Before the dotcom boom shook everything up and changed the employment landscape forever, conventional wisdom held that larger companies were inherently more stable, and were better targets for people on a job hunt. Today of course, many of those larger companies we once thought provided job stability are laying off staff in droves, or going out of business completely.
“There are jobs out there, particularly in the technology industry, if you know where to look and what roles to pursue,” said Rebecca Foreman Janjic, Partner at executive recruiting firm Polachi. If you consider yourself to have an entrepreneurial spirit and if you enjoy having more individual control, faster decision making and reduced infrastructure and corporate hierarchy, you may be well-suited to pursue employment at an early-stage or start-up company.”
In fact, working for a start-up, particularly a high-tech start-up, is a lot more attractive than it used to be. During the height of the dotcom boom, these nimble small firms offered good money, stock options (assuming that they would continue to exist), and most of all, excitement. There were also plenty of “soft” benefits like cappuccino in the break room, workout equipment, and more; not to mention, some of the greatest parties in Silicon Valley. It may be gone now, but nobody really expected it to last anyway—during those times, working for a dotcom was always seen as a short-term adventure, more akin to a trek in the Amazon rainforest than a journey into the corporate world.
But is it really gone? We still have start-ups, and in fact, today’s start-ups are a bit more stable and cautious than those that dominated the heady days of the early dotcom era. Start-up venture money is a little harder to come by, and that’s actually good for the industry, in that it helps to shake out a lot of the start-ups that don’t have what it takes to succeed in the long run. A funded start-up today, unlike those of the early dotcom boom, must have a solid business plan, good technology, and more importantly, a good idea of how it’s going to make money.
According to Janjic, “Currently, investors tend to be placing their bets in four sectors within the early-stage markets: Clean technology, mobile, consumer Internet/social media, and infrastructure software, particularly virtualization and cloud computing technologies including companies like VMWare or Citrix Systems. Having domain or previous sector experience in one of these hot sectors absolutely positions you better than the next candidate, but functional expertise is also of great importance.”
Are we seeing a return to the era of the high-tech start-up? We are indeed, and the dotcoms of today are here to stay.