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What is your take on the value proposition for an older, experienced engineer (e.g. 10+ years) joining a startup as an early employee (e.g. non-founder)? I get the sense from what I read and hear that there is romance and then there is reality. Would love to get an honest take from someone with your perspective.

It totally depends on the company. Are you going to get as meaningful (i.e. more than 1%) equity grant and real responsibility? Do the founders seems good, and good to work with?

Obviously if you can join the next Facebook as an early employee, that's really great :)

To add to Sam's take, I'd say the real benefit of joining a startup is the opportunity to work closely on a problem that you care about. Do you want to expand your POV and learn new skills? Do you want a high-degree of personal responsibility for your work? Your role will change every 6 months, as the company's priorities do.

Compensation and relationship dynamics are crucial, of course, but your success and experience will be largely determined by how much you want to take ownership for your work.

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