Y Combinator president Sam Altman has had a front-row seat to the successes and challenges of some of the fastest growing companies of the past decade. Stripe, Dropbox, AirBnb, just to name a few.
We asked Sam what advice he had for founders and employees at high-growth startups, and what they should keep in mind when it’s time to hire and scale up the team. Below is Sam’s response, including a list of 20 YC startups that are entering hyper growth and hiring aggressively.
Why Join a Company That’s Scaling Up, by Sam Altman
There are a lot of advantages to joining a company that’s growing quickly, but one of the biggest ones is that they offer more opportunities faster to employees. Joining a hypergrowth company is the best hack to get a lot of promotions fast.
Your job will evolve as quickly as the company scales. That means you’ll constantly be learning new things and figuring out where you find the most satisfaction. It’s shocking how much can change at a startup in one year.
Spending a few years somewhere that’s scaling fast will give you more varied experiences than many people get in a decade at a large company. You’ll become more confident in new environments and have better pattern recognition for good opportunities.
Meeting impressive people is another very good reason to join a company that’s scaling. The best companies tend to attract really smart people who will eventually go off and do great things. The networks people build early in their careers at hypergrowth companies are often their most important professional networks ever. The PayPal Mafia is the canonical example of this.
As an employee you have an advantage founders don’t — you can wait to see if a company is really working before committing to it.
How to choose?
You can trust your judgment here — if you know people love the product, if you know great people work there, and if you can tell it seems to be growing fast among important users, if you can identify some sort of compounding advantage over time, and if you believe the market will one day be huge, don’t overthink it.
One thing to watch out for is joining the hot startup of the month without doing your own research. Press attention and success are often not correlated.
Hiring Advice for Founders
If you’re a founder of one these companies and have to hire a lot of people fast, here’s some advice:
1. Spend more time on it
2. In the beginning, get your hands dirty
3. Look for smart, effective people
4. Have people audition for roles instead of interviewing
5. Have a mission
6. Hire people you like
7. Have a set of cultural values you hire for
8. Don’t compromise
9. Be generous with compensation packages (especially equity)
10. Watch out for red flags and trust your gut
11. Always be recruiting
12. Fire fast
13. Put a little bit of rigor around the hiring process
14. Don’t hire
I expand on each of these points here.
Good luck. Choosing where to work and choosing who to hire are both challenging but important tasks.
If you’re currently looking for an opportunity, here are some YC companies that are aggressively hiring.
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