Trilogy Recruiting Tech Talent to Austin at Scale

It was the first week of January 1999 and I was an eager second semester freshman at Duke camping out for the Duke vs UNC basketball game, set for early February. Camping outside for a month in the cold North Carolina winter didn’t seem like such a bad thing, especially when I got to tell my friends we were tent #1, meaning we were the first 10 people to walk into Cameron Indoor Stadium and chose the best seats on the floor (in reality, we stood the whole game on the actual basketball floor right at half court).

Now, it was during my time in Krzyzewskiville that I had the opportunity to meet several upperclassmen and hear their stories of life at a much wiser age. Right around the corner was the main career fair for summer internship opportunities and these two computer science majors were rigorously debating the pros and cons of doing an internship at Microsoft or Trilogy. Microsoft was familiar to me but Trilogy wasn’t even on my radar.

The debate went something like this: Microsoft pays well ($20/hr at the time), provides a convertible mustang for each intern for the summer, and you get the opportunity to go to a picnic at Bill Gates’ house and meet him personally. Trilogy pays better ($22/hr at the time), has an amazing campus on a lake with ski boats and jet skis for everyone to use, and is in Austin, TX, a fun college town with many coeds.

I still didn’t know what Trilogy did but they were competing with Microsoft for the best academic talent at Duke (Microsoft is known for requiring high GPAs, among other things) and Trilogy was winning. At the end of the debate it was clear that Trilogy was more desirable and more competitive than Microsoft, and any other tech company recruiting at the career fair.

Earlier today Bob Metcalfe, inventor of Ethernet, tweeted out an article on Forbes titled John Price is Bringing Silicon Valley to Austin where the author recounts a bit of history about Trilogy and the fact that John trained many of the Trilogy employees at the in-house Trilogy University. Trilogy was fanatical about recruiting the best talent from around the country to Austin and taking them through an intense training program. Trilogy had a strong work hard, play hard culture where long hours and serious partying were the norm.

Many of the Trilogy employees went on to participate in the Austin startup community and a couple hit it big with companies that IPOd, creating thousands of jobs. Even with a massive engineering school in their own backyard at UT Austin, Trilogy made it a core strength to recruit technical talent from beyond their region and train them on their own dime internally. There’s no single best way to recruit talent at a large scale but Trilogy showed you could do, and do it well, in a city outside the standard technology hubs.

What else? What are your thoughts on Trilogy recruiting tech talent to Austin at scale?

3 thoughts on “Trilogy Recruiting Tech Talent to Austin at Scale

  1. Love this subject. Thanks for the post. I calamity speak to Trilogy but, I have found no better way to ensure a better company in 5 years than to hire the best, future, high capacity young leaders now. Thanks for a great example.

  2. David, it’s been a while since we meet back in the 2008’ish timeframe.

    I’m a Trilogy alum and can tell you that Trilogy was in fact fanatical about recruiting. It was inherent in the culture of the company from the start – not just after-the-fact program sponsored by HR.

    Most importantly, the executive management team spent a significant amount of time on recruiting day in and day out.

    Admittedly, I think some of the tactics deployed by Trilogy in the late 90’s would fall flat today, but there was a machine built that I have never seen replicated. The talent in the company was incredible for the “little software company in Austin” as I believe Ballmer once said when infuriated by our success.

    In my opinion, Trilogy was a technology company incubator well before it was popular. Be great to have that rub off in Atlanta.

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