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Google and Yahoo Creating Brain Drain? 307

Posted by Zonk
from the slipping-googleward dept.
Searchbistro writes "Software-engineering talent is flocking to Google and Yahoo. Business Week explores the possibility that the big two search companies are creating a brain drain on the rest of the industry. Google snapped up about 230 engineers last quarter. Some stolen superstars are Louis Monier, director of eBay, advanced technology research, and Kai-Fu Lee, a top-flight researcher at Microsoft. Yahoo hired dozens of top engineers, including Larry Tesler, former vice-president at Amazon.com. 'While the Internet leaders snatch up top tech talent, that creates headaches elsewhere. Some startups, for instance, say the talent drain has made their own hiring more difficult.'"
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Google and Yahoo Creating Brain Drain?

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  • by Timesprout (579035) on Saturday July 30, 2005 @01:55AM (#13200823)
    So the standards won't drop around here.
  • by mr100percent (57156) * on Saturday July 30, 2005 @02:00AM (#13200837) Homepage Journal
    Hey, with these top-list people out of the running, doesn't it make it a bit easier to be hired if you were further down the list?

    In short: Good news if you're a B-rank engineer
                        Bad news if you're trying to diversify the industry
    • by FireballX301 (766274) on Saturday July 30, 2005 @02:13AM (#13200877) Journal
      More precisely, it's good news for the quality engineers that haven't made huge discoveries, or the engineers looking for their break.

      Brain drain only truly occurs when there's a lack of brains flowing to the industry or region, not simply because of a 'cornering of the market' on brains.
    • by eln (21727) on Saturday July 30, 2005 @02:27AM (#13200915) Homepage
      This article presupposes that there is a large gap between the elite engineers and the plebes. It seems to suggest that there are a handful of really great programmers, and the rest are a bunch of retards. In reality, there is a large population of very talented engineers who do not have the PhD's from the big schools, and who do not have the impressive pedigree that places like Google look for. These people are just as likely to come up with the Next Big Thing (tm) as the MIT PhD's are, but they're far less likely to be taken seriously by the likes of Google.
    • You are being suckered by the ever more imaginative PR gimmicks from the outsourcing lobby. Since they can't use any more the shortage of programmers to open some more the H1B and outsourcing gates, now some slickster has come up with a 'neat idea' to peddle "lack of smartest programmers" based on few hundred working for Google and Yahoo, and then got some Business Week hack to parrot it.

      The top 500 (or top 1000 or top 10,000) will always be working for someone and by the talmudic logic of Mr. Ben Elgin, Mr
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday July 30, 2005 @02:00AM (#13200840)
    When employers are finding it difficult to hire because there aren't thousands more workers than there are positions to fill, that's good for employees

    Want a job? Suddenly you're not being selected from one of 1500 applicants, and it's not a case where employers can put any old conditions on work because everyone is just desperate for any old work.

    Now employees are the ones who can pick & choose.
    • Exactly right! With a good demand for knowledge workers (CS/Engineers, etc), the employee isn't forced to accept rediculous contractual terms as much either. Companies get away with too much as it is with regard to how they treat their workers ( I'm looking at YOU, EA), so I don't feel much sympathy if they have to pay a bit more to compete for employees. It's about time. Again. :P
  • by afra242 (465406) on Saturday July 30, 2005 @02:00AM (#13200841)
    There are more than, say 500 good engineers in the US (supposing Google and Yahoo hired 500 people). Sure, not many VPs of big dot-coms are easy to hire but would a startup be able to afford the salaries/perks they demand?

    I don't think it's that much of an issue....
    • by mcrbids (148650) on Saturday July 30, 2005 @02:11AM (#13200874) Journal
      There are more than, say 500 good engineers in the US (supposing Google and Yahoo hired 500 people). Sure, not many VPs of big dot-coms are easy to hire but would a startup be able to afford the salaries/perks they demand?

      I don't think it's that much of an issue....


      When you are talking about engineers generally, 500 is a drop in the bucket. When you are talking about the top notch engineers, that's a massive brain drain.

      Most engineers go about their lives, doing more/less commodity work, often of high quality, and live un-notable lives producing good works.

      But there are a few, a very, very few, that have what it takes to really upset the apple cart. These are the top notch folks - those who change not only industries, but ways of life. For millions of people.

      It takes a very small number of these guys to change the world. And, right now, they're all flocking to google/yahoo.
      • Yes, but oftentimes these can only be discovered after the fact. It's not like these people are identified solely through their interview questions - no matter how innovative those questions may be - or even, dare I say it, through their academic qualifications.

        You're right about the small number, but we won't know just who will be among those who change the world until they suck it up and just do it.
        • Then maybe interview questions and academic records are the wrong way to go about hiring.

          It's incredibly annoying when people skip over the "research" section of my resume because "OMG! He has a high GPA!" This happens almost everywhere that I apply. I think that it may be the subconscious need of the interviewer to have a quantitative measure of someone's performance (that is, after all, a resume tip); research doesn't really translate into a number.

          IMO, past work is the best way to judge future work. It i
      • by wfberg (24378) on Saturday July 30, 2005 @05:09AM (#13201237)
        This "small elite" of people who can "change the world" are actually not unlike, say, the top 5% of their profession (a lot more than 500 people), it's just that they're being given the proper preconditions to flourish. Like, having a boss that isn't straight out of Dilbert. Or, not working for a government department. Not being bogged down by office politics. Not having to worry about patents. That sort of thing.

        As it is, most people have to work for a living, working in fucked up organizations, for fucked up bosses, being frustrated all the way.

        Google isn't really doing anything no-one has thought about doing before, it's just that their propellorheads are given an ability to execute.
      • But there are a few, a very, very few, that have what it takes to really upset the apple cart. These are the top notch folks - those who change not only industries, but ways of life. For millions of people.

        An interesting claim, but I'd be interested to hear some rationale for what you say - some sort of statistic, or even some anecdotes. I'm not saying you're wrong, I just don't know. As it stands you didn't support your statement with any evidence.

        Some people look at today's highly skewed income di

    • by serutan (259622) <(moc.nozakeeg) (ta) (guodpoons)> on Saturday July 30, 2005 @02:22AM (#13200904) Homepage
      A few years ago there were similar claims that Microsoft Research, which is several times the size of Google and Yahoo search combined, was creating a brain drain in academia. During the ensuing discussion somebody pointed out that the number of technical PhDs earned every year was like a hundred times the MSR hiring rate. It seems like one of those ridiculous themes that get revisited in business news every few years, like whether we are about to see another tech stock bubble.
  • Um... okay (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Cantide (743407) on Saturday July 30, 2005 @02:01AM (#13200849)
    It kind of seems to me like they mentioned Yahoo for a lark in this article. The actually interesting and insightful section was about how people want to work at Google because--well, because they're Google-- but then they also sort of passingly mention "Oh, I guess people want to work at Yahoo too?"

    Maybe they want to work there because they're competing against Google.
    • by Teach (29386) * <<graham> <at> <grahammitchell.com>> on Saturday July 30, 2005 @12:08PM (#13202641) Homepage

      It kind of seems to me like they mentioned Yahoo for a lark in this article.

      Actually, I'd bet you dollars to donuts that this article was "seeded" by a PR firm in the employ of Yahoo. Their goal: create the impression that Yahoo is second only to Google as a search engine and an employer of Smart People. Make Yahoo seem cool like Google is. For example, the sentence "Yahoo also carries substantial geek cred."

      Paul Graham unveils this concept in great detail in his essay The Submarine [paulgraham.com].

      Notice the number of quotes from Yahoo employees vs. the number from Google employees, the insider information about Yahoo's future plans vs. the use of facts you already knew about Google anyway.

      Bet.

  • by creimer (824291) on Saturday July 30, 2005 @02:02AM (#13200850) Homepage
    I remember in the old days before computers that you have to haul your butt down to library, search a card index, find the books, and look page-by-page for the information you're looking for. That required a bit of brain work to avoid wasting your time. It's a no brainer today to find what you're looking for on Google or Yahoo. Anyone who say that there's no brain drain going on haven't looked past their search bar in a while.
  • by loggia (309962) on Saturday July 30, 2005 @02:04AM (#13200854)
    You can hire almost anyone and still create crap, just as Microsoft does.

    Apple has good pull to get people, but even better management. There are tons of talented people - the whole superstar thing can be folly. It's about a culture that permits creativity and innovation.

    When you've got people at Microsoft worrying about uttering the word podcast, you can see that they are losing their relevance by the moment. It has happened to many giant companies - as they phase from entrepreneurial and flexible - to arrogant and rigid.
  • Layoffs (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Vicissidude (878310) on Saturday July 30, 2005 @02:04AM (#13200855)
    IBM and HP both recently laid off 14,000 workers each. There should be plenty of brains out there, available for work.
    • Re:Layoffs (Score:5, Insightful)

      by slasho81 (455509) on Saturday July 30, 2005 @02:29AM (#13200920)

      IBM and HP both recently laid off 14,000 workers each. There should be plenty of brains out there, available for work.

      IBM and HP didn't fire their top engineers.

    • Re:Layoffs (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Angst Badger (8636) on Saturday July 30, 2005 @03:03AM (#13200987)
      IBM and HP both recently laid off 14,000 workers each. There should be plenty of brains out there, available for work.

      Considering the huge number of layoffs over the last five years, that was my thought, too. There is no shortage of software engineers, and there hasn't been one for well over a decade.

      What there is a shortage of is American developers willing to work for the same wages as receptionists. Every time large companies start bitching about a shortage of tech workers, it's a lead-up to increasing the H1B quota.
      • There is no shortage of software engineers, and there hasn't been one for well over a decade.

        Huh? As recently as early 2000 bidding wars over engineers & developers were commonplace, and tech companies successfully pushed for those bigger H1B quotas you mentioned. In 2000, I managed to get my last huge salary increase (changed jobs, good timing, right before the bubble burst).

        The year 2000 is not "well over a decade" ago.

      • Re:Layoffs (Score:3, Insightful)

        by DerekLyons (302214)
        What there is a shortage of is American developers willing to work for the same wages as receptionists.
        More accurately, there is no shortage of developers who think they should be paid the wages that were typical of the bubble era as opposed to current market rates.
  • by lousyd (459028) on Saturday July 30, 2005 @02:05AM (#13200860)
    google:// define:brain drain

    The emigration of a large proportion of highly skilled and educated professionals...

    The emigration of highly educated workers...

    The migration of skilled workers out of a country...

    depletion or loss of intellectual and technical personnel...

    A "brain drain" is caused by the depleted organization. In all of these definitions the emphasis is on the loss of brains. Where they go and what they go on to do isn't specified. An oppresive communist regime could see its top intellectuals flee the country, and have those intellectuals go somewhere free and just live normal non-intellectual lives and it would be "brain drain". What's described in this story isn't so much about companies losing out on talent, "brain drain", rather it's about the companies gaining it, i.e. Google and Yahoo. Besides, brains aren't in limited supply. It's not like one's gain is another's loss. If anything this means that brains become more economically in demand.

  • by Dionysus (12737) on Saturday July 30, 2005 @02:06AM (#13200862) Homepage
    If Google and Yahoo are doing the leading-edge research, and these top brains want to do this kind of research, and these companies are paying them top-dollars to do it, what's the problem? The article does mention that research at other companies are restricted (MS doesn't want researchers doing stuff that might impact their OS/Office sales, HP is doing less R&D)

    If Google and Yahoo can attract the nerds, and you can't, that's your problem, isn't it?
    • I could not agree more. If Google and Yahoo want to spend all of their money hiring these top talents, good for them. They both seem to be churning out new services by the dozen lately. I would expect that eventually they will reach a point where the law of diminishing returns will kick in and they will stop hiring so many big names.

      This, of course, depends on how they are making use of their new talent. If they give each one a project to lead that is in their specialty, they will likely keep hiring as
      • Rereading it, I wonder if the businesses aren't so much complaining about not able to hire the "top" 500, but that they have to actually pay the engineers top dollars to even consider working for them. They rather have researchers for cheap, and it would be much easier if there weren't other companies out there paying top dollars.
  • Yeah right... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by boomgopher (627124) on Saturday July 30, 2005 @02:07AM (#13200863) Journal
    Retranslate this as:
    "Some companies bitch about some other companies who are paying more than they want to pay their own employees, employees leave, and outsourcing to India doesn't work that well. MBAs have to double their prozac dose to cope."
    • Re:Yeah right... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by boomgopher (627124) on Saturday July 30, 2005 @03:22AM (#13201028) Journal
      BTW, is anyone else amazed at how much fucking money it takes to have a half-way decent existence in tech-heavy areas? I mean seriously, even renting a moderately okay 3br in the Silicon Valley costs like $2300/month.

      To keep your rent below 40% of your takehome pay, you need to be making 70 grand a year after taxes, so like 100 grand gross.

      And heaven help you want to want actually buy a place...

      So yeah, you're damn tootin' I'd hop on to a higher-paying, more successful company under these circumstances..
  • It is better for civilization to be going down the drain than to be coming up it. --Henry Allen
  • by Animats (122034) on Saturday July 30, 2005 @02:12AM (#13200876) Homepage
    Well, of course Google is getting all the good people in Silicon Valley. Who else is left? DEC SRL and WRL are gone, Interval is gone, PARC has been spun off and is looking for work, HP just canned their R&D operation, and SGI is in limbo.
  • So provide equality (Score:4, Interesting)

    by redwiregmail (841822) on Saturday July 30, 2005 @02:14AM (#13200881) Homepage
    If the bitching companies provided an equal work enviroment techs wouldn't be flocking in such massive droves to a company that treats them right. Even the simple things such as:

    - Free high quality lunches instead of reducing lunch hours etc as many presently try to do.
    - Gave something comprable to the 20% personal project time.
    - Treated techs that "keep the $100'000 network thats critical to the business from screaming to a grinding halt" with respect at least equal to the tool with the MBA that just tossed 100 blue collars out on the street after 40 years so he could get his xmas bonus.
    • Free high quality lunches instead of reducing lunch hours etc as many presently try to do.

      Don't forget breakfast and dinner! I do so love the omelets...
    • by typical (886006) on Saturday July 30, 2005 @10:12AM (#13202114) Journal
      You know, a really good low-level manager really *is* worth the amount of money he's paid, if not more -- the problem is that many low-level managers are *not* really good and are paid as if they are.

      * If you can enthuse your team as to what they're doing, that's a point. Enthusiastic people produce much better output than uninterested people. That's different from just enjoying the job -- having a jacuzzi in the office may make the job more enjoyable, but it doesn't necessarily make people enthusiastic about what they're doing.

      * If you can pick up on what people's various triggers are, and adapt to them, that's a point. Some people like being presented with competitive environments, some people feel overwhelmed by them. Some people hate being told what to do -- it may be better to "guide" these people, ask them the same problems that you're trying to solve and let them come to the same conclusions you've reached, and other people feel more comfortable if they have clear instruction. Some people don't get work done without a clear schedule, and other people can't stand not having flexibility. Some people work best in serial -- one task at a time -- other people prefer being able to switch around between tasks. A good manager is going to be able to treat different employees differently, each as a different tool he can use to solve a problem, rather than try to force everyone to follow a particular mold.

      High-level execs get a lot of flack on Slashdot. I haven't had to interact with these folks much, so I'm not really informed enough to make too much of a judgement. But consider, for a moment, what their role is (and ask yourself whether there is skill involved in it).

      When an engineer is working on a problem, he usually gets to work on something that he's had the ability to specialize fairly much around. If someone, say, a vendor, starts feeding him technical bullshit, it's easier for him to figure out that something is up, because he's got a good deal of knowledge in the field. He has to know his field *intimately*, and there is generally little room for error -- if you're wrong about something from a technical standpoint, you are *wrong*. On the other hand, he does have some advantages. The things he's working with are fairly straightforward -- complex, perhaps, but they do something, are intended to do something, and if they aren't, something is wrong. It might be material used in a bridge or chips in a product, but this pretty much holds. He generally has tools that can let him get accurate information about any problems -- it may consume time to do so, or even be somewhat difficult, but if he wants to he can probably diagnose problems to a high degree of accuracy.

      An exec has to run organizations that deal with things that he does not have the luxury of specializing in. He *knows* that he doesn't know the details of what he's working with, so he's essentially blind-fighting a bit. A vendor *can* sell him a line of bullshit on technical matters, because he hasn't had the time to specialize in a field. The things he's working with are usually groups of people that have all sorts of agendas, and frequently are not giving him accurate information -- how much funding they *really* could get by with, whether they really believe that they can still finish their project, people who are busy passing the buck and so forth. If he wants to have an engineer review a vendor's claims, he doesn't know whether or not the engineer may be claiming more knowledge than he really has, or may have bias, or whatnot. So he lacks the precision diagnostic tools of the engineer, and has no hard guarantee of being able to obtain accurate information. The upside of being an exec is that mistakes may lead to softer failures than technical mistakes -- you can do something "sort of right" and still have it work quite well, and not have anyone really be able to easily call you out on it. Someone who's really good at handling these tools and working within this kind of system *can* be really v
  • by betelgeuse68 (230611) on Saturday July 30, 2005 @02:14AM (#13200883)
    I don't because of the rampant unemployment in the tech sector... I do because mediocrity *is* is rampant in tech.

    -M
  • aw... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by portscan (140282) on Saturday July 30, 2005 @02:15AM (#13200887)
    hiring is difficult? boo fucking hoo. give me a job. the last thing i want to hear is that companies are having trouble hiring people.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday July 30, 2005 @02:16AM (#13200889)
    Fast-forward to 2014.

    Google the offers most popular network features, the OS, and the applications.

    Every time something new comes along Google ties its version of that into its vast array of other services, and people gravitate towards it by default.

    How is this different then Microsoft bundling IE?

    Consider that others had map systems before Google. In the future, will Google get criticized for abuse when conglomerating new services into it's site?

    I ask this because the line between application and website is getting blurred, and it seems to me that popular opinion on slashdot is that a monopoly should not bundle applications. How will we reconcile this in the future?
    • by myukew (823565) on Saturday July 30, 2005 @02:42AM (#13200944) Homepage
      but, but... it's google! they aren't evil, you know!
    • There's a bit of a difference. Other sites offered map services before Google, yes. But none of them were nearly as good. When MS makes their own versions of things, they're usually much worse, not better.

      People have migrated to Google Maps because it's really much better than the others, not because they were coerced by any bundling.
    • Fast-forward to 2014. Google the offers most popular network features, the OS, and the applications. Every time something new comes along Google ties its version of that into its vast array of other services, and people gravitate towards it by default. How is this different then Microsoft bundling IE?
      Motivation. Don't Be Evil, remember? Google really really take that seriously.
      • Google is evil, too (Score:5, Interesting)

        by Savantissimo (893682) on Saturday July 30, 2005 @05:49AM (#13201317) Journal
        More evil from Google:
        Google sued for firing executive pregnant with quadruplets

        News.com is running the story Google hit with job discrimination lawsuit [com.com], which describes how

        "Christina Elwell, who was promoted to national sales director in late 2003, alleges her supervisor began discriminating against her in May 2004, a month after informing him of her pregnancy and the medical complications she was encountering, according to the lawsuit filed July 17 in a U.S. District Court in New York."

        In May 2004, after she became pregnant with quadruplets and during the same month that she lost two of the unborn children, her superior told her that her job as VP of national sales had been eliminated and requested that she take a job in Google's operations division, a position for which she had no experience. Google refused to allow her to take the lower position of East Coast regional sales director, instead firing her and hiring someone with no Internet sales experience.

        In mid-June, another Google executive offered to place Christina in the operations job she had already rejected, while in the same email accused Christina's husband of "acting under false pretenses by telling Google that Elwell was having a health crisis".

        After Google's director of HR confirmed that Christina had been terminated improperly, she accepted the lower ranking position offered, but then lost a third unborn child and within two days of returning to work on July 19, her doctors ordered her to cease her work because the stress that Google and her supervisor were putting her under created an even higher risk of losing her remaining unborn child.

        After she returned from disability leave, rather than allow her to work in sales, Google fired her.
        • More evil? (Score:2, Informative)

          From CNET 2 days ago [com.com]:

          Google tries to patent Web syndication ads

          Google is claiming that it has invented a unique way to distribute online advertising via syndicated news feeds--and it wants a patent for the technology.

          If granted, the patent would presumably give Google the exclusive rights for "incorporating targeted ads into information in a syndicated, e.g., RSS, presentation format in an automated manner," according to its patent application titled, "Embedding advertisements in syndicated content.

    • Why would Google *want* to be the next Microsoft? One of the things Google has for it is that it's such a great company in the eyes of the public, and I can guarentee that they're going to fight tooth and nail to keep that image for the span of the life of the company. Now that they are public, it's going to get harder, because stockholder pressure is often hard to beat, but I have faith in Google.

      So let's go ahead and evaluate what would happen if the situation you present were to happen.

      Google makes
    • I don't mind software bundles, instead I dislike when a hardware dealer has to meddle in which software I should use because of some stupid deal with Microsoft. A Linux distro can bundle as much as that one wants, as there's no one trying to force it on me, and so far that's why I've liked Google too. They're building web services people browse to willingly. If they're building a web based OS at os.google.com, I'd find that exciting to try out, not scary.
  • by jd (1658) <imipak@nOSPam.yahoo.com> on Saturday July 30, 2005 @02:21AM (#13200900) Homepage Journal
    We're talking about the great vast wisdom of a company that has to buy other companies to get new products, and a company that patents the clicking of links for shopping.


    As for start-ups, well, it seems just that tad unlikely that many start-ups could afford the former Vice President of Amazon.com. So it's hard for me to cry too hard.


    The other important thing to consider is that most IT folk do their best work young and fresh out of college. They're not "old hands", they're "young minds". The real innovators are almost invariably people who haven't learned yet that what they're coding is impossible.


    There ARE coders who know something is impossible, but code it anyway, but they are relatively rare. If a start-up wants the absolute best (and at rock-bottom prices), then it needs to go after the recently-graduated. Better yet, the start-up should find hot talent prior to University and sponsor them through it in exchange for part-time work during University and a contract at the end.


    The reason youth is important is that old-hands tend to get stuck in a rut. They get used to doing things a particular way and loose the ability to step back and see what it is that is really going on. Look at any online resume of an experienced coder. Odds are, most such folk have a very few skills they have honed to perfection - with the consequence that they can do next to nothing with them.


    Now, look at the people who are experienced but who are ALSO doing some damn good work. Odds are high that they'll have a much more diverse range of skills, are much less in some mould or other and likely have a more "Classical" background or education, where diversity rather than finesse was appreciated.


    Also, America's work habits burn people out very quickly. No real vacation, no time to recharge, the ideal is to "produce" not learn and the Corporate Culture is king. It is doubtful America's high-tech industry can take much more of this kind of abuse. Something has to give.


    • The reason youth is important is that old-hands tend to get stuck in a rut. They get used to doing things a particular way and loose the ability to step back and see what it is that is really going on. Look at any online resume of an experienced coder. Odds are, most such folk have a very few skills they have honed to perfection - with the consequence that they can do next to nothing with them.


      In my experience, people get stuck in some niche as a "specialist" because of the people around them perceiving the
    • I always thought a mixture of ages was good. And don't forget the prime advantage of youth, namely that it is cheap.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    The premise of this article is silly given the tiny number of openings filled by Google & Yahoo relative to the pool of engineering talent worldwide. Many great engineers never apply to either company, and those that do are likely to be overlooked due to imperfect filtering. Perhaps this "brain drain" story originated with the rumblings of some disgruntled manager at Microsoft. We all know google has a hardon for softies. Nonetheless, this article is ill-informed tripe.
  • It's just the free market economy at work. If someone else thinks Google and Yahoo are hiring too many of the best and brightest, then someone else needs to offer better pay, benefits, or working conditions.
  • this is good (Score:4, Insightful)

    by mr_burns (13129) on Saturday July 30, 2005 @02:31AM (#13200922)
    So, there's demand in the market for talented people. This is a good thing. I'm a talented people. Most people here are talented.

    And CS enrollment is declining too. And interest rates are low.

    This is better than a bubble. Companies in the black are in a bidding war for us and the competition 5 years out is evaporating. Interest rates are still at "OMG if we hike it we die" levels.

    Good times man, Good times.

    I survived the last bubble and I'd have to say that the waters are chummed. Prepare yourselves for some forced coding marches and invest the spoils for the long haul.
  • Some startups, for instance, say the talent drain has made their own hiring more difficult.

    Yeah, this goes in the same bucket with folks who say they only hire the top five percent. NEWS FLASH: everyone can't hire the top five percent. I'd say a good 99.9% of startups wouldn't know a good tech guy if he rewrote the Linux kernel as a Perl one-liner. This is just a scapegoat for the fact that they have no clue how to hire talented people.

    • Some startups, for instance, say the talent drain has made their own hiring more difficult.

      Yeah, this goes in the same bucket with folks who say they only hire the top five percent. NEWS FLASH: everyone can't hire the top five percent. I'd say a good 99.9% of startups wouldn't know a good tech guy if he rewrote the Linux kernel as a Perl one-liner. This is just a scapegoat for the fact that they have no clue how to hire talented people.

      I was under the impression that startups happened when you got a b

      • by Phleg (523632)
        Most times, those who create a startup are under delusions as to how talented they are.
        • To clarify, one of them usually thinks he's a hot-shot coder and lets all his friends know it. Same goes for all the other positions. Unfortunately, none of them are in any position to realize that it's all bullshit: not only is their opinion of themselves clouded, but they have no clue that their friends are full of shit, too.
    • Re:I smell bullshit (Score:2, Interesting)

      by uncqual (836337)
      NEWS FLASH: everyone can't hire the top five percent. I'd say a good 99.9% of startups wouldn't know a good tech guy if he rewrote the Linux kernel as a Perl one-liner.

      In my experience true startups (which, of course, neither Google or Yahoo have been for a very long time) hire almost exclusively by personal referrals - in part because this way they know what they are getting. I've haven't taken a job anywhere but at a startup for over 20 years and every product I worked on is still being sold. If you eve

      • Isn't that why most places have 5-6 hour interviews? But I agree, programmer interviews are black magic bullshit for the most part. I say, give a hard ass written test pre-interview and during the interview focus on the non-techinical aspects.
    • NEWS FLASH: everyone can't hire the top five percent. I'd say a good 99.9% of startups wouldn't know a good tech guy if he rewrote the Linux kernel as a Perl one-liner. This is just a scapegoat for the fact that they have no clue how to hire talented people.

      You're so right.

      I've had a whole lot of interviews recently. Some of them with releatively senior staff. A lot of the time these guys seem to prefer candidates with a noticable similarity to themselves. I suppose to some extent, this is justifia

      • On previous epiodes of job hunting, I've been offered "aptitude tests" at the interview. The kind of thing I'm talking about is where the HR person gives you a printed sheet of C++ exercises. I find those a real turn-off. It means that that company cannot field an interviewer who they can rely on to gauge the technial ability of a candidate. Those question sheets also invariably contain errors. In fact every time this has happened I have done the test anyway, been offered the job, and turned it down.

        Dude, t
  • Lets Face Facts (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Kiaser Wilhelm II (902309) <slashpanada@gmail.com> on Saturday July 30, 2005 @02:45AM (#13200950) Journal
    The IT field is full of idiots and charlatans. The days of the dot bombs are gone - just having a CS degree, or worse, a MIS or similar stupid psuedo-CS degree, is not enough to cut it.

    Now days, companies are looking for competent people. That means you will often have to prove that you are what you say you are.

    The hordes of people, on Slashdot even, who sit here and balk at having to take relatively simple CS proficency tests and claim that there are no jobs for CS at all are the ones who got their CS degrees without really learning anything or having any actual proficency in the first place. On the other hand, the real geeks are getting jobs left and right and companies want more people like them - they can't find enough! The only people who need to worry about outsourcing are those who don't make the cut.

    This is the market at work. It is a great time as ever to go into CS. Its just that this time, you will not be able to slack off and make it. You're going to have to prove yourself.
  • by KrisCowboy (776288) on Saturday July 30, 2005 @02:53AM (#13200965) Journal
    In addition to high-paying salaries and perks, Google/Yahoo/M$ also provide a better work environment. Since a startup can't beat these big shots with money, all it can do is to search hard for guys with enough motivation to join a startup and make his own mark.

    Anyone who does't want his own talent product marked with "Google®" or "Microsoft®" should go for a start-up. That's all anyone can do about this brain-drain.

    In India, M$ is paying a fresh graduate around Rs. 7,50,000 which is way higher than the average of Rs. 2,80,000. Not to say anything about extremely flexible work hours, relaxed/no dress-code etc etc. Now, which one would you chose? A start-up with no guarentee to see light in next decade or a high-paying software giant?
  • by tktk (540564) on Saturday July 30, 2005 @02:57AM (#13200977)
    Humans make new brains all the time.

    Unfortunately, it's with unskilled labor, takes 9 months to produce and over 20 years to even start being useful.

  • by grumpygrodyguy (603716) on Saturday July 30, 2005 @03:11AM (#13201008)
    Some startups, for instance, say the talent drain has made their own hiring more difficult.

    boo fucking hoo. If there's only 250 competant engineers in the US looking for work then there's a much bigger problem than a 'brain drain' between companies.

    There was a time when companies actually trained people out of college. Actually, now that I think about it, there was a time when companies actually hired people out of college.

    New engineering logo of america:

    Build us a bomb, or live with your mom.
  • Just a natural cycle (Score:2, Informative)

    by Samir Gupta (623651)
    Before Google and Yahoo, there was Microsoft Research or maybe PARC, DEC, SGI as the "hot place" to work in industry for Ph.Ds who didn't want to go into academia. Before THAT there was Bellcore, IBM Research, etc getting all the brains and publishing all the papers.

    Empires rise and fall... I don't see anything usual about the hiring practices of Google or Yahoo snatching up the best talent.

    Another player will come along in due time...
  • "Yahoo hired dozens of top engineers, including Larry Tesler, former vice-president at Amazon.com."

    Since when is a vice-president an engineer? Hiring away someone else's pointy-haired-boss does not create a "brain drain".

    • Larry Tesler (Score:5, Informative)

      by green pizza (159161) on Saturday July 30, 2005 @06:20AM (#13201362) Homepage
      Since when is a vice-president an engineer? Hiring away someone else's pointy-haired-boss does not create a "brain drain".
      Larry Tesler is about as far from a PHB as they get. He worked on the Xerox GUI machines back in the glory days of PARC. Then he worked as Cheif Scientist at Apple for almost two decades. The dude ported most of the Newton code to DYLAN during his 6 week sabatical. More recently he was involved with some Smalltalk based early childhood GUI "programming language". Stagecast software I think it was called. I didn't realize he ended up at Amazon for awhile.
  • Google and Yahoo haven't created a drain on talented software engineers. They have created a drain on popular software engineers.

    With thousands of qualified and professional software engineers floating around the industry, the only issue may be finding an engineer who has established themselves with the industry with recognition to boot. There is no short supply, that's nonsense. If your startup has difficulty hiring because of this popularity drain, then it's time to look in greener pastures.

  • I guess I could google it, and find out. Maybe a reference to the new Dukes of Hazzard movie? Perhaps something in Ms Simpson's dialogue?

    Seriously, there was once a day that I used their search engine. Long ago, in the days when people actually thought about which search engine to use.

    There was once a day when I got email from yahoo accounts. Long ago, in the days that my university's spam filter permitted incoming messages containing the word "yahoo".

  • I doubt that you will ever find me working for the #1 company in a field, whether it be Google, Microsoft, or whoever. Almost anybody can help keep the company at the top on top, it's a matter of inertia. The real gems are those who can raise a company from the bottom to the top.

    Admittedly, it's a lot easier going to a well-organized company that is on the top for a reason. But, what's the point? Work hard and be the next guy at the top.

    See you there!
  • Yahoo and Google are a verry small slice of the total tech employee pie. If there's a tech talent pinch, it's more likely due to larger phenomena, such as the demographic shift [xtremerecruiting.org] caused by all those creaky baby boomers starting to take early retirement. Early predictions were we'd start seeing spot shortages in tech specialty areas in 2005, with full-on, oh-my-god-its-worse-than-1999 shortage starting 2008. By the numbers, the late 1990s saw an estimated 4.7 million shortage of skilled workers, and by 201
  • These are just the market forces. The same ones that created brain drain in other countries when the young, able, and smart left their homes to accept scholarships in U.S. colleges and universities, work on their PhDs in MITs, Caltechs, and Stanfords. This is the natural course of events and should be left alone. In the end the universe will remain in the balance. If you don't trust me, ask Yoda.
  • The tech industry as a whole increasingly treats software developers and engineers as cattle, as expedable, as dime-a-dozen code monkeys.

    Some companies come around and create better working conditions with more opportunities, conditions which recognize and honour the talents that these workers have spent years honing.

    Well, I guess these other companies which are being 'drained' (a pejorative meaning they can't compete to attract workers) will just have to improve their working conditions.

    They can cry

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