How You Can Hire 10X Engineers For Your Startup

Businessman selected right person, manpower concept.

“I think Greg is going to join us, “ I said to my cofounder and VP Engineering Jeroen. “That would be a huge coup for us.”

Jeroen smiled and nodded his head. Then he said, “I know it would be great if Greg joined us.” Then he paused and asked me, “But can we afford him?”

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“That’s the best part,” I said. “Just like we talked about, I offered him our standard salary for a senior engineer (Greg was making about 4X that). All he really cared about was having the flexibility to take long vacations.”

“That’s it?”

“Yes, that’s it. It was an easy yes for us. He’s quitting Monday, so he’ll be here in a few weeks.”


There is no problem with hiring 10X engineers.


Jeroen could hardly contain his excitement. Greg was one of the best Analog IC design engineers in the world. Definitely a 10X engineer. And now he was part of our team!


From our perspective, hiring Greg was a no-brainer:

A. We knew Greg.


Jeroen and I had worked with Greg previously. We understood his strengths and weaknesses well.

That’s always a plus whenever you’re hiring someone. And because we knew Greg we also knew…


B. Greg would fit our culture.


One thing we constantly talked about as a management team was trying to avoid hiring brilliant jerks. That’s when hiring a 10X engineer becomes a problem.

The brilliant jerk, no matter how good they are, is never worth it because they always subtract more than they add to your company. Greg was no brilliant jerk.

One of the things I loved about working with Greg was the way he disagreed with what you had to say. There was always a smile on his face and his voice tone was never condescending.

Plus, Greg passionately cared about the company. He took it upon himself to get involved in our product planning process, coming up some blockbuster ideas that we implemented. And Greg mentored and advised the other engineers.



C. Greg fit our compensation structure.


A big challenge with hiring 10X engineers is that many 10X engineers want 10X the compensation of their peers. Yes, 10X engineers should be paid at the top of your compensation structure, but they should fit inside your compensation structure too.

When you start making exceptions for a 10X engineer, your compensation structure will likely fall apart. For example, if the range for a senior engineer is between $175K and $200K, and you pay your 10X engineer $400K, that’s when you’re going to have problems.


So I say, go for it if the opportunity to hire a 10X engineer presents itself to you.


The day Greg joined us I called Bob, our one angel investor, to let him know. Bob is another 10X engineer in our space. In fact, Bob is widely considered the best engineer ever in our space.

Bob said to me, “That’s great. You know, you almost could have had me too.”

I said, “I know. And I’m still hoping you’ll join us.”

For more, read: What Traits Should You Look For In The Engineers You Hire?


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