Nivi · October 14th, 2010
Steve’s the founder of Powerset. This essay is very long and very good. It’s the best article I’ve read on building teams. And team building is 10x more difficult, tedious, and important than raising money.
I love/hate this essay.
I love the fact that Steve is open sourcing his secrets. I hate the fact that high-quality startup advice is the exception and not the norm.
I love that this essay was written in Silicon Valley. I hate that Silicon Valley dominates the world in quality startup advice.
Here’s a sample from Steve’s essay:
Engineers Suck at Negotiating, so Don’t Negotiate, Be Fair –from me, after being pissed off about hiring practices I experienced from bad founders.
Over the years, I have noticed some sort of weird inverse correlation between the talent an engineer has for coding and their ability to negotiate. I’ve seen people that could have hacked into NSA suddenly shit twinkies the second I bring up the topic of their salary. I don’t exactly get it, but it’s there.
Founders, on the other hand, are almost by nature programmed to negotiate everything. In some cases, I have seen founders take advantage of engineers who don’t negotiate well, or who simply hate to negotiate so much that it’s a near-phobic experience.
DO NOT DO THIS! If you do, you’re an ass-hat.
Besides being unfair and a dick move, it is also stupid and even worse yet in my book – it’s illogical.
What inevitably happens is that the engineers, who all have different deals, get drunk one night. Then the shit hits the fan when they tell each other what they all make and what equity they got. Come Monday morning, every engineer’s password is “my_founder_is_a_dick,” several viruses and backdoors are suddenly installed into the code base, and the founder gets the silent treatment – none the wiser of his impending doom. Way to go ass-hat!
If you can’t tell, this one pushes my buttons. I don’t give a frog’s fat ass how good a negotiator an engineer is when I’m interviewing them. I want them to have such pristine code that it makes my other engineers cry. I want them to have a beautiful mind that can use logic and reason to solve the engineering challenges that I hand them. It is completely irrelevant how good they are at negotiating.