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(August 2, 2011) Even if "The Social Network" didn't win the Oscar for Best Picture, its glimpse inside the early days of Facebook added another heavy coat of gloss to the legend of life at a startup. A stack of billions, waterfalls of booze, epic squabbles - that's Hollywood's formula to attract startup talent.

The truth? Tech savvy workers who lean toward startups don't do so because they long for Xbox breaks and bottles of Screaming Eagle. According to more than 750 tech professionals, startups appeal not for their much-discussed perks, but for their workplace environment. Those who choose life in a startup do so because they believe that's where they'll find bosses and colleagues who value entrepreneurship (42%), speed (22%) and freedom (19%).

For all the hype (and venture capital) startups may attract, they were still the potential employer of choice for slightly less than a third (31%) of responding technology professionals. Established companies may have a reputation for being conservative and confining, but for tech workers who say they'd prefer the corporate route, cubicle life in the IT department is more stable (74%), more structured (18%) and less risky (8%).

Interestingly, the appeal of startups isn't simply restricted to college grads and 20-somethings. While respondents in their late 30s to age 50 were the least likely to choose working at the next Twitter or Zynga, the closer tech workers got to retirement age, the more likely they were to see a startup as their best choice.

You've heard that with age comes wisdom. For tech workers, it also seems to bring the need for a looser, freer workplace and a dash of startup risk.

Alice Hill
Managing Director,
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