Startups are finding it increasingly difficult to hire and retain software developers in Silicon Valley, according to a startup founder in San francisco.  

PubNub founder and CEO Todd Greene said that for every developer in Silicon Valley and San Francisco there are five job openings and the salaries they demand are astronomical.  “It’s generally very hard to retain talent,” Greene told Techworld on a visit to London. 

Facebook can offer Silicon Valley developers six-figure salaries. Image: Flickr/Marco Paköeningrat
Facebook can offer Silicon Valley developers six-figure salaries. Image: Flickr/Marco Paköeningrat

PubNub has APIs that allow developers to stream different services such as messaging and other interactive content in their apps. It's used by developers at the likes of Coca Cola, BT Sport, McDonald's and Toyota in order to get live feedback on everything from interactive advertising campaigns to interactive voting during a football fixture. 

To highlight the competitive nature of San Francisco, Greene pointed out that PubNub's office is eight blocks from Twitter, four blocks from Salesforce and five blocks from Zynga. 

“There’s a Google office a few blocks away,” he added. 

A number of European tech startups have expanded their operations to the US but they tend to keep their engineering teams on the ground in Europe.

For example, Anaplan and Huddle, two fast-growing companies, kept their engineering teams in York and London when they relocated their headquarters from the UK to San Francisco. As did Scality and many others. 


While startups in San Francisco and Silicon Valley may not be able to offer the same salaries as Google and Facebook, they can offer something else. 

Greene believes that startups such as PubNub can offer aspiring developers more through their internship programmes than the likes of Google and Facebook. 

“Google and Facebook and all the rest of them have these really generous internship programmes that are great,” he said. “But you end up optimising a sort algorithm or something whereas we say to interns that come to us out of college for the summer: 'Sit down with our CTO and come up with a PubNub project. You can then build it, blog about it, evangelise it, speak at conferences about it.'” 

PubNub currently employs 50 people in the US but it plans to expand to the UK at some point. 

“London is interesting now,” said Greene. “There’s a lot more happening here than there was when I moved here in 1997.”

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