Hiring Great Engineers: Kleiner Perkins’ Mike Abbott Explains How - Startup Grind

Editor’s note: Derek Andersen is the founder of Startup Grind, a 35-city event series hosted in 15-countries that educates, inspires, and connects entrepreneurs.

When interviewing Kleiner Perkins Partner Mike Abbott at a recent Startup Grind event in Mountain View, this is one of the critical elements that Mike points out when it comes to hiring the best engineers. Engineers close engineers.

Mike has plenty of experience, having taken Twitter’s engineering team from 80 to 350 in 18 months and building the team that engineered WebOS at Palm. Hard to find many people who have been directly responsible for hiring as many software engineers in the last five years. Here are a few of the top strategies and insights pulled from Mike on how to get great engineers to join your startup. Some insights are edited for length.

Getting Coffee Is The First Win
“For that first reach out, the goal, the win, is just getting that coffee. I think you should always pay, I mean they’re doing you a favor and if you give me your time I really appreciate that. The other recommendation is to not do that meeting at your office. There’s something about making it more informal that people are more willing to go with and this is particularly important for various senior hires. Now I say this but at the same time I’m saying it’s not that you don’t need recruiters. Recruiters are very helpful to fill the top part of that pipeline to help manage that process so it’s a good experience for the candidate and it gives the candidate another person for he or she to talk to. Especially when you’re negotiating or competing with other companies, which is often times the case.”

Create Internal Competitions For Leads and Referrals
“This is something that we really tried to focus on, how are you going to recruit? You make a competition. How many names can you get on a board from LinkedIn? How many names can you get on from GitHub? Especially if they’re on a certain open source project, how do we think through who is the right person to go reach out to that engineer?…"