Elance Blog

Casting a Wider Net for Talent

I had always been enthusiastic to live in a world where finding human capital reaches beyond my home in Silicon Valley, beyond California, and beyond the United States. 

Start-ups are built upon people and when you increase the pool of talent, you increase your likelihood of success. 

Today I am not only enthusiastic, but reliant on tapping into remote human capital.

Kevin Hartz

As we exit 2007, Silicon Valley is once again teeming with eager new entrepreneurs and established Internet giants alike, jockeying for talent. As an investor in start-ups as well as Internet entrepreneur, I feel the pinch. So much so that the same candidate will float between four or five different start-ups I’m personally involved.

Compounding the issue is lack of congressional relief to allow more foreign visas. Congress has an uncanny knack of regulating this precisely opposite of actual market conditions.

Talent from Afar

The natural alternative is to outsource. In the last five years I’ve started two very different companies. Both, however, have the commonality of successfully outsourcing.

The first, Xoom is a more established company of over 50 employees. Xoom is an international money transfer company. Our customers send money to over 30 countries worldwide (in many cases to fund offshore work) so our business was a natural one to adopt a global footprint of workers. In addition to our San Francisco headquarters, we have development resources in Romania and India. We also have a call center in the Philippines and another to follow soon in Latin America.

Looking back, however, the decision to outsource components of our development and operations of the business has been a fantastic means to scale our revenue while only modestly growing the cost side of the business over the last two years.

More recently, I started an online event registration service called Eventbrite. As opposed to Xoom, we are a small start-up of five employees.  Our Co-Founder and CTO, Renaud, is based in Paris, we have an engineer in Scotland, and our customer service representative is based in Washington State. I work with our other Co-Founder (and my wife) Julia in San Francisco. Our business has been an exercise in discovering the best practices of remote communication and has delivered us to profitability.

Tools of the Trade

Remote communication is critical to the success of a distributed business. Beside email and IM as indispensable tools, I’ve become an enormous consumer of live web video communication because visual communication conveys so much more than a phone call or email. 

Video conferencing typically conjures the vision of a boardroom with expensive plasma screens and video cameras. Today, however, fast computers, broadband, and cheap webcams have made this accessible to everyone. I use TokBox (www.tokbox.com) because of the quality, ease, and no need for software download. I should note I was the first investor in this company as I saw the distinct need for this service in our ever shrinking world.

It’s an exciting time of change and innovation. My start-up experience is one of adapting to this change. Today’s revolution allows us to tap into a talent base  of billions of workers versus the smaller pond (or puddle) we were restricted to before in our small geographic bubbles. Will you be a part of this revolution too?

About Kevin Hartz
Kevin Hartz is Co-Founder and CEO of Eventbrite. Previously, he was the founder and CEO of Xoom an international money transfer service. He is an active investor in many start-ups. You can see his full list of affiliations at www.kevinhartz.com


Hi Kevin - Enjoyed your article and its focus. I am a successful business owner in the media training field - and have a great start-up that I would be interested in discussing with you. At your convenience, please contact me via email. Thank you, T

Hello Kevin,

I would love a chance to talk with you in regards to your knowledge and experience start-ups. You may find interest in the venture we are currently working on and any advice you can give me would be much appreciated.

Hi Kevin. Nice article. If you ever need someone in Brazil that shares the same thinking that you, please contact me. Regards, Alex


Can I use Xoom on elance?