Earlier this week I posted a job on HN and titled the job post User Acquisition Hacker. Here are the simple job requirements:
- Demonstrable experience driving quality traffic to a site.
- Manage a reasonable marketing budget as a tool to aid your hacking skills.
- Hacking is a requirement. Traditional SEM/SEO will be an element of your job, but finding untapped sources of traffic we can exploit profitably is your challenge.
- The end.
I received exactly one response from this job post on Hacker News, which is odd because every other job posting I’ve put up has been a tremendous success. Actually I just lied, I received two responses. One from someone interested in the job and the other was from another YC startup that had a job posting that was almost exactly the same. Airbnb is hiring for this position as well. (They call it a User Acquisition Engineer). I talked to Brian Chesky over email and he said they’ve had the post up on their site for some time and it is a critical hire for them and haven’t had any success finding someone.
I have a theory that most people that fit the requirements of a “Customer Acquisition Hacker” are likely trying to use this skill to their own advantage and not selling it to a company as an employee. This is because comp packages for engineers don’t compensate based on sales performance. When you’re doing your own startup you share in the gains of your hacking skills disproportionately than most engineers and you find your way to taking advantage of that skill in a way that gets you more of the success.
Customer Acquisition Hacking is a special kind of hacking. It’s so special, in fact, one of the questions on the Y Combinator application is “Tell us about a time when you hacked a system to your advantage.” When I first filled out the application for YC, I thought this question was odd, but came up with my best answer about taking over a Twitter name at a conference for the sole purpose of making people laugh. I didn’t think much about it, but I now realize why that question was so important. YC uses this question to find people who have the potential to hack the “system” (industry) the startup is tackling. A seemingly simple question that reveals an inherent trait in an individual… can the applicant see the flaws, weaknesses or opportunities in a system and exploit them?
This job is really like a new breed of Internet Sales Guy in my mind and traditional engineering comp packages for this role doesn’t make sense to me. We’re looking for someone to join us, someone who has the mindset of a founder. We’re beyond our capacity to continue doing it on our own. So consider this Part II of our Hacker News job post… with a little more clarity. If you’re interested in sharing in the successes you bring to the table, making good money and using your “system” hacking skills; respond to our job post.
Photo by: cverdier