Inside 6 Companies Now Hiring in San Francisco
The Great Resignation and Covid-19, catalysts of a cultural reset, rearranged priorities for workers that are moving through the labor force to seek commute-free pastures, enriching culture and higher pay. In the era of digital labor, the Economic Policy Institute called it a workers’ market — The Great Upgrade.
Built In San Francisco sat down with leaders who believe their tech companies offer just such an upgrade. And it so happens that these companies are also hiring now.
Many employees today seek better pay, upwards mobility, strong culture and flexibility. With applicants having more choices than before, talent acquisition is less about selling the grandeurs of a shiny campus as it is marketing the upsides of community, compensation and work-life balance. How many senior employees do you have? What is the social impact of your product? Can you pledge the permanence of a flexible remote policy? Salary brings candidates to the table, but the promise of job fulfillment gets them through the door.
“I have been at Benchling for about five years, and the number one reason I have stayed at the company is that I have never gotten bored,” said Shaan Kamal, leader of mid-market sales at Benchling.
In San Francisco, competition is especially fierce. The companies most successful at hiring are those that can leverage their culture as a standard-bearer for gratifying work. For an inside look at the keys to claiming talent, Built In SF sat down with six attractive workplaces to see how they’ve managed to hire and retain some of the best people this side of the Golden State.
Benchling is a research and development platform for biotech.
Why they joined:
I have been at Benchling for about five years, and the number one reason I have stayed at the company is that I have never gotten bored. I’m constantly impressed at how Benchling has encouraged and empowered us to have influence and impact in the organization as we approach 1000 employees. A great example of how Benchling entrusts us to take on new challenges is how I’ve been asked to help with our international expansion into Asia. I spent the last couple of years virtually selling to some of our first customers based in Asia. Now that we have a larger customer base overseas, I will be responsible for hiring our first employee dedicated to that region, and, with my fellow colleagues’ support, I will build out the team from there.
The coolest project I have worked on recently was the creation of our new offering for startup companies. Most biotech startups have a strong need for our software, but found it prohibitively expensive. I spent four months working cross-functionally with sales, marketing, customer success, finance, product and engineering to launch the Benchling for Startups Program. I learned how to design pricing and packaging; position the offering to the market; create a newer, faster sales process for startups; and get them started on the software quickly.
It has also been rewarding to see the impact it has had on the company. It’s valuable for us to partner with startups early to lock out our competition and avoid lengthy, complicated sales cycles; these customers will continue to grow with us and purchase more products from our portfolio.
Glu Mobile is a developer of casual mobile games.
Why they joined:
I originally joined Glu through its acquisition of a startup I was in. At the time, I considered myself a lifelong entrepreneur, and Glu was the biggest company that I had ever been in. At first I was planning to stay for a while so I could learn about scaling a team and our business before leaving to start something new.
A few years later, a friend asked me if I had thought about what I wanted to do next. I then realized with a shock how fulfilled I was at Glu, that I actually hadn’t given any thought at all as to what else I might do. When I reflected on why this was, I realized that what I loved about startup culture wasn’t exciting inventions, high risk and reward, the fast pace or constant learning and adaptation. Sure, those are all important to me. But what I love most is a team environment where people deeply care about each other, have each other’s backs, and help each other constantly grow. In startups, this environment often results because survival depends on it. At Glu, this happened because everyone on our team shared the same purpose in bringing fun experiences to the world. And we also lived by a set of common values in how we would go about doing this.
The office as a close-knit community:
My favorite perk by far is Glu’s free lunch in the headquarters of our San Francisco office. What I love about this goes far beyond economic savings and convenience, or that the food is also quite good. I absolutely love how it energizes our workplace into a buzzing community, where our entire first floor becomes a gathering place for friends to connect, share and have fun or for new friendships to form. I can’t count how many times I laughed until my sides hurt over meals in our cafe. It’s a daily reminder of the common purpose we share, and that I’m part of something big and noble.
During the pandemic, this office perk no longer applied. It has been incredibly challenging replacing this ritual that brought our people together. We’ve tried many virtual concepts to maintain connection: Online multiplayer games, trivia contests, escape rooms and mixology classes. We also support grassroots events, usually at a team level, that have included a video talk show, regular coffee time, happy hours and even social-distanced outdoor activities such as group dog walks. My favorite virtual event was “Glu-lympics” where teams competed in wacky challenges over an entire month.
Eightfold AI is a data-driven job search and recruiting platform.
Why they joined:
As a talent acquisition professional, I was drawn to Eightfold because it leverages the power of AI to revolutionize recruiting and talent management, and that spoke to me. There are many HR and recruiting platforms out there today, but Eightfold’s talent intelligence platform is holistic, efficient and smart. It just makes sense.
People and perks:
Currently I am working with the product and engineering teams to help shape the talent acquisition product for our internal recruiting team, as well as our external customers. We have regular meetings to discuss the product UI, workflows, features and functionality. It is empowering to be a part of these discussions, and lend a hand in influencing the future of our product.
I love that Eightfold provides its employees with Employee Appreciation Days. The name alone says it all. Everyone uses this time to disconnect and recharge. Like many, I am one of those people that is guilty of looking at, and responding to, emails while on PTO. Since this is company-wide, it truly provides an opportunity to check out and focus on what matters to me.
Render is a cloud hosting platform.
Why they joined:
When I met our CEO, Anurag, and the rest of the team at Render, each conversation left me feeling more excited about the team and the opportunity. What stood out to me during those initial conversations has held true throughout my first three months on board; the team at Render has something special about it. Render has struck a balance between the iterative, high ownership working style of early-stage companies and the thoughtful, measured approach necessary to create a sustainable culture. It’s the kind of culture where the incredibly talented people joining now can grow with the company for years to come, and I am thrilled to be a part of it.
The importance of perks and benefits:
Within my first three months at Render, I conducted a full refresh of Render’s total compensation package, which was already pretty great. The rest of the executive team and I conducted a salary audit to ensure that everyone was paid at the target market rate, even as the market was changing rapidly. We identified an equity refresh philosophy and executed our first round of tenure-based equity refreshes. I also updated our employee perks and benefits, adding a mental health reimbursement arrangement (HRA) benefit and making current perks more user-friendly. This process deepened my understanding of how Render views employee rewards and recognition; we ensure that every Render employee is meaningfully rewarded for their impact.
Tonic.ai creates synthetic data sets for consumers to use.
Why they joined:
For me, joining Tonic.ai was all about the opportunity. The problem we’re solving is important to our customers — and our customers’ customers. Working on B2B software is particularly exciting to me because of the leverage we have in getting to make a broader impact. And making it even more personal is working on data privacy, a concern that we all have as consumers and producers of data. Building not just a product but a company around that market opportunity was enticing.
I joined as the first product manager and we’re still hiring for many firsts. It’s all part of what I call that blank canvas energy. I’ve also enjoyed the steps along the way: As our product management team grew from one to three, as our customer success team grew from one to eight and as engineering has tripled in size. When I first joined, we had all of our engineers on one daily standup.
We’ve adapted our processes to our stage and continue to be driven, yet playful. The opportunity within roles to truly own projects and have a tangible impact on shaping the company is still large. The momentum of a hyper growth startup, being a part of the creation process, the team-building — it’s all intoxicating.
Wearing different hats:
Part of the startup appeal is solving new problems and wearing different hats outside of your day job. And as a product manager, I love collaborating with people across teams. I’ve been working on a project recently to think about how we price our product, which has me looking at our features and usage with engineering, talking to customer success about customer value and getting input from sales and marketing on what they are seeing in the market. I like synthesizing qualitative input and quantitative analysis into a strategy. Getting to the answer isn’t the end though. Figuring out how to operationalize it by working with other teams to make it real, and of course evolving it over time, will be a fun challenge. Stepping up to identify and answer big strategic questions keeps me on my toes and keeps my days varied.
Aalto is a digital real estate marketplace.
Why they joined:
I’ve been with Aalto since the beginning. I remember one of my first conversations with our CEO. He had huge goals for where we were going to be in two, five, ten years. It was a solid pitch, one that spoke towards equitability, reinventing the way an industry works, disruption. Four years in, we’ve hit every goal he pitched me, and more. As big as our CEO can dream, we’ve brought on individuals who are just as aspirational and push us even further. I don’t think it’s going to take 10 years to see my next milestone, and I truly feel as if we’re making an impact in people’s lives. I haven’t felt this kind of fulfillment in a role in a very long time.
Most recently, our engineers held a quarterly event for two weeks which we called a Swarm. The general idea is that we self-organize to select technical debt items which would have tremendous value if we paid them off, or we swing at a task that we otherwise couldn’t prioritize. I helped put together the backlog, facilitate estimation, groom and prioritize work and create a virtual venue to maintain the spirit of a hackathon. This was achieved by ensuring there were breakout spaces, public zones for drop-in conversation, private one-on-one areas and a bit of whimsy through the use of virtual avatars. This really helped me hone in on my project management skills as well as event management in a totally new context, and the Swarm was a hit with the rest of the company after we presented all our work at the weekly company all-hands.