You have a finite set of wages/pay - and $197,000 should be in the middle of this set. Meaning that half the wages at Alphabet are below, the other half above this wage.
It is a rather robust measure, because it is insensitive to extreme values (like the arithmetic average would be), while also giving you a good overview, e.g. that 50% of all the wages are above $197,000.
Vice versa, it tells you nothing about how low or how high the wages are aside the median (e.g. the lower 45% of the wages could be <$45,000). So take it with a grain of salt.
Reporting median is a good step, most companies don't disclose that.
What would be really interesting would be to see the actual distribution. But I don't think we'll ever see that.
When you have a Democratic Congress, $15/hr minimum wage is coming. Many of the grunts will be getting a big raise, which will increase that median significantly in a few years.
That story from a year calls out that it excludes contractors. It does include full-time and part-time employees.
But sure sounds like a feasible strategy to prop up median pay.
Also, do you have to state median pay in such a filing?
>the fourth-highest pay among the hundreds of companies in the S&P 500 index that have disclosed those figures.
seems to imply that it is not.
>As Congress chips away at bank regulations established by the 2010 Dodd-Frank law, another part of the measure is exposing the extreme income inequality between bosses and their workers.
>The law requires publicly traded companies to calculate the ratio of their chief executive officer’s compensation to the median pay of the companies’ employees. After a series of delays, firms are finally disclosing their pay ratios in filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission. 
It's safe to say salaries at FB, Apple, and Alphabet are normally distributed. Thus, reporting average or median doesn't matter.
The salary distribution graph for a large corporation is likely to look something like this:
with a very, very, very long tail to the right representing the salaries of the CEO and senior executives. Depending on the corporation, there may be multiple humps ("salaries for Amazon warehouse workers" representing one hump, and "salaries for Amazon programmers" representing another, for example).
It's nothing like a normal curve.
If the data comes from a sample, then it's going to normal, regardless of the underlying distribution. So the mean and median will be approximately the same.
When I was at Google, GSU (stock grants) and bonuses typically added anywhere from 25% to 60% to your salary. That depended on level, years of vesting, etc.
It's something I notice every time salary comes up here.
Story: "Yet Another Datapoint showing that the current market rate for developers is $300,000/year and higher."
Hacker News: "No It Isn't!"
You can almost see the fingers stuck in ears reading the top comments on these stories. In my mind, the thing to do when somebody tells you how you can make twice what you did 5 years ago in this profession isn't to call that guy a liar. A better reaction would be to talk about actionable ways to go get one o' those salaries.
Most of developers in the world aren't allowed to move to SV or Seattle and get those salaries.
Just for a datapoint, I've never lived in the Bay Area (and haven't worked on-site for a dozen years), and I make a lot more than that as a developer. I am in no way unique. This is in fact what good devs make if we ask for it. Nomatter where we live.
Incidentally, you're right that you generally won't receive an initial offer for that kind of money. You need to negotiate for it. That is sadly another area we devs are not historically good at:
The national median is right around $100k.
Developers that earn significantly more than that have significant ownership stakes in the company, highly desirable skill-sets, or notoriety in the field.
Personally, I prefer to listen to the person who has tried a thing and declared it possible, rather than the person who has never tried that thing and declared it impossible.
Sadly, this thread (and others like it) fill up quickly with that latter group.
You're typical mid-western Java dev is not going to get a job for $300k. Or anywhere remotely close to it. Those salaries are for very specialized roles and consultants.
And keep in mind, I can do both things at once. While I don't buy it that the current market rate is 300k even in San Francisco, I am absolutely all ears. I would appreciate it greatly if you wrote in more detail about how I can get to this salary level. Since this is HN, I guess I'll just add this bit: no, I'm not looking for detail to pick apart and argue about. I would absolutely like to hear about how you've achieved this and believe that it isn't a remarkably difficult thing to do.
for extremely competitive, highly sought-after employers. I guarantee you if you go to Texas, that salary $ is not that high on the mean at all.
I feel like this is the most interesting part of the article, even if it's not relevant to the main content.
I don't think it includes health insurance and 401k.
I know Facebook included Mark's security/ travel into compensation. Did google just not do that?
That's misleading, because their CEO gets paid in other ways. Garbage in garbage out.
Neurocrine Biosciences Inc
The highest paying software company appears to be Splunk with 256k. There seems to be a lot of biotech companies that pay a lot.
Here is my theory why that is: first off, most biotech companies are started by very experienced people with impressive work histories, not by 22-year old drop outs.
Second, biotech start ups tend to pay very well, often similar or higher to the big biotech companies.
Third, the "virtual biotech" model is quite common with a small groups of leadership and everything else contracted out.
Combine all that and you end up with a pretty high median salary.
The other way is to ask why they must pay so much? Alphabet must be a relatively awful place to work. Something is very wrong if they pay is this high.
Then I learned that US has completely different union system from Europe.
You guys have so called enterprise-level bargaining with union shops and agency shops where workers must be part of an union or pay the fee for an union. Then union negotiates pay in enterprise-level. I can see how this is extremely harmful and entrepreneurs must fight tooth and nail against unionizing.
Most of the world has so called sector level bargaining. Unionized workers negotiate for all workers in an entire industry. Union representing electricians negotiates with federation representing companies that hire electricians. After they reach a deal that covers enough unionized workers the deal is extended to the whole industry. You essentially negotiate minimum wage per sector plus benefits.
This was long the practice in the US auto industry.
Discussed in this story:
Organize for the people that clean your office space, organize for marginalized peoples, organize to make the world a better place, not just your industry. Think what would happen if AWS was without site reliability for 72 hours.
>gosh what the tech industry could accomplish with a union
Much less than it does now.
I've had odd jobs at union places. I know career workers in union-dominated industries.
We don't want it within 10 miles of tech.
A fun thought experiment I ask people to do that usually puts this one to bed:
Imagine the most useless, technically incompetent, lazy sack of flesh that you were unfortunate enough to share the title of "engineer" with(and office space too).
In a union, they'd be very nearly impossible to fire, and based on tenure would probably make more than most of their peers.
Multiply ^^ said scenario over multiple tech companies and a few thousand workers, and see what happens.
I worked 4 years in a Canadian Auto Workers unionized plant. This is not my experience, whatsoever.
If you do your job, you can't be fired because you rub your manager the wrong way (imagine that?). If you don't, there's a process to fire employees. A union is just that: a union of people. If you're a cancerous employee, the union doesn't want to work with you either.
There is a reason for outsourcing, and its not just cost.
Unions aren't really compatible with the mindset in Tech today, in my experience knowing people. Small movements start, bikeshedding happens, and everything fractures.
My sister in law is a unionized nurse practitioner. Unionization raised her salary a bit, but most importantly stabilized her schedule.
We had a fantastic team and boss. Everyone wanted us to be non-union.
Then... The union factory people demanded we joined the union.
We became a heated center of debate despite 0 of us wanting to join the union.
We survived, and I get paid for lunches!(they dont)
I'm terrified of labor organization specifically because of vague and ill-defined goals. Without a well defined purpose, the goal of an organization turns to self-perpetuation, and can do so at the expense of members.
Of the reasons to organize, the most convincing to me is an ethical opposition to abusing the time, privacy, and mental state of users who have no practical option but to trust the tools we build.
Get a critical mass to build and commit to specific and articulate goals. On screen and upfront. Then, and only then, will I entertain the idea of a union to implement it.