Photo: dpstyles via Flickr
When your sibling runs a big, valuable startup it can be great.Randi Zuckerberg, the sister of Mark Zuckerberg, made a six-figure salary all three years she was employed by Facebook.
If your sibling is your boss though, it can create an awkward dynamic.
Dennis Crowley is the cofounder of Foursquare. Foursquare is a mobile check-in app that has been downloaded more than 15 million times and it’s valuation hovers around $600 million.
Nearly 100 people work at Foursquare, including Crowley’s younger brother Jonathan, who goes by “J.” J is Foursquare’s Director of Media Partnerships.
We asked J what it’s like to work for his brother, and what the interview process was like.
J says there was no nepotism involved in his hiring. Dennis made him work for the position.
Prior to Foursquare, J founded a web video company and sold part of it to Fox Networks. He was working there in 2009 when he received a call from his brother and early Foursquare employee, Tristan Walker.
“They were having trouble negotiating with a TV network,” J recalls. “He was like, ‘Listen, we need your advice. Who should we work with?’ So I consulted with them.”
When J hung up the phone he realised the value behind Foursquare. He could see how brands would use his brother’s check-in app. After that, J discussed employment opportunities with Dennis.
Foursquare was hiring a media manager, but Dennis didn’t hand over the position on a silver platter.
J interviewed alongside other candidates. “Dennis told me, ‘If you’re the right person for the job then great. But the General Manager will decide who to hire.”
J says he interviewed with five different people at Foursquare before he was offered the position. He was offered it under a few conditions: J would not report directly to Dennis, and if his work at Foursquare ever interfered with his and Dennis’ relationship, J would leave.
In July 2010, a year and a half after Foursquare was founded, J joined his brother’s company. So far, J says it has worked out. “It’s great working with my brother. I’ve gotten to see a different side of him.”
J says Dennis is the best CEO he’s seen. “He has the ability to get people really excited about a product and get people to believe in what he believes.”
Part of the reason J is able to work with his brother is because he respects him.
“In the office he’s my boss, outside I can punch him in the arm and he can punch me right back. But I respect him so much and I really respect what he’s building. He’s my older brother so I always looked up to him. Now he’s a CEO I look up to as well.”