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Yammer's $25K Yahoo bounty finds first takers

Money talks -- as does some shared outrage at Yahoo's patent fighting ways.

Yammer CEO David Sacks

When Yahoo launched its giant patent lawsuit against Facebook a few weeks back, David Sacks, the CEO and founder of Yammer, took to Twitter to blast out an offer to any Yahoo employees pissed at their company's ways: Quit your job within 60 days, he wrote, and Yammer will give you a $25,000 signing bonus.

It's working.

Sacks tells me that since then, Yammer has received 70 resumes. Of those, Yammer has made five offers, and two people have accepted jobs and will collect their bounty.

"All this is moving in real time," said Sacks, whose firm has raised $85 million and is growing like crazy. "People have to send resumes and go through our hiring process. We're moving as fast we can."

The talent crunch is severe at tech companies, particularly for software engineers. In Yammer's case, Sacks is hunting for people across the board -- not just engineers, but operations people and salespeople since Yammer's customers are businesses. Yammer makes a private social-networking tool used by more than 80 percent of the Fortune 500.

These first two Yammer hires are former Yahoo engineers.

While referral bonuses are commonplace for engineers and even some other positions, and Yammer pays them (up to $10,000), Yammer doesn't pay signing bonuses. What motivated Sacks, he said, wasn't the need to hire -- but his outrage at Yahoo for becoming a "patent troll."

"We now have patent trolls and established companies getting into this shakedown," he said. "I don't think software patents should exist, and that's probably the view of every entrepreneur in Silicon Valley and even most established companies. I'm trying to get out the message."

So why $25,000?

"Anything less wouldn't have been noteworthy and more would have been obnoxious," he said. "We don't do these things as matter of course. We normally seek to motivate people through salary or equity in the company."

Hear that Yahoo people? Your ship is sinking. And while engineers are unlikely to get the boot amid the current layoffs, the mood can't be upbeat.

"If you're going to consciously object, don't wait," said Sacks, who's sticking to his 60-day window, more or less. "If someone comes to us a year from now and says they objected to Yahoo's lawsuit, I'll be, like, 'What took you so long?'"

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