If you’re looking to hire a coding superstar, you may have to call their agent.
10x, a big name talent agency that has represented artists like John Mayer and Vanessa Carlton, is now representing computer programmers aka “digital rock stars,” Lizzie Widdicombe at The New Yorker reports.
The agency was founded by two veteran music and entertainment managers, Michael Solomon and Rishon Blumberg, and for nearly 19 years they represented musicians and recording artists.
But with the decline of the music industry and the dearth of tech talent, they have refocused their business on managing elite programmers.
Solomon and Blumberg realised the similarities between talented musicians and talented programmers — they were both extremely skilled and talented people, but with zero business knowledge. “We were, like, ‘This is a musician! This is what we’re used to!’ That was the light-bulb moment,” Solomon told the New Yorker.
As the tech industry continues to grow, CEOs and hiring managers are desperate for talent.
Most recruiters working in the tech industry have little to no experience working technical jobs themselves, and can relentlessly spam top digital talent.
“Our companies are dying for talent. They’re like lying on the beach gasping because they can’t get enough talented people in for these jobs,” venture capitalist Marc Andreessen told New York last month.
The programmers pay a 15% agency fee, and 10x negotiates their deals.
10x programmer salaries depend on the developer, but can reach hundreds of dollars an hour, and the agency currently has almost eighty clients. Most are based in North America, however a few work in Israel, one works in India and one works from a beach in Thailand.
“In their minds, you’re not just paying them to do their job,” a tech executive told the New Yorker. “You’re paying them for the opportunity cost of not becoming Mark Zuckerberg.”
10x co-founder and agent Altay Guvench, refers to himself as a “nerd whisperer.” He is a former engineer himself, and has signed several high profile clients since joining the agency, including one who who co-created the famed programming language Django. Instagram was written in Django.
Guvench explains that, of course his clients don’t need help finding work, but they do need help understanding their options and dealing with the nitty gritty details.
“Tom Cruise doesn’t need help finding work, but he has an agent,” he says.