Interview with Jacob Hsu, CEO at Catalyte


Part I

  • Jacob Shoe, CEO of Cadillac, started off as a finance major and worked in investment banking before accidentally transitioning into the technology world.
  • Shoe spent 16 years at a company called Symbiote, where he fell in love with the business model of co-creating products with clients and building R&D centers all over the world.
  • Shoe initially planned to retire and move his family to Sweden, but after learning about Catalyst Dev Works, a company in Baltimore that uses AI and technology for programmatic hiring, he decided to join the company and be part of their mission to address the digital divide in the country.
  • Successful outcomes on jobs do not have a real statistical correlation with factors such as attending prestigious schools or growing up in privileged environments.
  • Candlelight aims to identify exceptional individuals who have been overlooked by societal structures and institutions, providing them with opportunities to reach their highest potential.
  • Being a great developer is similar to being a great musician

Part II

  • The company has experienced rapid growth, expanding from 150 developers to over 600 in just one year, and increasing its revenue run rate from $15-20 million to $100 million.
  • The demand for software developers is high, with the Department of Labor estimating a need for one million developers in the market by
  • The hiring process is flawed, as it focuses too much on pedigree and reinforces social biases. The company’s talent platform aims to find individuals who can create better outcomes in software development, even if they come from unconventional backgrounds. These teams have been shown to outperform traditional development teams in terms of productivity, speed, and quality.
  • The traditional approach to talent development in modern professions is broken, as there is often a lack of upskilling or training provided. The speaker emphasizes that they learned more on the job than in their formal education.
  • Many organizations fail to build a career ladder for entry-level employees and provide a predictable path for advancement. This is particularly evident in engineering and technology companies.
  • The company being discussed takes a unique approach to talent development by training employees as a team and encouraging collaborative problem-solving from day one. They also offer various career paths for employees to choose from and celebrate their success even if they choose to leave the company. This supportive and open environment fosters growth and encourages employees to return to the company.

Part III

  • The Candlelight Talent platform focuses on assessing problem-solving skills and structured thinking, rather than behavior or personality testing.
  • The platform has shown that teams built through software outperform traditional teams and have a workforce that mirrors the diversity of the communities they hire from.
  • The economic impact of the platform includes creating new jobs in the digital economy and providing a talent pipeline in Baltimore, with many individuals achieving higher salaries and career growth.
  • The speaker’s father’s first job at Ford had a significant impact on his career trajectory and the future success of his family for generations to come.
  • Candlelight, the company being discussed, has the potential to provide similar life-changing opportunities for its employees and their families in Baltimore.
  • There is a strong loyalty to Baltimore among the people who come through Candlelight, with a desire to stay in the city and contribute to its economic and social impact.

What does it take to pull someone away from early retirement in Sweden to run a company in Baltimore, Maryland?

For Jacob Hsu, CEO of Catalyte, all it took was a five minutes of hearing about Catalyte’s ability to find great software developers from unexpected places. From that moment, he was all in.

“As I was working my way out of my CEO job at my last company, I found out about this company in Baltimore, Catalyst DevWorks at the time, which was doing something that just blew my mind when I read it,” said Hsu.

“Within minutes of meeting the company and meeting the team, I was blown away with what I saw. I couldn’t believe this was actually happening. This company had fundamentally found a formula that I think addressed, frankly, some of the biggest problems we’re facing in the technology world and, I think, society as a whole.”

“So I ended up turning myself around, went home and told my wife, ‘Forget Sweden. We’re actually going to go to Baltimore.’”

What excited Jacob was Catalyte’s Talent Platform, the company’s artificial intelligence and machine learning engine. The platform removes cultural biases from hiring and allows Catalyte to identify individuals, regardless of background, who have the innate potential and cognitive ability to be great software developers. This produces a more diverse and productive workforce that’s not constrained by the traditional markers of pedigree others use to make hiring decisions.

“The core idea of Catalyte is that pedigree has no statistical correlation to outcomes on jobs,” said Hsu. “Great developers, people who can be very successful in the digital economy, can come from any background. We’ve proven that Catalyte teams of developers, developers who come from unconventional backgrounds, are actually outperforming traditional development teams three-to-one from a productivity standpoint.”

To extend this opportunity to as many Americans as possible, Catalyte is in an aggressive period of growth to fill a talent void.

“A lot of our growth is coming from our clients and the need in this country for great software developers,” said Hsu. “We’re looking at hiring 200 people next year just in Baltimore. The true economic impact of what Catalyte can bring to this region is unimaginable.”

If you’re interested in learning more about Catalyte, you can contact them hereconnect with Jacob on LinkedIn or discover career opportunities.

About Catalyte – Catalyte advances human potential for the digital economy. We use AI to identify any individual with the innate potential and cognitive ability to be a great software developer. Catalyte’s predictive analytics platform hires, upskills and deploys high-performing teams to deliver product engineering and enterprise applications for Fortune 500 companies. Our hiring model and intensive onboarding process rapidly create teams that have exponentially higher levels of production and quality than anyone else. Catalyte has created a diverse and US-based technology workforce to help companies scale software innovation. For more information, visit

Sponsored by:

Greenspring Associates – Greenspring Associates invests in established and emerging venture capital fund managers, venture-backed companies across their full lifecycle, and secondary positions in venture capital funds and companies.

Edwin Warfield, CEO of citybiz, conducts the CEO Interviews.

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