I Almost Worked for These Guys

Just saw this story over at CNet about Hillcreast suing Nintendo for patent infringement in their implementation of the Wiimote.

I interviewed at Hillcrest right before accepting the offer from my current employer. I did so more as a courtesy to a genuinely nice independent recruiter who lined up the interview. From the interviewee with whom I spent several hours, I didn’t have any qualms about the caliber of talent. It was one of the more intellectually demanding interviews I’ve ever done.

That’s not entirely praise, mind you, as I am skeptical that logic puzzles are anywhere near enough to answer any question other than if a candidate is good at solving logic puzzles. In my experience, problem solving is more about approach and mindset. Programming has as much to do with time and task organization than the ability to identify some esoteric algorithm that may be marginally more efficient than a more common one.

Still, it wasn’t my issues with their interviewing approach and what it said about their hiring practices that made me glad I had another offer on the table.

When the interviewer said something about pulling twelve or fourteen hour days to get their last demo out of the door, that’s when the alarm bells went off. This in response to a simple query meant to gauge the work-personal life balance situation. Under rare circumstances, I will concede that extra hours may be warranted for shipping code. For a demo?

I won’t even share my detailed thoughts on their business plan. Suffice to say they are hardly more complimentary than anything I’ve said so far. Now to find out that they have resorted to patent trolling? I am sure their general counsel or someone in their legal department feels this is justified. However, last time I checked, I didn’t see any of their technology on the shelf at my local big box store or any of the gadget sites gushing breathlessly, or venting spleen, over their technology.

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