Lemon 53. Is it okay to hire people from your friend’s company?

Lemon #53. Is it okay to
people from your friend’s company?

While reading ‘The hard thing about hard things’ from Ben Horowitz, we learned about if it’s okay to hire people from your friend’s company: 

Every good technology company needs great people. The best companies invest time, money, and sweat equity into becoming world-class recruiting machines. Is it fair game to hire employees from you friend’s company? Will you still be friends?

Most CEOs would never target a friend’s company as a source of talent. As CEO, one generally doesn’t have many true friends in business, and raiding your friend’s company is a sure way to lose one. Nevertheless, almost every CEO will be faced with the decision of whether to hire an employee out of her friend’s company. 

Here’s an easy way to think about the dynamic. If your husband left you, would you want your best friend to date him? He’s going to date somebody, so wouldn’t you want your friend to have him? It seems logical, but this situation is far from logical and you just lost one friend. 

First, keep in mind that the employees are either extremely good or you probably won’t want them in your company anyway. So, you will either be recruiting top-notch employees from your friend’s company or you’ll be adding mediocre people. 

So, the best way to deal with these situations is openly and transparently. Once you become aware of the conflict between hiring the superstar employee and double-crossing your valued friend, you should get the issue onto the table by informing the employee that you have an important business relationship with his existing company and you’ll have to complete a reference check with the CEO prior to extending the offer. Let him know that if he doesn’t want to happen, then you’ll stop the process now and keep the process to date confidencial.

By speaking with your friend before making the hire, you’ll be able to better judge the relationship impact of hiring her employee. 

Ben Horowitz @ The hard thing about hard things.

Jorge Moreno

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