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Ask HN: Questions about a Microsoft Offer
14 points by zippzom 5 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 17 comments
So a couple weeks ago I got a linkedin message from a microsoft recruiter, one thing led to another, and I just got a "Congratulations" email today. I've been working at a startup since I graduated a couple years ago, and I really like it. The startup is doing well, and I make 120k cash and my options are valued at about ~35k per year (we just raised a Series B).

I haven't interviewed anywhere since starting this job, and I wasn't really planning on leaving until this microsoft interview fell into my lap. I'm still waiting on the details of the offer, since they make you pick a team prior to discussing compensation etc.

My questions are:

1. Do you think Microsoft's reputation on my resume is similar to a Facebook / Google? E.g., do you think it will help me get more senior positions at companies after my tenure there?

2. Is Microsoft's compensation on par with FB/Google? My college roommate just started at FB and makes at 250k a year all in (stocks + signing bonus + $$), is that a reasonable ask at microsoft as well?

3. How would you value startup options that were pre Series A after a startup has raised a Series B? Most signs at my current company are positive, although there are certainly some scaling issues.

4. My second year annual review / raise is upcoming at work. Is it considered poor form to bring this microsoft offer to the table and ask for more money / whatever else I might want (e.g. more vacation, more options)?

5. Can I negotiate this Microsoft offer to its max without offers from other big companies? I have outstanding interview offers from Google and some other companies that I've been pushing back since I wanted to prep first. I have a sense of how much friends of mine make at these companies, but do I need an actual offer to push Microsoft's up? Even if I'll walk away if they don't match those theoretical offers?

Sorry this is slightly disjointed, this was a quick process and I'm still organizing my thoughts.






1. Yes. Microsoft is still well respected, so having it on your resume will likely open doors for you in the future.

2. No. Microsoft's compensation is generally below Facebook/Google's compensation packages. Be sure to keep cost of living differences in mind though.

3. I personally value options at $0. Unlike RSUs, which are actual stocks, options' value is derived from the difference between the value at strike and the value at liquidation. You'd have to be extremely lucky for your options to be worth more than the money you could be making at a tech giant.

4. It depends on the climate of the place you're working at. If you think it wouldn't be received negatively, go for it. You're the best judge here.

5. You can try to negotiate (it's always worth trying,) but you'll likely fail. Standard negotiating tactics don't work at tech giants due to the large volume of applications received and number of offers being extended. This is doubly true because you're early in your career, so you don't really have the experience needed to leverage a better offer out of thin air.


I really appreciated this article: https://thehftguy.com/2017/01/23/career-advice-and-salary-ne...

Hope it helps you the way it has helped me.


1. Yes but more important is what you personally are working on, not what company you're at. As a new grad at a bigco, you are unlikely to have a significant position, so purely as a resume builder, the "rep" isn't going to be useful. That said, bigco experience is very valuable, even if you switch back to startups.

2. Yes and Yes

3. To 4 decimals: $0.0000. That's not being snide.

4. No

5. Yes/No/Yes. All companies know what other companies are paying for typical engineers. If you are a particular standout in a particular specialization (eg AI) then you'd have an edge by getting a competing offer, but otherwise not.

You didn't state where you are and where the job is, but I take it both are bay area.

> I wasn't really planning on leaving

Then you may be putting the cart in front of the horse. If you like your job, and like the company, are learning things, why change? I hope you realize it's completely different working for a bigco than a startup.


Thanks! I definitely feel like I'm learning stuff, but I also could probably learn at a big company as well. Most of the engineers at my current company are very inexperienced, for most of them this is the only company they've ever worked for, so all of my learning is very self directed.

Current job is in the Bay, but Microsoft would be in Washington (which I prefer, and is essentially a free 5% raise on top of whatever else due to taxes).

At what point do you start to value options above that? Uber isn't public yet but I think it's safe to assume their options are worth something.


There is no point at which options should be valued above $0 in terms of competitive job offers. By the time a company is that far along, you will get RSUs, not options.

Disclaimer: MS employee.

You say 5% raise excepting taxes. Friendly reminder Washington state has no state income tax, as this impacts consideration of Seattle income vs Bay Area.


I read it as saying "Because there is no state tax in Washington, it is a de facto 5% raise, all other things being equal."

I assume so as well. OP seemed incredulous of the relative $ amount between Bay Area BigCo and Seattle BigCo and that they lacked parity. I don’t have any context for the startup and its pay scale, but figured the clarity may help.

E: on a third reading, OP may have meant 5% raise in addition to dollars gained due to tax differences.


Sorry I assumed the pay would be equivalent between the regions for the same job at the same company. The 5% raise would just be a result of no state income tax.

I'd like to offer this advice:

1. Besides salary and options..would you like to work at Microsoft?

2. Do you have a family or are planning one? Does Microsoft seem like a place you can have a work - life balance? If your significant other wants to go on a date night, can you go or is it likely work will demand your attention?

3. What does your gut tell you? Sometimes above all else you have a feeling about things. I listen to mine.

4. If you walk into Microsoft, day 1, and they say "hey, we have possible bugs in this string library, please read the bug reports and fix the bugs"....are you down? Of are you gonna be like: "I left startup xxx for this.....". Usually newbies get some grunt work to prove themselves.


1. Frankly, no, but I think it might enable me to be better at and have access to work that I would like to do in the future.

2. Work life balance seems good.

3. Tough to say.


1. then the answer is quite easy and you needn't have gone through these machinations. get the offer to see what you're worth, but turn them down. personally, i'd turn them down "on the spot" when you get the offer without thinking about it. don't actually laugh, but say that their offer isn't in the ballpark. don't give a counter, just thank them for their time. you never know, they might come back with significantly more.

Hey kiddo. I will share my career history with you. I'm not sure if it will apply in today's market or not. I started at a startup and had lots of good times and made some life long friends. It wasn't about the money at that time, it was the love of the game. Coding for hours on end then sleeping next to desk in sleeping bag so I could get right back to work when I woke up. Offers from other companies came and went but my loyalty to my fellow coders was top priority. After the company went public I was able to write my own ticket there. Today I am retired at forty-five years of age. My family and I live a nice comfortable life + I have lots of loyal and g great friends from the trenches that stay in touch. But like I said this is just my experience, today's market might be a total different ballgame. Good Luck to you and yours.

Today's market vs the market when you were at the startup wouldn't necessarily apply. It would be a crapshoot then or now to find a startup that succeeds and goes public. Your average startup is more likely to crash and burn or go nowhere.

Microsoft has been pretty toxic recently regarding what they’re doing with Windows 10 and it’s privacy implications, the Skype dumpster fire, etc. Do you really want to contribute to this?

Don't compare to what your friends are making, compare to what you need to make to live well and save up for early retirement. If you'd earn double but would also spend double in a year from now, you're not in great shape financially. Look into your financial spending history, and make up your mind.

Anyway, all three companies are doing evil in the world, as far as I'm concerned, so I'd rather stay with the startup. Then again, I'm just your average freetard open source / freedom advocate.


All the teams I'd be working on at microsoft are working on at least partially open source products now. But I do have some ethical qualms about the big corporations, although I've essentially setting those aside for the early part of my career until I've established myself more.

As far as money goes, I was just using that as a reference to what could be expected at a big company like Microsoft. I already make more $$ than I could spend, and my COL wouldn't change with job. Extra money is just more financial freedom for my future




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