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Yes, I mean, I came to Google through an acquisition (of an adtech company) and it was pretty clear to me that the goal of the whole process was a) make your company go away and stop your customers from using you instead of us and b) get as much of your talent out of the job market as possible.

They totally didn't care about our product or the productivity of the employees they brought in. They let us sit and twiddle our thumbs and "rest and vest" for at least a year, after making a big show for the DOJ about how this aquisition wasn't an anti-competitive move ([1])

And I hung around there moving protobufs around and fixing the odd bug for 10 years but getting paid stupid money to not go and do anything for anybody else or keep on top of industry trends etc. (Not claiming I'm some shit hot engineer, just speaking for my personal situation)

I don't think most people who are 'organically' hired into Google see it this way because for them it's a thing they seek out, a life goal they pursued. For me it was always in the back of my mind.

Which is one of the reasons I eventually had to leave despite it putting my family in a more precarious financial situation. It wasn't a place I was ever going to find meaning in my work or feel like I fit in.

Re: startups and compensation one major thing that has changed since 20 years ago is that it is simply not possible to become wealthy (like "I can afford going to retire wealthy" or "I can now afford to seed my own startup wealthy") out of the equity package that a startup will offer unless you're the cofounders or a founding employee. The packages they'll offer will be a fraction of a % of equity, which if you're really really lucky will turn into a few hundred thousand in an exit after busting your ass for a few years. From a strictly financial POV there's no reason to choose working at a startup over a FAANG. Most will simply not offer anything to make it worth the risk. You should only choose to do it for lifestyle or enjoyment reasons, really. (That said, I'm working for a startup again right now.)

[1] https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/economy/source-justi...




It's kind of insane that on the one hand we have folks playing lip service to "anyone can learn to code" and on the other, decent developers being so rare that to hire one you need to offer compensation equal to winning a minor lottery for just 2-4 years worth of work. I wonder how much more software would get written if it didn't cost $250-500K/yr for a single developer.


Hire Canadians. Currency conversion advantage. Same time zones. Same language. Mostly same culture. Very well educated. Cheaper health care benefits. And $150k USD is a generous compensation level, and $250USD is about what a Canadian Googler @ L4 gets paid. $100-$125k USD gets you reasonable non-senior talent.


Canadian here, and this checks out.

I think the reason this isn't more popular is that our talent pool is small enough that unless you already have a Canadian presence it's not really worth opening up a business unit/office/whatever here. Obviously some big players have done it (MS, Amazon, EA) but if you're a medium sized company it may not be worth it.

I work for a US company but I'm a contractor for this reason. It works for me but if you don't have extended health through your partner or don't want to deal with the tax implications of being "self employed", it can be less attractive.


> I work for a US company but I'm a contractor for this reason. It works for me but if you don't have extended health through your partner or don't want to deal with the tax implications of being "self employed", it can be less attractive.

It's extremely easy to be self employed in Canada with a foreign corporation. You just start getting your money wired through Wise or whatever service and declare it on your income taxes. As you work for a foreign corporation, no need to charge sales tax. That's it, no separate entity or incorporation needed. You can still expense your tools expenses, part of your housing, etc.

Sure if you want to incorporate, it becomes more complicated. But you wouldn't be incorporated either if you had a salaried job for a tech company locally.


I'm aware.. as I said I currently contract.

But "extremely easy" is relative. It's still more hassle than being a salaried employee. If you make a non-trivial amount of money you'll need to pay your income taxes in installments and set it aside yourself (no deductions after all). You need to pay 100% of your CPP contributions. You're likely getting paid in non Canadian currency so need to get set up with a good forex provider or get ripped off by your bank (I use xe, but there's a few out there).

Also your point about not needing to charge sales tax depends on what country your employer is in. In my case it's true I don't need to charge because we have a tax treaty with the USA; for other nations this may not be the case. If no tax treaty is present, you need a GST registration #, charge your employer said GST, hold it yourself and then pay it out just like your income tax.

Also the extended health can't be overstated. If you have dental issues, bad eyesight, are on prescription drugs etc. it can make a real difference.

Generally I'd recommend contracting to people but I just want to be realistic.. it has it's downsides.


Yep I had a job offer fall through after several months of verbal offering & negotiation because the company was acquired and the new parent company had logistical problems hiring Canadians. Though mostly due to their own incompetence, it sounds like (their employer of record situation was charging insane overhead for Canadians).

So I'm also working as a contractor for a US (well, international remote but US incorporation I guess) company right now. And, yeah, no benefits isn't great. But I have also found that paying out of pocket for dental, etc. is better than buying a plan for myself.

Also a bit of a bummer that CRA has tightened up incorporation stuff a bit since the last time I did this. Given I have a single client only right now, I'll just be doing sole proprietorship.


> And, yeah, no benefits isn't great. But I have also found that paying out of pocket for dental, etc. is better than buying a plan for myself.

The idea is you scale your rate to include enough for a benefits package.

Or they use a POE/EOR service, that's possible in Canada I think.

Either way, incorporation still has some advantages, one being that you time shift your pay as needed. It can make it easier to subcontract people too. And it's easy, and only costs a few hundred dollars.


CRA will screw you if you incorporate and only have one client.

My employer is using Deel, paying me as sole proprietor, and that's fine. Deel can also act as an EOR and I could be "full time", and that could offer benefits. But it feels like a bit of a veneer overtop over what feels like contracting anyways, and it would mean less $$ in my pocket. It doesn't make a lot of sense.

Especially now that pharmaceuticals in Ontario are free for kids whose parents don't have a plan.

Also, it seems that telling my dentist and physiotherapist that I don't have a plan seems to make them behave more responsibly, on the whole.

If I end up at some point landing more clients and I end up being more consultant than single-client contractor, then I will incorporate.


As I understand it, it's not really about the 1 client, so much as about demonstrating you aren't really an employee-employer relationship masquerading as something else. It sounds like that's what you actually are, so in that case you shouldn't be incorporating. If you change contracts often enough it might make more sense.

FWIW an EOR/POE is more about the convenience for the employer, not you - they don't have to establish a local business presence, register a bunch of tax accounts, etc. You can end up technically employed by the EOR with access to a decent benefits plan etc., and paid directly by payroll. At least that's how it works in some jurisdictions, as you note. It's different all over, but can make a huge difference in somewhere with crappy medical coverage, or other benefits you want to keep consistent.


As a Canadian PR I've always thought this would be a good option except that the Canadian government seems determined to make it difficult.

When the most practical option is to form a corporate entity with a single employee, and BTW you may have to pay GST + PST on labor depending on if other Canadians use the service, it begins to look really unappetizing.

I get that employees as contractor relationships are rife for abuse, but, like so is exempting tech employees from overtime protection (BC and Ontario).

It really just shouldn't be this hard to do work for a company that isn't in Canada.


CRA now frowns heavily on "personal service corporations." There is no tax advantage (in fact there's disadvantages) to incorporating unless you have more than one client.

So it ends up being sole proprietorship only, which has far less tax advantages.

I mean, as a tax payer and citizen who paid exorbitant personal income taxes for years as an employee of a FAANG, I think this is probably equitable. But as a contractor, now... damn I'd like to be able to take advantage of corporate tax rates like I could 13 years ago when I did this last.


I’m not even talking about tax advantages, just the amount of regulatory overhead and paperwork and general BS just needed to sell your services


It's what we ended up doing (indirectly through an acquisition). But it didn't end-up costing less in the long run. I'd say about a third of employees ended up coming to the Bay anyways during the first year.

Something you have to keep in mind is that there are two parallel markets over there: SV caliber developers and the rest. The former won't have any issue getting a job in the US (takes maybe a week for a talented engineer to get one). Therefore, comp has to be priced appropriately. The later can't -and likely won't ever be able to- secure a US visa, mostly due to skills (there's a reason they immigrated to Canada, it's way easier and the quotas are close to 10x per capita compared to the US). Some companies leverage this and have floors of international devs they park in Canada for a fraction of their US counterpart through a subsidiary.


I'd say there's three segments TBH.

The "SV caliber" developers you identify [honestly, that's kind of offensive, but whatever] who can and do actively consider relocation to the US.

The same caliber of developers, but have no interest in ever living in the US, for personal or obligation reasons.

The permanent resident non-Canadian citizen category you allude to.

Google Waterloo for example is mostly full of the second category. Plenty of high caliber talent who are there and not in Mountain View because that's where they chose to be. Because any of them could relocate / transfer to MTV any time they liked, but prefer not to. In my last few years there, there were dozens of people who I met who had transferred (back) into Canada from SV/Bay Area because they simply couldn't stand living there anymore because of cost of living, politics, family, home sickness, etc.

There are other companies that set up shop in Canada merely to siphon the first. They offer an "ok" experience for people who choose to stay, but push hard to get talent to relocate. I get the impression there's lots of this happening in Vancouver in particular.

The prominence of the last (recent immigrant / PR) category is really something that has held back the Canadian tech scene in general TBH. It's a product of international recruitment by the Canadian immigration system. There are shops full of people essentially fresh off the boat from the PRC or Eastern Europe. Many of these are highly qualified -- but in the context of our industry as a whole -- underpaid/mistreated. Others are not as competent. And it's all mixed up, and it has messed up the local tech market, compensation ranges, and quality of work produced.

Of course all of this is in flux and changing because of the rise of remote work.


Engineers with good track record and interviewing skills will have no problem getting US salary in Canada.

In fact Google pays Canadian similar to their non-premiun US locations like Raleigh.


Implicit in your argument is that people would always value SV > the rest of the US > Canada > Poor countries.

There are a lot of very talented people that have values that don't align that way for a variety of extremely valid reasons.

As someone who has the right to work in both Canada and the US, and who has been attempted to recruit by SV companies, I prefer the benefits of living where I do in Canada over the lifestyle costs of living in SV with 3x the money.


Not that simple for startups/small businesses. Dealing with labor law is no joke. I've been unable to hire FTE Canadians due to the legal burden that was going to come with setting up those operations. Larger corps can take advantage while small businesses sometimes can't deal with the paperwork overhead.


Anyone whose good in Canada is already in the US or they don't care about compensation to begin with. Either way you're not getting a top engineer working on your ad-tech business for a third the cost. But if you're building a startup that uses ML to look for 3d printable compliant mechanism you'll be drowning in applications and starved for cash.


As a Canadian that's not really how I see it. I worked for a bit in California and while I was earning more than I do now, the cost of living was probably double what I have right now so the math really wasn't as simple as "move to the US to make more money".


There's a rather simple answer for why you weren't getting paid more.


Are you suggesting that I was bad at my job? If so that seems irrelevant as I'd be bad at it on both sides of the border.


Why not hire completely international then?


Timezones and IP and labor laws mostly.

Having a team completely unavailable during the USA working day is a real pain for collaboration and it's hard to sue people in other countries that "borrow" your source code to make their own version. Also, knowing exactly how to pay (say) a German developer and how taxes work and what the labor laws are is always an issue.

Aside: The very best contractors I ever hired were Ukranian. So many absolutely fantastic talents at around $30 an hour. Then Russia invaded (the first time) and annexed Sevastopol and the USA made it illegal to pay them any more.


I'm in Uruguay, South America, and we're on the East Coast timezone and IP laws are friendly, and if you hire as a contractor, there's no labor law issues.

Of course, people realized that and there's 0 unemployment in IT, however, there's still a long way to go before we get to the Bay Area salaries - 6 figure salaries are only for the top 1% devs and only working for the USA and usually short term contracts, but a decent developer makes north of 50.000 dollars a year which is a pretty good salary here.


+1 I've only had incredible experiences with Ukrainian devs and designers- I hesitate to say best because I've worked with amazing people all over (I was at two gig economy companies that did custom software dev with freelancers) but Ukraine as a destination often stood out for high quality, low prices, and not needing a ton of supervision/detailed instruction.

Shameless plug- a buddy runs a dev shop out there, they have great devs and exceptional designers (and also are doing a fund for Ukrainians impacted by the war). If you're looking for help in that region, they're great people to chat with: https://beetroot.co/


Ukrainians were given full employment rights in Poland after the Russian invasion, so they can just move to Poland (at least the female ones, as males aren’t allowed to leave Ukraine for now).


> the USA made it illegal to pay them any more.

only ones who stayed in Crimea


1. timezones are a PITA. Collabroation with Europe/East-Asia is barely manageable from the West Coast. India is the most painful.

2. english language barriers - half the people I have worked with in South America (Colombia, Brazil) and China were so bad with English that it seriously affected the team's productivity.

Canadians fit the bill on both counts - same timezones and language.


Canadian here. Canadians are clearly the best developers out there and yes, unfortunately, you can slide quite a bit down the payscale to afford us.

I'm surprised cross boarder hiring hasn't become even more popular with the pandemic and forced work-from-homeness. Canadians mostly speak English (even most Quebecois do!) and are in a compatible timezone with the majority of the developers either in St. Lawrence valley or Vancouver and thus being either EST or PST.

Also, while the holidays differ I think the total number of stats is pretty close to the same.


I raise you an Australia. Smaller market and different time zone but cheaper and in my experience they make some exceptional workers/engineers.


I am quite uncertain about the cheaper portion - but the timezones hurt quite a bit and the costs for in-person visits are extremely high. Australia and New Zealand are awesome places (and I'm highly jealous of New Zealand in particular) but a 13+ hr flight to get to the west coast is extremely fatiguing so meetups are highly unlikely - compare that to flying someone down from YVR to SFO and it's a huge price and time difference and SEA and YVR are close enough that the train/bus is usually a very reasonable option.


But who doesn't love a trip out to Oz to 'meet the team'! Same thing with lots of US companies in Ireland (whilst mostly for tax reasons initially, Ireland now is stacked with talent) - trip to Ireland to 'meet the team', pre-covid ain't no one going to say no to those off-sites.

It is going to be an interesting decade, the rise of working from home and ai creeping into every profession will make for some radical changes. Engineering managers can only hold their accountants overlords back for so long. I do hope SFO stops being the centre of the tech world as it is very inefficient, but that's probably 30-40 years away at the earliest unless all out war is triggered.


You're projecting a very specific SV bubble. More than enough decent developers exist outside of it, willing to work for a fraction. It's the fat profits and the big boys' eagerness to poach talent that got us this far, which subsequently inflated the QoL in these tech hubs, in turn creating the current standard.


There are not more than enough decent developers.


Yeah, on the other hand, I'm pretty sure that I or most silicon valley coders making 250k+ can singlehandedly outperform a dozen "decent developers" by pretty much any metric you can pick.

I'm not saying we're smarter or innately better, but coding is a tradeskill and the masters of the trade are almost all here.

I'm interested to see how much this changes over the next decade, though, since a lot of people have scattered across the globe thanks to remote work finally catching on.


I seriously doubt that. Developing things is the same thing all around the globe. Just because you have worked five years building react apps in silicon valley (and from what I can tell, 250k total comp is reachable at that experience level) does not make you more skilled at building react apps than someone who also built react apps, say, in Barcelona. But you probably make 5 times as much, if not more. That's not because you are more skilled but because your company makes way more money, or is expected to make more money and thus gets funding from rich people. The company makes way more money because of a lot of reasons, e.g. like access to the enormous US single market which is way bigger and more homogenic than the EU single market, or any other market out there except for maybe the chinese one, as well as historic reasons that turned SV into the western world's digital innovation center, and thus turned a lot of funding attention into SV.


I don’t think it’s as much about the challenging technical problems as it is the ability to get shit done. Wherever I’ve worked, most developers are unable to own e2e work. At big tech, you are expected to be decent in a lot of related areas (communication, project planning, etc).

Software is a people problem and what big tech looks for is top notch technical skills and the mindset/ability to solve them in a chaotic environment.


Doesn't jive with me. Many companies paying at best domestic market rate are asking for top notch communication skills and people persons over tech skills. Meanwhile, most FAANG have far higher tech requirements, but would hire individuals who can barely speak proper English and even put them in the spot of hiring managers. If you value communication, you need a really good argument to look past hiring practices preferring to hire someone who'd be hard for strangers to understand in a presentation setting.

I'm fairly certain you're confusing anecdotes and culture with "big tech vs. your local shop". Software being a people problem meaning big tech is more people focused is a false dichotomy.


I think my post sounded more indexed on communication than the "get shit done" part of things. What do you think of the perspective if I changed the desired skill to "ownership" instead?

Most of the big tech companies' engineers are doing the same type of work as outside big tech. However, their internal practices are scattered and faster than outside (IME), which means you have to be able to keep your head above water, drive your own career, and deliver impact. You need to understand the product space quite well, as you are expected to be a partner. Rather than delivering code, you are delivering value.

Maybe 1 in 20 engineers that I've worked with outside big tech had this trait. I think they set the tech bar high, but the real skill differentiation I have seen is ownership.


There is a difference between building a react app for your local bakery and building Facebook.com to scale.

The experience in scaling products that big and that fast is concentrated and not evenly distributed.


You are right that in backend, at FAANG scale, you face some unique challenges that smaller shops don't face. And of course, unless you work at FAANG scale, you haven't faced these problems so you haven't learned know how to solve them, so you will lose if you compete with people who know how to solve them.

But that's far away from the claim from above, that any 250k+ total comp developer from SV can outprogram good people from outside the US who don't make 250k+ total comp in basically any benchmark.

Most SV employees never have to solve these problems.

I picked frontend intentionally because it's probably the area that's the furthest away from these problems, but still compensated at 250k+ levels, if you work in SV for the right employers.

But even among backend engineers, most have never touched hard to parallelize problems. I'd argue that most (definitely not all) FAANG backend tasks are easily scalable. Implementing them still takes work, whch is done by most FAANG engineers. FAANG level tooling definitely helps, and while developing that tooling is hard, the people who have built such tooling are only a tiny subset of FAANG employees (regardless whether they are more skilled than the average FAANG employee or not).


This isn't quite right. I can see how you reached the conclusion you did, but you're missing a lot of context.

For one, developing frontends at the scale and complexity needed for quickly growing organizations is just as complex as backend scaling in a variety of ways.

If you're a frontend expert and can operate in the way needed to support a rapidly growing business/product - you can make just as much if not more than backend engineers (500k+ easily at senior levels). This instinct around large-scale abstractions is not developed by building small sites over and over gain. This is just simply experience not everyone has because it requires context.

Also programming ability alone is not the sole reason for the outsized comp packages. In my view, it is at most 1/3rd of the reason. There are a lot of other qualities that are important that can only be gained through a specific kind of experience.


> This instinct around large-scale abstractions is not developed by building small sites over and over gain.

What do you mean by large scale abstractions?

Generally, small frontends are different from large frontends. Already because you need to work on a team instead of being able to do it alone. But adding features is a quite orthogonal concern to scaling by the number of users I'd say. There can be extremely complex frontends that only have a dozen concurrent users (think some company internal admin console), and nothing prevents a small frontend from targetting billions. E.g. Google search used to have a quite simple frontend 17 years ago, and it still looks quite simple to the outside, but the results side has obviously been heavily enriched since.

From the frontend point of view, it is just calling an API, and processing its results, while there is backend magic happening to make it scalable. I'm disregarding SSR here for a moment. It shouldn't matter if the same frontend code is loaded by ten users or hundreds, or billions.

> There are a lot of other qualities that are important that can only be gained through a specific kind of experience.

Can you list some of those qualities? I'm curious.


You run into all sorts of bugs you'd never even conceive of when things scale up, even basic frontend code

Some problem that would hit one customer every few years and go away on refresh for a local mom & pop website will irritate thousands of people a day on Google.com, and those people will band together on Facebook into a support group, and that support group will get media coverage

You try to look into the issue and you can't reproduce it at all, you just have to figure it out from tiny wisps of clues


The average SV developer knows nothing about building Facebook.com to scale.

More precisely, the number of people who were there when "scaling products that big and that fast" applied to Facebook (or other comparable companies) is a tiny fraction of all SV developers.


The absolute hubris of SV people thinking that they can individually perform the jobs of 2-3 competent teams of people at literally any company outside of SV is why a lot of talented people want nothing to do with SV.


And yet, I show up at a company as a consultant and in two weeks I singlehandedly take care of something ten people have been struggling with for a year


Has it occurred to you that hiring a consultant is, by definition, an unusual situation?

That, perhaps, you have never had to come in and save any team at my company, or thousands of other companies, because we are competent developers?

Being able to do the work of 10 people once, does not mean that you are able to take 10 people from any company outside of a specific geographic area and replace them with one of you.


Have you considered that a consultant hired to fix a specific problem, and salaried employees seeking to justify their existence, may have slightly misaligned incentives?


Small startups need to be poaching ‘Big Boys’ employees, not the other way round. I see many boutique shops offering (nearly) the same pay, and poaching from FAANG+M (The M is Micro$oft)


They have to because that's the status quo now. Go back a few decades and ask yourself who started this trend.

If paying 250k+ for a developer is insane, then so is a company able to pay 250k+ without running huge losses. Those developers still make peanuts compared to what the stakeholders and executives do, despite these salaries. It's ignoring the elephant in the room which is fat profits being with a few companies, subsequently making it tougher to compete for anyone not born in wealth or able to get VC money to play with.

SV could both bankrupt dozens of companies outside SV, slash that 250k locally and up to ante globally if it had a mentality shift, in less than a few years. That's how insane the profits are.


If you know "more than enough" decent developers, you can make a great business connecting them to prospective employers.


Who will then fuck up the interview process and then return to complaining that there are no decent developers. There isn't a lack of them, there's a lack of being able to identify them.


Thanks for this. It's not just the interview process either, it's the entire industry which works against utilizing decent developers. If we really needed more decent developers, we've got thousands of companies pushing them into management, obtuse hiring practices and wades of middlemen to account for.


I think software engineering is actually quite difficult. If it feels easy it’s probably because you’ve been at it for a while. This severely constrains supply but demand is huge because even at high cost, software automation can deliver big returns for a company.


Learning programming is throwing yourself at a wall until you figure it out, a natural gatekeeping force that is exacerbated by the unfriendliness and complexity of development environments. An intentionally designed tool and system could enable far more developers at reasonable yet respectable salaries.


> It's kind of insane that on the one hand we have folks playing lip service to "anyone can learn to code" and on the other, decent developers being so rare that to hire one you need to offer compensation equal to winning a minor lottery for just 2-4 years worth of work. I wonder how much more software would get written if it didn't cost $250-500K/yr for a single developer.

While I think the premise is wrong - not anyone can learn to code - there are also levels of "learn to code" so it's simpler to spin up a create-react-app and modify it a bit for a code school credit compared to advanced Scala - it's also true that learning to code is nowhere near the hardest part of software engineering productivity.


It doesn’t have to cost that. You probably can hire people remotely. E.g. Almost nobody in the EU will cost you that much. Most good devs are less than €100k total cost.


100k - accounting for pay, benefits, office space, training, hiring, computing equipment, support services (hr, etc)?

In the States, those things can exceed the salary cost of the engineer.


> Managers don’t want to have to get up at 6am just to meet their reports.

Should be outsourcing at the programme or project level, not hiring employees to add to US teams, then.


Well then we should just keep moving Eastwards from California until we find the cheapest teams we can and outsource to those, right? Let me know how that works out.


Plus if you are US based communicating in real time with Europe is a pain. And many EU countries have strict labor laws that limit working hours. Managers don’t want to have to get up at 6am just to meet their reports.


The thing people miss, demand for software is infinite, so demand for software developers will increase to match any increase in supply.


Demand for pretty much anything is infinite, if you assume a price of 0.

So in reality we almost always end up with a non zero price where supply equals demand.


I hear you, I think software is different because it has very few physical constraints.

My appetite for food is not infinite, I can only eat so much. Same, but less so, for cars, clothes, etc. in some abstract sense, maybe, there are people that want 100 cars, but not really.

Even with housing, demand is not really infinite. I don’t want to redo my kitchen every year.

But software, every company has a backlog far longer than they will ever be able to do, and the ROI is there for the most part.


This most certainly is not true. There are plenty of free things that don’t result in 100% consumption. Demand is based on peoples needs and preferences, not on how much is out there already. Think about libraries as an example.


Agreed. That's why I wrote "pretty much".

My go to example is oxygen. There is more than enough of it for everyone, so there is no possibility/need to charge money for it.


Oxygen is definitely still monetized. Think about the canisters or the tanks that people use to go into high altitude environments. Hell, even in Denver or Aspen or Telluride you can go to an 'oxygen bar' for absurd prices. Hospitals will put you on oxygen and then bill you thousands for the service.

Beyond that, I have no doubt that there are some people who would willingly charge everyone for oxygen, if there was only a way. This would be driven by the idea that even though there is plenty in the atmosphere, a person only needs to be deprived of it for a little while before the situation becomes dire.


Anyone can learn to read and write, but Stephen King and J.K. Rowling still make bank.


Google's definition of "decent developer" is probably top 5-10% of the industry. At least historically, this has been the case.

No one actually believes "anyone can code" when you're at faang level of talent.


Anyone can learn to code, just like anyone can learn to write a decent essay. Not everyone can become a professional author.


Anyone can learn to code. However, few want to and even fewer want to pursue it as a career.


I do believe that everyone should learn to code, but not be a professional software dev. They are vastly different things. Coding can be just automating a task to reduce the human factor or making it more frictionless, with throwaway code of 100 lines.


You literally can go on indeed.com and check for "$250-500K/yr for a single developer". It. Does. Not. Exist. Yes there are a few at FAANG that do make this, but this isn't the current market.


Google level (L3/4/5 etc) * 100k is a very realistic expectation for TC. At L7 or above double that number too.

Source: recent offers and friends who recently got offers


Yeah, not really - L3 and L4 are entry level roles, for folks just out of college. No FAANG is paying a newb college grad $400k/yr. Either your friends didn’t understand the comp plan and how equity is paid out, or they were BSing you.


nope, just cash + RSU / yr.

e.g. Amazon was giving out SDE II (google L4 equivlant) @ 400k (first year no RSU but cash bonus paid out monthly) about 2 months ago.

re L3 level, if you have a master's or 1+ yr exp, while you're still at the entry level, you are considered "industrial hire" and 300 is very attainable

in my current company for new hires (again justed to google's leveling) we have L5 550+ and L6 650+ (200~300 cash + RSU , not pre-IPO bs)

In my earlier years I used to doubt those "ridiculous" numbers until I simply asked for more. There are plenty of companies out there, many medium-big sized non-FAANG companies pay just as well.


In a bull market it’s pretty easy to clear the 3xx/4xx in a single year in those levels at competitive companies. I know many folks who have done so.


> pretty easy

It's not "easy" to achieve this, but it might be possible. One doesn't just wake up and decide to go work at a FAANG and get a >90% percentile salary from them for the level.


Amazon was hiring 5-6 years ago at $160+150 (if you negotiated) for newly grads


former L3, here. my total comp was around 160k USD with base salary at 113k USD (based in Seattle area).


Go on angel.co and filter for jobs in the Bay Area and you'll find roles around 250k base salary. 250k including bonuses and stock is far more common. This isn't just Bay Area btw, take a look at the contract market in London and there are multiple > 200k GBP roles (roughly 250k USD).


What's a decent resource for London contract market gigs?


Most are big corporate companies so the traditional job boards and LinkedIn are your best bets!


There are well over 100k US-based software engineers at the five FAANG companies alone, plus a long tail of other companies that compete with them for talent and offer similar (and in some cases higher) compensation. All of those companies can go over $250k in total comp for the equivalent of Google L4, i.e., one promotion above entry-level.


Non-FAANG, not even a company you've probably heard of, and all of my coworkers and I have TC is in that range.

I started my career in small companies and startups and it took me a long time to understand how TC works. Both in tech and finance base salaries are typically around 200 or less, but total compensations factoring in both bonuses and RSUs brings the amount of money you bring in each year much higher.

It's gotten much better in recent years with levels.fyi and the like helping more people to see this, but I found that a few years back if you didn't go to an elite school you likely didn't have someone explain to you how comp works.

If you want to make > 250k you absolutely can, and it doesn't mean selling your soul. Don't convince yourself that these TC levels are myths.

Though I do suspect we'll see dotcom level changes in comp soon.


It absolutely does exist.

Source: Nearly everyone I came up with as a programmer is in the 250+ range, and not just at FAANG. Check out https://levels.fyi


I think the original post that gave that range was thinking of salary and not TC. Obviously, only a few companies can afford to give away crazy valuable equity.


That is the market rate. I’m at a large non FAANG company, non tech company, and that’s what we pay when you factor in bonus and RSUs.


Yes it absolutely does lol


LOL no one uses Indeed for compensation - the information is all wrong. At minimum you should be looking at levels.fyi.

In my last job search which wasn't too long ago, I got several offers and not a single one was below $400k.


are these all onsite FAANG? Know of any good companies hiring remote (US) in that range? Here in LA we have most of the FAANGs, but I'd rather not drive three hours a day.


No one is hiring developers via indeed.


indeed.com isn't what you should be looking at. levels.fyi


> one major thing that has changed since 20 years ago is that it is simply not possible to become wealthy (like "I can afford going to retire wealthy" or "I can now afford to seed my own startup wealthy") out of the equity package that a startup will offer unless you're the cofounders or a founding employee

Statistically that's likely, but it's not always the case.

If you luck into one of the companies that IPOs and grows big (and doesn't need to be FB/GOOG-level big, just in the handful of billions in market cap), even the tiny sliver of options of a regular employee can become retirement-level money.

There are many public companies in SV that have market cap in the dozens of billions who made their regular employees who joined pre-IPO very rich even though the companies aren't FAANG and don't have such brand recognition.


Toss in dilution, liquidation preferences and other financial engineering put by the people who actually know the rules of the game, and your "tiny sliver of options" will still be worth less than 5 years of FAANG salary.


No, not always. Having been in SV over 20 years, I know plenty of people who've scored very comfortable retirement money out of IPOs despite having joined late as regular ICs. And a handful who became insanely rich even though none were founders or single-digit early employees.

It's unlikely, yes. But it happens.


>Re: startups and compensation one major thing that has changed since 20 years ago is that it is simply not possible to become wealthy (like "I can afford going to retire wealthy" or "I can now afford to seed my own startup wealthy") out of the equity package that a startup will offer unless you're the cofounders or a founding employee.

I guess it depends how you define a "founding employee". I know several engineers who made enough to retire who joined unicorns around the pre-series A time or at the time of the raise itself but were not founding engineers.


'Back in the day' the graffiti artist who painted the first Facebook office got shares that ended up worth $200 million [1] because in those days, investors hadn't figured out they could get away with offering a lot less.

More recently, last time I was on the job market and interviewed with startups, their offers were more along the lines of "If the company value rises to $1 billion, your stock options will be worth enough to buy a 3 bedroom family home within 30 minutes of the office" - a decent chunk of change, no doubt, but not enough to retire on, and far from guaranteed.

[1] https://www.businessinsider.com/graffiti-artist-painted-face...


The average price of a decent 3 bedroom home within 30 minutes of Palo Alto probably IS enough to retire on (modestly) as an individual if you move to a cheaper state. Few Americans have several million dollars in retirement savings.

Even for most engineers, somewhere between five and ten million is enough to retire on (3.5% safe withdrawal rate) at a nice standard of living, again assuming you don't want to live in the bay area, NYC, Seattle or LA.


Sure, but this is all quibbling.

Join an early stage startup as a senior engineer and you'll probably be getting less than half or a third of a % of equity. If they even deign to tell you how many outstanding shares there are. Say that company gets super lucky and sells for a $1B? You might be lucky get $1M out of it. Assuming they didn't play funny business with the paperwork during acquisition, or dilute your shares a whole bunch.

$1M is a lot of money, but it's not "goodbye workforce" or "I'm off to invest in seeding my own startup" money, not when you have a family, home, and are still youngish.

Meanwhile the founders and other major stock owners will be doing quite well for themselves.

It's not unjust necessarily. But it definitely should inform just how much passion people put into the startups that hire them. Don't be fooled. Treat it like a job.


>Even for most engineers, somewhere between five and ten million is enough to retire on (3.5% safe withdrawal rate) at a nice standard of living, again assuming you don't want to live in the bay area, NYC, Seattle or LA.

Especially if you already own a place you're happy to live in long term, money in that range is enough to live very comfortably anywhere in the US. No, you're not flying private jets and maybe not employing multiple full-time domestic staff, but $200K-400K per year without even touching principal is absolutely enough to have a nice standard of living even in Manhattan.




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