In the first few years of Netflix, we were growing fast and needed to hire more software engineers. With my new understanding that high talent density would be the engine of our success, we focused on finding the top performers in the market.
In Silicon Valley, many of them worked for Google, Apple, and Facebook — and they were being paid a lot. We didn’t have the cash to lure them away in any numbers. But, as an engineer, I was familiar with a concept that has been understood in software since 1968, referred to as the “rock-star principle.”
The rock-star principle is rooted in a famous study that took place in a basement in Santa Monica, California. At 6:30 a.m., nine trainee programmers were led into a room with dozens of computers. Each was handed a manila envelope, explaining a series of coding and debugging tasks they would need