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Short-staffed website swaps DOGS for DEVELOPERS

Pimp a programmer, score cash-for-a-canine

Puppy playing by computer

Like many companies, Seattle-based dog-sitting-as-a-service rover.com struggles to find software developers.

Similarly afflicted companies often make cash awards to those who refer them useful talent. Back in April Rover.com decided to offer them dogs instead.

Here's the company's pitch, taken from its jobs page:

For the next 30 days, Rover.com is offering something better: if we hire a candidate you refer to Rover.com then you will get a free puppy! That's right, let me say it again: FREE PUPPY! And, we'll throw in a year of free dog sitting on Rover.com, too.

The offer was a bit of a pup, as the company wouldn't just hand over a dog. Instead the offer meant rover “will give you $1,000 for for you to use toward the adoption of a puppy, but you will have to adopt the puppy on your own.”

The company also promised to throw in $1000 worth of credit on its dog-sitting service.

“Competing with everyone from Amazon to Zynga for engineers is hard,” Rover.com's Scott Porad told The Reg by email. “So I wanted to do some sort of promotion to break through the noise. And, I wanted it to fit with our brand--Rover is all about dogs.”

“I was thinking about what we could do when remembered a stunt we pulled at Cheezburger: we tried to steal developers from Amazon by giving away actual cheeseburgers outside their all-company meeting. Then, another local company, Giant Thinkwell, one-upped us by trying to give away lolcats outside Amazon's office. Giant Thinkwell's stunt was just sort of a joke, but got them a lot of attention, so I thought, 'hmmm...what if we gave away an actual puppy? I bet that would get some attention!'”

The idea clearly did generate attention, but not enough to fill the four roles rover.com hoped to fill: while the promotion produced a dozen referrals, Porad has made just one hire.

“I have been told that the referrer bought the puppy, but I have not met it yet,” he told The Reg. ®

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