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I'm going to frame this a little different... More as the difference between a high growth startup, a big public company, and a small stable company.

The large public company aims for predictability. They thrive based on economies of scale, which are achieved through standards. They work a lot on systems. Decisions frequently seem irrational, because things that look good in a unit get sacrificed for the benefit of the whole. Depending on the company, compensation can be better. Benefits usually are. (Google outpays YC, but Walmart may not outpay a small retailer) There is a long gap between idea and impact, but the impact can be huge. (One person can help a big company cut $20mm in costs - if the PE is 20, that's $400mm in enterprise value) But you may spend months fighting petty battles. Bigger companies tend to be more cost focused. Hours tend to be more predictable. If you're a superstar, you can usually stay employed even if there are ups and downs. (Big companies have layoffs, but the top 10% can usually find work elsewhere inside)

In high growth startups you have a lot of autonomy to make decisions. The distance between idea and implementation is very small. The energy and urgency is much higher, even on things that may seem small. Compensation is much more equity based. Hours are much less predictable. You can do a fantastic job and still get fired if the company implodes.

Small stable companies are usually family businesses, and frequently run as such. You get treated well by the owners, but you'll never be one of them. Benefits can be good, though overall comp will not be outstanding. They can be very friendly places to work, where everyone knows everyone.




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