Is age discrimination real in early stage startups? originally appeared on Quora - the place to gain and share knowledge, empowering people to learn from others and better understand the world.

Answer by Auren Hoffman, SafeGraph CEO, Former LiveRamp CEO, Started & Sold 5 Companies, on Quora:

In most cases, the average 42-year-old is very fairly valued.

Most 42-years-olds command compensation commensurate with their abilities. They are generally fairly priced. You are generally getting what you pay for.

The further away you are from 42, the more of an arbitrage it is to hire someone. Essentially, the more likely you will get a deal on a person ... but also the more risky the person is.

A 22-year-old is risky because she does not have experience and may not have history of dealing with adversity, failure, and set-backs. But she may have much more raw potential and future (still has the ability to be CEO of a multinational company or President of the U.S.) than anyone else in your company. She also may have the energy to put in 70+ hours weeks and may be very up-to-date on the newest technologies. There are a lot of unknowns ... which is both good and bad.

A 62-year-old is risky because, if they are willing to join your start-up, they do may have the resume of amazing success. An amazing 62-year-old likely has been so successful that he never would want to join your tiny start-up. For instance, Bill Gates (who is 61 years old at the time of this writing) is not going to join your start-up. The positive is that the 62-year-old may have incredible experience that you might not find anywhere else. He might have some incredible experience and might have some incredible insights to help your start-ups. And today's 62-year-old has more energy than yesterday's 42-year-old (remember, our last US Presidential election contest was between two 70-year-olds). Plus, they usually don't have young kids which can take a ton of time and energy.

In Silicon Valley, 22-year-olds might now be over-valued and 62-year-olds might be incredibly under-valued.

30 years ago, almost all 22-year-olds were cheap. They were easy to hire. If you put in the effort for campus recruiting, you could find super talented people. Companies like McKinsey built their entire brand on hiring smart 22-year-olds.

Today, 22-year-olds are likely over-valued. Every company is trying to hire them. Everyone thinks that colleges are the place to do recruiting. I've met college students that have TEN offers for full-time employment!! Many 2016 college graduates are making the same compensation as 2014 college graduates with the same major from the same college.

By contrast, the 62-year-old is almost certainly way undervalued by start-ups. Almost no start-ups are actively trying to recruit them. Very few are reaching out to the on LinkedIn. And many 62-year-olds have given up even try to find employment in start-ups because they think they are discriminated against.

That means there is a huge opportunity for an enterprising start-up. There is an amazing untapped and undervalued resource to hire. Actively recruiting people over 60 could give your start-up a big recruiting edge ... especially in Silicon Valley, NY/NJ, or Southern California where there a lot of super talented over-60 engineers.

Note: I use "42" as a number because I'm a Douglas Adams fan and it is currently my age ... so I am most familiar with it

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Published on: Mar 31, 2017