The New York Times' Quentin Hardy examines the raging battle for top tech talent in the Big Data Space. Krux's own co-founders Tom Chavez and Vivek Vaidya, as well as our ace recruiter, Cade Garrett, share their perspectives with Mr. Hardy.
Photo by Laura Morton for The New York Times
“LinkedIn or Facebook can offer an engineer with a few years’ experience a package close to $1 million,” said Mr. Chavez, who co-founded Krux and is its chief executive. “We wanted someone out of Stanford for an internship, and Google offered her an annualized $180,000 for the summer,” or about $45,000 for three months.
Facebook also wants employees like the people Mr. Chavez has hired. In fact, Vivek Vaidya, a Krux co-founder, calls the steep salaries Krux is compelled to pay “our Facebook tax.”
“Everything they do here is mission critical,” Mr. Garrett said. “You go to Google, you can’t be sure that in a couple of years you’ll have a product to show.”
Krux takes up several floors of a brick building at the base of South Park, a onetime place of sweatshops that has filled with start-ups and venture capitalists.
On the ground floor, development engineers get daily calls asking if they want to jump ship. A nearby team of data scientists gets 20 or more unsolicited emails a week via LinkedIn. Upstairs, Krux’s recruiter strives to keep people, even as he looks to take from others.
“I can’t compete with a $50,000 signing bonus from Google, so I focus on the person, what really motivates them,” said Cade Garrett, who has recruited about 100 people to Krux.
Besides offering stock options that could be valuable if the company has initial public offering, a fast-growing start-up can offer younger engineers a crash course in technology — the kind of training that could one day allow them to start their own companies.
“I tell them this isn’t the best-paying job, but they have to think about where things are going: Everything they do here is mission critical,” Mr. Garrett said. “You go to Google, you can’t be sure that in a couple of years you’ll have a product to show.”
Mr. Chavez thinks industry titans like Larry Page, the chief executive of the Alphabet holding company that includes Google, are intentionally driving up salaries. “If I was Larry, I’d do the same thing: throw a few more million at people and cut off everyone else’s oxygen.”
Even so, Mr. Garrett tries to keep engineers’ contact information off the Krux websites to foil recruiters. And he is more than happy to do his own poaching. Zenefits, a fast-growing online employee-benefits company currently reeling from the departure of its founding chief and a round of layoffs, is a target.
“Absolutely, I’ll call into any company that is in trouble,” he said.