Will write search code for food?


Silicon Beat writes Become.com co-founders Michael Yang and Yeogirl Yun asked job candidates to take a “larry & sergie test” and come up new ways to best Google’s search algorithm. Nearly 100 applicants, spent about 40 hours each, to come up with their best hacks. That’s 4000 hours of work. That’s about 100 40-hour weeks, or two years of work. A good engineer could easily make $75,000 a year. Become.com just saved $150,000. Not to mention they got smart-but-desperate folks “searching for a job” hand over “their best ideas” to their company. Now they can simply take that “intelligence” and build a nice search engine. How many of them got the job, Silicon Beat doesn’t say? Or it doesn’t say that if Become.com will compensate the contributors for their efforts, and intellectual property.

Update: Silicon Beat says the results of the test became part of the Become.com concept. Michael Yang, realizing he had a PR flap on his hand posts in the comments section of the original post: “We have never used any code or ideas from the programming test. The programming test is focused on candidate’s programming proficiency rather than new ideas or inventions.” By the way American Heritage dictionary describes concept as “something conceived in the mind.” Michael Bazeley has a different recollection of the conversation, though he gallantly calls it a draw. You are a gent, Mr. B.


Bob M

Hmm, this idea can spread across business borders. For example, in higher ed, lots of unscrupulous admins could ask potential job applicants to design a course “to see how well you fit in.” It could be even an under the table deal with a part-timer before a job opening is even posted, as a way for him to show his loyalty. No obligation to hire, though.

Great way to get whole new courses for free.

Ah, rascality.

Om Malik

daniel i agree with you but still these are tough times and i wonder. i am not sure if the comparison between cars and code is similar. software is all about ideas and if you hand over your idea, well, what do you really have?

Daniel Spisak

Sorry Om but no competent coder is going to spend that kind of time and effort coding just for a job application. These people don’t have the clout of Google behind them to make people want to jump through the hoops of their version of the GCAT. If you ask me these coders are just asking to be taken advantage of over and over again.

This would be equivalent to some unknown automaker asking potential applicants to spend time designing a car that can compete with the likes of BMW just to get a job, potentially unpaid for their work and most likely without proper credited protection of the creative process.

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