Have you ever heard of the saying, “You are only as good as the people you hire?” It makes sense. Hire individuals whose sole desire is to “get the job done and go home” and your company will falter when it comes to progress and innovation. But hire creative individuals with a passion and gift for their work and your company will prosper. This is especially true for tech hires. The war for talent is no bigger anywhere else than it is there.
Yahoo kept this in mind when they hired their current CEO Marissa Mayer. In 1999, Mayer was Google’s first female engineer and their 20th employee. During her 13 years with Google, she was an engineer, designer, product manager, and executive. Within a year of becoming Yahoo’s President and CEO, Mayer oversaw the policy change that required all remote employees to work in-office, boldly dealing with the problems created by Yahoo’s “huge, bloated infrastructure.” Let’s not forget how Mayer acquired Tumblr in a $1.1 billion acquisition. Barely a year in, Mayer has played a crucial role in cultivating Yahoo back into shape.
Fellow tech companies have followed suit and hired their own key players. Here are the Most Important Tech Hires in 2013 (so far):
5. Instagram: Emily White
White is Instragram’s new Director of Operations. She was Facebook’s Director of Mobile Partnerships, where her primary focus was to get Facebook on as many devices as possible. Prior to Facebook, she was an early employee of Google, helping to build GoogleAdWords among a few things. In addition to Instragram, she currently holds a board seat at Lululemon. With her rich experience with partnerships and business operations, White is an important hire for Instragram. A protege of Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook’s COO, White has the potential to monetize Instagram’s under-leveraged popularity without sacrificing user experience, and expand its brand partnerships for the future.
4. Eventbrite: Mark Rubash
Rubash joined Eventbrite as its first-ever CFO and brings with him over 30 years of finance, accounting and investor relations experience. He was formerly the VP of Finance and Investor Relations at eBay and later the Senior Vice President of Finance at Yahoo. He has also held executive roles at Heartflow, Readen Commerce, and Critical Path and currently serves on the Boards of Intuitive Surgical, Iron Planet and Line 6. With Rubash’s experience and “a proven track record of leading teams through periods of extraordinary growth,” it will be no surprise when Rubash is the one that leads Eventbrite through their IPO. This of course comes after Eventbrite raised $60 million of venture capital in April.
3. Facebook: Richard Williamson
Williamson was recently hired to manage Facebook’s expanding mobile-software group (there is some ambiguity around his official title but LinkedIn states “Director of Engineering”). You may remember him as the Apple engineer who led the Apple Maps team in replacing Google’s mapping service and was fired when the results were subpar. However, it can be said that Williamson and his team can’t be entirely blamed. Rather, according to VentureBeat, it was “Apple’s hubris in assuming it could duplicate in a year or two what took Google many years and thousands of engineers to do: build a great mapping service.” With that said, Williamson had worked at Apple over a decade and was one of the top engineers Steve Jobs put on the iPhone. With enough time and confidence, Williamson has the drive it takes to make monumental strides for Facebook for years to come in the mobile department.
2. Twitter: Simon Rogers
Rogers was hired by Twitter to be its very first Data Editor, a position created to uncover the most fascinating stories as told by aggregated tweets. He was previously a data journalist at the U.K.’s Guardian newspaper. There he created guardian.co.uk/data, an online data resource which publishes hundreds of raw datasets and encourages its users to visualise and analyze them. He was also a news editor at the Guardian, working with the graphics team to visualize and interpret huge datasets. With 15 years of data journalism, Rogers will play a critical role in helping Twitter make sense of all the information coming through its servers. He will be key in moving Twitter several steps forward toward becoming the reliable, compelling, and competitive go-to news source.
1. Google: Noah Falstein
Falstein was hired by Google to be its Chief Game Designer. According to TechCrunch, the position is rumored to be catered for the Android Play Studio. Falstein has been in the games industry since 1980, having worked and designed hit titles for companies such as LucasArts, 3DO, and Dreamworks Interactive. More recently, he’s been the president of The Inspiracy, his own consulting firm specializing in game design and production. Though it is unclear what Falstein will be working on at Google, it must be something very big if his gaming expertise has been enlisted among Google’s ranks. If it is for an “Android Play Studio”, Falstein is the best player to substantially expand the gaming platform on the Android. At the same time, Google will be capitalizing on Falstein’s interest in the field of “Serious Games,” defined as “Using Games, Game Technology, or Game Industry Techniques for a purpose other than pure entertainment.” As gamification becomes more important to all software development and adoption, who knows what Google has up their sleeve?