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UK's best developers choose scalable startups over Google and HSBC, investor claims

Sam Shead | Nov. 3, 2014
Some of the UK's best developers are choosing to take jobs at fast-growing startups over better-paid roles at the likes of Google and HSBC, according to a leading venture capitalist.

Some of the UK's best developers are choosing to take jobs at fast-growing startups over better-paid roles at the likes of Google and HSBC, according to a leading venture capitalist.

Harry Briggs, a venture investor at Mayfair-based Balderton Capital, suggested that some of the most talented developers in the UK are shunning salaries of £140,000 at Google, or £180,000 at HSBC, for lesser-paid jobs at startups.

"They're making a call on whether they think it [the startup] can be a success," he said on a panel at the Tech London Advocates Summit at Bloomberg's London headquarters this week.

"They're taking a bigger risk, it'll be more exciting and it'll make them more backable," he added.

While the salaries are usually lower on startups, many entrepreneurial developers are attracted to smaller companies by stock options that allow them to take an equity share in a business.

"I can take £50k-£70k and one percent from an early stage startup where I'm actually going to be in charge of the product and really shape the future," said Briggs.

Briggs also suggested that the best developers want to work with the best CTOs and CIOs, many of whom are also leaving the large corporates to join fast growing firms like Spotify, Shazam and Uber.

Car-sharing service Hailo is one of the many disruptive startups trying to lure the best talent in the UK away from large organisations.

Hailo CTO Rorie Devine told Techworld this week that Hailo has been able to poach "quite a lot" of developers from Google, adding that roughly 10 percent of the company's 100-strong workforce are ex-Googlers.

The fight for talent isn't limited to London, with Silicon Valley, the tech capital of the world, also experiencing a dearth of programmers.

Silicon Valley-based Deborah Op den Kamp advises, recruits and helps retain outstanding and impactful leaders for Fortune 500 and venture capital and private equity-backed companies across the consumer internet space.

Speaking alongside Briggs, she said: "We're absolutely lacking [talent] in Silicon Valley and there absolutely is a global shortage. You guys [in the UK] are more progressive on immigration than we are in the US. We have a much more difficult system in terms of letting people in."

Techworld asked Google if it was suffering as a result of talent being poached by startups but it declined to comment.

 

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