real Salary:  We’ve raised $33 million in venture capital from some of the best VCs on the planet.  We have millions still left in the bank and revenues are growing like wildfire.  So at HubSpot, you don’t have to be paid in hugs and options and work on the “deferred compensation plan” (which is basically, “we can’t really afford to pay you right now — but just as soon as we get those customers/investors/grandparents/governments to give us some cash, you’ll be first in line!”).  You actually get a real salary, making your friends and family proud and/or envious.  We’ve heard that money is useful for buying stuff.  So, come help us spend some of those venture capital dollars towards a good cause.

Note: I’m not suggesting that it’s not a good idea to work for an early-stage startup — they’re totally cool.  But if you do, it should either a) be your own and/or b) be one that you are totally passionate about.

4. Options/Equity:  Yep, we have those too.  Every developer at HubSpot gets a stake in our future.  The difference between options at HubSpot and most other startups, is that the share price has just kept going up and up and up.  And, we think our best years are still ahead of us.  It’s a bit like joining Facebook in the early years, only not. 

5. We don’t want to just build software, we want to build entrepreneurs:  We want to build a big, successful company in the Boston area.  Obviously, creating great software is a big part of that.  But, we’re also passionate about seeding the next generation of entrepreneurs.  If you have the entrepreneurial gene, we fully expect that you’ll meet and work with your future co-founders at HubSpot.  We also have one of the best startup networks imaginable. 

6. We’ll Raise Your Currency:  HubSpot has an exceptionally strong reputation.  We’re known for hiring kick-ass people and not suffering fools.  So, if for some silly reason, you decide to leave us someday, the fact that you’ve been on the HubSpot team is going to wonders for your credibility (not that you needed help on that front).

7. Strict “No Jerks” Rule:  We don’t hire jerks.  Period.  If your normal disposition is to be negative and cranky, and it can’t be explained by a temporary lack of caffeine, you won’t fit in at HubSpot.  We’re intense at HubSpot, but it’s a good intense.  The reason for the “no jerks” rule is simple — for those of us that are not jerks, working with jerks is a whole lot of suckiness.  Life is short.  Why work with jerks?

8. Cool Stuff Shopping Spree:  We got tired of arguing about whether this MacBook Pro or that Thinkpad was better.  Or whether big second monitors really did help productivity (they do).  So, every developer that joins HubSpot gets $4,000 to go buy stuff.  You decide what’s going to make you super-productive.  [Oh, and if you just happen to want to buy that latest Android tablet because you’re thinking about doing a side project some day, I say go for it.  ]

9. Office Space For Happy Humans:  The nice thing about having lots of customers and fast growing revenues is that we can afford to invest in great working conditions.  We work in a well lit, comfortable, fun, cool office space.  Don’t take our word for it, check out some photos, or just come visit [we have every Friday at 4pm — and there’s free beer]. 

10. Hyper Transparency:  One of the core components of HubSpot’s culture is hyper transparency.  Every employee in the company has access to most of the company’s critical data — including financials.  This includes customers, revenue, burn-rate, cash in the bank, valuation of last venture round, notes from “strategic” meetings, plans for future financing.  Just about everything.  Our default position is:  “Unless you have really good reason to keep it secret, don’t make it a secret.”  We trust ourselves to use all of this information wisely, and so our default mode is “open”.

11. The “Take What You Need” Vacation Policy:  Over a year ago, the topic of a vacation policy came up in a management meeting.  We didn’t have a policy, and someone suggested we should have one.  Our CEO pushed back, with a “why”?  Net result:  We decided our policy would be to have no policy.  Members of the team take as much vacation as they need.  There’s no approval, no paperwork, no tracking, no accruing — nothing.  Contrary to what some outsiders may have believed, the company did not die.  It’s working great. 

12. Friends In Cool Places:  We believe in being an active member of the startup community inside and outside of Boston.  As such, we're well connected with a bunch of startup celebrities: Drew Houston (DropBox) -- he's on our advisory board.  Jason Fried (37signals).  Joel Spolsky (Stack Overflow), Mike McDerment (Freshbooks).  Adam Smith (ex-Xobni).  Alexis Ohanian (Y Combinator, Reddit) -- also on our advisory board.  Eric Ries (we're major lean startup fans). Rand Fishkin (SEOmoz, and SEO Extraordinaire). Hiten Shah (KissMetrics).  Dan Martell (Flowtown).    If that isn't enough name dropping for you, we've got more. So, what's the point of all of this (other than showing off)?  Well, we learn from all of these great entrepreneurs.  We hang out with them for beers.  They come do guest talks at HubSpot.  It's awesome.

13. Ping Pong:  Yes, we have a table, that’s not a big deal.  What we’re proud of is that our CEO, CTO, our VP Platform, VP Customer Happiness, VP Sales all play ping-pong.  Heck, even our CFO can play ping pong and chances are he can kick your ass. [Feel free to challenge him, but don't let him charge you for a beer -- they're free at HubSpot].

14. We're Good Peeps:  I know this one's a tad subjective, but ask around.  If you know anyone that knows HubSpot (and you should), ask them about the people.  Chances are they'll say good things. 

OK, I could drone on and on, but I think, you get the point.  We're a fun place to work, growing crazy fast and all modesty aside the place you want to be if you're awesome and can code.  You'll be the envy of your friends and family ("what, you got a job at HubSpot -- that's cool!"). 

I'll even make the initial process painless for you.  Just go to this page and enter your email address and a URL of some page that shows me your awesomeness.  I'll personally check you out and see if it's worth going to the next step.  If you ask me nicely, I'll even tell you what your odds are of making it to the final interview and getting the free iPad.

What do you think?  Any other ideas for attracting great developers?  Did you think this set of ideas was diabolically clever or a tad too desperate?  Would love to read your comments.

Posted by Dharmesh Shah on Mon, Jan 24, 2011


Awesome! What if I referred someone last week?

posted on Monday, January 24, 2011 at 12:36 PM by Alex

Looks like you need a team of can post an opportunity its free!  
Good Luck! 

posted on Monday, January 24, 2011 at 12:41 PM by Rusty Bettis

"The difference between crazy and genius is whether it works." 
That's going on the MassChallenge white board as the Quote of the Day tomorrow. Nice one!

posted on Monday, January 24, 2011 at 12:51 PM by Andy Cook

I wonder how many devs will send you to their Stack Overflow Profile :-) 
Post a job or search the CV database on Stack Overflow Careers to reach the top developers on Stack Overflow.

posted on Monday, January 24, 2011 at 1:25 PM by Alison

I would love, love, love to see StackOverflow profiles posted. That would be awesome.  
Updating the page now, to ask for that. 
And, I should have added Joel Spolsky to the list of luminaries we're connected to and fans of. Fixing that too.

posted on Monday, January 24, 2011 at 1:41 PM by Dharmesh Shah

What if I want to refer myself? 
What is the job requiremnt? Can you please send a link...

posted on Monday, January 24, 2011 at 1:43 PM by Amit Kumar

Amit: You can refer yourself (we were wondering how long it would take someone to ask that question).  
For details on requirements, visit (and 
Generally, we're technology/language agnostic. We think great developers will be fine with working in any environment. Currently, we use Java/Python as our preferred languages, with some C# and PHP mixed in.

posted on Monday, January 24, 2011 at 1:47 PM by Dharmesh Shah

There is a great lesson from Dharmesh in this blog post.. 

posted on Monday, January 24, 2011 at 1:48 PM by Antonio Faillace

I think the offshoring trend of the lates 1990's and early 2000's turned a bunch of undergrad's off computer science and now we are paying the price. There is a nationwide dearth of "great" developers and it's seriously hampering startups.

posted on Monday, January 24, 2011 at 1:59 PM by Karl Treier

Happy days are here again for Outsourcers, especially in areas that are known for top level talent like Eastern Europe. My company, Ignite Outsourcing , is an example. How do you know we're good? There’s a reason that Ignite’s ecosystem includes 12 development centers in Eastern Europe and offices on three continents, and that we are able to deliver ISO 9001 compliant projects.

posted on Monday, January 24, 2011 at 2:13 PM by Steve Organek

I believe you are totally sane in this approach, or I'm not. But, have you considered contracting out to some of the best devs in the U.S.? This could help save some investor dollars for other projects? 
Best wishes. 

posted on Monday, January 24, 2011 at 3:17 PM by Andy

Prakash: I would agree that focusing on specific Java syntax is not a good thing. Will cycle back on our end to fix going forward. Sorry about that. 
Andy: We have a strong preference towards having the team co-located as much as possible in Cambridge, MA. Easier communication, and in the long run, a better product -- though it's certainly not the cheapest path.

posted on Monday, January 24, 2011 at 3:25 PM by Dharmesh Shah

After a great recruiting pitch like this, I wonder if you'll even need the referral bonus program :)

posted on Monday, January 24, 2011 at 4:00 PM by Alex Marinov

How can you be a lean startup fan and toss around iPads and 10 thousand dollar bonuses? These were the sort of tactics that used to happen at Razorfish and ATG before they tanked. 
Don't these antics reek more of desperation to attract people to work on what is an analytics engine and a dashboard? Can't I get this free with Google Analytics? 
Also, are you really picky in skills, or picky in mindset? Two or three of your team members there are folks I have seen in the Boston tech circles, and are more concerned with syntax and oblique questions about the guts of stuff like JDBC vs actually caring about a solution. Good luck though, you have very nice wordsmithing.

posted on Monday, January 24, 2011 at 5:41 PM by Sammy

Sammy: Being a "lean startup" is more about speed (of learning) than being conservative with cash. In that regard, we've been very methodical about how we learned from the market and iterated (which is mostly the reason for our success so far). 
In terms of whether these antics are desperate (or not), I'm not sure. In reality, this kind of campaign might end up being better for us than using recruiters.  
In terms of being picky, I'd like to think we're more about picky about intelligence, passion for programming and culture fit than specific syntax skills. But, sounds like we have some work to do there. 
And for the record, I'm actually much better at codesmithing than wordsmithing -- but appreciate the compliment.  

posted on Monday, January 24, 2011 at 7:55 PM by Dharmesh Shah

Nice pitch. Is telecommuting an option ? ( recently moved out of Boston ). 

posted on Monday, January 24, 2011 at 8:10 PM by pady

Pady: Sorry, telecommuting is not an option at this time. We're looking for developers to work out of our Cambridge, MA office.

posted on Monday, January 24, 2011 at 10:06 PM by Dharmesh Shah

Fantastic challenge, what do you suppose is the biggest barrier to finding the right talent in the Boston area* right now? 
*Weather isn't an excuse! ;)

posted on Monday, January 24, 2011 at 10:36 PM by Adam Smith

As a suggestion, why doesn't Hubspot sponsor a coding marathon at TopCoder. You could throw a problemt relevant to Hubspot, that should give you someone really close to A+ programmer. If you announce, I am sure you will know anyone's mettle out there.

posted on Tuesday, January 25, 2011 at 12:39 AM by Kamal

This is great Dharmesh....didn't see any reference to and the fun that team has on Friday! I enjoyed that while I was in Boston...and sometime I feel I should be there! 
BTW, why don't you source developers from across the globe? Many international candidates might be interested I suppose for Hubspot.

posted on Tuesday, January 25, 2011 at 12:47 AM by Prashant Sachdev

Nice one Dharmesh, I'm sure every developers would love to work with the company :)

posted on Tuesday, January 25, 2011 at 1:49 AM by Samuel

Can someone from outside US also apply for the same ??

posted on Tuesday, January 25, 2011 at 1:50 AM by Ankit

Dharmesh, kudos to you for believing that the best products come from geo-located teams that are close to the business. I totally agree, and quality people are the most valuable asset to startups so do whatever it takes to get them.

posted on Tuesday, January 25, 2011 at 9:57 AM by Karl Treier

Hmmm!! I feel the enthusiasm and like the concept. I have been perusing hubspot off and on and curious about the business model.  
But this "drive" is well conceived and executed. 
I like it. 
However, (Oh, yes, isn't there always an "However?!) I am attracted to this company and I am not a developer. Can I find you a "spot on" developer that fits corporate culture and has the IQ and talent? Yes, but the effort involved is not reflected by a $10,000 bounty. 
Best regards for a great drive. 

posted on Tuesday, January 25, 2011 at 11:57 AM by EJ Topping

Love the post and excellent job description. We'd be happy to post the position on and send through strong candidates we receive. 
Our startup helps companies find top talent through personal referrals from industry connectors. 

posted on Tuesday, January 25, 2011 at 1:29 PM by Andrew D'Souza

What an ignorant post. While "entrepreneurial spirit" is occasionally found in job postings, it's about as stupid as saying "no kids." If you're the entrepreneur, you DON'T want anyone who is thinking of starting their own company. Those types of people tend to have their minds on their outside business, not yours. Case in point - the fool from Cisco who was caught bragging to 37 signals about how his employer unwittingly funded his double-sided bottle project. It's the reason why many engineering-based employers require you to sign away your rights to anything you invent. The last thing that any hiring manager really wants is someone with excessive entrepreneurial bent on their payroll. It's in a true entrepreneur's blood to maintain total control over their creation, not share it with their employer or get caught in a conflict of interest. Claiming otherwise is pure pie-in-the-sky bullshit. 

posted on Tuesday, January 25, 2011 at 7:59 PM by Alice

I view Entrepreneur as someone who has a keen insight for what is going on in the present and where the person wants to be, formulate a goal, think through a path towards that goal and efficiently apply resources to reach it.  
Building end to end systems is not a trivial task and the more entrepreneurial team members you have the better. 
Unfortunately, the scenario painted by Alice is not ruled out. Also, this scenario cannot be ruled out in business world.  
I am not speaking for Dharmesh and would love to hear his thoughts. 
Best Regards,

posted on Wednesday, January 26, 2011 at 9:55 AM by Prakash

It would be nice to see more companies be a little more open minded and embrace hiring remote developers (yes the ugly t-word: telecommuting), you know, instead of always complaining of a talent shortage. 37Signals wrote an interesting piece about how almost their entire staff is remote: 
I am a developer, and used to live and work in a big expensive coastal city. I lived in Seattle and worked in consulting and at Microsoft. Despite the higher pay, I got tired of the high cost of living and long commutes. 

posted on Wednesday, January 26, 2011 at 10:20 AM by Joe A

As someone that has worked in talent management and community development for years - I have always wonedered when a firm would finally make use of the tools now available - that for the most part make a big part of using a recruiting agency moot... Not surprised that Hob Spot was one of the first!! Way to go! 
Do have one question though - with all the referrals and responses - what is being used to uncover the best potential fit in the first pass? Above it was mentioned that you are very much interested in mental acuity, passion for the work and cultural fit (in addition to functional programming capability). Resumes don't provide this info very well...How are you uncovering these important characteristics?

posted on Wednesday, January 26, 2011 at 12:02 PM by KC

Excellent use of Employment Marketing BTW...

posted on Wednesday, January 26, 2011 at 12:05 PM by KC

Thanks everyone for your comments. 
Regarding the pros and cons of hiring entrepreneurial developers: I agree that there's a risk that such folks are going to want to go off and do their own thing. That's a risk you take. But, I've found that folks that have that entrepreneurial instinct are great at actually building the entire product (end to end) instead of just working on some small piece. They like to solve real-world problems for real-world users. In the event that in a year or two some of them end up moving on, I think they still create immense value while you have them. If you look at entrepreneurs starting companies today, that were working somewhere previously -- don't you think those people created value for their prior employers? Sure, would have been nice for the employer if they had stayed around forever, but that's unrealistic in this day and age.  
Regarding telecommuting -- I think the ability to manage distribute teams is a great talent to have. If you have that, you should use it -- it greatly expands the pool of potential talent. At my company, HubSpot, we haven't invested in building that talent (we've invested elsewhere). There's no right/wrong answer -- but what's right for us right now, is keeping the team "together" as much as possible.

posted on Wednesday, January 26, 2011 at 12:49 PM by Dharmesh Shah

At HubSpot we are all entrepreneurs working as a team to help meet or exceed personal/departmental/company goals and the entrepreneurial spirit rivals that of any early stage company. 
The culture encourages employees to take on responsibilities outside of the job they (we) were hired to do and it rewards and challenges us to never settle for "good enough" - entrepreneurs tend to gravitate toward these types of environments. 

posted on Wednesday, January 26, 2011 at 8:15 PM by Joe Sharron

I am interested in learning more about what hard software/web problems is Hubspot solving. It is stated in the blog post that Hubspot is dealing with large amounts of data...are there interesting Big Data processing and analysis problems for developers to solve? Hadoop clusters with NoSQL backends to crunch data with? Tough design decisions to make such as to whether scale up or scale out? Any opportunities to apply intelligent web algorithms? Data mining opportunities? 
It is well known what problems companies such as Google, Amazon deal with and what potential projects prospective candidates can wind up working on. Some start-ups such as also list the problems they are tackling. It would be great if Hubspot could do the same.

posted on Thursday, January 27, 2011 at 12:13 AM by Faizan Javed

Faizan, all those problems exist in spades at HubSpot ;). We haven't been great at sharing the technical details with the world, but were starting to. Check out the HubSpot dev blog at and/or @HubSpotDev on Twitter.

posted on Thursday, January 27, 2011 at 6:56 AM by Yoav Shapira

Great article and great spirit Hub Spot. I love your vacation policy and the fact that freedom works for you speaks of your ability to empower employees and let them own a stake in your success.

posted on Tuesday, February 01, 2011 at 11:37 AM by leon kuperman

Happy to help where we can...

posted on Tuesday, February 22, 2011 at 10:24 AM by Nageldesign

Are you looking for people residing only in US? or Are you looking for right talent and ready to sponsor if need arises? 

posted on Friday, February 25, 2011 at 2:57 AM by Srinivas

Great strategy to jumpstart conversation ...nice transparency. I can't/won't code but like to use great software. Peoples minds are bown when they see your report. Can you ...maybe you have already correlated top 100/100 and pull some graphs together on that...Maybe thof top 100 that are 50/100?

posted on Sunday, February 27, 2011 at 6:46 AM by Barbara Reiner

I certainly can say, as someone who recruited/headhunted many of these uber-talented Boston Software Engineers in their jobs, that HubSpot definitely rocks.  
Cannot say that about too many places. 
Scott A.T. Dunlop 
Founder, The Bivium Group - ranked as Boston's #1 Software Recruiter 
Catch-up for the latest news: 

posted on Tuesday, March 15, 2011 at 4:46 PM by Scott Dunlop - The Bivium Group

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