Last month we wrote about DevelopersAuction, a company that lets startups “bid” on developers who are looking for work. During the first two-week long auction companies made $30 million worth of offers from companies like Quora and Dropbox. Our first story on the company garnered plenty of skepticism in the comments, but the most recent auction hit $78 million worth of bids according to co-founder Matt Mickiewicz.
And now the company is expanding beyond New York City, Boston and San Francisco to Los Angeles.
Not that DevelopersAuction has been sticking too closely to its original parameters anyway. Ostensibly the company solicits developers who are graduates of Stanford or MIT and/or have worked for companies like Google, Facebook or Apple. But at least one Chicago based developer was accepted even though he didn’t match those criteria.
Blaine Schanfeldt tells me he’s a high school and college dropout. His main experience comes from a computer consulting business he started when he was 17 and a cloud computing startup he founded after meeting some fellow entrepreneurs at Startup Weekend. That actually doesn’t sound unlike Mickiewicz’s own background — he started Sitepoint.com, the development and design resource publisher, when he was 14.
Schanfeldt says the companies that bid on him definitely knew that they weren’t bidding on an Ivy Leaguer from an A-list web giant. In fact they viewed his resume and many were actually attracted to his entrepreneur spirit — 15 companies to be exact. Mostly in the Bay Area but a couple from New York City and one in Chicago. He also says that the types of companies varied from brand new startups looking to hire employee number one, to more established small companies looking to hire employee number 101.
He hasn’t accepted an offer yet — no developer is required to accept the highest bid. Companies are supposed to make good on their promises — assuming they still want to hire a developer after an in-person interview. In other words, neither party is guaranteed anything at the end of the auction. Schanfeldt is planning a trip to the Bay area for a round of interviews.
He doesn’t come off as a hot-shot programmer. He says he was really surprised how much attention his resume attracted. “I was really excited when the first offer came in,” he says. He likes that the process has put him in touch with more companies faster than he would have on been in contact with on his own. He also liked being able to get a sense of salary perks before the interview.
Commenters raised various potential problems last time around, but one thing I wonder about is how well it scale supply of developers to customer demand. Right now it has pool of early adopters, supposedly hand-picked. DeveloperAuction screens both job seekers and startups. How well will it be able to manage quality control as it grows?
Schanfeldt had interesting experience (it’s up to employers looking at his work to decide if he’s a decent coder), but the fact that he passed the entrance criteria suggests that companies are eager to hire developers even if they don’t have the sort of pedigree associated with Google engineers. If the developers shortage doesn’t let up soon — and who knows, it could — then perhaps we’ll see some sort of mashup of this auction model and LivingSocial’s Hungry Academy experiment in which it paid several non-developers to learn Ruby.
And if it’s able to meet the demands on both sides, will this drive developer salaries up or down? Mickiewicz was also the co-founder of 99 Designs a company known for disrupting — not necessarily in a good way — the design business.