The event was a lot of fun and we met quite a few interesting candidates that I suspect we'll phone screen over the next couple weeks. We also met an endless stream of unemployed people - some recently, some more-than-recently - that had spent their careers at big companies like IBM, Cisco, etc.
Many young professionals and graduating students look to these big companies as the "safe" place to work. You can get experience, you can move up the ranks, and so on.
There are certainly reasons to work for big companies, but I believe that this "safety" is a fallacy in large part because one has very little control of their own destiny at very large organizations. A fluctuation in the share price or a decision from on high or a mistake four times removed from one's role might end up in cancelled projects, missed promotions, or worse. The unemployed big company people I met at the event seemed perfectly capable, just unfortunate.
Sure - start-ups are risky...and risky beyond comprehension in the very early stages. But one's scope of influence is much larger and the distance between input and output is practically zero. Plus, one can actually eliminate risk at a start-up. Most of my day-to-day actions at Argyle are focused on making our business more predictable, repeatable, and scalable.
To bring this full circle, imagine the irony when one of the larger companies that participated in the Big Top event "pitched" the audience by showing a video that featured its employees gushing about their job security and peace of mind. I couldn't help but laugh to myself just a little...