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Ask HN: Highest paying remote companies?
356 points by smattiso on Jan 29, 2019 | hide | past | favorite | 96 comments
I have 10 years of FAANG experience (Senior SWE). I'm looking to move closer to my family and my current team isn't very remote friendly so I'm looking for a change. What should I be looking for?

You can have a look here: https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1TLJSlNxCbwRNxy14Toe1.... Found my last comapny in that list, 10/10 would do again.

Hi! I'm glad you're enjoying my list, I made another one named "2019 Remote Workers Salaries", hope it helps! https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1VOehQv0bOs2pY7RkKJ8R...

Would be great if it differentiated the companies who pay based on your region/country vs based solely on the contribution (so you can live anywhere in the world while having your 6-figures (in USD)).

Resource unavailable for me. Can you please re-paste?

Link working for me, think its getting hugged to death though as I got a google "read only cached version"

Wow, what a list! Thanks for passing that on.

Great list, thank you for sharing.

Bear in mind many US companies that are looking to hire remotely only want employees to be based in US... So your experience will be different based on where you want to live.

The most important job boards seem to be https://weworkremotely.com and https://remoteok.io. Many jobs posted on the monthly "Who is hiring?" Hacker News post are for remote positions. A few years ago I built an index of "Who is hiring?" posts with a search by location and technology: https://hnhiring.com/search?locations=remote

Edit: given you're FAANG you might find facet useful: https://www.facetdev.com/

I always wonder what is the reason that they ask for US-based. One possible reason I've heard is that it makes taxes and certain laws easier for them to follow, in which case it sounds like more a matter of being a US citizen rather than actually living in the US. Another reason I've seen is that they still want you to be available to come into the office every so often, which would be a different story.

Are there any people here who are US citizens but living abroad that have applied to these companies? What was the response?

There are a couple reasons:

1. Admin overhead - You need to setup presence in all the countries you have employees in. This costs time and money.

2. Timezone overlap - It's somewhat common wisdom that remote teams need to have overlapping timezones (no more than 3-4 hours out) to be effective. US vs EU difference is just too great (+8 hours from west coast of the US).

Source: I work for a US based company as a full time remote employee in the EU. Applied to many places that told me US only, despite very good qualifications. This one I got into because they have a lot of EU teams.

>You need to setup presence in all the countries you have employees in.

For that reason, many non-US remote workers are technically contractors.

Health care is another consideration. Many insurance companies are (in practice) US only or even subset-of-US only. That’s been one of the hurdles for us when we hire remotely (which is generally of the form “excellent current employee wants to move and we want them to keep working for us”)

I would say one of the benefits of hiring somebody remotely is that the employer doesn't need to care about 401K and health insurance. The company pays the worker a salary and the remote worker takes care of their own taxes, pension and health care. The downside is that the remote worker is a contractor and not a real employee.

If you're not providing and handling benefits, you need to pay a higher salary. But maybe still lower than you'd pay a normal contractor? Rule of thumb for contractors is generally 2x equivalent W2 salary, right? I assume that multiple doesn't hold up for remote employees who are classed as contractors legally but don't have all the business development expenses of a normal contractor.

That shouldn't really be a criteria, since at least in Europe there's no such thing as having your employer provide a healthcare plan for you.

I’m pretty sure we do provide supplemental healthcare coverage for some of our EU employees. (I remember signing the contract for it, but the Benefits group does the negotiation and selection.)

Not the case in Germany, as I understand it.

Employer-provided healthcare isn't a thing outside the US (in general). Almost all developed countries have socialised healthcare, and those that don't still don't have the US system that risks losing your healthcare if you change jobs (in that employees don't depend on it as the only healthcare they can get).

Not entirely true. Many developed countries even with excellent public systems still have very active private medical insurance. Like UK and Australia. This can provide benefits like access to private hospitals, choosing your medical professional, shorter waiting time, reduced cost for elective treatment.

I live in Australia, yes we have private health insurance but there are three important factors that make it different to the US system:

* You don't depend on it for all of your healthcare, it's an additional extra so that you can get some level of coverage for non-GP visits (as well as easier access to private hospitals).

* It's not provided by your employer, which is the most major difference. You can quit your job and you still have your healthcare. You also aren't scared that a new employer won't hire you because you happen to be sick and need healthcare.

* Because the government can push down prices of drugs and treatments within Medicare, it's also not prohibitively expensive like it is in the US.

I'm pretty sure I mentioned most of those factors in my original comment. Also, you can choose your doctor under Medicare. You don't need private insurance for that (the primary benefit of private insurance is you get coverage for nonessential healthcare and easier access to private hospitals).

All good points regarding Australia. It's worth pointing out over half the Australian population is covered by private medical insurance https://www.canstar.com.au/health-insurance/who-has-health-i... So it's actually very much a thing. And my experience has been the same, more than half our Australian team use the health and well-being allowance we provide them for private medical insurance.

My company administers hundreds of remote workers in over fifty countries. A significant proportion of our clients and employees (in developed countries outside the US) ask us to provide private medical insurance. It's not as big a deal as the USA and not as likely to be a deal breaker when accepting a job, but it's actually quite common in many countries.

I worked remotely from Canada for a California-based company for a while. On the books, they hired me as an independent contractor, but in every other respect I was treated like an employee, with the exception of health insurance benefits (which I found personally and was compensated for in cash by the company).

I would imagine taxes is the case. If they want to hire non-residents (your point about US citizens abroad aside) they'd have to be willing to hire them as contractors.

Related question I've always been too shy to ask until now: assuming you work whatever US hours expected and perform at a high level and are regularly reachable, in this situation what are the stakes and implications (as a US citizen) of lying and saying you're US based when you're not?

I think the ramifications would be around the more general tenets of being a good employee which are "trustworthy" and "never making your boss look bad". For a hypothetical example, your boss and your company thinks you live in Vermont. One day, your boss' boss is impressed by your work (so efficient, so responsive during work hours) and asks her directly to bring you in for a look at another struggling project on the West Coast. He wants you to come in for an emergency triage/kickoff meeting tomorrow with herself, her boss, your boss, and the management of the current project. Problem is you live in Thailand... There is no good way out of the situation. You have been dishonest. Your make your boss look really bad by not being able to get you to communicate honestly (your location). You went to elaborate lengths to pretend to be in the US. In fact, to disguise your timezone difference, you were using photography lighting to make night look as day in your office in Thailand. You even scheduled your annual medical checkups to coincide with visits to the States. You will likely be fired or worse (sued) and blackballed in the whisper, word of mouth immediate network.

Thanks for that scenario. Those potential ramifications are significant. In that specific case, one could imagine ponying up for a steep same day ticket from Thailand to keep up the ruse. One would expect there would be innumerable psychological tolls to live this way.

What about a subtler case? You begin working as a US based employee, but after enjoying your work and proving your mettle, you take the risky choice to move abroad without informing your company? Or, you have a US based apartment but periodically for a month here and there operate abroad unannounced?

Additional wrinkle: while the expectation is more clear informally, it's not clear to me what US based employment is from a legal standpoint. Is it merely filing your taxes from a US based address?

No, don't do this in any shape or form. If you want to work remote from abroad, tell them. Set expectations as to your performance and availability. Negotiate on their concerns. Don't do it on the sly. Like you mentioned, the mental overhead of lying will impact on your life. Think of it like cheating on your significant other.

In the very slight chance you are already doing this (cannot tell), you need to come clean with your boss immediately, preferably face to face.

You can be fired with cause.

I thought US companies didn't need cause anyway...

That varies state to state. The primary difference in most states is that employers pay I to an unemployment insurance pool that is used to fund unemployment payments to employees that are fired without cause (I.e layoffs). The employers costs for this increase with the number of people they lay off. However if someone is fired with cause, they generally don’t quality for unemployment payments and the company’s rate does not increase.

TLDR yes you can get rid of an employee easily but the costs vary depending on with cause vs without cause.

I've also seen companies that want applicants to be in a location that has large overlap was the US timezones. So South America is fine, Europe/Asia is not. Presumably makes communication a lot easier.

Travel time/cost is another. Many remote positions are still “come to HQ every 2-4 months” and if that takes an extra 2 workdays plus an extra $3K every time, that can easily be a 5 figure loss for the company (or even low 6 inc opportunity cost).

I suspect though it’s mostly familiarity with laws/customs and that by being that remote is sufficient for them to achieve their hiring goals.

This is often negotiable if you're a good fit and willing to work as a contractor, at least on the senior level.

I used to work for Facet before they were Facet :) cool to see a shoutout in the wild! How’d you come across it, I wonder?

hahah. I think the first time was on Hacker News actually but I didn't remember the name of the company nor couldn't find the post. Then I just googled "hire a FAANG".

Pro tip: if you make pay your only consideration, you may end up pretty miserable. Often companies pay very high because they burn through employees, and are otherwise a nightmare to work for for a variety of reasons.

(Even worse, you can get stuck in these golden handcuffs as your expenses catch up to your income, leaving you in a cycle of one miserable job after another)

Good pay at least makes such positions more tolerable. Getting paid poorly in a bad company is far worse, I assure you.

The corresponding choice would be getting paid poorly in a good company. If we're doing extremes, you can get paid well in a good company too.

It is a false dichotomy of course, and pretty much every job is somewhere in the middle of the spectrum. You can also do a lot personally to endure a bad job if you decide the pay is worth it, but if your life is nothing but your job then a bad job means a bad life.

Typically you cannot enforce “soft” properties or promises about your job. They may tell you you’ll use the best tools for the job, have management that supports you, gives you a good work/life balance. Then you start the job and it’s all taken away, and you can’t leave because recruiters will think negatively of “job hopping” even if you got bait & switched. So you’ll be stuck with empty promises, wishing you had negotiated harder on compensation, severance and other enforceable benefits.

I'm in such a situation right now.... Not sure what to do :/

Leave. Job-hopping is a pattern, not a single event. If I get a candidate with a good track record but one three-month stint, sure I'll query it, but "it wasn't a good fit for me" is a reasonable excuse and a good conversation starter if you can wrap it in a strong story for what _is_ a good fit.

Bait & switch jobs are a pattern, they happen all the time. Needing to leave several jobs in a row after only a few months at each place is just basic reality, normal circumstances for a lot of people given the way corporations treat employees now.

I find the opposite is true. Low pay indicates poor leadership or lack of market opportunity leading to a very frustrating job.

Sure. I also am conveying the benefits might manifest in other ways (Cadillac health care, profit share, bonuses, autonomy, growth oppys, etc)

Docker. They made me an offer of around ~210k base + options for a Senior Software engineer a few months ago. Fully remote! I ended up passing on it for different reasons on it though.

210k base? This probably needs another topic, but is this normal for bay area companies recruiting at senior engineer level now?

What's considered the canonical "senior" level differs depending on which FAANG you're talking about, but by and large, no.

The total compensation packages at FAANG are exceptionally strong - you can realistically see $300-400k. But that will more often than not consist of ~$180k in base salary with an additional $100-200k between annual RSU grants and target bonus.

Don't get me wrong $210k in base salary absolutely happens. My own base salary is just north of that and I'm considered senior level in NYC. But it's usually not the case. Of the FAANGs, you're most likely to see that happen at Netflix, followed by Google and Facebook. It's unlikely at Amazon and Apple. When you do get a base salary like that (at the senior level), it typically follows that your RSUs will be commensurately smaller. If not, it's probably the case that you're actually above senior level (lead or principal).

OP provided no context. So I'll fill in the blanks: Ex-FAANG engineer got an offer at Dropbox. Dropbox needs to be competitive, so made an offer around 200k + full remote. FAANG in bay area pays 200-300 for senior total comp, so it was probably a salary cut for OP. If you're Joe Blow in the middle of the US, you are probably not going to get a similar offer unless you're already on a similar wage.

> FAANG in bay area pays 200-300 for senior total comp

FAANG pays 200-300 total comp for new grads, these days. My new grad friends who land at Facebook and Google are getting 140-160 base salary, 70 or 80 in bonus, and around 80 to 100 in RSU vesting in the first year. Pay is bonkers right now!

Okay, in that case OP was probably taking an even larger paycut :).

Yes, I don’t live in the Bay Area but I am US based. $200k base is fairly standard for reputable tech companies on the west coast I think.

yeah. if anything it’s low. I know of entry/mid level offers at F/G that are higher.

It's not low, it's actually a little on the high side. FAANG compensation packages are very strong in general, but base compensation is rarely above $200k for senior level. You typically have ~$180k for senior level and up to another $200k in RSU and target bonus compensation.

Outside of scenarios involving very specific specializations, everything in my experience (with several FAANG companies) leads me to believe what you're saying about the $200k base figure being met at the entry/mid level is strictly false.


Seems they've exhausted all the local golang talents and are focusing globally now.

They are still heavily focused on python

Jérôme Petazzoni used to sysadmin for a 100% Python shop in paris, so maybe old habits died hard.

Yes. The people I interviewed with wer actually pretty smart and competent. I am US based though

Did they require you to be US-based or did that offer apply worldwide?

From the Docker website it looks like US only.

Golang position?

Basecamp without a doubt, if this interview of their CEO is anything to go by:

> We’re taking home lots of money every year. We’re paying our employees incredibly well. We pay them top 10 percent salaries in the industry, San Francisco rates, even though we’re not based in San Francisco. We have amazing benefits. We have all these things because we’re independent.


Sounds great but not really practical advice. They rarely hire nowadays, also it gets more complicated with matching of their open positions with your resume.

Hi there! Someone shared this list last week. https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1Sr0vy3eDn2fcEhxOdkPv...

There are Remote Open Engineering Positions right now. You can check them there.

Have you done full remote before? If you don't have significant experience in managing yourself and the fact that you will work alone most of the time, I suggest you not to look just for money, but instead look for a company with a culture which suits you. If they give you just a big paycheck to cover up the shit that you will have to do for them, there is a high chance that you will burn out and no amount of money will help you.

It will be very rare to find companies publicizing high-paid remote offers. They would get swamped with the the wrong applicants.

I'd go for well-established US companies which use something you are an expert in. Then I'd try to pull a remote deal out of the negotiation.

What kind of experience have the people here had when applying for remote positions? Did you guys find it difficult to get a remote job (that you enjoy!)?

When I was last looking for a job, I applied to several remote positions in the hope I might get one but was unsuccessful in all of them. In general, I found it a lot more difficult compared to the local companies I spoke with. I don't think it's anything to do with my experience, but I suppose you are competing with the world rather than your local area.

The supply is much more limited for remote jobs so the pool is even smaller and the entry is higher.

Zapier goes over their hiring process (https://zapier.com/jobs/our-commitment-to-applicants/). It lines up with what I've experienced in that technical assessment is valued to the company, but more than anything they value ones ability to communicate and articulate in the interviews. So much of working remotely is trust and that is pulled out in different ways during the interviews.

It's more difficult than finding local jobs. Supply/demand does not work in your favor.

Edit: Besides many companies look for previous remote experience. So it's hard to get a remote position without having had a previous remote position.

You are right that getting a remote job is probably more difficult than finding a local one. OTH the existence of remote jobs market definitely works in your favour in some situations because you simply have more choices.

Fo example, I am a machine learning scientist / engineer currently based in Prague. The ability that I would be able to easily find a remote job definitely increases my negotiation power which would other way be quite limited in Prague because there are not as many great local options in my field here.

You're right. As an individual looking for a remote job you also have many more options than if you focused in local jobs. And I would definitely recommend anybody not living in a major tech hub to get a remote job.

This was definitely a big thing I noticed when looking around. A lot of places thought I might be suitable from a technical perspective, but that I lacked remote working experience. I've worked in places where it's common to have colleagues working in different countries for extended periods but never in a fully remote environment.

I do wonder how people get their foot in the door with a good remote company. Did you just get lucky when you were first hired? Did your communication skills have to shine a lot for them to hire you?

My first remote job was for a company I had been working onsite for a few months that also had a small amount of people working remotely. I didn't join the company with the intention of going remote, but at some point I decided I wanted to work remotely so I just asked.

After that I joined Toptal and got a couple of projects through them.

IMO Toptal is not a bad choice to get started in remote work, although long term it's better if you find your own work.

> It's more difficult than finding local jobs. Supply/demand does not work in your favor.

Don't both depend entirely on where you're based?

I guess... Assuming relocation for a local job is not possible.

Did you check inside your company. E.g. Google gives a lot of freedom to people with 10+ years with them and I know at least one other company in the same area, which did it with even less. So might not be the worst idea to look for something remote friendly in your current company.

Wouldn't Basecamp (http://basecamp.com) be one of the top people. They pay within the top 10% of salaries comparing to SV/SF salaries, and pretty much the whole company is a remote team.

Check out https://www.flexjobs.com. They have tags and other criteria that help you find ads by keyword, schedule, full/part time, featured employers, etc.

Http://www.Basedremote.com is another doc list with remote companies

Opened the first company in the list and saw this very depressing ad : https://www.crossover.com/job-front-end-software-engineer?ut...

yes, I wonder what is the deal with crossover. It looks like some slave-developer plattform... But then for a dev in eastern europe or asia a permanent position with 30k/y is better than most local positions? But might also be wron about this...

In Italy a junior dev gets 28k$/year so I think even western/southern Europe may be interested.

"Basecamp doesn’t employ anyone in San Francisco, but now we pay everyone as though all did": https://m.signalvnoise.com/basecamp-doesnt-employ-anyone-in-...

GitHub but certain locations are restricted

Looking for probably 50-66% of your current salary. You only need to pay remote employees competitive local rates, not the inflated FAANG rates. And someone in the Bay area needing a comparatively high salary is going to lose out to a similarly scored candidate in Adelaide.

> You only need to pay remote employees competitive local rates

I completely disagree. Employment is a two-way marketplace - I'm looking for an employer, and employers are bidding on what I'm selling: time, knowledge, and experience. They are bidding against not only employers local to me, but with all remote employers as well. They're free to choose someone else to work for them and I'm free to choose someone else to work for.

"Competitive local rates" are appropriate for people whose choices are local. As a developer, my choices are global. Those are very different markets.

I live in Harrison, Arkansas and I make significantly more working remotely than I could make locally. When negotiating salary at my current job, I recall my exact statement to this effect: "I'm not expecting an offer with a base salary equal to what you'd be offering me if I were in Santa Monica - but I'm also not willing to accept an offer that's the same as what I could make working for a local company. I'm confident that we'll be able to meet somewhere between those numbers."

I think this is generally true for average developers, but this probably doesn't apply for a senior engineer with 10 years of FAANG experience. They will be able to command a Silicon Valley salary anywhere in the world. But only if they work remotely for a SV company. You're probably not going to get this kind of salary if you work remotely for a company based in the UK, Canada, or Australia.

It's also true that many companies try to get away with cost-of-living adjustments, but you can find plenty of companies that don't do that. So they can just keep looking until they find a great offer.

If the SV companies are hiring remote employees now, that certainly changes things. I wouldn't put too much stock in the FAANG experience though, unless you luck into a company trying to make a prestige hire; they are competing directly with people with the same experience and skills, but earned in places where the wages are much less (say UK, Canada or Australia). I don't know the actual pay details, but we have had experienced people who have moved to us from FAANG and I'm confident they would have taken a pretty large pay cut assuming what I hear about the wages is true (but still happy, since it is generally tied to lifestyle changes and/or moving somewhere much cheaper to live). We employ a lot of remote Python and Go devs, and geographically we seem to have ended up with the most head count in New Zealand, Brazil, and the UK, despite the population advantage of the USA. Its remote work, so you can only afford to hire experienced staff because mentorship and training is so much harder.

> I wouldn't put too much stock in the FAANG experience though, unless you luck into a company trying to make a prestige hire; they are competing directly with people with the same experience and skills

But they don't have the same experience and skills. Are you suggesting that all workers with X years in X technology are interchangeable?

Problem with paying employees too much, especially freelancers means that they just wont put the hours in.

Why would I work 40hrs @ $100 when I can do 10hrs @ $400?

When you hire a remote employee for a full-time job, you're usually expecting them to put in at least 40 hours per week. People will often take that job because they value the stability, want to work with a good team, want to work on an interesting problem, or there are significant stock options at an early-stage startup.

When you're a contractor, you can earn a lot of money for short-term projects, but it gets a bit boring after a while. You're more of a mercenary with no long-term interest in the project. I've also found that the projects are usually very dull. If you join an existing project as a freelancer, then the code quality is often very poor and there can be a lot of technical debt. (YMMV.)

So sometimes it's nice to join a team and have a vested interest in the project, as a co-founder or an early employee. (I've been a freelancer working 10 hours per week for the last few years, but I'm now thinking about a full-time remote job at a startup.)

Consulting is fun, but if you're going to take it seriously (e.g. paying off the mortgage on a house and saving for retirement), then you have to put in a ton of hours over a few decades. That means working on a lot of really boring and tedious projects (and maybe a few interesting ones.) I'd much rather join some startups and get a few "lottery tickets", or build my own projects and support them with part-time consulting work.

While i have little experience on the remote side of things....i can assure you that working for The Man at an office in a conventional, non-remote way, also takes "a few decades" to pay of a mortgage, save for retirement, etc. ;-)

Any tips on how to find freelance gigs?

I dont think these companies are looking at N of hours at that point. They have a project and a timeline and budgeted to hire engineers that would deliver in that timeline. At that point it's not about hours but the MVP they are able to deliver.


I've not had an employer concerned about the number of hours I work in a given period in a long, long time. They're concerned about productivity. Whether it takes me an hour each day or twelve hours each day, if project goals are being met and I'm making them money, they're happy.

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