Recruiters and hiring managers sometimes have difficulty convincing an experienced tech pro to work for a startup. Those professionals in mid-career may view startups as too unstable for their tastes—why join a company that might collapse within six months?
While that’s certainly a valid perspective for tech pros to have, a new generation of tools and platforms from the nation’s biggest tech companies may help stabilize startups in the long run, while increasing their attractiveness to new hires.
For example, Microsoft recently announced Microsoft for Startups, a $500 million, two-year program that will offer “joint sales” to startups, along with access to Microsoft technology. Those startups can also work in “Microsoft Reactor” co-working spaces, where (at least in theory) they’ll have the opportunity to network with other firms.
Microsoft isn’t alone in this sort of endeavor. Google recently announced Startup with Google, which offers access to accelerator campuses, business-centric help with Google products and services, and marketing tools. Apple has also taken steps to foster third-party developers, including an “App Accelerator” it opened in India last year. There are even studios and accelerators for hardware-centric startups, including a prominent one run by a partnership between Kickstarter, Avnet, and Dragon Innovation.
What’s the motive behind this maneuvering? By offering tools and support, these companies can bond startups to their ecosystem—which means not only revenue, but also the opportunity to discover a promising company before other tech giants do.
But are these platforms a good thing for startups to participate in? That’s a much bigger—and potentially thornier—question. For tech pros bootstrapping a young company, any access to resources, documentation, and support is a good thing; however, there’s also the risk of premature vendor lock-in. (Recruiters and hiring managers know it’s always worth having a lawyer go over the fine print of any contracts signed with a major tech firm; there may be clauses governing intellectual-property rights, etc.)
Tech giants may also demand a bit of equity from a startup in exchange for support, which is definitely something that recruiters need to consider when offering equity to potential new hires; depending on how things go, any percentages handed out to employees could dilute rather quickly.
But that aside, tech pros (especially older ones) may prove more amenable to joining a startup if it has support from a big tech firm—which seems like a small-but-growing trend within the startup community. That may prove good news for recruiters tasked with pulling tech pros with years of knowledge and experience into a relatively new venture.
Nick Kolakowski has written for The Washington Post, Slashdot, eWeek, McSweeney's, Thrillist, WebMD, Trader Monthly, and other venues. He's also the author of "A Brutal Bunch of Heartbroken Saps" and "Maxine Unleashes Doomsday," a pair of noir thrillers.