Trending: Seattle startup Human looks to stand out with distinctive $399 over-the-ear wireless headphones

pathable111We’ve seen tech companies do all sorts of crazy things to attract talented engineers — giving away cash, cars and more. But this is a new one on us.

Pathable, a six-year-old Seattle startup that specializes in building social networks for events, just launched a “nomadic engineer” program in which it plans to pay engineers to work wherever they want (within reason).

It will even pick up the tab on round-trip ticket to get to that special place — whether Maui or Missoula or Malaysia — and pay for the first two months rent.

Here’s the deal s described by the company:

We see little value in forcing engineers into an office just so they can IM each other across a room. So where do you want to work from? The beach in Mexico? Your ski cabin near Whistler? A flat in Florence? Your home office, upstairs from your dog and kids? We use Campfire, Tracker, Skype, GoToMeeting, e-mail and the old-fashioned telephone to minimize distractions and optimize communication.

Pathable will pay for your first round-trip ticket and two month’s rent* if you decide to take advantage of our “nomadic engineer” program. Who knows, maybe we’ll join you there for a month-long meetup, like we did in Belize in Fall 2012.”

Jordan Schwartz
Jordan Schwartz

The promotion comes amid a great debate in the tech industry about remote workers, sparked in part by the decision last month by Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer to force employees to work from the office. Pathable CEO Jordan Schwartz, a former Microsoft employee, is certainly taking a different approach in his quest to find engineers.

In fact, he’s built the company largely on the ability of people to work from wherever they want. We asked Schwartz about that effort, and his struggles in finding engineers, a problem highlighted yesterday in a GeekWire guest post by’s Scott Porad.

Here’s what he had to say.

“It’s not tough to find engineers. It’s tough to find one with that sharply brilliant intelligence that leaves you feeling simultaneously dumber by comparison and smarter by osmosis, one who can shift between the forest and the trees, architecture and raw code with a dancer’s grace, one who can produce volumes of well-thought out, sustainable code without leaving land mines for future developers.

Then you’ve got Microsoft and Amazon with their war chests, Google, Hulu, Facebook, and Salesforce opening Seattle development offices and dozens of well-funded start-ups with swank offices, organic meals and chair massage.

So yes, we’re looking for a way to stand out. One thing we have that’s unusual is the deliberate efforts we’ve made to building an effective remote working environment. Peter Brown, my co-founder and CTO has done the most exploration: in the past couple of years, he’s spent a couple months each in Berlin, San Francisco and Belize, and will be relocating temporarily to Vancouver come June. That culture of travel and exploration, and not just the willingness to accomodate it, but the active desire to make it a part of our company culture, can help us attract the kind of unusual individual we’re looking for. Take that, Marissa Mayer.”

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