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The top paying companies in Silicon Valley (howtowriteabusinessplan.com)
36 points by lukedeering on Jan 9, 2013 | hide | past | web | favorite | 36 comments

Having moved here from Nashville, TN due to the opportunities, the comparable salary buying power chart really hit home. Fuck. Kind of upset now. At least this explains why I feel less well off even though I make so much more.

It's worth noting that buying power != standard of living.

For example, it is quite possible to have a high standard of living with little money in Manhattan.

This is because:

* the subway runs 24 hours

* there are numerous inexpensive restaurants

* there are many free cultural and social activities

* if you seek it out, there are many opportunities to have liquor brands pour free alcohol into your glass. (NYC is considered a city of taste-makers.)

This, of course, assumes that you enjoy the tradeoffs you make. Some people enjoy a large-city no-car lifestyle, whereas some think that's less valuable.

So you might find that you enjoy SF on your salary more than Nashville on your salary. Chacun a son gout

Many of those restaurants serve exceedingly unhealthy food.

Not quite sure what to say about the assertion that a little free booze == good life.

But I'm biased, because New York City is not for me ... there are so many ads you feel like there was some NASCAR pileup they never got to. They even put ads on the stairs in the subway stations (!)

> Many of those restaurants serve exceedingly unhealthy food.

I haven't found this to be the case at all. Most of the cheap good food in the city is ethnic food. I don't think there is anything particularly unhealthy about the grilled chicken skewers I get at the local halal cart.

I must've been unlucky in my visits then. I definitely found some tasty Afghan places and such around town, but the low prices seemed to be linked to poor ingredients -- cheap canned vegetables, fatty meat and such, overly seasoned to mask this. And apart from those, when it comes to inexpensive eats it seemed to be pizza/calzone/spanakopita /salad places everywhere.

That being said, for a little more, you can find some really good eats, but that goes for most cities. http://mandoobarnyc.com/ is terrific. It's gotten worse over the years but their kimchi mandoo is still great.

If you were going to be spending money on booze to make your life, in your estimation, better then free booze == cheaper route to good life than paying for that same booze. If you aren't interested in drinking booze, then that's obviously of no benefit to you.

It is true that I am not a liquor drinker, but if you replace this with free beer or wine, it still is just a perk, and not something that I'd cite as improving my quality of living.

I would say that a "perk" - if it's one I actually appreciate - does improve my quality of living (albeit not dramatically, or it's more than a "perk").

Having said that, if you are spending money on beer or wine (or anything else, really), and it is not improving your quality of living, maybe you should stop spending money on beer and wine and instead spend it on something that will improve your quality of living. If you, for some reason, can't (then maybe you have a problem that needs to be addressed, but otherwise...) then a "perk" of getting these things for free does mean you have more money available for things that will increase your quality of living (perhaps by freeing up other resources like time that can be more directly invested in quality of living, however you experience that).

A coup would be making spending a while in SV & then taking your SV salary back to Nashville.

Indeed it would.

It really depends on what you spend most of your money. If it's rent and food, then yeah, you're screwed. Other things though are pretty much constant across the whole country - electronics, cars, flights, etc. So even if your standard of living is the same, you can buy 3 more times more fancy tablets, phones, TVs and BMWs with your new salary.

It's funny to see your comment in reply to gsibble, because that line of thinking is probably what brought him there and why he's now disappointed. If you're making $92k in San Francisco or $43k in Dallas then rent and food is exactly where most of your money is going. It depends on what you compare it to, but if the cost of housing is almost triple the national average and the average income only double the average then you'll have a better chance of driving three BMWs in Nashville then you would in Silicon Valley (although I wouldn't get my hopes up for either).

I'd rather make 50K in Dallas vs. 100K in NYC. I've seen it happen with my own eyes, I have friends living on the Left Coasts (NYC, SF and Boston), after 5 years of college with no or next-to-nothing savings with average salary of 100K. Why? Yuppie lifestyle, wining & dining at expensive restaurants, lunch & dinner, parking, driving a nice car, living in an apartment in a nice neighborhood.

While people living at home or in the midwest are raking it in with six-fig's savings. Man, I wish I was smarter and moved back in with my parents; would do wonders for my dating life. You know what's sexy? Big savings and high credit score.

In contrast, I'd rather be unemployed in California than earn $100k in Cleveland. Why? At the end of the day, I'd be living in Cleveland, and no amount of money could make up for that.

A large part of the reason that California and NYC are so desirable despite the high cost of living is the intangibles that you can't get in other locations like Dallas or Cleveland.

- Right out of the mouth of my 22 yr. old self whom I wish I could go back in time and slap that stupid person silly - when I thought indie urban music and art was authentic and not actually consumerism dressed up in yuppie pretension; when I thought people in the left coasts believed in open-mindedness and progressiveness and not as a "holier-than-thou" social badge.

People are the same as in California as in Cleveland as in China as in Uganda, insecure and selfish. Marketers use that fear of missing out (FOMO) to market the "urban" lifestyle.

9.3% is the marginal tax rate, so saying that "anyone [in California] making over $46,776/year must pay 9.3% in taxes" is wrong.

As a person with a basic understanding of taxes and their methods, I think the meaning was clear. Stop nitpicking.

In the paragraph below, it says that "A person earning the average tech salart in Silicon Valley would save $42,919 in just five years living in a state like Florida where there is no income tax."

The median salary from the chart is $90,000, so I suspect the calculation they did was along the lines of 90000 * 9.3/100 * 5 = $41,850. (Perhaps they used a different average than the chart.)

So, I don't think they know how marginal tax works either.

Actual taxes paid would be $29,866 for single filers. Effective tax rate at 90k works out to 6.64%. https://www.ftb.ca.gov/forms/2012_California_Tax_Rates_and_E...

It's valid criticism. The marginal tax rate doesn't say anything more than what the marginal tax rate is and should be indicated as such. A better way to describe thing is taxes paid at median industry salary + marginal tax rate.

Imagine if this was applied to fuel economy. "For any mph over 60 mph the car will increase it's consumption by X percent". Totally useless.

The difference between marginal tax rates and effective tax rates is the difference between night and day.

After all, on a marginal-rate basis, the U.S. has the highest corporate income tax rate in the world. On an effective-rate basis, the U.S. is competitive with nations which do not have a corporate income tax rate. Many large U.S. corporations have effective rates in the low single digits and in some cases have negative effective rates.

The graph should have indicated whether those were base salaries or total annual compensation.

Yeah, I was confused what the 'upper crust' section means. I know the top paid software engineers at google make way more than 180k in total compensation. Maybe they mean the top base salaries for people with 'software engineer' titles is 180k, but that's a sort of pointless number when bonuses can be 2+ times base.

At first I thought they meant average total compensation, but 180k seems too high.

Yes, I wondered the same. Regarding total compensation, glassdoor pegs the average at around 150k for software developers, and 200k for senior software developers. If you believe those numbers.

But we can only speculate where they arrived at their numbers, and how they define upper crust.

Just curious, how do stock awards work in BigCo's like GOOG/ADBE/MSFT/FB? Are employees awarded stock options that vest only X amount of years of service? Are they awarded in lump-sum vesting that means all of your options are voided if you are terminated and quit prior to vesting date?

Also, what does the "upper crust" even mean? Is this average developer salaries at the top paying companies? The top developer salaries at top paying companies? In the latter case, is it top 25 percentile, 10 percentile?

Spend less time coming up with catchy titles, and try including at least the bare minimum of relevant description.

It seems misleading to quote what "some of the top-paid software engineers" are paid as there is no definition of "top" or "some" - so how can you compare those numbers to any other salary elsewhere?

It's meaningless and useless.

Interesting how little money designers are paid in comparison to the developers. I would have thought that this changed in the last few years.

There are a lot of great designers, and a whole lot less great developers. And to make matters worse, the typical startup seldom needs more than a couple of designers vs needing a small army of developers - therefore increasing demand for good developers with a decent track record and decreasing job opportunities for the common graphic designer. Also, this graphic designers gravitate towards big design shops (since there is less opportunities as opposed to an "In House Designer") who then have a supernumerary selection choices for both, the top end very well paid designer and the photoshop grunt who spends his days pen tooling people out of photos for use in advertisement.

Another point to take into consideration is that most designers on the rise end up managing art and/or marketing departments in which case they stop being graphic designers and end up with titles such as Creative Director, Brand Manager, etc... while a whole lot of developers on the rise keep being developers, albeit of the Senior Developer, X Specialty Dev/Architect/Programmer, et al. This last point will probably skew the charts a little bit unless you take into consideration the carrer paths of typical top end graphical designers.

It's weird that they use the terms average and median interchangeably. Especially where the heading is Average Salaries in the Valley, and the figures are medians.

I'd be interested in viewing both figures, but the median is far more interesting, especially in an industry like SV. They choose to go with the average in most instances, however.

So adjusted for cost of living, the average software engineer in the Valley makes less than one in Philadelphia?

Possibly, though as someone who's lived in 9 cities in his life, cost of living equivalency numbers are mostly bullshit. Cost of living tends to vary dramatically within a city, and is distributed very unevenly, making any sort of mean or median averaging pointless.

Here in NYC, your food costs alone can vary dramatically - you can live in a neighborhood without a grocery store and rely on the massively overpriced Gristedes, and all the restaurants around you are high-end. Or, you can live right next to a Fairway and all of the restaurants around you are <$10 for dinner.

Ditto rent - what is the equivalent neighborhood to the Mission in SF in NYC? What is the equivalent neighborhood of Capitol Hill in Seattle in SF? Drawing equivalencies is really hard, and simply calculating the mean or median of the entire housing market is not even close to the heart of the matter.

With all the moving around I've ever done, I've completely stopped looking at cost of living calculators. Inevitably they never bear any real semblance on reality.

These salaries seem low...are there a whole lot of inexperienced devs compared to people with a few years of experience pulling the average down?

I'd be interested in seeing the actual curve.

Care to share? How much do you make and how many years of experience do you have?

Its really amazing to me that such cost of living difference can exist inside the US.

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