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Authors, Actors, and Now … Developers? Why Agents Are the Next Big Trend in Tech

Topics: Negotiation

The world in which employees worked at the same company for 30 years and retired with a gold watch is long gone. Today, it’s much more common for a person to change jobs every four to five years and even that stretch of time with one company could be considered long, if you’re a member of the tech industry, and living in the “1099 economy,” so named after the 1099 tax form for reporting self-employment earnings.

gold bars

(Photo Credit: New Old Stock)

In the world of startups and ever-changing technology, how has the landscape changed to fit the new needs of workers, especially freelancers who jump from contract to contract? One solution may be agents.

Do You Know What You're Worth?

Having an agent to hammer out a better initial contract with hard outlines, perks, and a higher wage on the outset might be the best-case scenario. Case in point, the company 10x, as highlighted in a recent New Yorker article, works with about 80 exceptional freelance developers and designers and tries to remove the risk of the freelancing lifestyle. Michael Solomon and Rishon Blumberg are the brains behind 10x. They’ve been representing musicians for 19 years, including John Mayer and Vanessa Carlton, and saw the need for the same type of representation for rockstar developers in the tech industry. And it’s working. They report their clients’ earnings doubled between 2013 and 2014.

The need for skilled workers is huge right now.

“Our companies are dying for talent. They’re like lying on the beach gasping because they can’t get enough talented people in for these jobs,” says Marc Andreessen, a venture capitalist.

When perks to lure new employees include ball pits, massages, all-you-can-eat buffets, and when Facebook declares it will pay for its female employees to freeze their eggs for the future if they’ll just concentrate on their career for now, using an agent to find the best opportunity for yourself doesn’t sound so crazy. Your agent can help you pick between an indoor tree house office at Airbnb or “eleven thousand dollars wrapped in bacon, an oil portrait of himself, and a harpoon gun.

Not everyone sees the need for a company like 10x. Twitter’s senior vice-president of engineering, Chris Fry, says bringing an agent to a meeting would be “socially awkward,” because at Twitter they already have access to the best resumes and internal referrals.

The stable of freelancers at 10x include the multitalented and exceptional Shawn Feeney, who does web, app, logo design … and is a world-renowned pumpkin carver, having carved jack-o’-lanterns for the White House and George Lucas. A three-person freelance team calling themselves Arsenal not only worked on Google’s FreshDirect competitor Shopping Express, but they also make furniture in their spare time.

Obviously, vegetable carving and wood-working aren’t required skills for working in the tech world, but anything creative that sets you apart doesn’t hurt — and having someone who can help you sell those skills to right company for the right amount of money might not be a bad idea, either. 

Tell Us What You Think

If you’re a developer — or other type of freelancer — would you want an agent? We want to hear from you! Leave a comment or join the discussion on Twitter.

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