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A Start-up's Plan to Hire Away Microsoft's Tech Talent

Tech talent is hard to find in Silicon Valley. So San Francisco advertising start-up PaperG has opened an office in Seattle to poach Microsoft's ad-tech engineers.

Amid the war for technical talent in Silicon Valley, entrepreneurs sometimes complain about the shortage of capable engineers in the Bay Area. Now, one San Francisco-based advertising start-up is circumventing the problem by avoiding it entirely. 

This month, local display advertising company PaperG opened a secondary engineering office in Seattle. The goal? Poaching ad-tech gurus from resident tech heavyweight Microsoft, according to PaperG co-founder Roger Lee.

“We see a good opportunity to hire from Microsoft’s advertising unit,” said Lee. “Start-ups like PaperG offer a fast-paced environment different from the tech giants that have dominated the scene for so long.” 

As it turns out, PaperG’s recruiting pitch to disgruntled Microsoft employees already seems to be working. Lee claimed almost a third of the start-up’s 12 employees in its Seattle office are from Microsoft, adding that the office has space to house up to 25 engineers.

“Those engineers (from Microsoft) in our office can now recommend others that are a good fit,” Lee said.

But PaperG’s recruiting strategy in Seattle doesn’t end with Microsoft. Lee explained that the company is also reaching out to students at the University of Washington as well as engineering talent from Seattle’s other tech giant, Amazon, through community events.

“We don’t see nearly the same battle for tech talent in Seattle as we do in Silicon Valley because of the difference in competition,” Lee said. “It’s certainly possible to recruit engineers in the Bay Area but it takes a lot more effort to identify and attract that talent.”

A call to Microsoft wasn't returned in time for this article to be published. 

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