Earlier this month, Y Combinator held its Work At A Startup Event, where many of its alumni took the stage — not to pitch investors (as is the case at the incubator’s enormous demo day), but instead engineers who might be lured to work at the startups in question. After the presentations, I grabbed some one-on-one time with a few of the presenters (Weebly‘s David Rusenko, Codecademy‘s Zach Sims, and Stripe‘s John Collison) to answer some basic questions: Why should someone work for your startup? And what’s it like to recruit right now?
The fact that Rusenko, Sims, and Collison were at the event is itself a sign of the recruiting challenge that startups are facing. As Collison put it, “Right now is a really good time to be a software developer.” He painted it as a simple issue of supply and demand, with the demand for “a huge amount of software to be written” outpacing the supply of developers. However, he noted that thanks in part to startups like Codecademy and Udemy, getting a degree in computer science isn’t the only path to becoming a developer — Collison himself studied physics at Harvard.
Speaking of Codecademy, this was shortly after Jeff Atwood published his blog post “Please Don’t Learn To Code“, which offered a skeptical view on the idea that everyone should learn programming. Since Codecademy was one of the main targets, I asked Sims respond. He argued that what Codecademy provides is not just to “learn to code per se” but also “a better way to understand the world.”