Startup Ups the Ante for Employee Referrals

That $2,000 bonus you’re offering  for every referral hire you make is going to seem like chump change this morning for anyone who caught last night’s news.

CBS aired a piece about a Silicon Valley startup offering $20,000 — that’s right, $20,000 — for every tech hire made from a referral who came from an employee company friend or family.

“We want the best of the best,” ThoughtSpot CEO Ajeet Singh told the San Francisco Chronicle, which wrote about the rich referral before it aired on CBS. “We thought $20,000 was an interesting enough number that a lot of people might actually refer people to us.”

By no means is this the first such juicy referral bonus.

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Dr. John Sullivan noted a similarly pricey reward for referring a software engineer in a post two years ago. Other companies, desperate to hire workers with hard to find, in-demand skills, have offered similar rewards. But for some reason, ThoughtSpot’s program caught the attention of San Francisco media, which featured the program a few days ago and the news spread rapidly across the country.

There’s an interesting question that comes up during the interview about the potential for poaching from some of the Valley’s “biggies.” “We’re too small,” the CEO says. But if the program succeeds at ThoughtSpot — and already the company has hired a few engineers through the program — it could turn employee referrals into the equivalent of en employment arms race.

John Zappe is the editor of and a contributing editor of John was a newspaper reporter and editor until his geek gene lead him to launch his first website in 1994. He developed and managed online newspaper employment sites and sold advertising services to recruiters and employers. Before joining ERE Media in 2006, John was a senior consultant and analyst with Advanced Interactive Media and previously was Vice President of Digital Media for the Los Angeles Newspaper Group.

Besides writing for ERE, John consults with staffing firms and employment agencies, providing content and managing their social media programs. He also works with organizations and businesses to assist with audience development and marketing. In his spare time  he can be found hiking in the California mountains or competing in canine agility and obedience competitions.

You can contact him here.