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Refer a Friend, Make 20 Grand

Elise Craig | October 31, 2014 | Lifestyle Story City Life

This is part of "Live Large, Spend Less," a comprehensive guide to surviving (and even flourishing) in America's most expensive city. See all of the stories here.

Long one of tech workers’ sweetest perks, the lucrative employee referral bonus is now up for grabs: Bay Area companies ThoughtSpot, Thanx, and Thumbtack are offering compensation to regular Joes who recommend applicants who are ultimately hired—in ThoughtSpot’s case, a $20,000 check.

Why? Professional headhunters cost up to 30 percent of an employee’s first-year salary. Offering cheaper incentives to people with talented friends can save young companies tens of thousands of dollars—and provide a solid PR benefit.

ThoughtSpot’s $20,000 payoff is on the high end, but the other companies give out solid bonuses too: Thanx offers two round-trip tickets to anywhere in the world, while Thumbtack is handing out an all-expenses-paid trip for two to the Four Seasons in Hawaii. What looks like generosity is actually a self-serving ploy. “A good engineer with a network is a company-maker,” says Thanx chief executive officer Zach Goldstein.

And a random person with a Rolodex is a moneymaker

Originally published in the November issue of San Francisco

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