Liz Gannes

Recent Posts by Liz Gannes

If You Want to Be a CEO, Work at Microsoft Instead of Google, Says Top Prospect*

OKCupid, which was recently bought by Match.com, famously raised its profile with hilarious blog posts that analyzed and illustrated user data to find trends, expose lies and give advice about online dating. Finding a job is kind of like finding a mate, and Top Prospect is hoping to follow the OKCupid data-crunching path to success–or at least attention.

Today, Top Prospect–which uses Facebook and LinkedIn and hefty bounties to help companies recruit employees–is posting on its blog a widget that shows, based on other people’s profile data, how working at a certain company might improve a person’s likeliness of having a certain title later in his or her career.

By aggregating employment histories from the 1.5 million profiles in its network, Top Prospect found that former Microsoft employees were 111 percent more likely to be CEOs than former Googlers, with a 2.9 percent chance versus 1.4 percent chance for Google.

But, as Top Prospect admits, this perspective is skewed since Microsoft has been around for 20 more years than Google. (That’s why I put the asterisk in my headline.)

What would be preferable is if Top Prospect delved deeper and compared what happened to Microsoft and Google alums with similar timing and tenure at each company.

But as is, the data did show that former Google employees are three percent more likely to at some later date have the title “founder” than former Microsoft employees.

In addition, former Apple employees are 74 percent more likely to become CEOs and 15 percent more likely to found companies than people who worked at Microsoft.

Meanwhile, have you heard about the disproportionate Silicon Valley dominance of the PayPal mafia? Well, by the numbers, former Google employees are 33 percent more likely to be founders than former PayPal employees.

The latest Top Prospect post follows a previous one that compared users’ college histories, finding that UCLA grads are one percent more likely than Stanford grads to found companies.

Top Prospect, which launched an alpha version of its main site at the end of last year and raised funding from Andreessen Horowitz and Spark Capital, has far fewer than 1.5 million users, but it sucks in profile information for all the people connected to its users on Facebook and LinkedIn.

LinkedIn especially must have more comprehensive information about these same topics, though that company says it is wary of aggregating data in ways its users don’t anticipate.

Not to say the Top Prospect widget isn’t harmless and fun, even if it doesn’t bring the LOLs and the hard-hitting analysis like OKCupid.


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There was a worry before I started this that I was going to burn every bridge I had. But I realize now that there are some bridges that are worth burning.

— Valleywag editor Sam Biddle