89: CodeFights – Win a Game, Land a Job
I recently came across a company called CodeFights, a scrappy new startup founded by MIT grads turned Google and Oracle engineers. They created an online arena for hackers to hone their coding talents through real-time competitions. They offer head to head battles as well as tournament based play for a massively growing community of coders. They are creating a business around the popular organized hackathons that have been held at some of the most innovative companies in the world. Things get even more interesting when you see that they are backed by the former head of strategy at Microsoft and they are also changing the way companies like Uber and Dropbox hire. Maybe we can do away with fancy titles and piles of resumes and actually recruit people based on opportunities we give them to demonstrate their skill. In 2016 to hire someone based on their skill and not their experience is a big game changer.
Can you tell me a little about yourself and what you do?
My name is Tigran Sloyan and I’m the co-founder and CEO of CodeFights. Some of what I do is basically what no one else is doing in the company.
What is CodeFights and who is it aimed at?
CodeFights is a platform where software engineers from around the world come to compare their skills against other people, see where they stand and keep their skills sharp.
Where did the idea come from?
The idea came from this thought I had a couple years ago. It’s very hard in the software engineering world to understand how your skills compare against others and to understand where you stand in the market. If you compare the software engineering market to other places, such as soccer for example, you know where you stand. In the software engineering world it’s a very hidden market and you have no idea where you stand. My idea was that it would be awesome if there was a place people could go and compare and compete against each other just like they do in soccer.
You’re experiencing fantastic growth of somewhere between 30 and 40 percent month after month is that right?
Yes we have seen incredible growth. Two years ago at this time CodeFights did not even exist and now we have over a half a million users. The growth has just been insane in the last two years. We’re also starting to focus more and more on building a very tight and close community where people can actually enjoy learning and understand where they lack in their skill set.
You have some pretty big names backing you as well. Can you tell us a little about that?
The biggest help from our investors has been on the business side. One of the ways we help software engineers is discovering new job opportunities, meaning helping people who maybe have a non standard background in software engineering and are finding it hard to find opportunities purely based on their skill. Our investors have been a great help in connecting us to these companies who would trust a very young and small company to do technical skills that are meant for them and to take a shot at integrating people who they would have never talked to otherwise.
If there is a developer or want to be developer listening to this show who is thinking of stepping into the CodeFights arena what kind of challenges will await?
The challenges vary anywhere from very basic to things that are a lot more complex. One of the cool things about CodeFights is you can actually challenge company bots that are branded after specific companies like Uber and Dropbox. Questions you will see there are about these companies.
I read that you believe that competitive programming has the potential to be bigger than even college football. Can you tell the listeners a little more about that?
This is a space of intellectual games. If you can make it fun and popular enough, as one engineer said software engineering is eating the world. At some point everybody is going to know programming at some level and at that point people can start to understand how the mechanics of programming works. If you had some of the top engineers in the world just like you have some of the top soccer players in the world competing against each other in a big arena and if people could watch and understand what is happening it could become a thing that people actually do like with sports.
What’s next for you guys?
We’re continuously making CodeFights more fun to use in terms of comparing your skills to others and actually learning. One of the biggest goals we see for ourselves in the next few years is to actually achieve the goal of bringing __________ (15:27) to the talent market. Having ____ in the talent market will change everything from university admission to hiring top tech companies as well as smaller organizations that just need tech talent.