Kayak CTO and co-founder Paul English built the tech team of a site that gets 10 million monthly uniques, 14 million downloads and 100 million searches a month.He revealed the nontraditional way he built that team at Fast Company’s Innovation Uncensored event this week in New York City.
English’s philosophy boils down to one thing:
“I believe that the top creative people are at their peak when they see something for the first time.”
So, English doesn’t hire anybody for his tech team that used to work in the travel industry (though there are insiders in other departments). He hires people from as many different backgrounds as he can because he wants all those different perspectives.
“I hired someone once because he had an Olympic medal. I hired someone once who was an international chess master,” said English, who also has a foosball champion on the payroll.
He likes hiring people who have awards because they’ve proven they possess an intense drive and are willing to work hard.
But it’s not all about work. He said that 50 per cent is their ability, and the other 50 per cent is about fun. He wants people he can have a beer with.
English credits the approach with helping breed a culture of innovation at Kayak. He needs his tech team to be able to “fail fast, discover, try.”
“At Kayak, we hire people to be entrepreneurs — to take risks and try,” he said. “We give people ridiculous freedom to make decisions and change things. We’re a bit sloppy but we let people try risks.”
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