Arc, a platform that wants to simplify the process of hiring developers who work remotely, is launching officially today. The new company grew out of Techstars-backed Codementor, an online education platform for software developers. Codementor will continue to operate as a standalone product under Arc.
While there are already many freelancing platforms, Weiting Liu, the founder and CEO of Arc and Codementor, said Arc is more focused on long-term contractor and full-time employee positions instead of short-term gigs. To make the recruitment process easier for tech companies, all developers on its platform are vetted by Arc in a process modeled on the hiring assessments used by tech companies in Silicon Valley. Arc’s clients have already included Spotify, Chegg, Hims, Fivestars and AppLovin.
Codementor launched in 2014 to connect developers with instructors around the world for coding education. Arc has the same mission of helping boost the careers of engineers who live outside of major tech hubs.
“I think Arc is a natural evolution. Codementor had hundreds of thousands of developers in the community already and that created a very strong and inclusive community to help developers worldwide continuously improve their skills,” says Liu. “We definitely see Codementor and its network creating a strong funnel of talented developers who want to work remotely.”
Remote hiring has benefits like increasing the talent pool for tech companies while helping employees maintain work-life balance or avoid moving to high cost-of-living areas. But despite the increase in remote hiring (for example, Stripe recently described its remote engineers as the company’s “fifth engineering hub”), there are still many hurdles to overcome.
The team of Liu’s first startup, Y Combinator alum SocialPicks, were based in different cities. In 2006, that meant everyone had to find a way to work together even though collaboration tools like Slack and Trello didn’t exist yet. But while it has become much more easier to work remotely over the past decade, hiring people who live far away still presents a lot of friction for companies. “From an employers’ perspective, there are a lot of fears and unknowns for hiring strangers online for a permanent, full-time role, but I think things are changing,” says Liu.
He adds that Arc is different from other hiring platforms like AngelList or We Work Remotely because of its vetting process, designed to identify developers who can stay with a company for a long time.
“People can still hire remote developers for short-term contracts, but we want to enable more companies to hire long-term, full-time regular employees who are not based in their ZIP code, but should be treated no differently than their Bay Area counterparts because they are as good, if not better, than Silicon Valley developers,” Liu says.
Arc pre-screens engineers and teams using what it describes as “Silicon Valley-caliber technical and behavioral assessments.” Candidates go through behavioral and technical interviews conducted by senior developers and technical recruiters who have worked for Google, Facebook and other big tech companies. In order to judge how well they will work with a team in another location, Arc also asks developers to prepare programming during the interview process to simulate the process of collaborating remotely.
As Arc grows larger, Liu says it will build tools that will help them gauge developers at scale, as well as features to companies manage remote workers.
California recently passed a significant new bill that, if signed into law, would dramatically change the gig economy by requiring companies to give independent contractors who do the work of employees minimum wage, workers’ compensation and other benefits. Liu hopes this signifies a shift in how remote workers are viewed.
“There are a lot of first-generation online platforms for ‘remote work,’ but most are freelancing work. Platforms like Fiverr and Upwork are pioneers of this space, so they are the first generation of online freelancing platforms,” Liu says. “They came into a world where people felt comfortable working together in very short-term freelancing gigs. I think the second phase means there is increasingly higher trust and better infrastructure to enable long-term, permanent full-time work to be made possible remotely, and we want to be the main facilitator of that.”