Saturday, March 14, 2009

NYT: The Secrets of the Talent Scouts (sequoia capital mention)

"In pockets of the American economy, however, the hunt for game-changing stars remains surprisingly intense. Competitors in entertainment, venture capital and medical research keep racing to sign the right people and turn them loose on winning projects. Finding the next big hit can save the day, but running out of talent is a recipe for extinction.

So mavericks like Michael Moritz, the Silicon Valley venture capitalist, are shrugging off talk of economic collapse and scouting for winners anyway. “A downturn can be a very good time to build a company,” he contends. “The parvenus and the pretenders are gone. The only people who want to start a company in a time like this are the ones with the greatest conviction.”

Mr. Moritz’s firm, Sequoia Capital, scored big by helping Cisco Systems expand during a tech slump in the late 1980s. Now Mr. Moritz, a former journalist who became a billionaire by backing Yahoo and Google, is scouting not only in the United States but also in China, India and Israel. “We’re planting our version of winter wheat,” he declares.

Of course, bravado alone won’t guarantee success. But in fields where picking hits is crucial, executives say it’s vital to keep wooing candidates no matter how jittery the economy. In extended interviews, seven of these talent scouts argue that enduring success can come only from adding more of the best people to their teams.

These executives’ specialties are as diverse as architecture, biotechnology and country music. Asked to share their recruiting principles, they touched on a handful of simple, recurring themes. Among them: take chances on passionate people early in their work lives, focus on what can go right, offer rewards no one else can match and harness the lessons of your own career."

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