Thumbtack Recruits Former Google HR Guru Bock to Advise on Hiring Spree

The professional services marketplace wants to replicate Google's recruiting tactics.

Laszlo Bock just finished "the world's shortest retirement," in his words. 

At the end of last month, he left Alphabet Inc.'s Google after ten years atop its much vaunted and imitated human resources operation. Now Bock is signing on as a strategic advisor to Thumbtack Inc., a startup that offers an online service matching consumers with plumbers and other professional service workers. 

"The culture of the company they built reminds me of Google in the early days," Bock said of Thumbtack. 

The closely held company is set to significantly boost its 500 employee base. Headcount at the San Francisco-based firm has grown 10-fold in three years, said president Jonathan Swanson. Funding has matched: Thumbtack raised $255 million since May 2014, valuing it at $1.3 billion. "We've raised all the money we will ever need," said Swanson. "Now, the focus is on the people."

A chief obsession for technology companies is holding fast to corporate cultures as they grow. Across Silicon Valley, Bock is seen as a sage in this field.

Several early executives shaped Google's idiosyncratic corporate practices, such as unusual pay structures and candid management reviews. Bock, who served as senior vice president, is the public face of this strategy. His book about Google ("Work Rules!") cracked several top-seller lists.

"He'll be a good public ambassador," said Swanson, comparing Bock to Bill Campbell, the late Intuit Inc. chairman who mentored executives at Google, Apple Inc. and other tech firms. Bock will not be a paid Thumbtack staffer, but he is getting equity in the company. 

Thumbtack's competitors include Angie's List and IAC's HomeAdvisor. Google, which invests in Thumbtack through Alphabet's private equity arm CapitalG, hired several engineers in 2015 from Homejoy, a Thumbtack rival that shut down.

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