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Imagine you have an engineer who could be working at BigTechCo; she works at your company a year, and then that raise you specify happens. Engineer continues to work there for three more years. Company amounts to little, acquired for $2MM, engineer gets nothing.

Of course, everyone is disappointed. But it's still unfair for that engineer who gave up half a million dollars or more to work at the startup to get nothing. You might say that the engineer should be aware that they agreed to a way of structuring equity that means it's likely they'll get screwed. Fair enough! But all of this discussion is meant to make readers aware that, yes, the industry standard practice is to screw over the people who have the most skin in the game.

Why is it unfair? The engineer was part of a team that collectively destroyed economic value. What is the fair portion of bonus on top of salary that they should be rewarded with for that performance?

By all means understand it; I’ll never argue against that, but I find liquidation preferences quite reasonable.

The VCs are also part of the team that collectively destroyed economic value. They can't simultaneously claim credit for every success and disavow every failure.

This is a fair point and I’d never looked at it that way before. Thanks!

We have a lemon socialism banking system. Obama made certain that 100% of bankers wiped out in 2007 paid NO PRICE for their recklessness; he prosecuted NO ONE.

It's not a reward. The engineer's work is a commodity they are selling to the company. Partly for wages and partly in exchange for equity. That is a real investment they are losing just like the VC's if things go bust.

Really that sums up the american dream, completely. Get rich by screwing the people whose hard labor built your enterprise, often based on "borrowed" software (Example: Microsoft 'borrowed' a source listing of a basic interpreter written at DEC.) It happens every day in the USA, and it's why conservatives love it so much.

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