Arik Hesseldahl

Recent Posts by Arik Hesseldahl

Meet Gild, the Software Developer Search Service That Just Poached a Salesforce VP

It’s relatively easy to find programmers. It’s hard to find good programmers. Sheeroy Desai readily admits he’s not one of the good ones. But he has a degree in computer science from MIT, so if you were considering him for a programming job, you might be forgiven for thinking otherwise.

“I’m a terrible programmer. I never should have been hired as a programmer, there are so many amazing people out there who don’t have CS degrees who are so much better,” he says.

As software becomes increasingly important to nearly every industry, finding truly skilled software talent becomes a fundamental problem for any company. It’s a problem Desai struggled with as the COO of Sapient, a post he held for 10 years and in which he was in charge of talent acquisition.

Now he’s running a new company called Gild that takes a lot of the uncertainty out of software hiring. Gild has created a service that tracks the code that developers make public on services like GitHub and Google Code. It tracks how that person’s code is accepted for open source projects, and how often other developers borrow from their code or “fork” it.

Gild is a seed stage company just getting rolling, but already it’s won some pretty ringing endorsements; its customers include Facebook, Box, Akamai, RedHat and Constant Contact. It’s backed by a seed-stage investment from Globespan Capital Partners and Mark Kvamme, a partner at Sequoia Capital.

It also just made a key executive hire: Desai confirmed to AllThingsD that Gild has hired Brad Warga, VP of recruiting at Salesforce.com. Warga’s new title will be senior VP of customer experience.

It’s one thing, Desai says, to search through LinkedIn for developers in San Francisco who list experience working with, say, Java. There are probably thousands. Using Gild, he showed me how a search yields 485 Java developers in the San Francisco area who have published code and contributed to various open source projects. And they all have Gild scores. “We know how good they are because we’ve seen their code and reviewed it.”

One in particular — I won’t say his name — stands out with a notably high Gild score of 88. He has started a lot of projects, and many people have forked his code for their own uses. He has also had a lot of code accepted for other open source projects he doesn’t lead. All this information is pulled into Gild from GitHub and Sourceforge and Google Code.

Then there’s other information in his Gild profile. The service connects all the developer’s various social network connections — his LinkedIn profile, his Twitter feed and so on. A little drilling down finds a video of him giving a talk at some conference. “If I’m the hiring manager, and I’m considering this guy, this is very useful information for me,” Desai says.

Hiring at software companies is too often a case of casting a wide net and then sorting through thousands of candidates for the good ones. It’s an inefficient, frustrating process for people doing the hiring. “At lots of software companies, 90 percent of candidates get rejected because they don’t have the necessary skills,” Desai says. “That means they’re batting at about 10 percent and would be excited to raise their average to 15 percent. We think they should be batting closer to 70 percent.”


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Just as the atom bomb was the weapon that was supposed to render war obsolete, the Internet seems like capitalism’s ultimate feat of self-destructive genius, an economic doomsday device rendering it impossible for anyone to ever make a profit off anything again. It’s especially hopeless for those whose work is easily digitized and accessed free of charge.

— Author Tim Kreider on not getting paid for one’s work