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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.

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