RSS

The Bulletin

Acqui-hiring, or buying up companies just for the talent

Posting in Education

Organizations of all types and sizes now look to big data -- high volumes of information streaming in from all sources, often in unstructured formats -- as their ticket to getting ahead in their markets. As a result, any and all big data talent --such as data scientists and data analysts -- have become the rarest commodity, and everybody is scrambling.

So rare, in fact, that some companies with cash on hand have taken to unconventional and expensive strategies to get the talent they need -- like buying and then shuttering entire companies. In a recent interview posted at Big Data Republic, Todd Nevins, co-founder of icrunchdata, says he believes Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer's last 10 acquisitions have been solely for that purpose -- to bring in their big data talent.

Nevins called this trend "acqui-hiring," in which companies are acquired specifically for their big data talent:

"The biggest example is a company called Bloomreach, when it purchased ShopLogic. ShopLogic was a big data analytics company with just two people When Bloomreach purchased the company, they didn’t point to the technology as the reason for the purchase, they pointed to the two people who were the founders of the company. Marissa Mayer of Yahoo purchased 10 companies and shuttered the business, purchasing them just the for the individuals within the small organizations."

This trend to simply buy up companies for big data talent is becoming commonplace, especially among enterprises that don't have the time to gradually build data analytics staffs.  "It means they can get those people on board in a matter of days or weeks, versus months and months and months of recruiting and hiring people to fill those positions," Nevin says.

However, not everyone has the cash on hand to simply buy companies to avoid going through the rigors of recruiting and hiring. Two program directors the University of North Carolina recently provided a outline of four steps that can be taken to address big data skills shortages, without breaking the bank:

  1. Educate the organization and its human resource department about big data: Be aware of  "the skills and abilities big data scientists, analysts, managers, and senior executives need to be successful," as well as how big data can be applied in other jobs across the organization.
  2. Educate managers and senior leaders about big data: "They must be prepared to ask 'blue sky; questions. They must be willing to take some risks."
  3. Develop creative strategies to recruit and retain big data talent: Remember, "big data analysts and business leaders who understand big data will be in high-demand and ripe for poaching," the UNC paper cautions.
  4. Offer solutions to build big data talent in organizations: Take a page "from Proctor & Gamble’s training book and develop an appropriately scaled organization-wide big data literacy program. The program can include formal programs and seminars, but on-the-job training, mentoring, and self-paced learning programs can also offer affordable and effective results."

Thumbnail photo courtesy of HubSpot


— By on October 30, 2013, 1:20 PM PST

Joe McKendrick

Contributing Editor

Joe McKendrick is an independent analyst who tracks the impact of information technology on management and markets. He is a co-author of the SOA Manifesto and has written for Forbes, ZDNet and Database Trends & Applications. He holds a degree from Temple University. He is based in Pennsylvania. Follow him on Twitter. Disclosure