MOUNTAIN VIEW (CBS SF) — A Silicon Valley startup is changing the playbook when it comes to hiring engineers by paying top talent like pro sports teams pay top athletes.

19-year-old Joe Brown said he spent countless hours on his laptop at home learning how to program. “I heard it was a waste of time a lot.”

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His parents don’t think that way anymore. Brown just signed a contract with Mountain View game developer for $100,000 a year, plus $10,000 monthly raises until he reaches a quarter-million a year, plus equity in the company.

“I feel very lucky,” said Brown. “ I guess luck comes to the well-prepared.  But I’m lucky.”

Brown is Weeby’s first hire under a new program that is blowing up the salary structure for its top engineers.

“I think in Silicon Valley, there’s this ongoing talent war going on,” said CEO Michael Carter. “The truth is that the best people are worth this much.”

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The move is already sending shockwaves through Silicon Valley’s startup community.

“If Weeby is able to build a great team using this system then I think you’ll see a lot of other startups following suit,” said CNET Senior Writer Daniel Terdiman.

But it could dramatically change the ecosystem for startups and tech accelerators, forcing investors to put up more cash.

“The valley has always been crazy and going to extremes,” said Downtown App CEO Phillip Buckendorf. “It’s about speed, it’s about execution and sometimes it’s about craziness.”

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