Betabeat's 2014 Most Poachable Tech Talent

These developers, marketers and social media mavens are just what your company's missing.

  • The tech industry is still booming, with major acquisitions happening almost every month at impressive valuations. As these companies ride high and others jockey to take their place, the competition for tech talent is reaching all-time highs. We figured we could add to that frenzy by ranking some of the hottest people on — or rather not — on the market.

    That means Betabeat is bringing back our Most Poachable Players in Tech series, a selection of the best talent in tech that you should be looking to hire away to your company.

    And unlike our previous editions, we’ve decided to open up the competition to the entire country, not just Silicon Alley. Since most jobs are going remote anyway, we figured the era of arbitrary geographic boundaries is officially over.

    In years past, our picks have ended up being acqui-hired, promoted and, of course, stolen away from their previous employers for cushy new digs. We like to think we have a bit of a golden touch in that regard.

    After publishing our last list, over half a dozen of our poachable players were in new, elevated positions. Lily Quateman was hired away from Stylesight to be the Product Manager for New YorkMagazine, and Andrew Chang was almost immediately hired up as the COO of Condition One. He’s since moved on to Google.

    Our 2014 edition of the Most Poachable Players in Tech was selected via reader tips, word of mouth, and investigative work by our staff here at Betabeat. As we put it in our first Most Poachable Players in Tech call for entries:

    “Who’s really good, but working at a really bad company? Who are the all-stars who could kick ass anywhere, any time, at any gig, and even be fun to be around? Who would we want to hire, if we had an infinite pot of gold? How likely is it they’ll leave? Are they bored, underpaid, or underutilized? And who is in line, or should be, to score a raise?”

    Thanks to our loyal readers and hardworking staff we have come up with our strongest list yet, which includes hotshot growth hackers, editors and biz dev execs from companies like LinkedIn, Upworthy, and the Huffington Post. They are the cream of the crop, the ones who didn’t need our tips for how to get hired, leading some of today’s biggest tech companies and destined to become stars at new ones.

    We had to eliminate many well-deserved nominations from the list—some we’re sure you’ll notice—so feel free to let us know who you feel we left out in the comments. To discover who the 2014 Poachables are click through the slideshow. Who knows, maybe you’ll find your next CTO or Editor in Chief, instead of having to resort to a crowdsourced contest for your next big hire.

    Happy Poaching!

  • Daniel Roth, Executive Editor, LinkedIn

    Mr. Roth has openly admitted his job title is a mystery to people outside and inside the company. Apparently, it involves overseeing the editorial teams behind LinkedIn’s Pulse and Influencers products.

    We get the job’s appeal — LinkedIn is well-respected in the business world, its news stories generate a ton of traffic, and Mr. Roth’s position puts him in contact with industry leaders from all across the world, like Virgin founder Richard Branson and World Bank president Jim Yong Kim.

    Still, it seems like an unusual destination for someone who’s occupied senior positions at major publications like Wired and Fortune. When you hear LinkedIn’s name, you don’t think of it as a news source. Mr. Roth is handling branded content for the only social media network more square than Facebook. He might one day be ready to take his big-name sources and move back to a more traditional media outlet.

    Plus, this month marks Mr. Roth’s third year in the position; that’s practically an eternity in New York media years. The time might be ripe for an offer.

  • Bakari Brock, Director of Business Development, Lyft

    Bakari Brock tends to aim for the best.

    The 2005 Harvard Law grad spent over five years working for some of the Internet’s most powerful forces: he was corporate counsel at Google from 2007 to 2009 and legal director at Twitter from 2010 to 2013.

    Now he’s at Lyft, a company that, despite its fun-lovin’ image, has consistently lived in Uber’s shadow. Although it surpassed Uber in terms of funding, there’s no denying that Lyft is second best when it comes to overall popularity. We wouldn’t be surprised if some other tech giant swooped in to bring Mr. Brock back onto their first-place team.

  • Patty Jordan, Creative Director/Copywriter, Eat24

    There’s no doubting Patty Jordan has an excellent marketing sense. When it comes to Eat24’s various social media presences, Ms. Jordan’s been praised for her “consistent and authentic voice” that “make[s] customers feel like they’re talking with people, not a robot or a business.”

    Scroll through Eat24’s Twitter feed to get an idea of Ms. Jordan’s skill. “Pork belly isn’t usually the jealous type but he was a little disappointed when ‘muffin top’ became a thing. #FoodRivalries.” “Eat24 - No dishes. No pants. No problem.” “Medium cheddar is known for its psychic abilities while sharp cheddar is known for its willingness to cut a bitch. #FoodFacts.” It’s social media brilliance worthy of Oreo, Doritos or any other major food company you’ve actually heard of.

    Eat24 clearly has excellent marketing, but at the end of the day, we can’t see them ever truly competing with powerhouse Seamless. Someone like Ms. Jordan could certainly be poached by a company that’s destined for greater success.

    Plus, she’s been at Eat24 for two and a half years now. It wouldn’t surprise us if she’s getting hungry — get it? — for something new.

  • Stefan Becket, Associate Editor, Social Media, New York magazine

    Mr. Becket’s done a fabulous job building New York Magazine’s Twitter presence. An expert social media strategist, he somehow maintains a strong presence for the magazine while keeping social media posts consistently funny and not irritating.

    But New York’s been struggling. Last year, the mag announced it was cutting back to biweekly issues. Their online page views recently went through a six-month period of steady decline. If any other publications have their eyes set on Mr. Becket’s social media savvy, now could be the time to strike.

    Correction: A New York Media spokesperson has informed us that Quantcast does not accurately reflect nymag.com's traffic, as the publication no longer allows Quantcast to place its trafficking pixels on their site.

    She directed us to alternative external source, Comscore, which places nymag.com's growth at 10 percent since January. According to Comscore, nymag.com had 5,065,000 unique visitors in June 2013, 5,483,000 in January 2014 and 6,037,000 in June 2014.

  • Ashley Simon, Director of Strategic Partnerships, Upworthy

    We presume that anyone who works at Upworthy is surrounded by unprecedented levels of deranged positivity all day, every day. That has to get taxing. Make her an offer now, and YOU MIGHT NOT BELIEVE WHAT HAPPENS NEXT.

    In all seriousness, Ms. Simon’s held impressive business development positions before at MTV Networks and Foursquare. She stayed in her past two positions for around two years each, which makes us think she might soon be ready for a change.

  • Jimmy Soni, Editor, Huffington Post

    In the past few years, media startups have been hot territory for investments and new endeavors. Anyone looking for some help on the biz dev side could use a fearless leader like Mr. Soni.

    His background may not be in editorial, but if there’s anything Mr. Soni knows how to do, it’s drive pageviews. Under Mr. Soni’s tenure, HuffPo has upped their traffic, won a Pulitzer, and managed to hold up their audience metrics while others viciously struggle to do the same.

    Mr. Soni is young, one of Forbes 30 Under 30, and the author of a biography of Cato the Younger. He has a lot of conquering ahead of him, and a media organization with serious aspirations and serious capital could use someone with his experience is bringing in the masses.

    Update: Mr. Soni was recently transferred to a new position building out HuffPost India. He remains at the top of the HuffPost masthead, but the international transfer makes him more poachable than ever.

  • Aaron Ginn, Head of Growth, StumbleUpon

    Mr. Ginn is one of the earliest growth hackers in the game — hell, he practically defined the term. But it’s his experience with policy and politics that set him apart from other growth marketers.

    As the growth marketer for the Mitt Romney campaign, Mr. Ginn learned a thing or two about the intersection of innovation and legislation. In the age of Uber and Airbnb, startups are often on the wrong side of law, and Mr. Ginn has the unique ability to help a budding company navigate the treacherous terrain of politics.

    Besides, StumbleUpon isn’t getting as much love or attention from founder Garrett Camp since he started focusing on Uber (and seriously, who wouldn’t focus on a company worth $18 billion). Their audience metrics have been slowly dying down for months. Now could be the perfect time to snag Mr. Ginn from StumbleUpon.

    That is, if you don’t mind the politics.

  • Sebastian Brannstrom, Lead Engineer, Lyft 

    Mr. Brannstrom’s been coding since he was a kid, and works in JavaScript, Python, C++ and PHP. His best match is a major tech company in growth stages looking to build a hardcore Android app. Now that he’s delivered for Lyft, it could be time for Mr. Brannstrom to pen a new mobile masterpiece.

    Mr. Brannstrom is an ace hire for anyone looking to build major mobile infrastructure, but a note to New Yorkers: he’s a huge fan of the Valley. Considering his love for biking the mountains, you’d be hard pressed to get him to leave.

    Given his major qualifications, though, you might just want to move your offices to get to him.

  • Ken Peltzer, Tech Lead, Thrillist 

    Ken Peltzer put together the shopping experience so many street-smart men’s fashion fanatics are accustomed to seeing in our Gmail inboxes. At Thrillist, Mr. Peltzer has had a hand in the making of almost every part of the stack, putting together an interface that puts both blog content and fashion merchandise in their best lights.

    As a potential UX hire, he hits all of the right front-end marks — PHP, Java, MySQL, CSS, Ruby — and knows how to manage a substantial engineering team. Not to mention he’s a stand-up guy, putting in hours as a volunteer and mentor for New York Cares and ScriptEd.

    Poach him now while flash sales sites/content marketing hybrids are going the way of Groupon.

  • Brandon Diamond, Director and Cofounder, HuffPost Labs 

    The HuffPost Labs team has talent, but hasn’t managed to scrape together anything groundbreaking since it was founded. But we don’t hold it against Mr. Diamond — regardless of HuffPost’s success, they haven’t changed their formula much, even as the whole news world evolves, rebrands and improvises around them.

    Mr. Diamond has been neck-deep in HuffPost’s startup culture for two years putting together experimental projects. He regularly speaks at hacker events across NYC, and has experience building teams and leading coding collectives. Mr. Diamond is the founder of Hacker Union, and helped build New York Tech Meetup, which is not just the largest tech meetup, but the largest meetup of any kind in the world.

    Mr. Diamond could be put to work building a world-class data team or an innovation lab for clunkier corporations looking to make use of their data. Not to mention, he’s also absolutely hilarious.

  • Ben Fischman, Founder and former CEO, Rue La La 

    Mr. Fischman stepped down from his post as CEO of Rue La La in 2013 after having founded the company in 2008, but don’t hold that against him — flash sale sites haven’t exactly been hot for the past few years. In addition to still serving as a founder at Rue La La, he’s also now an entrepreneur in residence at General Catalyst Partners, a venture-capital and private-equity firm for tech companies.

    But Mr. Fischman seems too dynamic for a consulting job. He was starting his own companies from his college dorm before it was even cool; he founded the hat company Lids Corp. in 1993 while at Boston University. Clearly, Mr. Fischman has a way with trendy, specialized retail companies.

    We’re dying to see where he can take ecommerce next as a founder/CEO, so if you have an ingenious idea and you just need someone to execute the commerce side, give this guy a call.

  • Caitlyn Carpanzano, Senior Account Director, BrewPR

    Tech publicity is a booming field (just ask Betabeat’s inbox), and companies like BrewPR have ballooned in recent years. Hey, whether your product is available yet or not, you’ve got to spend your capital somewhere, so why not hire a flack?

    BrewPR is one of the most visible companies profiting from this burgeoning cottage industry of tech PR, and we’re told Ms. Carpanzano is the creative brains behind the operation. She used to work for Condé Nast and Gilt, so we wouldn’t blame her for taking the opportunity to return to her luxe roots with a newly beefed up paycheck and title thanks to a few years turning herself into a tech-industry bold-faced-name.

    Take note, luxury brands. All those tech contacts will come in handy if Ray-Ban’s next line comes equipped with Google Glass and the Apple Watch becomes the new Cartier Tank.

  • Noel Hidalgo, Executive Director and Cofounder, BetaNYC 

    Call him this year’s Poachable Do-Gooder. Mr. Hidalgo is the executive director and cofounder or BetaNYC, the New York chapter of Code for America. In addition to tirelessly getting people excited about code, he succeeded in pushing for passage of New York City’s open data law and is now trying to bring the NYPD into the 21st century in terms of data security.

    A position as a public official working on tech compliance within the city would be a great fit, one tipster says. He’s allegedly the LeBron James of civic innovation technology, with a heart of gold.

/Innovation

Looking for Betabeat?

Betabeat is now the newly launched Innovation section of the Observer. All your favorite features and columns—as well as exciting new areas of tech coverage—can now be found at Observer.com/Innovation.

Don't miss the latest and best writing on technology and the future of business innovation. Add the Innovation section to your RSS feed and follow the Observer on Twitter and Facebook.