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Infographic Of The Day: Facebook Gets Top Pick Among Valley Talent

An even better chart showing the hiring flows between the Valley's biggest tech companies.

Recently, we brought you a fascinating infographic that showed the flow of new hires between Silicon Valley's major startups. But a reader of ours, Gene Lu, pointed out that the chart was actually misleading, and took it upon himself to create something better.

Here is how the original chart looked; based on the sheer amount of activity flowing into Facebook, we thusly concluded that Facebook was winning the war for talent in the Valley:


But Lu points out that the arrows are misleading — after all, the numbers they represent aren't shown in any sort of graphical way, and it's the numbers that are the chief concern. So he created a spreadsheet, crunched the actual data, and came up with this:


Pretty nifty right? Now you can finally see the volume of people moving between companies. And if you look closely, you can see that LinkedIn actually leads Facebook in drawing new hires (albeit only by a hair).

Lu further stripped out all the other companies, to take a look just at LinkedIn and Facebook:


It's pretty fascinating, and you can take some educated guess about the hiring dynamics at each company.

You see that Facebook takes most of its new hires from Google and Microsoft — both of them fairly old companies, but each of them still widely respected for the quality of their engineering staff. In other words, Facebook looks to be selecting the cream of the crop. LinkedIn, on the other hand, draws heavily from Yahoo — a company which has been bleeding top talent to other Valley companies for almost a decade. And unlike Facebook, they draw hardly any new recruits from Google or Apple.

Granted, all this might still be premised on a skewed data set — namely, the self-reported information from Top Prospect, a tech-focused HR website. But it's telling that Facebook is drawing more from Google and Apple, two companies at the peak of their game. And the Apple figure in particular makes you think that Facebook is maturing into a company that's putting heavier emphasis on design and product management, rather that just building technology.

LinkedIn, meanwhile, is pulling from Yahoo, whose various management problems are infamous. Put another way: It just might be that top talent is running into the open arms of Facebook. Meanwhile, others from Yahoo and Microsoft are running from their troubled companies, and finding that LinkedIn has plenty of jobs open.

It's always satisfying when data underscores what you're intuition tells you: In this case, that Facebook remains the hottest place to work in the Valley, and that smaller companies like LinkedIn have to scramble to find the best talent they can after Facebook has scooped it up promising riches and limitless growth.

[Click here for Lu's full analysis]

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  • Guest

    When I saw the second chart, I had no idea which direction the people were going in.

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  • Gene Lu

    Hey Michael, it's the width of the arrow.

    I could see why there may be some confusion between width and volume,
    but as someone critiquing the original piece
    (, I didn't
    want to diverge too far away from the original.

    IMO, I felt the bar graph was the most straightforward in showing what
    the data was trying to tell:

    Thanks for the feedback on the infographic!

  • enguyen

    Hey, Gene. Great clarification of the relationships. I reused your visual style but took issue with the underlying data itself. I think we should also see all the ratios scaled by company size. I posted my rationale (and a HTML5-based tool for rendering the graphic) here:

  • michael hollander

    really not sure why this is a good graphic.  is the size of the flow supposed to be proportional to the WIDTH of the arrow or the VOLUME of the arrow?  by my eye, it seems to be WIDTH?