What kind of programmer I am looking for

About our restricting principles, such as “we never partner up with anyone “, “no bonuses”, “we don’t buy anyone and don’t sell ourselves to anyone “, “no bullshit”, “no discounts “, “we turn down any state support “, “we don’t hire non-scientific people (even designers and marketing managers)”, and many others; a dev-lead position who will have to create an entire set of our programs: a library for emulating chemical reactions, a 3D visualizer of molecular reaction dynamics (most probably, using Unity3D), a virtual chemical lab, a website with tasks and social mechanics, the entire software package for the tablet to be included with the set; this developer will not be working on all of this alone, but he will be the first one to lay the foundation for all these programs.

I have already written about the people I need for visualizing scientific knowledge: a quantum chemist and a 3D designer. To make the team complete, I need another person – a developer. For me, the developer is the most difficult position. Although we will be working on a chemistry set type of product, its key value will be in its software that will visualize chemical reactions and show processes from the inside. I have hired well over a hundred developers in my career, and the number of interviews I have arranged is simply uncountable. However, it doesn’t make it easier to find a truly great programmer.

About geniuses developers

More than half of Quake was written by John Carmack alone

I guess, the most amazing and unusual thing about developers is the colossal difference between good programmers and geniuses. Many have heard that good and bad developers are as different as day and night. The magnitude of this difference is not a few percent and even times, but dozens of times. Just remember that over 50% of Quake was created by one man, John Carmack, and Nginx, the third most popular web server in the world, has a single developer – Igor Sysoev.

Someone from a different industry would find such a difference unbelievable, but it’s a fact. At SPB Software, we hired the strongest developers only. Quite often, we needed someone urgently, and we couldn’t find a candidate strong enough in 6 months. Sometimes, we ended up not hiring anyone after 20-30 personal interviews (with candidates who had already passed initial filters). Why am I telling you this? Because even in a team as strong as ours, there were geniuses whose productivity was 3-5 times higher than that of anybody else.


If you are in the consulting/outsourcing business, custom development or internal development for your company, you don’t really need the best developers. I have never seen a client willing to pay for a developer who works 3 times more than the rest of the team – even if he’s a pure genius. The fact that your developer is a genius is hard to “sell”. Even a corporate system with 528 forms doesn’t require geniuses – there won’t be enough room for them to demonstrate their talent. Imagine a situation where you are developing a corporate automation system. Say, you can make it 2 times cheaper, but 10% worse or less functional. Will this work? In most situations, it will. For an internal project, the merit of success is the payback period.

Making a product for a competitive market is a whole different story. Let’s assume we have product A and B, and A is 10% better than B. How much better will it be in terms of sales, users, profit? The answer is – not even close to 10%, most probably 10 times or more. Why would a user purchase a product that is worse than the other? Users don’t care how much you’ve invested into development. They are just trying to find a solution that works best for them.

Product situation

That is why it’s so important for product companies to hire geniuses. This isn’t some kind of breakthrough idea, Joel wrote about the main problem of looking for development geniuses: that are mostly employed and not looking for a job.

So what can I do to find the best? Yes, we have one of the most ambitious and challenging projects on the market. But, no matter how banal it may sound, money matters. I believe that if I offer a salary twice the size of the market average, I will give many people a good reason to think about this project or send their friends a message in Facebook saying “hey, I think I’ve found a job of your dreams.”

This approach has another advantage. Some of the best developers that I have seen in my life don’t write code. It often happens that developers just don’t have the career path that managers do. And that is why many developers become managers. Although if you sat them down to write code, the result would be comparable to that of a whole group of developers. And yes, they often miss programming. I want to offer a salary that will make these people interested in what they do.

Who I am looking for

Very simple: I need a programming genius who knows physics and chemistry. A programmer who quickly writes very good code and can create a convenient and well thought-through system architecture. A programmer who will be knowledgeable about current trends, platforms and technologies, and able to pick the optimal stack of technologies both for the site and for the 3D reaction visualizer. Programming is very likely to be done in C++, Java and something like Ruby or Python. That is why the knowledge of C++ and Java is a must (and I really don’t believe in programming geniuses who don’t know C++ and Java).


  • 250,000 rub per month
  • No part-time employment, this will be the main and the only job
  • Work at the office, south-western part of the city (temporarily, will be moving out this fall)
  • Vacation - 1 month
  • Health insurance

What you will have to write

Our situation is unique: you can join us and start creating a large platform from scratch:

  • A library for chemical reaction emulation
  • A 3D visualizer of molecular reaction dynamics for web and tablets
  • A website with tasks and motivationally-social logic
  • Based on all of these technologies, you will have to write a virtual chemical lab with process simulation functionality

Apply to this position and send your resume

Our principles

A few words about our principles. We want to create a company that will work around the world. To do that, we need to be a profitable business with a scalable structure. We want to create a company for ages, a company that will let the best minds work on improving the transfer of scientific information. I will skip the intermediate chain of conclusions that I made and will share the final ones only. All of them are in the form of negations, since I thought they would be more evident this way:

  • No cheating: we aren’t afraid to measure everything; people often get cheated when they buy an illusion instead of a working product; in our case, instead of selling something that will make a child smarter, we can sell an illusion that the product will make a child smarter; in case of an illusion, efficiency assessment is fatal; we are ready to kill a profitable product if we understand that it’s inefficient for education
  • We don’t partner with anyone. We may have subcontractors, but not partners
  • We don’t accept any kind of state support
  • We don’t acquire other company
  • We will never sell the company, it’s not being created to be sold one day
  • We don’t hire top managers from the outside (we grow them inside the company)
  • We don’t hire anyone who fails or science knowledge tests, even a designer or marketing specialist
  • We don’t hire people who don’t speak English
  • We don’t bribe anyone, no matter how badly we want to speed up a certification process and such.
  • We don’t offer discounts on our products
  • We don’t make products that cannot be scaled up for the entire world
  • We never punish anyone for mistakes – we want people to be open to experiments and believe that failure is one of the possible outcomes of a risky undertaking
  • No moonlighting
  • We don’t pay any bonuses, the salary is the only income; bonuses can seriously distract the intrinsic understanding of right and wrong
  • We don’t take part in any ratings, no exception