Reddit & Hacker News: The New, Social, Recruitment Tools?

Can Reddit, Hacker News and the likes become the new social recruitment tools for modern companies?

Recruiting staff is hard

Recruiting staff is never easy, especially for new startups. Hiring the wrong person can turn out to be a very expensive affair, especially if your budget is limited to start with. Another problem that companies face is that there is a lack of suitable employees. In Silicon Valley the salary for a relatively green CS graduate can exceed $100,000 per year. I get that it is expensive to live in that area but such high wages shows that the companies have trouble finding the right people to hire.

Skilled software engineers can often times pick and choose what companies they want to work at and the companies have to brand themselves as attractive employers. Easier said than done. However, over the past few years I’ve seen an increase in ‘alternative’ recruitment avenues.


Reddit has a multitude of niche subreddits, communities with a special theme – everything from cat pictures to country specific communities and information security. The latter is the interest in this case.

/r/netsec is a “A community for technical news and discussion of information security and closely related topics.”. It is a rather specialized niche with a very specific set of competencies. Information Security is hard. Very hard. Think of all the leaked databases with usernames and passwords you’ve seen. Finding employees is therefore bound to be troublesome.

Every quarter /r/netsec moderators create an Information Security Hiring Thread. It can look something like this:

/r/netsec Recruitment Thread

/r/netsec Recruitment Thread, Q4 (Click on the image for large size)

The ability to list positions for these, often times smaller companies, can be invaluable. It is a niche industry so the traditional recruitment sites (Monster and so forth) may not provide many leads. It is also more personalized as users who are interested can reply to the post and ask questions. The following is a post from iSEC partners in the hiring thread:

iSEC Partners in /r/netsec

iSEC Partners in /r/netsec (Click on the image for large size)

Another example of recruitment via Reddit comes from /r/consulting. Yesterday I noticed a thread there: I want to hook up Redditors with entry level consulting jobs.

 My Project Management Consulting company is hiring for entry level associates. You need not have experience, and you’d get promoted up starting after the first year.

I remember being a job hunter in this subreddit and wanting to find places that would take my application. I didn’t want to forget where I came from and hope someone here finds this helpful.

If this is of interest to you, message me. We’ll talk and then I’ll hand walk your resume into HR.
*some prerequisites apply

This is an example of helping the community out, a lot of people are looking to enter consulting and it is never fun or easy to go to all those interviews (with hilariously fun cases…). Consulting is also a special case in that the large consultancies (McKinsey, BGC, et al.) tend to vacuum up a lot of the talent. Definitely troublesome for smaller firms. By generating good will the company can be sure to get some potential employees who otherwise wouldn’t have applied.

Hacker News

Hacker News is the community around the startup incubator Y Combinator (wiki). Hacker News works in roughly the same was as a subreddit. Each month there is a ‘Who is hiring’ thread. The one posted for November currently has 400 comments, with most being companies advertising positions.

Hacker News: Who Is Hiring

Hacker News: Who Is Hiring (Click on the image for large size)

The companies advertising are everything from big multinationals to small startups. The companies are mostly located on the west coast of USA. It is a bit unfortunate that the European startups have not taken advantage of communities like Hacker News to the same extent as their American counterparts.

Below is a post from an employee at Bloomberg, it is currently the most upvoted comment in that thread. He describes in-depth what they do and in a very personal way attempts to woo potential employees. He’s asked several questions the thread and does his best to answer them. Very good attitude to recruitment and really helps branding Bloomberg as an exciting place to work.

Who Is Hiring: Bloomberg

Who Is Hiring: Bloomberg (Click on the image for larger size)

So what lessons can be learned from this? Look beyond the conventional job boards and try to recruit from other sources. It is not guaranteed to work but if nothing else, you get a chance to build up some good will with the community.

I think this type of recruitment activities will become increasingly important for companies. Dealing with faceless HR departments without any personal connections may become a thing of the past. The unrealistic job requirements listed by HR should become a thing of the past. Let’s not kid ourselves, most companies don’t need rockstars for most of their positions.

Honorary mention: Twitter

These communities are rather niched and therefore you might not find the type of employees you need so, in some cases, Twitter is a better choice. You can do like MTGx (See previous mentions: 1 2) and simply spread the word of your CMO position via Twitter. Any self-respecting (digital) marketeer will have a Twitter account these days.

That previous sentence is validated by first line of the need to have section in their job listing:

You are an active member of the online world – not just a spectator or a fan. If you don’t have a Twitter account and don’t spend an excessive amount of your personal time online, you are not for this job

Are these the recruitment tools for the future? I don’t know, maybe. They are a nice complement to other things and adds human aspect to the whole job seeking/employee hunting process.

[ShamelessSelfPromotion] Got any tips for jobs in the Stockholm Region, throw me an email at Patrik[at] or on LinkedIn.  [/ShamelessSelfPromotion]


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Follow-up: MTGx Investor Presentation

I’ve finally had a chance to properly look at MTGx‘s investor presentation that Rikard Steiber posted on Twitter a few minutes before my last post went live. I apologise for the delay but my master thesis had to take priority 😉

I will not discuss everything presented in the slides, but on the parts that specifically interest me.

[Edit: Embedded the slides, had forgotten you could do that with Slideshare]

xVentures: MTGx incubator/investor arm. xVentures is very interesting as they can actually offer  startups a lot than traditional incubators and investors lack: advertising and sales infrastructure. Both of of these are usually a problem for startups and one thing is for sure, MTG knows their advertising.  From the slides (The Pitch):

60 channels in 35 markets
TV operator, Radio, Digital
Media cross promotion
Content cross creation
Local sales force to sell
Local editorial to curate

Ability to advertise in 60 channels across 35 markets? That is an amazing opportunity for most companies and startups in particular. Let’s not forget that MTG(x) are used to selling B2B. I am quite positive they can assist startups with marketing (Sorry, most people (including myself) are just not as good at marketing as we think) and pricing.

Viagame: I could not really understand why MTGx would spend the time and money on Viagame, it is, as I said in my previous post, a deviously hard market to make a decent buck in and they basically had nothing that differentiated them from the competitors. I was wrong. They do have one thing, which is mentioned in the slides: Leverage unsold TV inventory to drive online traffic and sales.

Leveraging the unsold inventory, where they were unable to sell advertisement, to generate (some) revenue. It is quite brilliant. The margins on each sold game are probably around 15-30% (I believe Steam takes ~30% from game sales), which is a healthy margin for relatively small investment on MTG’s part (Shelf-ware distribution tool, basic adverts for Viagame etc). The unsold inventory would otherwise be ‘wasted’, now a profit can be made, albeit smaller than if the inventory had been sold but it helps smoothing out the revenue streams – no/smaller dips in revenue if inventory goes unsold.

xCreations: ‘Youtube style’ production/content (my own interpretation). Rikard Steiber correctly identifies that ‘old media’ have not been very good at embracing Youtube and they, in my opinion, have often failed to create the type of content that the Youtube viewers expect, thus it makes sense to create a small and innovative team to embrace the Youtube-styled content. Perhaps on their own platform, perhaps not.

I would love to see production companies embracing gaming content (my personal favourite among the Youtube content). eSports on Youtube, game play commentaries and Let’s Play are quite big business these days and they could be so much more with proper production companies behind them. Companies like Yogscast have come a long way with their production, they got a really good crew going right now, and they are still growing, but many others are still 1-3 man operations and could use a good production crew. Yes, I know they get support from Maker studios/The Game Station etc. but it just doesn’t have the same finesse as traditional production for the most part.)

The slides make me even more excited to see what MTGx has in store for us. Will the be successful?  I don’t know. I hope so, it would mean more jobs in Stockholm, which is never a bad thing – except if you want to buy an apartment. MTGx still have a long way before they can revolutionize digital media but god knows it is sorely needed. ‘Old Media’ seems to have trouble to adopting to Youtube-style content. More innovation is never bad in my opinion. I will continue to keep an eye on MTGx and other potentially innovative companies in Sweden.

P.S. I should say, if you found these things interesting, you probably should apply at, they seem like nice people and currently got 25 jobs up for grabs. (And no, I have no relation to MTG(x))

Now back to writing my thesis. Perspectives on ES/ERP implementation success (in the onward and upward phase). Interesting stuff if you like large scale implementations of IT systems and the factors that leads to successful implementations.


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MTGx – Internal Digital ‘Startup’ at MTG

Modern Times Group (MTG) announced their new digital venture today, called MTGx. The idea behind it seems to be to consolidate their digital offerings into a new ‘startup’ in order to quickly adapt, pivot and innovate without being limited and restricted by MTG’s internal workings and the inherent rigidity of a large company.

To me it sounds like a well-funded ‘startup’ within the media conglomerate that already starts out with some pre-existing assets. MTG has also managed to hire people with impressive resumes to head up the project. Earlier in the year they poached Rikard Steiber from Google and made him Chief Digital Officer(CDO – Collateralized Debt Obligations?) at MTG and head of MTGx.

MTGx’s tagline is:

For decades MTG has been in the forefront of entertainment broadcasting. Now we want to revolutionize the digital entertainment industry too. With MTGx we’re combining the power of a global media group with the energy of a startup, to turn the grey corners of Internet into amusement parks. And if you’re the top talent in your field, we’d love to have you on board. We can assure you, it’ll be fun.

To me it seems like MTGx is a great way enable quick adopting, prototyping and pivoting (Lean style) while still having the financial clout of  MTG. I am actually rather interested to see what they will do in the future, their current products are quite diverse and I suspect they need a rather large team to keep them all going, not that I should complain about a company having to hire a lot of people. Anything that helps Swedish GDP along makes me happy.

MTGx splits their products into four different categories: xPlay (Core Services), xVentures (New Services), xCreations (Digital Production) and xLabs (Development Shop)

xPlay includes Viaplay, TV Play and Sports
xVentures includes Music, Games and Like.TV
xCreations includes Mobisodes, Webisodes and TV Extensions
xLabs includes Web / Apps, Social and Sign on

The xPlay area mainly circulates around Viaplay as far as I can tell and it is pretty much a Netflix competitor in Sweden. Priced at 79SEK/m for movies and tv series. This area has massive potential but they need to be able to offer a better service with larger offering than Netflix et al.

xVentures is the most interesting part in my opinion, this area will focus on the actual new services and a lot of good things that could come out of this. I am especially interested in the collaborations with startups, that they claim will be part of xVentures:.

As part of this effort xVentures will establish presence in start-up communities in several countries, with an initial focus on Sweden, the UK, and the US, to find partnership and investment opportunities.

Both partnerships and investments could be very beneficial to start-ups in these areas. MTG has huge reach with their media offerings and they sure know how to handle themselves on traditional media so I would trust them to run promotions. More investment money is always a good thing (as long as it is sensibly spent of course) and there is a lack of VC money in EU compared to the US so I am quite delighted about MTGx’s xVentures.

However, on the subject of xVentures, I am a bit worried about their current products, primarily Viagame and

Viagame is in a hard, competitive business. Selling PC games online is NOT easy in this day in age. Steam has a near monopoly on the main stream (and to an extent indie) scene. EA (Origin) and Ubisoft (UPlay) are trying to get in on the action and GOG has the niche market of older games (without DRM) in their pocket. What does Viagame have? A website, with a ‘shelf-ware’ distribution system and TV advertisement. TV ads are worth a lot and I did hear about the company via their Swedish ads but it is not an easy market. Just look at Gamersgate, the quite established Swedish digital distributor – in 2011 (most recent figures available) they only had 35m SEK in revenue, and a minor loss. It is not an easy business and I think Viagame needs to do more than they currently do to become a contender in the space. Don’t get me wrong, more competition is great and I would love for them to succeed but to do so, they need to have an edge.

The traditional ways to generate value in the IT economy is:1) Lock-in 2) Novelty 3) Efficiency 4) Complementaries. Viagame currently has none of these, though I could see both complementaries and Efficiency playing a part in the not too distant future. Complementaries as MTGx other products might be very good compliments to selling games (producing a video game review show or such perhaps). Efficiency as I assume it was not very expensive to set up the service and once it is up the fixed costs stay the same and the margins go way up – though I still suspect they won’t have an easy time generating enough revenue. is a second screen service, I never understood them and I am not sure how they will generate any money but I can see the use for live statistics, polls and betting. Other than that I fail to see the point. However, it is wonderful compliment to MTG’s current offerings, which mainly revolves around TV. It is actually brilliant but I am not sure if it will  actually make any money, mobile (incl tablet) is hard to monetize – the ad revenue isn’t exactly stellar for these devices.

I have been a bit negative toward the end of this post but I do hope this venture will be a success for MTG and those involved, innovation is damn important and will in the end benefit the consumer. On a related note, the stock markets appear to be quite neutral to the initiate, MTG closed 0.37% up.

In this stage they seem to be mostly recruiting new talent – over 25 positions within the ‘startup’. A quick glance suggest that they are building a solid backend team (Venture mangers, financial mangers, etc) but also investing heavily in new technical employees. Last I heard lots/most of the technical graduates in Sweden got swallowed up by Spotify and Skype but MTGx may be able to compete for these graduates in the future as they do have solid financial backing and are offering a startup environment – or claim to at least.

Or they can just hire me (hint hint nudge nudge) as I am soon done with my master. The results from my last exams are just out and I am officially done with all courses and only got my thesis to go. I shall soon return to Stockholm! In all seriousness though, I am (causally) looking for work so any hints would be greatly appreciated. See About for more info.

P.S., in case someone at MTG(x) reads this; the email at the bottom of your page says jobs[at] but as far as I can tell you don’t actually own that domain,  nor is the mail server run by you? I assume the correct email is either or : ).

Edit 00:38 14/06: Just a few minutes before this post went live Rikard Steiber posted a 40 slide long presentation about MTGx on Twitter, sadly I did not see it before finishing the post. I will write an additional post with thoughts on it tomorrow. It is late and I want to be awake when I go through the presentation properly. You can check out the presentation on Slideshare.


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