You can recruit smart developers in a lot of ways, offering stock incentives, big salaries or cool perks. But Cheezburger — the fast-growing network of comedy Web sites — has another idea to win the hearts (and stomachs) of talented techies: cheeseburgers. In a recruiting stunt today, the Seattle startup plans to provide free Dick’s cheeseburgers to employees as they exit their company meeting at Seattle’s Key Arena.

A spokeswoman for Cheezburger says the company is currently talking to Dick’s — which operates a nearby restaurant in Seattle’s lower Queen Anne neighborhood — about how many cheeseburgers they can make in the next 90 minutes. She expects the company to give out as many as 300 cheeseburgers to departing Amazon workers.

Will the promotion work? Who knows.

But, I think with this stunt, we can declare that the software developer job market is officially overheated. (We’ve also seen startup companies like SEOMoz in recent weeks offer five figure bounties for key job referrals).

Ben Huh gets ready to serve up cheeseburgers to Amazon employees (Photo: Eugene Hsu)

The demand for tech talent — particularly smart coders — is incredible. And it’s one of the reasons why we’ve seen a number of Silicon Valley firms — Facebook, and Zynga to name a few — establish offices in the Seattle area in recent months. is growing like a weed, expanding its headquarters in the South Lake Union neighborhood. And Microsoft continues to grow at a steady pace.

Free food has long been a tactic to recruit talented engineers, with Microsoft’s free soda pop perk probably setting off the trend. Google raised the game a bit with its top-notch executive chefs who provide free meals to Googlers as they code away.

Obviously, a startup like Cheezburger Network — even though it did just raise $30 million — doesn’t have the budget to hire a Tom Douglas or Wolfgang Puck caliber chef. So, Dick’s cheeseburgers will have to do for no.

Cheezburger, which employs 58 people and just this week purchased the Web site Know Your Meme, currently has 12 openings.

John Cook is co-founder of GeekWire. Follow on Twitter: @geekwirenews and Facebook.

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  • Anonymous

    The increased competition for developers is certainly an interesting story — there’s been a big change in the last 3-6 months in what it takes to recruit great devs, and this is a very interesting story line.

    But, Cheezburger again, seriously? All they are offering is a cheeseburger. This is news? (The SeoMoz story quantitatively about 1,000x more newsworthy) It seems like someone at Cheezburger could have a bad day and it will make these pages. Please expand your coverage to give broader treatment to all startups in the region.

    • johnhcook

      Thanks for the comment Slaggggg (Is that the right number of Gs?). I thought it was an interesting stunt, and I labeled it as such. But it does speak to a broader story which I touched on — the lengths companies are going to in order to recruit employees.

      Also, we’ve been covering all sorts of startups. Just today, I’ve done stories on CoCollage, Visible, Z2Live and Xeround.

      We do try to mix it up, and we are open to your suggestions too, so if you have newsworthy or fun items to share, just let me know:

      Thanks for reading…

      • Anonymous

        True, but the #1 story in your email digest is these guys are giving out a sandwich? Just sayin’.

      • Anonymous

        BTW yes that is the right # of G’s. Believe it or not so many lower-g “Slag”s are taken, had to resort to a surprising quantity of Gs to get an unused name…

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