Is Riviera Partners Scam or Legit Company? Honest Reviews

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  • Post published:December 13, 2023
  • Post category:Reviews

Executive recruiting can be challenging terrain to navigate for both companies looking to hire and job seekers themselves. With so many recruiting agencies out there making lofty promises, how can you tell which ones are legitimate and which ones you should avoid?

In this in-depth review, we’ll take an unbiased, data-driven look at Riviera Partners, a well-known technology and design recruiting agency. We’ll analyze real reviews, complaints, compensation data, company culture, and leadership at Riviera to help you determine if they live up to their reputation or if there are any red flags to watch out for.

Let’s get started.

An Overview of Riviera Partners

Riviera Partners was founded in San Francisco in 2001 with a specialized focus on technology, product, and design recruiting. They have offices across the U.S. and Europe and claim to be the top global firm for recruiting executive leadership in their focus industries.

Some quick facts about Riviera:

  • 80+ recruiting professionals
  • Placed executives at 700+ companies
  • Worked with over 300 unicorn startups
  • 60%+ of revenue comes from repeat business

On the surface, Riviera seems well-established and respected in their niche. But digging deeper into actual employee feedback, compensation, culture, and more can give us a clearer view of their legitimacy as a recruiting partner.

Let’s see what real employees and candidates are saying.

Riviera partners scam

Employee Reviews and Ratings Analysis

One of the best ways to cut through recruiting marketing language is to analyze actual reviews from real employees. We aggregated ratings and reviews from popular sites like Glassdoor and Indeed to see what working at Riviera is really like:

As of December 2022, Glassdoor gave Riviera Partners an overall rating of 3.5 stars out of 5 based on 75 reviews. The CEO approval rating was 77%.

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Here’s how some of the pros and cons broke down:


  • Great reputation with top tech companies and investors (mentioned in 14 reviews)
  • Autonomy to run searches and placements without excessive oversight (8 reviews)
  • Friendly/helpful teammates and leaders (7 reviews)


  • Compensation structure keeps changing unexpectedly (12 reviews)
  • High-pressure boiler room type of culture (9 reviews)
  • Poor work-life balance (8 reviews)

Comparably provided similar ratings based on their methodology assessing compensation, leadership, culture, etc. Riviera Partners earned mostly poor to below average scores, including a 43/100 for their CEO.

Key Ratings Breakdown:

  • Leadership: D
  • Compensation: Bottom 30% vs competitors
  • Environment: Bottom 40%
  • Work Culture: D
  • Work Happiness: Bottom 30%

This signals a mismatch between the outward image Riviera wants to project and how their own employees view their internal culture. Recruiting firms touting culture and people as their advantage should have happier, better compensated employees to merit those claims.

Analysis of Reported Issues and Complaints

Taking a closer look at the specific complaints reported about Riviera Partners can give more insight into recurring issues versus one-off problems:

Compensation Changes
The most common complaint referenced unpredictable changes to compensation plans and structure, often negatively impacting employees. 12 reviews explicitly highlighted this issue with pay/bonuses. Leadership seems to frequently modify systems in an effort to motivate behaviors, but it backfires.

High Turnover and Poor Culture
9 reviews described a boiler room atmosphere with high turnover due to extreme pressure and lack of support. Large recruiting agencies can sometimes value profits over people.

Favoritism and Lack of Growth
8 employees complained of favoritism, politics, and lack of training or career development. Promotions may be subjective without clear criteria.

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These recurring themes indicate a hyper competitive culture that burns out employees without adequate support. For companies hiring, this means you risk high turnover on your searches.

How Much Does Riviera Partners Pay?

We analyzed salary reports from Comparably to see how compensation at Riviera compares:

  • Average salaries: $124,237 per year
  • Median salaries: $146,388 per year

Director-level employees report earning around $186,000 on average. Lower-level recruiters and researchers make closer to $60-80k.

But again, compensation scores and sentiment lag behind similar sized firms. Employees give Riviera a D rating for compensation and benefits compared to peers. Perks were graded even lower.

Considering the firms reputation in the space, the pay seems only moderate especially accounting for cost of living. Compounding with the unpredictable bonus changes, employees clearly feel undervalued.

For companies hiring, take note at how these pay practices impact performance and retention.

Analysis of Leadership and Culture

Company culture stems from top leadership. Taking a closer look at Riviera Partners executives and their approval ratings sheds more light on the employee sentiment and complaints:

Michael Morell: CEO and President

Glassdoor gives Morell a 77% approval rating, but Comparably shows he scores in the bottom 5% of all similar-sized companies. His own employees grade Riviera poorly for culture and environment.

Don Hayden: VP of Finance

Tammy Wang: VP of Technology

This shows a sizeable disconnect – leaders seem unable or unwilling to address the cultural issues driving high turnover. Without better support systems in place, negative dynamics are likely to persist.

Long-term Outlook Despite less than glowing reviews on culture and pay, Riviera Partners maintains a strong brand reputation externally. As long as they keep producing placements, they’ll remain entrenched players.

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But prospective employees should carefully weigh if the environment seems right for them. With recruiting experts forecasting a cooling job market into 2023, the already intense pressure seems poised to skyrocket. Riviera may extend its streak of very high turnover.

For companies hiring, your main contacts and research teams may not stay stable long-term. Just factor the human impact into your evaluation when considering Riviera or competing search firms. Their incentives may not fully align with setting up lasting successful placements.

The Verdict: Is Riviera Partners Scam or Legit

Based on this unbiased assessment of real employee feedback, compensation data, leadership and long-term trajectories, we can comfortably classify Riviera Partners as a legitimate, well-established recruiting agency – but with some definite caveats.

Job seekers and companies should know:


  • Strong reputation and brand name
  • Resources of large firm
  • Connections with top tech companies


  • Boiler room culture with intense pressure
  • High turnover and unstable teams
  • Rank poorly for culture, pay, leadership

The core recruiting business seems productive, but many recruiters dislike the processes and culture fueling it. Candidates placed could be impacted by frequent team changes post-hire.

While legally compliant, cultural concerns linger. So buyers should beware certain downside risks that run counter to the glitzy image.

In closing, for the right type of hard-driving, competitive applicant or hiring company, Riviera Partners remains a legitimate industry leader. Just approach with eyes wide open – the reality may look much different than the brochures.

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