Stock Options · Recruiting

Employment offer terms for software engineer in bay area?

Matt Martin Sr. Software Engineer at RelateIQ

January 23rd, 2014

I know that the below is within the general parameters of reasonable, but I'd be interested in whether people think this is high, low, or just right.

Company is a startup of around 50 people, about half engineers, bay area, post series B, series B valuation in the $100M range.

Position is full time software engineer.

Offer is $100K salary, plus benefits, plus, stock options of around .04%


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Alison Lewis CEO/Creative Director

January 23rd, 2014

Thank you. I don't agree with years either...had a "Sr." Who had great skill but the communication manor and approach of... Well lets just say he was immature and very hard to work with. The younger guy, has less experience and wants vacation all the time, but is on point and ready to be

Michael Barnathan

January 23rd, 2014

Anyway, if you don't have the cash to fund a salary, you have to sell him on the vision, then give him enough equity that he feels it's worth taking the risk. Or bring him on as a contractor if you can afford it, evolving into a full-time position when you can fund it. I'll preemptively agree with Mike Moyer that a "grunt fund" would also work here :)

The thing I like to see most as a techie when I look at a founding team is: do the nontechnical people really understand the product that they're trying to build? Not to the extent of being able to build it yourself, but understanding the steps in the workflow, how to manage deadlines (including the tension between time, quality, and scope), and how to communicate with knowledge workers without disrupting focus.

Michael Barnathan

January 23rd, 2014

Jr/Sr to me is more about skill levels than raw amount of experience. To me, the mark of a senior person is the ability to take a problem down from the conceptual level, decompose it, plan an architecture which solves it, and (if the person is a team lead) get other people into consensus around the solution by showing them why it works.

Junior people are the ones who require others to walk them through that process - either because they're new to the field, haven't been exposed to those types of problems before, come from different environments, etc. Jr. people are midrange investments - the ones you look at and say "Let's invest in this person's growth, because he or she can become really strong with some mentorship and practice". And then you get a senior developer to agree on that too, since the task of mentoring will mostly fall on that person.

By that definition, I have to agree with Jonathan: it would suck to come on at that level without someone more senior to provide mentorship. Some people would thrive in that type of "knit your own parachute before you hit the ground" environment, but many wouldn't do so well, and that would hurt both their own skill development and the company.

If someone is already cranking out complex software without hand-holding and you like how it's working (e.g. good, solid code with few bugs in a reasonable amount of time), that implicitly means the person is at least mid-level, possibly senior, and is probably someone you want to consider for your early team (particularly as you know the person and there's already a good history of working together in place).

Michael Barnathan

January 23rd, 2014

The equity is negligible, so discount that and look at salary. While I'm going by NYC salaries (Bay Area is probably higher if anything), $100k seems kind of low unless the position is junior. My guess is that a senior developer can probably pull in closer to $150k.

If the company culture sounds interesting or there's another non-monetary reason you'd really want to work there even if the salary's not quite market, see if you can negotiate them a bit higher and take it. Salary's not everything, after all; happiness / satisfaction / purpose is also an important intangible part of working that you can't always find everywhere. If it's just another 50 person software company, you may be better served shopping around a bit more.

Peter Sankauskas Founder & CEO at CloudNative

January 23rd, 2014

If it is a junior engineer position, than $100k is fine. If you want a high-quality senior engineer, then that is low. Very low actually.

Remember who you are competing with, and what they are offering.

Mohammad Forouzani CEO at Forecast.net

January 23rd, 2014

About right for a junior, and very low for a senior.

If you are looking for a senior software engineer in a high demand area (e.g. ruby), you will have to double that salary in the bay area.

Matt Martin Sr. Software Engineer at RelateIQ

January 23rd, 2014

Thanks everyone for the feedback. This is all generally in line with my thinking, but it's always nice to be able to poll the community.

Anonymous

January 23rd, 2014

@Alison Lewis:

TBH, I personally don't agree with the way we calculate experience in our industry-based on years-for many reasons ... the main reason being because I've met 14/15-year-old developers who are very prolific and create much more value for their employers than their more experienced (year-wise) colleagues. Of course that's just my personal opinion on the matter, but I digress. AFAIK, in the software world, it usually goes down like this: 0-3yrs = "junior", 3-5yrs = "mid", and 5+yrs = "senior".

- Jonathan

Marty Phee Senior Software Engineer at Deliveroo

January 23rd, 2014

Wow, I wouldn't have thought so high. Think I need to move... :-)

Bill Snapper Owner Principal at SammyCO, LLC

January 23rd, 2014

My advice would be to be perfectly frank with them.  Sell them on your vision and the reality of the company / product / space.  Having gone down that path before I can say that as the engineer I can say I wish they'd have been less in "do anything to close the deal mode" and more direct.  If the prospective employee can afford to do this at a reduced rate, believe in the vision, AND the equity is founders equity and not second or third tier "easily washed out" equity then that should do the deal.  Make it clear the expectation on their deliverables as well as the timeline you are on.

Just my $.02 worth.