Let’s face it – there’s a myth swirling around that Latin America is teeming with job hoppers in the tech sector. Here at GoGloby, we’ve done our homework and can confidently debunk this misconception. Let’s pull back the curtain on this fascinating narrative.
Diving Into the Past: Latin America’s Tech Market History
The recruitment landscape in the Latin American software development industry from 2015 to 2020 was akin to a roller coaster ride. With an inadequate pool of skilled candidates, recruiters found themselves in a high-stakes bidding war, offering irresistible salaries to attract the best of the best. Matias, a Node.js/React.js developer with 18 years of experience in tech, recalls:
“In 2016, I was inundated with job offers from recruiters on LinkedIn. It was clear that international companies were beginning to recognize the potential of Latin American workers. Consequently, it became significantly easier for individuals to secure positions with U.S. companies compared to previous years.”
As salaries soared, it became routine for developers to jump at lucrative offers. This peculiar environment created a large candidate pool, resembling job hoppers, as they often switched jobs after just 3 to 8 months. But hold your horses before you judge – they were merely seizing opportunities, not showing a lack of dedication.
The fallout of this trend resulted in profiles depicting developers bouncing from company to company in less than a year. But, let’s not get it twisted. Sometimes, these are just consecutive projects under a single company’s umbrella. We’ve previously discussed certain red flags that can help differentiate genuine hoppers and fraudsters from real talents.
In our interviews, many local developers shared that the frequent change of interests and the chance to try out new things are parring for the course in their professional culture. This attitude permeates various aspects of their professional life, including how they scout for new opportunities. Rather than actively nurturing professional networks or engaging recruiters, they prefer to keep an eye on companies that pique their interest and shoot their resumes whenever a suitable opportunity pops up.
Present Day: The LatAm Talent Market Snapshot
Nowadays, many prominent US-based companies have pitched their tents in the LatAm market, ushering in healthy work culture and work ethic. Only in Monterrey, Mexico, there are offices of Amazon, Facebook, Microsoft, Apple, SAP, Wipro, Softtek, and Neoris. Again – this is only in one city! Intel, Google, Lyft, Stripe, Skycatch, Particle, and Scale AI are already set up in LatAm. All these companies formed a perfect mindset for building tech products among local talents. Oswaldo from Argentina recalls the boom of fintechs and educational events:
“Back in 2015, financial firms in Argentina – including Mercado Libre, Santander, and Banco de Galicia – began hosting tech-focused workshops and meet-ups. Their aim was to encourage more individuals to pursue careers in the tech sector.”
For years of working with U.S. tech companies, local developers implied startup values and ownership approaches. Here’s how Fernando, a Java developer for 20 years in a row, describes his own transition:
“At the beginning of my career, I sought experiences within small companies, always aiming to secure a position at a major corporation like IBM. Eventually, I achieved this goal, which at the time satisfied my desire for stability and the prestige associated with such a renowned company. However, my career aspirations have since evolved.
Currently, I’m drawn toward joining a startup. My motivation stems from the desire to learn more, advance within the organization, and be part of a dynamic technological environment. I appreciate how startups tend to be less bureaucratic and more nimble in adapting to technological changes, offering a more vibrant tech flow.”
Other US technology companies, from startups to Coinbase Inc. and Shopify Inc., are seeking new hires in Latin America due to the remote-work revolution. As a company specializing in global talent acquisition, we at GoGloby are also observing a considerable change in our U.S. tech clients’ hiring priorities. Latin America is increasingly becoming their preferred destination for recruitment. Unlike last year, when the primary reason to explore this market was the scarcity of top-tier talent, the landscape has shifted. Currently, cost-effectiveness is the key factor of LatAm expansion, with 9 out of 10 clients primarily hiring Latin American developers to optimize their expenses.
A case in point is Argentina, which according to Deel, a global compliance and payroll solution that helps businesses hire anywhere in the world, has emerged as a top-tier destination for setting up remote development teams. There’s been a 50% surge of U.S. companies hiring from LatAm from Q1 2022 to Q1 2023.
Another aspect that contributes to this growth is that governments in Latin America have been enacting legal changes to simplify business operations for foreign companies in their markets, contributing to a surge in mergers and acquisitions (M&A). Consequently, it’s no wonder that Latin America has become a top choice for tech startups and a hotbed for technology-related M&A activity, making it one of the most vibrant regions for tech M&A globally. This upward trend isn’t decelerating any time soon.
The booming tech scene of LatAm attracted tech professionals from around the world. In our recent podcast talk with Chris Cerra, the founder behind RemoteBase.co, he included Latin America in the list of top 5 destinations with infrastructure and opportunities for digital nomads. He mentions that people from the US often opt for countries like Colombia, Brazil, and Mexico due to their proximity, affordability, and availability of beach locations. The trend also impacted the geography of tech: Palantir, Hewlett Packard Enterprise, Oracle, and Tesla have moved their headquarters from Silicon Valley to Texas, which is closer to Latin America.
The rise of some pretty impressive unicorns in LatAm has further enriched the region’s tech culture. These trailblazing companies have been instrumental in fostering a culture and values that encourage employees to be more invested in their business, beyond self-interest and comfortable work conditions. A few companies have even managed to achieve the coveted unicorn status in the last year alone:
- Stori ($1.2B): A Mexican fintech that offers credit cards and personal loans.
- Creditas ($4.8B): A Brazilian fintech that offers secured loans.
- Kushki ($1.5B): An Ecuadorian fintech that offers payment processing services.
- Dock ($1.5B): A Brazilian fintech that offers payroll loans.
- iFood ($5.4B): A Brazilian food delivery platform.
- Nowports ($1.1B): A Mexican logistics startup that offers freight forwarding services.
- Habi ($1B+): A Colombian proptech that empowers low- and middle-income consumers by providing access to liquidity and information in the housing sector.
- Yaydoo ($1B+) along with Paystand ($1B+): Mexican startups that offer technology-based B2B solutions to automate transactions, payment processes, and invoice collection, aiming to digitize trade and automate supply chain finance between the US and Mexico.
- Betterfly ($1B+): A Chilean insurtech startup that combines insurance, wellness, and corporate social responsibility into a digital platform.
- Neon ($1B+): A Brazilian digital bank that offers a range of banking services, including a digital account, credit card, and personal loan.
The dust has now settled, and the tech culture in Latin America has significantly matured. Today, LatAm represents more than just a cost-saving opportunity. It’s a hotbed of professionals who embrace the right work culture and values and will be a valuable addition to your startup’s culture.