It’s good to be a star. Or in this case, a talented coder in Silicon Valley. Well, same thing.
You work hard and play hard. Tech companies vie to give you fat paychecks. You get driven around, to and from home, work and appointments. And if you’re chauffeured around a bit too much, you can walk past the free gourmet treats and hit the on-site gym for some wall-climbing or cardio.
Not bad, huh? And that’s just scratching the surface. Apparently, the top coders in the Valley can even get their own agents. That’s right — just like rock stars, athletes and actors. Imagine the deals they’ll be able to score now.
Meet Altay Guvench, a former coder and current talent management agent specializing in freelance software programmers. The Harvard grad and a couple of buds started 10x Management last year to help rising stars in the world of technology score gigs, negotiate compensation and handle billing and payments. “We deal with the necessary evils of being a freelance coder, so they don’t have to,” says Guvench, whose partners — Rishon Blumberg and Michael Solomon — have experience managing musicians including John Mayer and The Clarks.
On the surface, the way 10x Management works isn’t totally different from the way employment agencies place candidates. Like some, they test coders before taking them on, and they work with several companies and startups to find appropriate placements, for which they get a cut. The difference? Many of those recruiters and employment agents very clearly work for the employers. But for 10x, the freelance programmers are the clients. The agents work with them to further their career objectives, negotiate hours and pay on their behalf, and they’ll even grab the phone to close deals for them.
It can be a little weird when that happens, and some employers are “taken aback a bit, but the ones we work with regularly have come to appreciate it,” says Guvench. “We handle all the awkward conversations about salary and the scope of the projects and make them less awkward.” And for that, they receive the typical agent’s fee of 15 percent.
We’ve all heard the stories of how Valley tech companies can pamper their workforces, but in a real sense, many programmers pay for it in sweat equity. Long hours are common at startups, as well as established companies, which means 10x is focusing on a niche that could appreciate some representation. That seems to be panning out. The year-old, fledgling agency has already accumulated a roster of 30 clients, including former coders from the likes of Google and Apple.
So study up, programmers-in-training. Nail down that C or Java, and you too could have your very own talent management agents on speed dial, working their mojo and scoring deals for you.