Tech startups are changing the way workers are screened and hired.

Help wanted sign. Click image to expand.

Web start-ups are having a hard time hiring good programmers.When Michael Glukhovsky and Slava Akhmechet, the founders of RethinkDB, a database technology startup that changes how people store and access data, received $1.2 million in funding earlier this year, they began looking for their first employee. They turned to job boards. They recruited from their site. They tried to poach talent. They even wrote a blog post on their hiring woes and entered the how-to fray.

Their efforts didn't end there. They briefed a recruiter on their complex technology, but ultimately that was a waste of time—and dollars. And in four months, the hundreds of resumes, dozens of phone screens, and numerous four-hour meetings with viable candidates yielded no one who fit their criteria. So they started their company with students and post-grads eager to tackle a computer-science problem rather than become founding members at a startup.

Unemployment is chronic in much of the country, but in Silicon Valley, employees have their pick of jobs. In an economic climate that is the near converse of a recession, talent is scarce and star programmers have the upper hand. Pressured to solve the dull hiring puzzle, founders have started reconfiguring the way people get jobs. The result? Americans, more and more, will find work not via recruiters, job boards, and resumes, but by showcasing themselves online and undergoing less subjective automated assessments.

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Facebook To Begin Giving Y Combinator Startups VIP Treatment

Startups that enter the Y Combinator program don’t generally do it for the money alone — most companies receive $20,000 or less in seed funding. Instead, they do it for the exposure, connections, mentors, and resources that the YC program affords. And they just got one more major perk: Facebook has announced that it will be working to help YC companies create “transformative social experiences”, and it’s going to give them preferential treatment and access to company resources. From the Facebook post:

We’ll provide product, technical and design resources to support new Y Combinator companies interested in working with us to build deeply social products, whether a website or an application on These companies will have priority access to our technologies and programs such as Facebook Credits, Instant Personalization and upcoming beta features. Y Combinator will be publishing a “Request for Startup” focused on social startups and is now looking for interested entrepreneurs for their winter 2011 funding cycle.

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Star investors (and other stars) come out for Y Combinator's Demo Day

Dozens of Silicon Valley’s top investors turned out to see the latest crop of companies from Y Combinator, which kicked off the 11th Demo Day at its Mountain View headquarters on Tuesday.

Thirty-six companies showed off what they had built and made their pitches in an "American Idol"-style audition for judges with deep pockets and connections. They each had 2.5 minutes to give presentations. With a mini heat wave hitting Silicon Valley, entrepreneurs could blame their sweaty brows on the weather.

Y Combinator is like a boot camp for entrepreneurs, total immersion in start-up life courtesy of Paul Graham and Jessica Livingston, the brains behind the operation that invests time and money in promising teams and technologies.


The 36 companies made this Demo Day the largest. Graham said nine of the 36 are already profitable.

Among the notables in the audience: prolific angel investors Ron Conway, Aydin Senkut, Ariel Poler, Jeff Clavier and Keith Rabois (who will soon spend his time on Square rather than on investments). Adding to the star power were Ashton Kutcher and wife Demi Moore. Kutcher helped catapult Twitter into the mainstream and invests in technology ventures. But he wasn't the only one holding court. Moore reeled in entrepreneurs with smart, thoughtful suggestions for new features.

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