Hipster baits job applicants with $10,000 and free beer

@CNNMoneyTech June 8, 2011: 11:29 AM ET
Hipster baits job applicants with $10,000 and free beer

(CNNMoney) -- Here's how tight the Silicon Valley battle for tech talent has gotten: If you can fill an open engineering position at Hipster, the startup will reward you with $10,000 in cash and a year's supply of PBR beer.

The San Francisco company is looking for three or four local engineers with experience in building Web software and mobile apps -- the exact same skill set hundreds of other tech companies are also seeking. Posting the openings on traditional job sites didn't lead to any promising applicants. Then Hipster co-founder Doug Ludlow wondered, "What if we gave a year's worth of PBR? And it snowballed from there."

Hipster received around 500 job applicants in the week since it posted the irreverent job ad. Ludlow says about 10% of the applicants are top-tier candidates. Many are even current employees at Facebook and Google.

These aren't easy jobs to fill: Ludlow likened their target applicants to skilled surgeons, and plans to pay accordingly. The engineering jobs come with salaries running anywhere from $90,000 to $150,000 a year, plus generous benefits and stock options.

Founded in 2010, Hipster is a "stealth mode" startup -- meaning they're not saying much yet about what they're doing -- that is working on a way to help users find hidden information and content about local real-world locations. Several big venture capitalists are funding the company, including Google Ventures, Lightbank and 500 Startups.

Pulling together the right team is critical for startups: "90% is the people, 10% is the idea," said Ludlow.

But finding these new hires often relies on enticing potential employees to leave current positions at other Internet companies. Mega-employers like Google (GOOG, Fortune 500), Yahoo (YHOO, Fortune 500) and Facebook offer untraditional incentives like free lunch, laundry, massages, oil changes and dentistry to keep their employees. They also splash around cash: In a sign of how competitive the tech job market has grown, Google recently gave its workers an across-the-board 10% pay raise.

Hipster's Ludlow is looking for engineers who want the challenge and pressure of working for a fast-evolving startup. But he doesn't expect to keep people for life: Hipster is after "entrepreneurs, not employees," he said. "We want the type of people who will start their own company in three years." To top of page

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