Sheeroy Desai is the CEO of Gild, which gives companies and recruiters tools to make their hiring process smarter and more meritocratic. Last week, it launched a tool called Gild Source specifically designed to help your company hire smart developers, by crawling applicants’ code and scoring it. Though Gild Source doesn’t typically run cheap–pricing can be as high as $700 a month–the company today announces Gild Source for Startups, with half-off pricing available for some qualifying startups.
FAST COMPANY: What is Gild?
This sounds like terrible news for nepotists everywhere.
Your latest product, Gild Source, is specifically about helping companies hire talented developers. How does Gild Source work?
Traditionally companies might go to LinkedIn or do Internet searches. It’s all based off of keyword searching, and it’s based off of self-reported skills: someone just says, “I’m a Ruby on Rails developer.” We don’t do that. Our approach is to gather all the information on developers we can verify. We look at sites where developers are spending their time contributing to open source projects, and we download these publicly available projects. We analyze that code through a machine learning system, and we score it. Then we make that information available to companies and recruiters.
You use algorithms to score the quality of people’s code? Isn’t that subjective?
We have the viewpoint that there are certain patterns to really good developers. Great developers are very skilled in a few languages, but love to experiment with many different languages. We also have a viewpoint that great developers work incrementally on their code. They’ll write a small piece, publish it, test it, and then they’ll come back every few days and continue to build on it. Our algorithms detect all those things.
Don’t most people hack under handles, or pseudonyms?
Some developers will publish code under a handle. Sometimes they put their name on it, sometimes not. But usually inside the code, they’ll put their name in. We go into the code and extract that information.
How do you tell apart one Michael Smith hacker from the other?
We’re pretty good at that. We have an algorithm to check for multiple signs this is the same person. We take what we do pretty seriously.
Didn’t Mark Zuckerberg solve the problem of hiring developers in The Social Network? You just hold drunken hackathons.
Maybe Mark Zuckerberg can get away with getting people to spend a whole night coding for free. But most companies don’t have the brand to do that.
This interview has been condensed and edited.