Why the Hudson Valley is on Foursquare’s Shortlist

Thinking Aloud about Opening a New Foursquare Engineering Office

When we started Foursquare in 2009, the idea of building a tech startup in NYC was crazytalk to some. One of the main questions we used to get asked back in our early days was: “Why start the company in New York City? Why not San Francisco?” Our answer was always: “Because we live here.”

A lot has changed since 2009. Back then, the three biggest big names in NYC’s tech startup ecosystem were Foursquare, Tumblr and Etsy. We were aggressively recruiting folks out of Google NYC (ps: huge thanks to Google NYC for being the anchor tenant for this generation of New York Tech!) and the New York Tech Meetup may as well have been called “The Greatest Show On Earth.” Back then, we were one of the big fish in a relatively small pond which made hiring some of the city’s best engineers a bit easier than it is today. These days every tech company you know and love has an engineering office here in NYC. And while this is great for the NYC technology scene & startup ecosystem, it also means that finding stellar talent continues to be a challenge for individual companies and their specific hiring needs.

Because great talent can be so hard to find in competitive markets like NYC and SF, many companies turn to building an office outside of the more well-known or established markets. We’ve recently been having a discussion at Foursquare about doing the same. With the company growing and scaling so quickly (we’re looking to fill more than a dozen engineering roles by the end of this year) we’re actively considering opening another engineering office. Our short list contains the usual suspects — San Jose, Atlanta, Raleigh-Durham, Boston, Toronto — as well as New York’s own Hudson Valley.

Why the Hudson Valley?

To start, the Hudson Valley is home to a growing ecosystem of tech startups, the Hudson Valley Tech Meetup (with more than 2,000 members!), Catskills Conf (celebrating tech and makers culture in the Hudson Valley), and the Hudson Valley Startup Fund (which has financed some of the area’s most interesting ventures). There are great collegiate engineering programs in the area and further upstate. The Hudson Valley is also known as IBM’s old stomping grounds, which left behind a long lineage of technology experience and expertise.

Photo from the Hudson Valley Tech Meetup in August 2016 – Douglas Baz Photography

But the answer is also, and again, “because we live here.”

Four years ago, my wife Chelsa and I got married in the Hudson Valley and bought a home near Kingston, NY. The area is beautiful and it can be an amazing escape from the madness of NYC. In the past few years, we’ve developed a strong personal connection with the Hudson Valley and deep relationships with people who call it home. We’ve gotten a sense of the entrepreneurial and creative energy in both the community and startup ecosystem. Many of you may know that we’ve been working together with some amazing folks in the community to build a soccer team in Kingston called Stockade FC (it’s like a startup, only soccer!). Through that journey and more, we’ve met the folks behind some of the Hudson Valley’s most interesting ventures, projects and local businesses.

There’s no shortage of beauty and talent and creative energy in the Hudson Valley. It’s not NYC, and it’s not Silicon Valley… and it’s not trying to be. And this is why I’m excited to try to infuse some of the Hudson Valley into Foursquare, and to try to bring some of Foursquare to the Hudson Valley.

So, as we start our process of evaluating the best spot to open a new Foursquare engineering office, I wanted to ask any and all software engineers in the Hudson Valley (or folks interested in re-locating to the Hudson Valley!) who may be interested in working at Foursquare to please apply. The Hudson Valley is a bit of the underdog on our shortlist at the moment, but this process (and this blog post!) is designed to change that by helping the Foursquare team evaluate the overall level of interest and the number of folks who’d be a good fit for Foursquare’s engineering team. The official job description can be found here:

Software Engineer at Foursquare — Hudson Valley
http://bit.ly/4SQHV

We intentionally left the technical requirements in this job description a little vague — in general, we’re looking for great engineers with solid experience. If your background slants towards client engineering or data infrastructure, please don’t let that deter you from applying. We’ll be collecting and evaluating software engineering resumes through the end of August, and we’ll be looking to make a decision about where to place the office in Q4 of 2017. We plan to reach out to all applicants in early September to give them an update on our process. Please note: To start, this will be an engineering-only office, and we are limiting our search to software engineers with 2+ years experience. Our goal is to find the right 4–10 people that could help us create a new office that would be representative of Foursquare’s existing culture and values. One that would have the same creative energy and entrepreneurial spirit that we’ve already created in downtown NYC and in SF — and that we already know exists in the Hudson Valley, too. (And as for the other “shortlist cities,” we have not yet posted job descriptions for those cities or started an evaluation process — we’re kicking off this process with this Hudson Valley job description.)

I’m excited about the idea of trying to bring a Foursquare engineering office north of NYC and I really hope we can make it work! And thanks in advance for any help spreading the word!