Outline of application for Exceptional Talent, feedback appreciated

Hi all,

I’d appreciate any feedback on this outline for an application for Exceptional Talent for a software engineer.

Mandatory Criteria 1


You command a high salary or other remuneration for your services, as evidenced by commercial or employment contracts with salary information including any bonus and equity options and history of earnings.


  • Offer letter for Stripe UK, showing high salary.


You led the growth of a product-led digital technology company, product or team inside a digital technology company, as evidenced by reference letter(s) from leading industry expert(s) describing your work, or as evidenced by news clippings, lines of code from public repos or similar evidence.


  • Letter of reference from VP of engineering at US startup (industry expert, also former manager), describing how I led the “Deploy” team at Stripe, to launching the first automated deploys of code at Stripe, and describing that deploy system as the forefront of CI/CD technology.
  • Article listing Stripe’s latest fundraising round

Optional Criteria 2:

Talks or conference speaking that have had a significant viewership. Conferences must be widely regarded as sector-leading events for your field with at least 100 attendees (not registrations). As a speaker you must be speaking on the main stage and the invitation to speak must not have been paid for by your organisation as part of any sponsorship. Leading a workshop or running a session at a conference is not sufficient. Evidence should include your speech with either a link to the video of you speaking, the programme of events displaying your talk or a reference letter from the conference organiser with explanation of why you were asked to speak.


  • Transcript of talk given at Large Installation System Administration (LISA) USENIX conference (~900 attendees, multi-day conference, main stage) and REdeploy (The Resilient Socio-Technical Systems Conference) (150 attendees, single track)


You can demonstrate this by providing evidence that you have gone beyond your day-to-day profession to engage in an activity that contributes to the advancement of the sector.


  • Maintain a blog with answers to common answering common questions about system administration and programming with ~900 monthly international visitors over the course of the past 10 years

Optional Criteria 3: Contribution


Having worked as a key engineer in the core product of a start-up, showing evidence as to how you have contributed to its success.


  • Print out of blog post & linked launch video of Stripe Mexico, quotes related to impact on local startups excerpted
  • Letter of reference from a former manager describing me being selected to be part of a 5 person landing team to start a new office in Mexico, and serve as the tech lead of a product team as we expanded to a new country and launched a new line of country-specific products in that country.


I don’t plan on including the “quote” text in my actual application, that’s just for this forum to highlight what I’m going for.

I’m curious if folks have thoughts on whether I should go for Criteria #1 (a proven track record for innovation ) instead of Criteria #2 (proof of recognition for work beyond the applicant’s occupation). The talk I gave was about a project at work, but the tone of it was knowledge sharing to advance the industry. If I went for #1, I would instead talk more about the innovations in the system itself. I also would try to include a pending patent application for a 2nd system (I didn’t include it here because I’m still looking for the public record of it). Would love feedback on whether the talk + blog seems strong enough for #2.

Also have folks tried #1, #2 and #3? I could just do the patent for #1.


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I’ve seen people rejected on the grounds that the evidence shown for OC2 relates to their work activities or was done as part of their immediate occupation, so your evidence won’t be suitable regardless of whether it advances the sector or not.

Article listing Stripe’s latest fundraising round

Does this article mention your name, otherwise, I don’t see how it demonstrates your leadership for MC