Is age discrimination real in early stage startups?
The answer is sometimes — but you will know quickly when you interview:
- There are companies like Slack and Netflix that aggressively court 40+ years young, seasoned individual contributors.
- And there are also many very young, first-time founders who tend to hire … people like themselves. It is the classic first-time manager “mistake”. When you are 24 and haven’t managed people before — you tend to hire other 24 year olds.
Even companies in the second category though, then tend to grow out of this as they scale.
And there are plenty of start-ups founded by founders with more management experience. One of the first things you learn as a seasoned manager is how to scale beyond hiring people that look and think and talk like you.
So age discrimination is clearly there — but it isn’t always there.
The reality is, interview more.
Interview and find an environment that values you.
There are plenty of them. Even South of Market.
The $1 billion company that prefers 40 year old coders who only work 45 hours a week (Now that’s a unicorn)