I’ve been a big admirer of Shopify for a long time but it was only after @tobi announced the move to digital by default that it was possible for me to consider roles here. Shopify is hiring the best talent around the world and I am excited to help double the eng org this year. https://t.co/HuX4g30rgF
— Cathy Polinsky (@cathy_polinsky) January 6, 2021
One of the biggest challenges in scaling a SaaS company has always been VP and SVP level talent. Especially past $10m ARR and beyond. Outside of the SF Bay Area, and a little bit of NYC and Salt Lake City, the bench talent just isn’t there. Even today. It’s an even bigger deal in the enterprise, where the playbook to closing large deals is more critical to have down. With SMBs, you can hack it a bit more.
It’s still a real issue today. The companies that create the SVPs you’ll need, especially in Sales and Marketing, are still mostly based in the SF Bay Area. Salesforce, Workday, LinkedIn, etc. are all here. In fact, 75-80% of SaaS public companies are still HQ’d here, along with most of their executives:
And while many more junior folks have scattered across the U.S. during Covid, most of the SVPs have stayed put right here in the Bay Area.
But now, for really the first time — they are joining top SaaS companies all across the country, all across Europe, and all across the globe.
Just in the past few weeks, 3 top, brand-name CMOs I know joined $10m+ ARR start-ups HQ’d in Berlin, in Atlanta, and in Colorado. That never, ever would have happened before Covid. Because most top talent wants to be close to the CEO. You would. It’s just so much easier to excel that way, and so much riskier to be far from the CEO if you’re a top executive.
But now that we’re all running distributed teams, that’s finally changed, for the first time ever in SaaS. Top execs are looking for new spots in 2021. And they care a lot, lot less if the company is HQ’d in the Bay Area.
So now’s the time, my friends. This may or may not last. As crazy as things are now, we’ll almost certainly see a return to some sort of pre-Covid like normalcy by the second half of 2021. Offices will reopen, in some form at least. I do think top CROs, CMOs, VPS, and VPMs based in the Bay Area will now and forever be much more willing to join start-ups based outside of the Bay Area. But when the world re-opens, the pendulum will likely swing partially back. Because if the CEO is coming into the office, ideally, you would too.
But for now, if you are beginning to scale, aggressively recruit that Bay Area VP you always wanted to hire. You probably still have to be “hot” to get the hot VP. But you don’t really need to be here anymore. At least, not for now.