Start-Ups Offer Cool Perks To Woo Top Talent

July 6, 2011

Office partyWith start-ups popping up just about everywhere and snatching up computer whizzes, companies have started beefing up their perks to woo top talent as well as keep current rock star employees.

As The Wall Street Journal reported, fierce competition among start-ups--as well as big names like Google and Facebook--has made companies step up their perks. With free breakfast, lunch and dinner now the standard at many companies, it takes more to woo a highly coveted software engineer or marketing guru. Internet start-up Airbnb Inc., which offers a social marketplace for travel accommodations, for instance, lets its employees hold meetings in a tree house, complete with an upstairs napping area, called the Mushroom Dome. And there are two other themed "living rooms" that the company uses as conference rooms. Airbnb also has regularly scheduled perks, such as Mustache Mondays, Yoga Tuesdays and Thursday Recess. At Dropbox Inc., employees can rock out with guitars and drums in one room or challenge a co-worker to a game of Dance Dance Revolution in another. Last month, Peanut Labs Inc. and AdParlor Inc. sponsored a seafaring soiree called "Pirates of Silicon Valley Cruise".

These are just some of the perks that companies are offering to stay competitive. As The New York Times pointed out, these incentives have become a key tactic.

"The atmosphere is brutally competitive," said Keith Rabois, a Silicon Valley veteran and chief operating officer at Square. "Recruiting in Silicon Valley is more competitive and intense and furious than college football recruiting for high school athletes."

But the competition can be found worldwide, not just within Silicon Valley. According to Financial Times, at Logica, an IT services company in the Philippines, employees get fun rewards, such as Wii game consoles, white water rafting days and even a trip to Disneyland, for referring potential employees. One new hire at Skimlinks in London received a year's membership to the London Zoo.

"We found out that he really liked animals so we gave him a year's membership to the zoo as a gesture," explained Alicia Navarro, chief executive of Skimlinks.

Offering such extraordinary perks not only fosters a fun, laid-back company culture that attracts new talent, but also spurs innovation. As Joe Gebbia, 29-year-old co-founder of Airbnb, told The Wall Street Journal, "We're going to work hard and play hard."

Indeed, engineers and product developers are known for working late into the night, so balancing things out and keeping workers happy and motivated are essential.

"The message being sent is that this is a cool, cool place to work," said Jay Adelson, chief executive of SimpleGeo, to the The New York Times. "That matters when you are a young, hipster developer."

Compiled by Heidi M. Agustin


"Creating new ways to woo the best,", July 5, 2011, Maija Palmer and April Dembosky

"Silicon Valley Hiring Perks: Meals, iPads and a Cubicle for Spot,", March 25, 2011, Claire Cain Miller and Jenna Wortham

"The Perk Bubble Is Growing as Tech Booms Again,", July 6, 2011, Geoffrey A. Fowler

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