Yesterday a job fair for the 60+ took place in Tel-Aviv. They say it’s a first. I read the story by Guy Grimland on The Marker (Hebrew) and all I could think of is how quickly we’re all getting there. To this age.
A year ago I founded a startup company with a partner who is 8 years younger than me. Recently we started to browse around for a technical partner to join our team. The oldest applicant we had was 52 years old. The youngest was in his late 20’s. Both had interesting résumés. I can’t say it didn’t cross my mind that a 50 plus might be too old for a web startup but I quickly pushed this thought aside and decided the right thing to do would be to talk to both.
I was very impressed with the older applicant. Clearly his knowledge and experience have given him a lot of confidence, enough to be open to various ideas, tools and consideration. He has this authoritative tone needed if we want him to lead a tech department, yet seemed attentive and kind. It was the younger applicant, who despite a very impressive résumé, clearly a smart and talented young man, seemed simply cocky. Someone who wasn’t going to be a tremendous joy to work with.
It got me thinking again about the topic of age discrimination. Especially in high tech. VCs cannot tell me they are not influenced by the age (as well as appearance, and sometimes sex) of entrepreneurs presenting to them. There’s a very well known angel investor in Israel who would rather not talk to any entrepreneur who is over the age of 30 (especially if it’s a woman), and who is pretty proud of enjoying his version of “child labor”. His excuse is: young people (preferably before family-stage) are independent and can slave around the clock until they reach their declared goal. Older entrepreneurs might actually care about other things too.
But it’s the richer world that makes a smarter entrepreneur. True, you don’t need the richer version for every venture, but it can surely help. So looking at building a founding team I think there’s something smarter in diversifying not only sex, but also age.