Pulling the wool

By Enda Crowley on September 4th, 2013

In what’s perhaps the most hilarious-cum-depressing news on the internet ever, fashion brand Lyle & Scott, purveyors of fine masstige woollenwear, is recruiting for a £250,000-a-year chief executive… exclusively via social media. We’ve no idea if this is the first time something like this has been done. Almost certainly it isn’t. But we do know this one is more than a stunt: it’s a genuine attempt to find a CEO via Twitter.

We know this because this morning The Kernel met with James Minter from Lyle & Scott’s executive search firm, Beringer Tame, who explained that candidates who pass initial screening will be expected to assemble a Tumblr about Lyle & Scott as part of the interview process. (Long-time Kernel readers will recognise Minter as the former owner of beloved UK entrepreneurial hang-out Adam Street, a private members’ club in London.)

What would two years ago have been a joke at Mashable’s expense is now real. And you know what? Actually, this isn’t the worst idea we’ve ever heard, although it clearly does have comic potential. Europe is at the point in the latest entrepreneurial ecosystem lifecycle in which technology start-ups are failing left, right and centre, leaving well-qualified founders looking for new projects.

There are also a number of talented chief executives sitting in well-funded but middling companies that aren’t really going anywhere. These people are always up for new opportunities. And they tend to be on Twitter a lot.

Applicants so far, according to Minter, include a 19-year-old boy, who did not make it through the initial screen, and several credible executives who did. It’s at least one way of seeking an employee with a sense of fun. “Those too boring to engage in the process will be the wrong people anyway,” says Sue Watson, Lyle & Scott’s owner.

Plenty of large companies are looking for an injection of web-savvy entrepreneurial talent. Maybe this isn’t so stupid after all. So, anyway, if you fancy trying your hand at taking £5 million annual revenue selling sweaters and turning it into £50 million, here’s the Twitter feed you should head over to.