Perka recruiting

Every now and then I receive emails from various recruiters trying to find technology people for their company.  I was surprised when I came to New York that there were head hunters, and that they were looking for tech people.  I had heard of executive head hunters, but as far as I can tell there’s not really a head hunting/recruiting market on the west coast.  But the second I started working in NYC, the calls from LinkedIn started pouring in.

Most of these recruiters are terrible, and know nothing about the technology they’re for which they’re recruiting.  In general, anecdotally I’ve seen that most founders of startups in NYC are not technical but rather sales/marketing people in Publishing, Marketing, or Fashion.  

Anyway, I’m at the point in my career where I’m interviewing companies just as much as they’re interviewing me so I like to send back to these blanket emails some questions of my own.

Here’s the most recent letter I received from Perka

Hi Jim,

I am reaching out because our engineering team is very interested in your engineering background. We are currently looking for Sr. Java Engineers to work with our Sr. team in building new frameworks, improving our architecture with sophistication and advancement and mentoring our engineers with projects. I would like to know if you would be open to a chat about Perka – I’ve included some info below. We are also looking for mid-level Java, Android, Software Developer in Test and JavaScript Engineers.

Perka is on it’s way to conquering one of those categories yet to be conquered – Loyalty.Here is some info about us to give you an idea of where we are headed and why…

Our current Engineering team scaled from 5 at acquisition to currently 13 and we will be adding 10 Engineers to support our Platform/Architecture, build new frameworks and tools, Mobile Products and Merchant web products. We are a relatively flat organization and this position reports directly into our CTO/Co-founder as well as work along side him and our other Sr. Engineers all like yourself with impressive backgrounds. This is a very smart team and we need to add to our talent in helping us deliver the world’s mobile loyalty brand and keeping up with the brand and trust as we grow.

About Us

Perka is a customer loyalty platform started in 2011. Our mobile and web apps have made millions of days a little brighter in free coffees, yoga classes, ice cream cones, and thousands of other ways of saying thanks.

In October 2013, we were acquired by First Data — one of the world’s largest payment processors — as an independent subsidiary. That gives us access to enormous resources and infrastructure, while retaining our startup culture and values.

Now we’re deploying our product at a scale that we could previously have only dreamt of. We’re building a team of inspired problem-solvers who want to help us reimagine the way that people all over the world interact with their favorite shops and restaurants. Join us.

What we offer
A clear product direction with a solid growth plan and balance and the extraordinary opportunity to work under the direction of very successful co-founders
Really really really good company culture-you’ll be saying it’s your favorite place to work too!
We open source and big fans of community development and events.
Competitive salary according to market and experience
Unique annual cash bonus program
Full benefits (health, dental and vision)
Life insurance coverage
Flexible spending account options
Generous PTO and paid holidays
Super duper MacBook Pros and 27” thunderbolts
Plenty of snacks for you and your super smart teammates along with super fun tees and great swag!
In August 2014, we are expecting our swanky new loft build out in SoHo to be complete with yes a ping pong table!

— Email from recruiter

And here was my response questions


Thanks for getting in touch. A few questions:

You say your engineers have impressive backgrounds, but you don’t mention what they are. Can you elaborate?
How big is the loyalty program market place and what percentage does your company have?
What is the most pressing technological challenge your company currently faces?
What is the most pressing business challenge that’s preventing you from having explosive growth?
Would you describe your company as primarily technology driven (ideas for new products and services come from the engineering team who also implements them once vetted for soundness by the business) or sales and marketing driven (engineers are told what to do by the business)?
When you have an idea for a new product or service, how do you test the idea in the marketplace?
What does your technology stack look like today? What does it look like 5 years from now?


It’s been a couple days and I haven’t heard anything, which makes me think they have little interest in an engineer who cares about the business and how it’s run but are rather just looking for someone who will do what they’re told. After all they’re the geniuses with all the brilliant ideas, and you’re just some code monkey who should be GRATEFUL for the OPPORTUNITY to be paid in fake money (shares/options) for working on such a great idea!  Know your place engineers, you’re the blue collar workers of the information economy and they’re the smart management.

I’m being a bit hyperbolic here, but I don’t think I’m too far off the mark based on conversations and general discourse with ‘idea guys’ in NYC. I can’t help but feel that computer programming is definitely seen as a second class citizen (if only subconsciously).