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Enterprise 22 Mar 2017

Hire the perfect designer thanks to artificial intelligence

The Madrid-based startup Source{d} is developing an algorithm that analyzes millions of developers’ code to select those that best meet the needs of every company.

Jorge Schnura is 26 years old. A year ago he sold Tyba, the platform that put thousands of young professionals and companies in touch. Tyba became the largest job marketplace for European startups. With the money from the operation – he has not revealed the amount – and together with the same partners from his first adventure, Eliso Kant y Philip von Have, he started another project, Source{d}, which uses artificial intelligence to select developers and put them in contact with companies.

Jorge Schnura, Founder and COO at Source{d}

In his office in the Salamanca neighborhood of Madrid, Schurna explains how Source{d} works: “We study the developers’ code and analyze it in a neural network we have created. The algorithms identify the different characteristics of the code to see the similarities and differences among the different programmers or projects.”

A company can go to Source{d} when they want to hire a developer. They have two options: they can give access to code of the five people who are already on the team of developers and ask them to find a new one based on similarities in how they program, or they can start from scratch. “The neural network processes the code of more than six and a half million developers and 18 million variables, clustering this code into 6,000 dimensions of parameters considered relevant or indicators for differences or similarities,” explains the founder.

Analyzing the code makes it possible to see how they work, for example and the things that characterize Google engineers compared to others developing projects with open-source data or working in a startup.

And where do they get all these data? Schnura explains that they get millions of developers’ code through open-source projects and platforms like GitHub or GitLab, or from self-hosted projects that are not in any of these platforms. “We analyze it and take the data that’s public,” he says.

The entrepreneur is not a computer technician, but he learned how to program when he was 15 years old and stresses that it was his experience at business school that sparked his desire to become an entrepreneur. All the people hired by Source{d} are “trained computer engineers or professional developers”. Huge drawings by Ada Lovelace and Dennis Ritchie decorate the walls of the startup. You can just feel the code in all nooks and crannies of the company.

300 companies in two years

The Spanish company, Schnura says, has contacted nearly 300 companies in the two years of its existence. If they hire the developer, Source{d} receives 15% of their salary from the first year. If there is no agreement, they each go their separate ways and the process begins again. “There is no risk at all for the company,” explains the entrepreneur. “If they don’t hire anyone we don’t charge anything. In terms of metrics, one out of every seven developers we send a company is actually hired, when the average is one in 50 or one in 100.”

Most of the agreements – 150 in all – have been made with developers from outside of Spain, even though the bureaucratic paperwork does not make it easy. Schnura explains that it takes four to six months to obtain the documents to formalize the contract – an eternity compared to France where there is an accelerated visa program to ensure that talented workers do not get away. “It’s very easy to attract talent from abroad,” he maintains. “In any case, it costs us the same to find a developer for a Spanish company or a company from abroad, and if the salary is higher we earn more money.”

He also defends having the headquarters in Madrid, and not in London, Paris or Berlin. “Although salaries are lower, so are the costs. And if you move around internationally you end up getting the same investors and customers that you would in London, but with the costs here. It lets you hire more people and pay more than average in the Spanish market,” he maintains.

Recently, Russian developers have shown the greatest interest in Southern Europe due to the devaluation of the rouble and the lifestyle, although they are not the only ones attracted to the Spanish company.

Foreign investment

The enfant terrible, the French tycoon who has amassed one of France’s greatest fortunes, Xavier Niel, is backing the Spanish company. Niel owns Free, France’s third-largest Internet and telephone company. Schnura prefers not to specify how much he invested, but confesses that it was the company’s “main investor” who invested €6 million that gave the company its start at the end of 2016.

What are they doing with the money? Schnura explains that “artificial intelligence talent is scarce, so it’s very expensive. We are going to use the the €6 million to expand the engineering team and develop technology.”

They are also going to launch a platform where they say that “the developer can see our analysis of their open-source code and can give us access to private code so that we can better align their job search. In this developer platform, they will also find open-source projects they can collaborate on. We want to recommend projects where they can learn, contribute something or projects that they simply may find interesting.”

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