Facebook will now let some employees work from anywhere, but their paychecks could get cut

By Rachel Lerman and Elizabeth Dwoskin


SAN FRANCISCO — Facebook is joining the permanent work-from-home trend, saying it will start allowing some employees to apply to work remotely for good.

Facebook could have about 50 percent of its 45,000-person company working remotely in the next five to 10 years, chief executive Mark Zuckerberg said in a public video announcing the policy Thursday. But the social media giant will also lower paychecks to reflect cheaper costs of living in some cases, depending on location.

Facebook will start “aggressively” opening up hiring for remote workers, Zuckerberg said, including for people living in areas a few hours away from its offices and in new hubs it will establish.

“Certainly being able to recruit more broadly, especially across the U.S. and Canada to start, is going to open up a lot of new talent that previously wouldn't have considered moving to a big city,” he said.

Twitter employees can work from home forever

Tech companies have been the first to move to permanent work-from-home policies after proving the practice works during the coronavirus pandemic. Twitter said last week that it would allow all of its employees to choose to continue working from home long term even after the pandemic ends.

The industry, which relies heavily on positions in which jobs are completed on computers, is better-positioned than many for most remote work. But the companies have long relied on sprawling open campuses that put an emphasis on hallway interactions and collaboration spaces. The coronavirus pandemic, which has sent most employees home, is shifting that. Many expect that even when companies decide it is safe to reopen offices, the spaces and remote work policies will look very different than they did before.

Facebook is taking a more measured approach than Twitter. It will begin recruiting hires for remote work outside its usual office hubs, Zuckerberg said, and some existing employees can apply to work remotely. But he said choosing to live in cheaper cities could mean employees’ paychecks would be reduced.

“Our goal here is to enable many existing employees to become remote workers, if you want,” he said.

Facebook usage is up amid coronavirus

The company will adjust salaries depending on where employees live — paying less to those who work remotely from cities where the cost of living is lower. Facebook already pays different salaries based on locations, but this means employees who are allowed to work remotely have until Jan. 1 to tell Facebook where they are living and might get a paycheck cut.AD

“That means if you live in a location where the cost of living is dramatically lower, or the cost of labor is lower, then salaries do tend to be somewhat lower in those places,” Zuckerberg said.

Still, lower salaries in smaller cities might not work for all positions, especially for executive-level jobs. Will Hunsinger, CEO of Silicon Valley executive recruiting company Riviera Partners, said companies like Facebook will need to keep executive pay high to compete with rivals. In addition, the company will likely save money on operational expenses such as free food and shuttle services. 

“They’re going to pay them what it takes to get that talent," he said.

An internal company survey found that about 45 percent of employees interested in remote work were “pretty confident” they would move to another location. It also said about 40 percent of employees said they were somewhat, extremely or very interested in remote work. About 60 percent of employees asked for flexibility, or a combination of remote work and office work.AD

Facebook responding to that survey with its new policy could prove a morale booster for the workforce. Some workers have said that a string of scandals, from the Cambridge Analytica data privacy breach to the use of the company’s platform to spread conspiracy theories and false news, has hurt morale there.

Big Tech was the first to send workers home. Now it’s in no rush to bring them back.

Facebook has already said most employees will work remotely through the end of the year, though it expects its offices will open for a small number of employees starting in July. Initially, offices will only allow about 25 percent capacity because of social distancing guidelines, Zuckerberg said.

Facebook’s decision is likely to send ripples across the industry.

“It’s going to have a big effect,” said Margaret O’Mara, a professor of history at the University of Washington who studies Silicon Valley. “Facebook is big, it hires a lot of people, it’s a big force of recruitment. The landscape of tech right now is so dominated by these five very big companies.”AD

It will also give the company a recruiting advantage by giving it flexibility geographically, she said.

Facebook has the money to keep its Menlo Park campus — something Zuckerberg pledged to do in his Thursday announcement. But the company’s announcement might be even more influential for smaller and midsize tech companies, O’Mara said, which might now seriously consider remote work in part as a way to reduce spending on office space.

Engineers at the company with strong performance reviews will be the first group allowed to apply for remote work.

With the idea of working from home becoming more appealing as people try to limit exposure to the coronavirus, Zuckerberg’s decision also tracks with other moves in which he has been able to quickly seize on a popular idea or product just gathering momentum in the tech industry. He jumped on cryptocurrency as the idea gained traction, working to launch a digital currency. His move to buy Instagram when the company had just a dozen employees demonstrated an ability to see trends in technology moving toward image-sharing long before others, and his mega-purchase of WhatsApp for $19 billion showed an ability to understand the role messaging would play in social networking.

But the offer to allow employees to work from home wherever is also viewed as a potentially powerful recruiting and retention tool. Many Silicon Valley start-ups already have moved to remote work in the short term to compete for talent with tech giants.

Now, remote work may become an even more expected part of tech culture.

“I think with Facebook doing it… it will be a standard thing now. It won’t even be a perk, it will be an option," said David Chie, CEO of Silicon Valley recruiting agency Palo Alto Staffing.

The great video chat faceoff: Six apps. Dozens of heads. One came out on top.

Facebook has already broadcast it is recruiting 10,000 people this year at a time when Silicon Valley start-ups are laying off thousands of people. This new permanent work-from-home benefit will become a recruiting tool, increasing its leverage as compared to some start-ups.

Still, some of Facebook’s contract workers are likely to continue to come into the office, particularly its army of over 15,000 content moderators, whose work reviewing graphic posts is generally considered too sensitive to be done from home.AD

Zuckerberg emphasized how this policy would help the company build tools for other businesses that support remote work. The company said its new video chat service, Messenger Rooms, would be available for business customers to host work meetings.

Facebook also announced Thursday that its Workplace tools for businesses on the social network is now used by 5 million paying customers, up from 2 million in October.

“Moving to more remote work I think will give us the opportunity to advance some of the important future technology that we work on,” he said.

Interview: Tammy Wang, VP of Data Science and Engineering on Approaching Tech Hiring as a Data-Driven Exercise

Tammy Wang,  our VP of Data Science and Engineering connected with InsideBigData to discuss her team's work with the University of Virginia Economics department to build an AI-powered application that can help people successfully navigate STEM career paths, with a focus on developing a long-term career trajectory in tech. The solution has the potential to impact U.S. labor supply by addressing the increasing demand for technology talent, which has resulted from the rapid digitization and automation of the labor market. We invite you to learn more in the excerpt below, or click through to read the full Q&A on InsideBigData. 


insideBIGDATA: The National Science Foundation recently awarded you a large grant to use AI in a compelling new way to help women and other underrepresented groups break into STEM careers. Tell us about it.


Tammy Wang: I lead the data science team at  Riviera Partners, a retained search firm specializing in placements of executive leadership in engineering, product, and design, and we have a front-row view of how skewed supply and demand are in tech recruiting. There is a notable talent shortage in tech, and qualified candidates in software engineering or data science can walk away with multiple offers within a few weeks with large compensation packages. We also know that this hot talent market is remarkably unbalanced when it comes to gender, racial and socio-economic backgrounds. Only 26% of the software engineering workforce were women in 2018, only 2.2% of first-generation graduates major in Computer Science, only 3.41% of software engineering degrees are awarded to Hispanics, and only 1.3% of degrees are awarded to people who identify as black or African American. In the big picture, the talent shortage and the narrow field of typical candidates is a warning signal that digital transformation efforts and innovation among US firms will be limited by a growing shortage of qualified talent.  I believe companies across the US can have a bigger and better supply of tech talent if the STEM field can be more inclusive. Our team partnered with the University of Virginia Economics department to propose a project to build an AI-powered application that can help underrepresented groups navigate STEM careers, with a focus on developing long term success in tech fields. The project received a grant as part of the Convergence Accelerator awards from the National Science Foundation. We’re just starting this journey – and it's exciting!


insideBIGDATA: Why do you think an app like this was never created before?


Tammy Wang: Until recently, technology hadn’t advanced enough to amass and analyze the data that’s necessary to provide valuable recommended steps. The data set necessary to get to an accurate representation of detailed career paths is incredibly difficult to collect and integrate. Riviera is uniquely able to support this effort because it has nearly 20 years of history and data gathered from its efforts placing executives and individual contributors at companies.  We have a horizontal view over a time series study that others lack. With this large volume of fine-tuned, clean data at our disposal, we’re able to deliver recommendations that are trustworthy. Also, understanding and recommending data-driven career steps for entire demographic groups is a difficult problem, and the process to do so is an obscure, exploratory area that requires a tight collaboration between industry and academia, and large-scale funding. It can be daunting to try to make all of these components align, which I think is why this type of project hasn’t been attempted until now, but with our data, technology and skill sets we were able to gain the necessary partnership and funding to make this opportunity a reality.


Read the full Q&A at InsideBigData, Interview: Tammy Wang, VP of Data Science and Engineering on Approaching Tech Hiring as a Data-Driven Exercise or contact Tammy to learn more.

How will the recent rash of tech IPOs affect landing that next big technology leader?

How will the recent rash of tech IPOs affect landing that next big technology leader? Read on to find out. In a recent Forbes post, our CEO Will Hunsinger provides expert opinion on the matter, along with actionable steps you can take if you're a company exec contemplating how to land the right tech leader who is willing and able to make the necessary contributions to take your company to the next level. Dive in with this excerpt:


 Companies must embrace digital transformation if they want to remain competitive. That requires hiring technology leaders who can build disruptive products that make transformation possible in the first place. Through that lens, every company is a technology company. Landing the right technology leader is more essential than it has ever been. But that can be tricky when the technology market itself is producing a series of IPOs or other significant liquidity events that keep talented tech leaders in place.

 Extremely smart, savvy tech leaders are the ones creating the most value for companies. With them, the product or service flourishes and the company achieves sustainable growth and market share, which leads to an acquisition or IPO. Technology leaders who have gone through a successful win are in particularly high demand.

 This year has been a particularly active one for tech IPOs. Multiple tech leaders in the relatively small field of players will wear the post-IPO badge of honor. What does this momentum mean for private companies that are hoping to attract “proven” tech leaders? Only the most solid recruiting tactics and opportunities will land in-demand candidates. Here's what you need to know to woo IPO tech pros into your fold.

Are you ready to be a CTO?

So you want to be a CTO someday, but you're not sure if your resume will have what it takes to stand out? You're not alone. Our senior partner Eric Larson shares his expertise in this InfoWorld article, providing guidance on the building blocks aspiring CTOs need to become slam dunk candidates.

As someone who was in C-level roles at three VC-backed startups earlier in his career—and who now places hundreds of elite technology leaders at some of the world’s most innovative companies— Eric provides a sound perspective on the specific skills and experience required to be an appealing candidate for that next big CTO position. Read the full InfoWorld article here, or contact Eric to get on the path to CTO.

Riviera Partners Data Science Team Receives Prestigious National Science Foundation C-Accel Award

Riviera Granted up to $1 Million for Application That Puts Women and First-Generation College Grads on Guided Path to STEM Careers

SAN FRANCISCO – Sep. 11, 2019 – Riviera Partners, a leading retained search firm specializing in placements of executive leadership in engineering, product and design talent, today announced that its data science team has been given the prestigious Convergence Accelerator (C-Accel) award by the National Science Foundation (NSF). Riviera, partnering with the University of Virginia Economics department, received the grant for its proposal to build an AI-powered application that can help people successfully navigate STEM, with a focus on developing a long-term career trajectory in tech. The tool, which builds on Riviera’s proprietary algorithms against thousands of technology candidates and hiring insights, will study the role of individual characteristics such as education, skillset, peer self-assessment and others to guide peoples’ career planning. The solution has the potential to impact U.S. labor supply by addressing the increasing demand for technology talent, which has resulted from the rapid digitization and automation of the labor market. It can help bridge the gender and diversity gaps in the high-tech industry by better equipping women, minorities and underrepresented groups in developing a successful technology career path.

A Path for Workers Seeking 21st Century Skills

In the next few years, 140,000 IT jobs will be left unfilled (1). Only 26 percent of the software engineering workforce were women in 2018 (2), only 2.2 percent of first-generation graduates major in Computer Science (3), only 3.41 percent of software engineering degrees are awarded to Hispanics, and only 1.3 percent of degrees are awarded to people who identify as black or African American. There are slightly more Asian graduates at 8.7 percent (4). The Riviera NSF project aims to change those percentages, giving more women and minorities a path to break in to high-demand tech careers, closing the tech skills gap. 

"We believe that anyone can achieve anything if the path and direction are clear,” said Tammy Wang, VP of Data Science and Engineering at Riviera Partners. “There are large populations in the US that don’t know where and how to start a technology career.  Riviera will work with nonprofit organizations to reach out to these communities to make sure our tool is easy to use and gives them perspectives that are practical, feasible, and that can transform their career trajectory. Data science and technology can make life better for everyone, and we are on a journey to help the tech field be more diverse to bring opportunities to more people.”

As a funder of research and education across all fields of science and engineering and with relationships with universities and funding agencies around the world, NSF is uniquely positioned to pilot this approach to accelerate discovery and innovation. NSF C-Accel brings teams together to focus on grand challenges of national importance that require a convergence approach. The teams are multidisciplinary and leverage partnerships; the tracks relate to a grand challenge problem and have a high probability of resulting in deliverables that will benefit society within a fixed term. NSF C-Accel is modeled on acceleration and innovation activities from the most forward-looking companies and universities. Rivera’s project was chosen as part of the C-Accel National Talent Ecosystem track, the ultimate goal of which is to support research and development leading to innovative approaches for employers to support workers seeking the skills required for 21st century work related to AI, data science, predictive analytics, and other technologies of the future.

Riviera matches top engineering and product talent with tech innovators.  Having worked with nearly half of the Tech Unicorns, serving hundreds of clients, placing thousands of tech execs, and working with the most influential VC and PE firms in the business, Riviera already leverages its proprietary AI-driven technology to reduce hiring risks and deliver better candidates to its clients. Through Riviera’s platform, called Sutro, recruiting partners leverage the collective experience of the entire firm, have access to historical, enriched, and real-time data and can leverage machine learning-derived signals, scores, and success factors run against two decades of recruiting process data, With the National Science Foundation grant, Riviera will use its technology to identify and illustrate the typical career paths for engineers, tech product managers and designers, revealing candidate likelihood of achieving overall career goals. When released, the app will be free and available to the public.

“Our data science team is one of the best in the world, and this award is a testament to their amazing talent and innovative thinking,” said Will Hunsinger, CEO of Riviera partners. “Our technology platform is crucial to our ability to place highly skilled technology leaders at the world’s leading companies, and now, thanks to this support from the National Science Foundation, we’ll be able to apply our technology and accumulated knowledge to help more underrepresented people navigate successful tech careers.” 

About Riviera Partners

Riviera Partners is a key driver of innovation for today’s most influential companies by expertly placing executive talent in the crucial areas of software engineering, product management and design. By combining nearly two decades of recruiting expertise with a proprietary platform that uses machine learning to score and predict the best candidate for a company's specific needs, Riviera is the go-to talent partner for leading venture capitalists and technology innovators. Learn more about what Riviera Partners can do for your business at www.rivierapartners.com 

  1. Talent Gap Widens
  2. Women in Technology, May 2019
  3. NACE Journal, November 2016
  4. DataUSA.io

Our Quest to Bridge the Diversity Gap

National Science Foundation Grant to Contribute to National Talent Ecosystem in STEM

As a tech recruiting firm in the heart of Silicon Valley, we have a front row view of how skewed the supply and demand are in tech recruiting. Qualified candidates in software engineering or data science can walk away with multiple offers within a few weeks with a compensation package that makes you wonder, “How can the companies ever make progress at this level of talent shortage and cost?" Yet, we also know that this hot talent market is remarkably skewed with gender, racial and socio-economic background. Only twenty-six percent of the software engineering workforce were women in 2018[1], only 2.2% of first generation graduates major in Computer Science[2], and only 3.41% of software engineering degrees are awarded to Hispanics, only 1.3% degrees are awarded to people who identify as black or African American. There are slightly more Asian graduates at 8.7%.[3] The data makes you wonder whether we could have a better talent supply if the STEM field could be more inclusive. In the big picture, this talent shortage signifies a warning signal that the effort in innovation and shifting to AI-powered digitization will be limited by a growing shortage of qualified talent.

As a recruiting firm with a strong Data Science and Technology focus, we really wanted to help. Partnering with University of Virginia Economics department, supported by the Convergence Accelerator awards from the National Science Foundation, Riviera is starting the journey of building an AI-powered application that can help people successfully navigate STEM careers with a focus on developing a long term success in tech. This application brings insights backed by Riviera Partners’ success in tech recruiting with thousands of successful placements, across the U.S. over two decades. We’ve captured 18 years of recruiting process data and can identify and illustrate the typical career paths for engineers, tech product managers and designers. The app considers industry trends and reveals a candidate’s likelihood of achieving overall career goals. When released the Riviera app will be free and available to the public.

We believe that anyone can achieve anything if the path and direction are clear. There are large populations in the US that don’t know where and how to start a technology career. There are communities, even in the hotbed of the Bay Area, that don’t have access to the information and network that Silicon Valley employees benefit from naturally. Riviera will work with nonprofit organizations to reach out to these communities to make sure our tool is easy to use and gives them perspectives that are practical, feasible, and that can transform their career trajectory.

We are so excited by this opportunity. We always believe that data science and technology can serve people and make life better for everyone. We believe the tech field can be diverse and bring opportunities to everyone. This is our journey to help.

[1] Women in Technology, May 2019

[2] NACE Journal, November 2016

[3] DataUSA.io


Questions to Answer Before Hiring a VP Product (and Mistakes to Avoid)

At Riviera Partners, we frequently speak with founders who are exploring whether the time is right to hire their company’s first VP Product. Our job is to help break that belief into component parts to address the fundamental question: “What problem are you looking to solve with a VP Product hire?”

If the answer is yes to one of the following, you are likely not ready for a VP Product:

“We are pre-product-market fit and need a visionary to help us identify the right product(s) to build.” (you are likely too early for a VP Product.)

“We don’t have any PM’s, so we need someone to come in and hire the team in a short time period because I don’t know how to vet PM’s.” (If you don’t have any PM’s, you don’t need a VP.)

“We just raised our Series A and want to capitalize on the press to make a splashy hire.” (Timing search outreach with a funding announcement is helpful, but only if true need has been ID’d.)

“My investors told me I needed a VP Product.” (We hear this more than you’d think.)

Responses like these immediately send up red flags because the problems that a company is looking to solve for are not fully defined by the above reasoning. The most successful VP Product searches that we engage on begin when a company achieves some level of traction, raises external capital (at least a Series A), and has built out their Engineering organization to 12-15+ people (usually including a VP Engineering). This is when structured product management becomes essential and is also likely the point at which the founder (who presumably has been running product), is running out of bandwidth to be in the weeds assigning bug fixes, writing PRD’s, and pow-wowing with the engineering team for hours at a time.

Letting go of day-to-day product oversight and focusing on the business can be tough, but is is one of the first major growth steps for founders. And although they might seem like the same thing, especially for a software company, the savviest founders (typically) are the ones who realize that the product and the business are two different things, and that both require full-time focus.

*Note* - there are exceptions to every rule, and some of the best founders are product-led CEO's who have maintained their involvement in product throughout the existence of their company (Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, and Mark Zuckerberg come to mind). However even with that elite tier (and there are many others), over time as their companies grew, they reduced their time spent on individual product decisions, but still maintained the product vision and enforced the quality standard that users had been accustomed to.

Once that realization takes hold, and it becomes clear that the most value for the company will be created by the addition of a full-time product leader, the question becomes: “What do I need this person to do?” First and foremost, the founder needs someone to do the tactical work of product management. And, by the way, this person should likely be able to do a better job than the founder in this regard (because they should be more experienced at the function). This includes things like creating specs/product requirements documents/road-mapping, coordinating and setting the right cadence with engineering and design, putting KPI’s in place, making tough decisions on prioritization, and going extremely deep with customers/users.

If you feel like you have a good sense of the problems you are looking for your first product hire to solve (a need has been truly identified), the following are the next set of key questions:


Question 1: Do I need a VP, or is a strong PM enough for now?

When going to market for your first product hire, it’s critical that the framework for the role is carefully considered so that you evaluate and ultimately hire someone appropriately experienced for the current stage of your company.

Quite often, founders believe that their first product hire needs to be a VP who has set vision, strategy, hired big teams, and been the single-most differentiating factor in delivering a product that can win in the market. But here’s the reality––this person is probably not right for an early stage company and is likely not get-able either. VP-level product leaders are no longer as operational or hands-on as an early-stage company needs them to be. They are accustomed to managing larger teams with broader resources. Most importantly, they expect to own the entire product vision to even be interested in the opportunity. The success that your company has had thus far has been due to the vision that has been implemented by you, the founder.  It’s important to not give that up too soon by hiring someone who will only be excited by the role if they are the owner of that vision.

This is why clearly asking: “What am I solving for?” is such an important question. Rather than shooting for the moon by trying––probably unsuccessfully––to hire the most experienced and seasoned VP possible, founders should be looking for an exceptional hands-on product manager who is comfortable following their lead on the vision, and who can help buy time back in their day by excelling at the day-to-day PM activities. Someone who has shown the ability to manage a small team, knows how to vet product managers, and has seen success (i.e. they have worked on successful products), and can work in resource-constrained environments under the direction and vision of the founder.

In reality, the ideal candidate for most Series A companies is a person who could grow into a true VP over time - after all, they will have the most knowledge of your organization and your customers. By making this profile of person your first product hire, followed by two or three more, you will move your business forward significantly. This profile of product leader matches the company stage and brings PM know-how to the organization, commitment to your vision, and is able to free up time so that you can focus on driving the rest of the business. It’s also worth noting that having multiple effective product managers on your team makes your company significantly more attractive to a potential VP Product hire in the future.

Hopefully by now you have realized the importance of hiring for both for the appropriate stage of your company and having at least one strong, execution-focused PM on your team before considering a VP. After that, the question becomes: “If not now, when?”


Question 2: When is the right time to hire a VP Product?

Though you have hired a product manager or two to execute the day-to-day product work, they are still probably reporting to you (the founder). And, because you still own the product vision, you find yourself more involved in the day-to-day of running the product organization than you would like to be. You may begin to realize that you (like most first-time founders) have probably never actually managed product managers before and therefore don’t know how to develop them into strong product leaders. In addition, your product is starting to gain more traction, and you may be considering launching ancillary product lines (where prioritization/coordination across multiple products becomes critical) and/or or moving upstream into a completely new market that represents great opportunity (i.e. consumer to enterprise). You may be hiring more PMs to focus on specific elements of the product and the ratio between engineering and product management is becoming untenable.

All of these factors indicate the need for a strong product leader to join the company.


Question 3: Should the VP Product mainly just run the product function and manage the PM’s while executing my vision, or should the VP Product own the vision and the strategic direction for the product as well?

From a hiring perspective, the more control and authority you are willing to give your VP Product, the stronger (or more experienced) a candidate you will likely be able to attract. But it’s not just about asking what’s necessary to attract a star––you have to be realistic about whether or not this is something you can live with.

To be clear, you will hopefully be owning the high-level strategic vision of the company, regardless of the VP Product. But at some point, the product becomes too complex and nuanced, the market landscape has evolved, and the customer needs have become so varied that your original vision of the product starts to become either stale, outdated, or both. Once you start losing day-to-day contact with the end user or customer you might seriously consider allowing the VP Product to own the product vision going forward. As the founder (and usually CEO), you are still responsible for strategy at the corporate level.  But, if the team is spending significantly more time with customers, dealing with feature enhancements, product requests, living and breathing daily usage metrics, it’s time to let the VP Product be the one who defines the product. As mentioned above, this doesn't mean that the founder needs to remove themselves completely - there are still critical elements around quality and consistency that users have come to expect with the original vision. But the person who is closest to the end user will have the best pulse on what to build and how to deliver that product(s) to market.

There is one added incentive for you to remove yourself from day-to-day decision-making about the product: if the lead PM decision-maker is also the founder, there will be fewer mechanisms in place to prevent bad ideas from taking shape, because most everyone will obey when an order is issued. This is why the exceptional VP's of Product need to be so strong at influencing within a company. While they aren’t managing their cross-functional peers in engineering (or Sales, Marketing, Customer Success, etc.), they need to be able to collaborate effectively, and get everyone upwards, downwards, and horizontally to row in the same direction through the powers of persuasion and partnership, not authority.



Summary: Rules to live by when hiring product leadership:

  1. Avoid hiring a VP Product too early in your company’s lifecycle.
  2. Have a clear answer to the question: “What am I trying to solve with this hire?”
  3. Perfect is the enemy of Great: consider the opportunity cost you are facing when shooting for the most senior VP Product hire out there. Not only are you likely wasting precious time looking for a candidate that isn’t right for your company stage, but you are missing critical opportunities around prioritization, defining product success, and answering the fundamental questions like: “What should be building, and what shouldn’t we build (discovered through rigorous test/learn methodologies)?” Waiting too long to bring on strong individual contributor-level product managers, in hopes that you will land a VP, could be the difference between raising that next round or watching your competition pass you by.


This article was written by Andrew Abramson, who has placed Product Management executives at companies like Airbnb, Lyft, GitHub, Flexport, Brex, and many more. Feel free to reach out to Andrew with any questions, comments, or feedback at aabramson@rivierapartners.com

Recognizing True Value Creators

There is a reason companies have to compete so hard for senior tech talent: the best tech talent creates the most value. We are often asked to search for the “perfect tech leader”. Someone who can lead the next big product development effort, lead a company’s digital transformation, create disruptive products, or take the company’s products in new and exciting directions. Underlying each of these asks is a fundamental business need. A company’s ability to build products that engage customers, solve problems, transform business models or introduce totally new ways to address market needs requires top-notch engineering and product leadership.  


The most talented technology leaders are uniquely able to translate a company’s vision into high value products and services.  Beyond tech expertise, leaders that create true enterprise value also bring other leadership traits to the table. When we look for leaders to drive engineering and product initiatives for our clients, we look for individuals who have:


A vision of the possible – True innovation requires the ability to see past the limitations of current products, markets, methodologies and even technologies. Tech leaders that drive the most value are those that can embrace the possible and articulate a way to achieve it through technology.


The ability to create teams of innovators – The best leaders not only embrace the possible, they encourage team experimentation and creative approaches to achieving stated goals. Tech leaders who create the most value build teams of talented individuals who are also driven to achieve the best results through creative use of technology, systems and resources. In short, the best tech and product leaders can recruit and build teams that deliver.


A commitment to clear goals – Innovators are creators. Artists. Finding tech leaders who are able to translate their love of innovation to real business achievements is essential. They need to be able to commit to a clear path and focus their team on achieving specific goals.  Creativity that delivers value is applied to goals and leverages innovative approaches to achieving them.


The ability to scale and manage complexity – in today’s growing companies there is often greater demand than there are resources to meet it. This is true when defining a product’s features, allocating resources and prioritizing deliverables. Conflicting priorities can make engineering teams whiplash between ever-changing goals. Tech leaders that create the most value are able to interpret the demands of the business, prioritize and rally engineering and product to deliver.


Not to be lost here, fundamental character traits such as integrity, professional pride, communication skills, and empathy for others are key requirements for success.  Maybe most importantly, we find that tech leaders that have demonstrated grit throughout their career have often delivered the greatest value. Innovation is hard. Innovation that creates maximum value is harder still. Those leaders who are able to create real enterprise value are highly-sought after and command compensation commensurate with their technical and leadership capabilities. In the long run, these leaders prove they are worth a higher investment because of the value they deliver for customers and the equity value they create for investors and stakeholders. It’s this caliber of leader that we take great pleasure in delivering for our clients.

Riviera Partners Answers Increased Demand for Tech Leadership with New COO Ryan Giordano and Acquisition of Tech and Blockchain Specialty Firm WorthyWorks

Tech Industry’s Leading Engineering and Product Talent Search Firm Meets High Demand for Tech Leader Search Services with Deeper Bench in San Francisco and New York


SAN FRANCISCO & NEW YORK – June 11, 2019, Riviera Partners, the leader in technology-assisted retained search for senior engineering and product talent, today announced two strategic moves to help the company scale in response to high demand for its services.  Riviera named Ryan Giordano as Chief Operating Officer, strengthening the firm’s operational structure to support its rapid growth. The firm also completed the acquisition of New York based WorthyWorks, led by founder Kyle Langworthy, that specializes in searches for engineering and product leaders within the blockchain ecosystem.

“We are in a phase of hyper-innovation in the technology market,” said Will Hunsinger, CEO of Riviera Partners. “Established companies are embarking on digital transformation initiatives while startups and growth companies are embracing new technologies and approaches to deliver better products, faster. Tech is the fastest growing segment of the $16B recruiting market with 12 million jobs in the U.S. We are experiencing the highest demand for our services in our history.  Adding experienced operators like Ryan and Kyle helps us scale to meet the demand. We intend to continue to lead this market in focused search services for tech leaders.”


Chief Operating Officer Post Supports Rapid Growth

Ryan Giordano joins Riviera’s executive leadership team, and will head the firm’s Operations, Customer Success, and Analytics initiatives with a focus on enabling scale and unlocking business insights to support growth. Ryan brings broad experience in start-up to multi-billion-dollar organizations across SaaS, platform, hard-goods, subscription, and marketplace (e.g. gig-economy) models. As COO, Ryan will oversee the development of systems, business practices, tools and training to ensure that Riviera’s rapid growth is efficient and that the company can scale to meet its market opportunity.

“After an exhaustive search, we are thrilled to add Ryan to our ranks,” commented Hunsinger.  “Ryan’s operational expertise, strong analytics acumen and modern approach to business practices and systems will ensure that we scale appropriately and create the greatest amount of value for our clients and stakeholders.”


WorthyWorks Brings Blockchain and Machine Learning Specialty

WorthyWorks brings a broad network of client and candidate connections to the Riviera family.  Kyle and his team have a track record of successful placements of tech and product leaders in start-ups to mid-stage growth companies in New York, San Francisco Bay Area, Los Angeles, Denver, Mexico City, London and Paris. The firm has developed a deep understanding of the specialized needs of companies participating in machine learning and blockchain ecosystems with successes at companies including Axoni, BitGo, bitFlyer, Bitso, CoinDesk, CoinList, Curv, Genesis Global Trading, Horizen, MakerDAO, ShapeShift and others.

“We are engaged in more active searches for senior tech leaders than at any other time in our history,” continued Hunsinger.  “The addition of Kyle will increase the ability for our New York office to meet the demand for our services in the area. New York is a vibrant tech hub requiring deep understanding of important technologies like blockchain, machine learning, and cloud infrastructure as well as the ability to navigate and fully participate in the New York tech community.  We welcome WorthyWorks to our exceptional New York team.”


About Riviera Partners

Founded in 2002, Riviera provides full-stack, technology-enabled Recruiting and Advisory Services focused exclusively on the three pillars of software development and delivery; design, product management and engineering. Riviera brings an innovative approach to an evolving industry, combining insights from years of recruiting expertise with a sophisticated technology platform that uses machine learning to score and predict the best fit for a company's specific needs. Based in San Francisco with offices in Silicon Valley, Los Angeles, Atlanta, New York and Bozeman, the firm is recognized by leading venture capitalists and technology innovators for its efficient and effective recruiting process. The firm has placed candidates in leading financial services, consumer products, technology, and manufacturing companies in markets that include San Francisco, San Jose, Seattle, New York, Boston, Chicago, Austin and Southern California. For more information, visit rivierapartners.com.

A Reflection and An Eye to the Future

When we started Riviera Partners in 2002, we set out to build a company with a completely different approach to recruiting. Starting out, we made some key decisions that now, in hindsight, look pretty smart (but at the time we were sweating it).  From the beginning we didn’t see ourselves as a traditional search firm, and we didn’t want our clients or the candidates we serve to see us that way either. We wanted to approach the market differently, with a unique operating model, and we wanted to develop a culture focused on delivering the best service and experience possible.  


The first decision was to specialize. We decided to focus exclusively on engineering and product recruiting. This meant turning away potential clients (which was tough when we were starting out and our goal was just to keep the lights on). But, the decision allowed us to go deep in tech and establish relationships with talented engineering and product people. We become students of those functions, beyond learning who the best people were we learned why certain organizations stood out from engineering and product perspectives.  Ultimately, this has enabled us to work with some of the most seminal technology companies in the country––those that have disrupted existing markets or created new ones. We’re fortunate to have built relationships with these technologists and to have partnered with these companies.


We needed a platform that could give our recruiters and clients visibility to the very best candidates. We wanted to provide total transparency to clients through the recruiting process so they could make the best hiring decisions. We knew efficiency and collaboration were critical to our success. We needed a platform that enabled our recruiters to access the most complete and current data about each candidate. And, we needed a way to share information between recruiters, candidates and companies. We knew we would have to build something proprietary.  At first there many non-believers both inside and outside Riviera. Many times we were advised to buy an off-the-shelf solution rather than dedicate the time and resources necessary to build our own. But, our decision to build our proprietary platform paid off and now we have a powerful platform that uses machine learning and years of collected data to identify and match companies and candidates. Our investment has made us efficient and made the quality of our service consistent across all of our recruiters.


We also knew that we wanted a very different culture than the transactional top-down agency models of the past. We established a vision––delivering the best service and experience––and purpose––helping people and companies reach their full potential.  These served as our North Star over the years.


Everything we did––from our search approach, to our technology investments, to the people we hire, and how we train them to operate was, and still is, based on that original vision and purpose.  We give our team members the latitude to operate without defined rules, within the context of our vision and purpose. And, we’ve proven that our culture attracts the best and brightest people who are motivated to build long-lasting, successful partnerships with clients and candidates. I’m really proud to work with the Riviera team.


I’m super excited about the investment we announced today.  For me it is validation of the early choices we made as an organization and our dedication to making our early vision of Riviera a reality today.  I’m not only satisfied with the choices we made in the past; I’m excited about our team, culture, and our vision of where we’re going.


As I absorb the implications of this investment I am reminded of the importance of humility and showing up each day knowing there is always something to learn, people to learn from, and more that we can do to improve our craft.  I couldn’t be more excited to welcome Roca and Kayne to the Riviera team, and I look forward to what we’ll build in the future together.