Many people ask us how Knack started. In 2010, Guy, our founder, was without a job. It was the height of the financial crisis and jobs were in short supply. He found out about an early-career leadership program opportunity with a well-known hedge fund. The firm, known for its selective recruiting, targeted Ivy League schools. Guy, who received his doctorate from Harvard just a few years earlier, was excited about the opportunity and very eager to join that firm. He went ahead and submitted his application and resume.
One interview followed another. Some rather ambiguous personality tests were thrown into the mix, too. They even asked Guy to closely study a lengthy document that, according to the firm, captured its principles and rules. The firm invited him for a follow up interview.
About five long months went by before Guy got the “No.” When he asked for feedback, the person on the other end of the line said something along the lines of “we’re looking for people who think creatively… and you don’t.”
Something about this process didn’t feel right to Guy. Was it his answers or his non-American accent? Was it the interviewer’s mood or background? The series of interviews, he felt, didn’t get at what (he thought) he’d be able to do, if he got a job offer. The personality tests didn’t feel right either, especially for a non-native speaker.
Beyond that, Guy realized that if he hadn’t graduated from Harvard he wouldn’t even have a chance to interview with that firm. In fact, he wouldn’t know about them hiring. This struck him as strange.
Frustrated, unemployed, and quickly running out of savings, Guy started looking for a solution to identifying the right person for the job: a solution that wouldn’t rely on credentials, diplomas, pedigree, or tests; that wouldn’t depend on biased, subjective and idiosyncratic evaluations; and that would leverage technology, science, and data.
Guy went back to his game theory class notes and started focusing on signaling games. It became clear that game-based signaling held the key to solving this problem.
From there on, Guy brought together a world-class team with expertise in game design, computer graphics, behavioral science, computational neuroscience, software engineering, and artificial intelligence to build Knack into the company it is today.