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8 years of weekends, late nights, holidays and vacation for a net of $200K after taxes?

That's ~25K/year so if you would've worked a regular 40 hour week, 20 hours of contract work at anything more than $35/hour would have put you ahead. And you would've still had weekends, nights and vacation.

Yeah, that's the calculation that bums me out too. It's one of the reasons I am somewhat loathe to ever put in too much "extra" time anymore. I enjoy being a part of a startup for more than just the lottery ticket aspect, I enjoy creating things from scratch, etc. But the days of burning the candle at midnight are gone.

In startups, man exploits man. At other employers, it's the other way around.

Isn't the other way around still man exploits man?

That's the point. :)

To expand, it's a play on:

"Under capitalism, man exploits man. Under communism, it's just the opposite." which seems to be attributed (without any sources) to John Kenneth Galbraith:


I've also seen it as "Under capitalism, man exploits man - under communism it's the other way around." I always assumed it was a translated Russian proverb, along the lines of: "No truth in the news and no news in the truth" (Major Soviet papers were "Pravda" (the truth) and "Izvestia" (the news).

Enjoyed the sovietology fact :)

True words.

Can you explain the calculation to me? I am interested to understand the calculation so that I can perform similar calculations when I have two opportunities to choose from.

superqd mentioned he would have made $300K more (i.e. in addition to the fixed salary he was earning) if he had bought the options. I assume that after paying for taxes, he would have still made $200K. Since he worked for 8 years, this is indeed $25K of additional income for every year. If he worked for $35/hour for 40 hours/week for say 50 weeks in a year, his total income would have been 35 * 40 * 50 = 70K. How is this better than his original job which was probably paying him say $80K or greater than $80K as fixed salary every month? It sounds like it would have put him behind by at least $10K. What am I missing?

The >$35/hour number is incremental pretax income on top of his base salary, not a replacement for it.

A very similar calculation is why I left a startup recently and went into contracting. In many cases the realistic best case scenario from working at a startup isn't as good (financially speaking) as the non-startup alternatives. This leads many people to extremely optimistic assessments of what the future worth of the startup may be (worth > $1billion)

There are many good reasons to join a startup but if the financial motivation is the main one then it's probably not the best route.

I've worked for three startups, each fairly well-known at least at some weird level. Two early stage and one immediately pre-IPO. One of the early ones netted me nothing(1), while the other gained me ~$10K when they went public(2). The third was quite lucrative, and was the least demanding - by far - of life tradeoffs.

(1)Other than a feeling that I'd joined the Witness Protection Program when I fled after an engineering walkout.

(2)Offset by literally years of damaged self-esteem. Pedigree is heavily overrated - with one exception, all the famous people were pretty awful.

He just said that. Way to rub it in, bud.

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