Swedish Startup Space

GitHub pinch former Spotify designer Tobias Ahlin

Written by on September 24, 2013

Tobias Ahlin is a Stockhom-based designer who recently finished up a stint at Spotify. Since then, he launched SpellRush, an addictive iOS game we wrote about some months back. Tobias has now joined GitHub,

Tobias, congratulations on the new position. Tell us a little about the hiring process at GitHub?

This write up on GitHub’s hiring process does a good job of capturing the spirit of it all. It was fast, relaxed, to the point, and I had a blast. I didn’t have any interviews with recruiters or hiring mangers, only people that I would work with.

After two Skype calls, they flew me out to San Francisco for a day of interviews on site. Even if I was there for just a day, they gave me an entire week to explore the city and meet up with friends. If I wouldn’t have gotten the job, I still would’ve loved GitHub for the care they put into the process.

So, what attracted you to the company?

Everyone in the tech scene knows what GitHub is. It’s an astounding product that many of us use on a daily basis, but above all, it’s a company with an amazing and very special culture. I’d seen several talks with Tom Preston-Werner, and it was evident that from the very get-go GitHub had put a lot of effort into creating not just a great product, but a great workplace. I’ve had previous jobs with a lot of processes, managers, agile coaches, and top-down decision making. GitHub seemed to be the exact opposite of that.

GitHub is built around trust—there are no managers, and you choose what you want to work on. No one is watching you over your shoulder. It sounds almost like a utopia, but the effect is that people always work on things they genuinely care for. And it works. People work hard, and they are here to make a difference.

So, will you be working from Stockholm or moving over to the States?

I’m the first one in Stockholm, but we do have another GitHubber based in Arvika. I’m planning on moving to San Francisco next year, but until then I’ll be working from Gamla Stan, sharing an office with Jumpstarter, Bloglovin, and some other startups.

How do you think companies like GitHub view the Swedish startup scene, and how do they feel about attracting talent from places like Sweden?

The beauty of GitHub’s culture is that you can choose to work from wherever you want to. In fact, around 70% of all GitHubbers are working remotely. GitHub isn’t focusing on finding talent in a particular country or region. GitHub is focusing on finding the best talent in the world.

If you want to come and work from San Francisco, you’re welcome to, but if you want to live in and work from a cabin in the very northern parts of Sweden, you’re welcome to do that too. That said, I’m extremely psyched about the startup scene in Sweden, and especially Stockholm. There’s an ocean of talent here, and we’re hoping to host another drinkup soon!

Thanks Tobias!


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