How Small Companies Can Attract Talent From Google, Apple, and Facebook

July 28th, 2016

Successful companies are built with strong talent. Employees who have been with you since Day One are valuable because they’re often entrepreneurial, and people who have an impressive resume as a result of working for high-profile brands can give your company a different kind of boost.

For example, alumni from best-in-class companies bring elements of those workplaces to your company, says Victor Ho, cofounder and CEO of the loyalty-marketing app provider FiveStars. Launched in 2012 with 20 employees, FiveStars has more than doubled in size every year, adding talent from companies like Google, Facebook, Twitter, and Sony.

“Both Facebook and Google are typically highly metrics-oriented and systematic in their approach to growth, for example,” says Ho. “We’ve benefited from those learnings and applied that at FiveStars.”

Getting talent from top-tier places also makes it easier to get additional talent from those places, adds Ho. “It’s like a domino effect, as other talent sees the hiring of alumni from Facebook and Google as a signal of quality at your startup,” he says.

Before you start searching for impressive resumes, there are four things to do to improve your chances that they accept your offer:


Attract employees from high-profile companies by sticking to your mission. It’s simple, but it’s also counterintuitive, says Ho. “Generally, Silicon Valley has a desire to be accepting of every type, with a people-pleasing mentality,” he says. “We decided to start a company because we believe in a small, alternative view of commerce, and we have a certain value set: shared humility, authentic relationships, warrior spirit, and joy every day.”

A strong culture can be polarizing; some people will love it, while others will be put off. “You have to be firm and clear on what you stand for, and it’s better than being in the middle and getting nobody,” says Ho. “This has been instrumental in attracting the right talent.”


When the FiveStars founders started to recruit outside talent, the partners decided that if an executive was talented but money motivated, they didn’t want them. Ho says he’s been able to attract top talent by offering an opportunity to advocate for a specific cause, relational commerce.

“Google will not say they care more about small business than we do, or that they want commerce to be more relational than we do,” says Ho. “For those people who are at Google and want something more, we’ve got something that big companies can’t touch.”

Hiring for mission over money also helps small businesses weather the ups and downs. “When times are bleak, the deeper someone’s alignment with your company’s mission and values, the more likely they stay on board and help you fight through,” says Ho. “People who just want to add startup experience to their resume find it easier to cut bait and jump. When an executive leaves, especially one who joined for the wrong reasons, it can be devastating to morale.”

You can identify employees who are looking for the money over mission during your recruiting process, says Jonathan Kestenbaum, executive director of the talent acquisition firm Talent Tech Labs.

“Be cautious of the way they speak during interviews to identify these red flags,” he says. “Format interview questions to find the entrepreneurial motivation driving toward a ‘where do you need me’ mentality and less of a ‘that’s not my job’ mind-set,” he says.

For example, ask questions about what type of time and financial budgets they might need for hypothetical projects. “If the candidate comes out with large numbers, be wary,” says Kestenbaum. “If they go MacGyver, claiming the ability to work with what they have, that’s the employee your small business needs.”


You’ll never compete on prestige or financial returns, says Ho, but there are other strengths a small company can offer. While equity in the company is a common enticement, Ho cautions against making it the centerpiece of your package. “Some people come to startups hoping they’ll blow up so you can make money,” Ho says. “Coming from that angle is tempting and easy, but it leads to problems if the decision to join your company is centered around money over mission.”

Instead, he suggests playing up the chance for autonomy and deeper job satisfaction. “I very much believe that the whole concept of work-life balance is complete BS,” says Ho. “You don’t work from nine to five, and then finally live when you go home; that would be incredibly depressing.”

People work to fulfill deeper desires, and good work is fundamentally what everyone craves, says Ho. “Especially millennnials, who have a deep caring or desire to accomplish something that resonates with their values,” he says. “That something could be an underdog, entertainment, productivity tools. Whatever it might be, it’s a core drive not for many.”

The “small” part of your business is your angle, adds Kestenbaum: “Small businesses often provide a career booster for employees since each position normally moves outside of the original job description to include opportunities for more experience,” he says. “Small businesses will likely offer fewer benefits than a corporation would, but having the ability to dip into several departments helps employees find new skill-sets and passions to further their career.”


While Ho has used recruiting firms, he says his best hires have come from internal searches. Half of his company’s leaders actively sought out opportunities with FiveStars because the mission resonated with them, while the other half were met in serendipitous ways, like being introduced through colleagues and employees.

“If our goal is to not compromise on mission and values, it’s incredibly important, especially when hiring leaders, that they’re deeply aligned,” he says.


Recruiting talent from high-profile companies may feel like a coup, but business owners should operate from the mind-set that demonstrates what you are building is very rare and special, says Maynard Webb, chairman of the board of Yahoo, former COO of eBay, and founder of the seed investment firm Webb Investment Network.

“Don’t be swayed by big names,” he says. “Just because somebody works for a great company doesn’t mean that they are great or will be right for your startup. There’s a big difference from being on the bus at a great company, and someone who is driving the bus.”

Only recruit from a high-profile company if the right person is there, says Frank Green, president of the finance and IT recruiting firm ExecuSource. “The only real impact of hiring from a high-profile company is if you need to fill a position with an individual whose pedigree would add validity to your startup in addition to them being the right candidate,” he says. “Your work product will build your reputation, not having people internally from X or Z company.”

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One Of The World’s Most Influential People In Technology On The Future Of Work

August 6th, 2015

By Jacob Morgan, Contributor

If you are in technology, venture capital, or business in general; you’re probably familiar with Maynard Webb. Maynard is the Chairman of the Board at Yahoo!, board member at Salesforce and Visa, former Chief Operating Officer at eBay, best-selling author of Rebooting Work: Transform How You Work in the Age of Entrepreneurship, and the founder of the Webb Investment Network (among many other things). He really is one of the most influential people in the world of business and technology today and I had the privilege of meeting him in person for a conversation on this week’s episode of the Future of Work Podcast.

We talk about concepts from his book including the employee experience, the role that Millennials play in the future of work, employee engagement, full-time employment vs freelancing, and the impact of technology. Maynard also shares why people need to take professional and personal development into their own hands instead of relying on educational institutions and organizations. Finally, we discuss where Maynard sees the future of work in the next five to ten years, and he shares his advice to management and employees.

Maynard is definitely someone that you want to pay attention to. Enjoy this episode and let me know what you think!


Jacob Morgan is a keynote speaker, author (most recently of The Future of Work), and futurist. To have Jacob speak at your event, to get access to his videos, podcasts and articles, or to subscribe to his newsletter you can visit TheFutureOrganization.

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A service to help you build your own personal board of directors

May 10th, 2015

By Robert Hackett

With a little bit of technology, Everwise aims to give the professional mentor program a digital update.

Seated side by side at a conference room table at the Fortune office, Yahoo chairman Maynard Webb and former Cisco executive Mike Bergelson prepare to tell me the story of how they met. The former, with a bare scalp and gruff voice, gives off an air of sagacity and eminence; the latter is eager, upright, and energetic. Their speech exudes rehearsed spontaneity—it’s clear they’ve recounted this tale before. As they do, they sometimes complete each other’s thoughts.

In 2008 Webb, then chief executive at LiveOps, a virtual call center company, was looking for a new head of product management. One of his customers recommended Bergelson. “He told me he was the best, most insightful person, in the product space we were in, in the world,” Webb says. Bergelson lights up at the compliment: “I had no idea from whence it came, but I was happy to have heard that!”

Giddily, they resume. “So I reached out and tried to recruit him, and he gave me the Heisman,” Webb says, assuming the inflection of a rebuffed lover…..

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Everything Is Awesome! Why You Can’t Tell Employees They’re Doing a Bad Job

February 10th, 2015

If you don’t have anything nice to say, management has a tip: Try harder.

Fearing they’ll crush employees’ confidence and erode performance, employers are asking managers to ease up on harsh feedback. “Accentuate the positive” has become a new mantra at workplaces like VMware Inc., Wayfair Inc., and the Boston Consulting Group Inc., where bosses now dole out frequent praise, urge employees to celebrate small victories and focus performance reviews around a particular worker’s strengths—instead of dwelling on why he flubbed a client presentation.

The shift may annoy leaders who rose in a tough-love era in business, but executives say hard-edge tactics simply do more harm than good these days.

When employees’ flaws are laid bare, “there’s that mental ‘ugh’ and shrug of, ‘This is who I am,’ ” says Michelle Russell, a partner at BCG. Continue reading “Everything Is Awesome! Why You Can’t Tell Employees They’re Doing a Bad Job” »

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How This Silicon Valley Legend Achieved Work-Life Balance By Launching His Own Investment Firm

January 25th, 2015

By Eugene Kim

With over 30 years of experience in executive roles at large tech companies like eBay and LiveOps, Maynard Webb is one of the most respected leaders in Silicon Valley.

But having a great career often comes at the expense of sacrificing one’s life, and that has certainly been the case with Webb as well.

Like when he had to meet former eBay CEO Meg Whitman in the airport on a Friday night before even taking the company’s COO job. Or the time he had to buy a home without having his family even take a look at it.

In one instance, his wife had to bring him underwear at the office because he had spent all night at work……


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Yahoo Chairman Maynard Webb to Job Candidates: “Dudes, Where’s Your Self-Awareness?”

January 7th, 2015

By Derek Loosvelt

When Yahoo Chairman Maynard Webb interviews you, he doesn’t just probe your past for things like extracurricular activities, teamwork skills, and ability to overcome difficult situations; he also wants to get a sense of your level of “self-awareness” and “openness.” In fact, here’s a two-part question Webb uses while probing prospective employees:

“Six months from now, we’re going to know each other very well. What will your team and what will I say that you do really, really well? And then what will they say that we all wish you did better?”

Which is a bit similar to asking, What are your strengths and weaknesses? But the twist Webb puts on that ubiquitous interview question allows for slightly different answers. Which I’ll get to in a minute. But first let’s hear what Webb is looking for in the way of a response.

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Maynard Webb, Yahoo’s Chairman: Even the Best Teams Can Be Better

January 3rd, 2015

By Adam Bryant

This interview with Maynard Webb, a veteran technology executive whose current roles include serving as chairman of Yahoo, was conducted and condensed by Adam Bryant.

Q. Early influences for you?

A. The biggest thing that impacted me early on was my dad passing away when I was 7. We were a very successful middle-class family. He was a real estate appraiser and had his own company, but he died suddenly right before my seventh birthday. He had no life insurance, and we went from having most of what we needed to penniless.

My mother was left to look after five kids and his mother. Mom was a rock star and took care of us all — she went back and got her graduate degree and was named science teacher of the year for the state of Florida.

I am what I am today in large part because I was driven to never leave my kids in the same kind of position. I also had to start working early on. I was a paperboy. In high school, I worked at a bedding factory at night.

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Uber needs to ensure passengers safety, says Yahoo chief Maynard Webb

December 11th, 2014

Uber needs to ensure safety of its passengers in the markets it operates, Yahoo chairman Maynard Webb has said in the aftermath of the California-based ride-sharing company facing backlash in India over the alleged rape of a woman by one of its drivers.

“I think they have to take a look at what are we doing to make sure that passengers are safe wherever they are,” Webb said.

“You have to be in the country and you have to iterate and change and adopt, and you have to have enough of a base to understand what would be the issues.

“Frankly, as bad as that situation is, that same thing could happen with a driver in the US here,” he said in an interview to Bloomberg TV yesterday.

“In all cases you’re getting into somebody else’s vehicle, and the company who provides that service needs to make sure it’s safe. I think that will be something, if I were there I’d be working on in a very big way,” said Webb, who was earlier COO of Ebay.

When Webb was Ebay COO, the India head of his company had to spend weeks behind the bar in India.

“Somebody had put an illegal tape of two teenagers making love on the site and it was quickly taken down, but the police asked him to come down to the police station in a friendly way to give them updates on how he would deal with this in the future, and they locked him up and he stayed locked up for weeks,” he said recollecting the incident.

Webb said thereafter he worked with the then Secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice, to try to make it all work.

“We worked night and day to try to get him out, and then also try to make sure we modified all of our policies to have this not happen again,” he said.


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Maynard Webb on His Investment Mistake

March 28th, 2014

By Erin Mendell

IT’S ALWAYS THE INVESTMENTS that you don’t make that stick out. And so it was for Maynard Webb, the board chairman of Yahoo and former eBay executive.

He’s made millions from his successful tech investments, but he still regrets not investing more in, a software start-up that began in 1999. Webb was on the company board (whose members could sell shares six months after the IPO) and saw potential when the stock market crashed in 2008 and Salesforce’s shares fell below $6. He figured investors had overreacted because the company was already the industry leader. To him, it was an “investment homerun.”

He was right, and Salesforce has since surged in value and undergone a four-for-one stock split, with shares topping $55 in 2014. The only problem: Webb heeded the advice from his risk-wary financial advisers and invested just half the amount that he had initially planned. They argued—wrongly—that he might lose big by putting too much of his money in one asset. “Financial folks are geared to protect your downside,” says Webb. But he learned his lesson: “Sometimes, the things that will make you the most require more risk than most people would be willing to take.”

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Crisis Management — From the Man Who Helped Save eBay

February 20th, 2014

Maynard Webb looked out the window to the eBay parking lot. CNN’s van was still there, camped out, waiting for another site-wide outage.

By the time Webb stepped in as president of the company in 1999, the world’s largest auction site was going down so often it was a national news story. And as more and more dot-coms flamed out around it, it seemed doomed to fail. Webb’s job: turn things around.

His first day may have turned into all-nighter (one of many to come), but he eventually led the company to stability and major growth. This experience, combined with the time he spent on’s board, and at Yahoo, among others, has earned him the nickname Mr. Fix-it. And for good reason.

When it comes to crises, there’s no one better to learn from than the man who has kept his cool through some of the most dramatic mishaps and turnarounds the tech world has ever seen. In this exclusive First Round Review interview, he offers advice at startup scale…….

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