• William Ross

Devs Eat First

When Todd and I started this business in April 2021, hiring felt impossible. How could we compete with well-resourced startups, who were themselves struggling to compete with well resourced FAANGM giants?

It’s now June 2022. Better.com has laid off 4,000 of its employees (via Zoom). Meta has issued a hiring freeze. Inflation printed at 6.2% in April, up from 5.9% in March. $TWTR is down 9% YTD, despite a (tentative) buyout offer from Elon Musk. Ukraine has defended itself from Russia’s war for over 100 days.

We’ve learned two things when hiring:

  1. You get what you pay for. If you try to wheel-and-deal below market rate, your startup will fail. No one’s going to do you a favor; if you think you’ve found a way to prove me wrong, just give it time. After months of struggle, Todd and I decided to compensate our people generously. We love our team like family, and we trust that in hiring experts we’re saving money in the long term - building fast, yes, but avoiding foreseeable errors as a function of our engineers’ experience. The point: even though it’s our first rodeo, that doesn’t mean it’s our team's. In fact, if you’re in our shoes, I strongly encourage you to hire experts. We haven’t looked back.

  2. Our devs eat first. Todd and I are working other jobs in order to stay off the P&L until we determine it's appropriate to pay ourselves. We’re 22 years old and wake up at 6am every morning to check-in with the team. The morning brings us energy that we bring to our day jobs. Todd learns product management, I learn M&A, and we improve quickly because we’re desperate to master any skill set that will serve Reckit. We live this life in order to provide financial security to our team. Mark my words, our devs will always eat first. How do we ensure we don’t become Better.com, laying off thousands of our teammates in one fell swoop? We commit to keeping the team lean, following the examples of Notion (>$70mm per team member), WhatsApp (>$300m per team member at sale), and Instagram (>$76mm per team member at sale). Notice a pattern? We’re fortunate in that social tech lends itself to the feasibility of a high valuation per team member ratio.

We don’t care that it’s now “easier” to hire SWEs. Todd and I will always remember the struggle of 2021, the frustration of losing a chance at talent.

So, we cherish our devs. They’ve eaten first so far. They always will.

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