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Jason Calacanis’ group barter hack for getting a job

on July 5, 2011

You remember when the TV show “Friends” negotiated their contract as a group? No one star was trying to negotiate their contract separately. They realized that since the show didn’t have a single star, no single one of them had any leverage. Individually they were significant players. As a group they were a star. If they wanted a higher salary they’d have to negotiate as a group.

Similarly, you could do the same for a job in tech. At the Future of Web Apps conference in Las Vegas, I chatted with Jason Calacanis, CEO of Mahalo about his recommendation on how to hack the tech hiring process. He suggested that you get a small collective of your developer friends and build web apps for six months and show them to Facebook, Yahoo, and Google. While a risky venture, he predicts in the talent starved market of Silicon Valley, you could actually sell your team for $1 million a developer.

In a sense, this is what incubators such as Y Combinator and TechStars are doing, said Calacanis. These start up camps are grooming talent. In response, angel investors and acquisition people are looking and pouncing. Calacanis predicts we’re going to see hundreds of sub-$50 million deals being made from the top dozen players.

Calacanis is also looking for A+ talent, but he knows he can’t compete in salary dollars with Silicon Valley’s 500-pound gorillas – Google, Facebook, Zynga, Twitter, and Yahoo. Instead, Calacanis uses his social media footprint to try to hire. He asks new talent for 3-4 years of their time (he usually gets 2). He says that beyond a salary they’ll learn from the Jedi master on how to begin a start up. If they leave, he may angel invest in their company, which he says is happening, or be on their board of advisors.

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