Holiday 28 days minimum - as per law https://www.gov.uk/holiday-entitlement-rights/entitlement
Rarely offered health care but - for all its flaws - our National Health Service is pretty good.
Shares - yup, they're almost always going to be worthless.
Pension - every company has offered me at least 5% matched pension - some more. The Government is mandating that even small employers will have to put you in a pension scheme soon - which is good.
"Soft" benefits like gym membership / conferences / etc depend very much on how confident the business is in itself. If it can afford them, it likely will - because they know that people can get them at mega-corps.
Pay - ah, there's the kicker. Yes, most startups try to save on the salary costs. Usually they get a pretty rude awakening when they try to hire someone with more than 5 minutes' experience. So they try to make it better with "up-titling". I could have been "Global Head of X" at a company barely looking at sales outside the city.
Joining a start-up is fun. But, like a pyramid scheme, you've got to get in early if you want to reap the share bonanza benefits.
I do wonder why the UK scene doesn't seem quite so vibrant - especially as healthcare costs (which I understand to be the biggest burden in the US) are essentially nil.
A culture that promotes self-actualization and risk-taking at the expense of your family or future family.
Centralized (location) and relatively easy to access angel money. Don't talk to me about the VC in London, nobody cares. It's an insider's club. I can walk out the door today and start bumping my side project for seed money (Mountain View). I can't do that in London.
Strong culture of entrepreneurship in alumni organizations (Stanford LOVES this stuff)
Lots of high quality incubators besides YC (my last startup I served as CTO at incubated at StartX)
You're not going to get me to move to the UK unless there's an aggressive visa program and seed money involved.
Silicon Valley VC money is a tiny speck compared to the money flowing through the capital markets of The City. So that begs the question: why is it harder to just walk out the door and round up seed money in London?
London has plenty of rich people, but they're usually old money heirs, or Russians/Middle-Easterners/etc. who didn't make money from tech, or people who work in the City. Not people who got rich by being employee 1-500 at Google, Yahoo, eBay, etc.
(Frankly, UK banks are obsessed with property, which is one of the things that holds back the UK economy: small business lending in the UK is throttled by growth in house prices because the only reliable way for small business startups to raise seed capital is by mortgaging their personal property. Hence a stop-go economy which lurches between over-expansion and contraction as the property market goes from boom to bust.)
You just go through a list of state-required benefits or drains on individual risk taking and then you wonder at why the startup scene isn't quite so vibrant?
Risk taking requires the ability to... uh... take risks.
Actually, I think some form of social safety net is supportive of very entrepreneurs. From personal experience, the only people I know who quit their job to work full time on a startup had significant savings from previous jobs. Also it's quite common in Israel to start working on your startup while getting unemployment benefits.
Not really. Accounting for pensions requires the ability to project economic and biological conditions 20-40 years into the future. Humans aren't capable of this yet, and it results in dealing with fudged numbers (see the myriad pension funding crises around the world).
Another problem with pensions is that they are unaffordable. If they were affordable then you would see private companies offering annuities for sale, for as cheap as what pension actuaries "project" the cost to be. But it's far, far more expensive to buy yourself an annuity, because of tighter regulations in the private insurance market.
Finally, there is no reason to tie up your future with one employer, or the employer's future with old employees. If you want a pension, fine, demand $5,000 cash so you can buy yourself an annuity. But why someone would trust an anonymous person 20 years in the future with their compensation is beyond me. Your pension money can be gambled with, get lost due to corruption, or because it's all invested in the same funds in public companies, required government bailouts of private markets (see 2008 stock market crash).
And the Uk has some nice tax breaks for pensions tax relief at your highest rate of tax plus over $20k capita gains tax allowance per year. and you can shelter £12k every year from tax in ISA's
Even the basic share save is very tax efficient I know people who made $50k from a sing years share save at a big uk company - and thats the one everyone from the lowest clerical assistant gets.
http://i.imgur.com/3Aw8oop.png (genuine screenshot from the Independent, a British newspaper)
Don't know if this is SOP or not.
I'd immediately bolt for the door if someone demanded such a structure on me.
What you don't get is the insane tax liability on worthless shares which the USA has. In the UK you only pay tax on a gain -after subtracting your Capital Gains allowance
They're not nil, that expense just isn't optional (taxes). It's the risk of an individual to find himself with no health care that's essentially nil.
Now some people and some ideas can genuinely attract people to work for peanuts. I remember hearing about Square, then valued at $40m with their first round of funding (IIRC) and thinking "man I'd give anything to work for them" given the idea and the track record (Jack Dorsey basically).
The problem I think is that many startups think they have this kind of cachet just because they worked for Facebook in 2006. Social proof counts for something but it doesn't make you a great entrepreneur. Being a great entrepreneur makes you a great entrepreneur and that means running some kind of company that had some kind of impact (and, ideally, some significant exit).
Startups aren't for financial security. They are for the frontiermen who are hoping to strike it rich in the gold rush. Most don't but some do.
To the OP: you make very valid points and given your circumstances and preferences (and mine FWIW), I agree: working for an established company will give you a far better expected financial outcome at lower risk.
EDIT: I should clarify that there are of course non-financial reasons to work for a small startup. Less bureaucracy, it can be exciting, variety of work, degree of impact and so on.
A lot of people are willing to make those tradeoffs and sacrifice some financial return for the privilege. This isn't unique to the startup world. Games programmers, for example, typically get paid crap (until you get to be the lead developer on a big title and get a % of the revenue, etc).
All of this is simply supply and demand.
That all being said, living without health insurance in the US is incredibly risky. Generally only large employers have the clout to negotiate good plans with providers for reasonable premiums.
The other stuff (extra PTO, conferences especially, etc) are more luxuries than necessities but they do of course contribute to the overall financial outcome.
I think you mean "Founding a startup is for the frontiermen..." Being an employee is not. Being an employee is a losing proposition far more often than the 95% you cited.
Although there aren't tangible or financial benefits for working at a startup, there are definitely benefits that a large company simply can't provide, like experience and independence. For someone in their early 20's straight out of college, those benefits can outweigh the financial benefits of a big company.
Maybe. However, I think most us know people that love working for Apple, Facebook, Microsoft, Google, et al.
Frankly, I think your independence claim is overstated—financial support is crucial. Shigeru Miyamoto emphasized this perspective in a 2012 New Yorker profile: “There’s a big difference between the money you receive personally from the company and the money you can use in your job.”
There’re many reasons to found a startup, very few to work for one.
There are good startups out there. I'm almost notorious for startup-bashing because so many of them have awful cultures, but there are decent small/new companies out there. You'll probably have to look outside of VC-istan. VC-istan seems to appeal to the Clueless (see: MacLeod hierarchy) young who will jump at the chance to work "at a startup!" without discrimination.
I know someone who's actually looking at building a startup without equity. He will hold 100% of the stock, at least at first. Variable pay will be profit-sharing. He wants this company to last 20+ years without acquisition, so instead of putting the focus on a future cash-out, he wants people to be rewarded continually for good work.
Wall Street gets a bad rap for its bonuses, and there are some cultural problems with it, but it's a better mechanism for compensation than what VC-istan uses. Also, I think that Wall Street culture is less horrible than VC-istan. On Wall Street, some people get butthurt about their bonuses, but you don't have teams of 15 programmers where every single one is trying to become VP/Eng and get a real slice.
Bootstrapping is attractive, but it's very hard to do. Also, as misguided as employee equity grants might be, it has become the standard for compensation in SV; that a company doesn't offer some token ownership definitely will make it harder to hire.
I think it really boils down to, if you want to take part in "VC-istan" as a founder/employee, move to SF, if not, go somewhere else, because it's just too hard to hire/hold down an office/live in SF on bootstrapping.
Tiny, tiny nit: that final phrase is redundant. Calculating an expected financial outcome includes the risk.
Agree with everything you're saying.
Each year, there is a 0.1% chance that you will be paid $1 billion.
Simple math tells us that the second one has a 10x higher expected financial outcome. But few people would actually consider that to be better compensation. Lower risk is better, to an extent that can outweigh a higher expected financial outcome.
If you get both a better expected outcome and lower risk, that's two benefits, not just one.
Plus, if you really did have solid odds, you could sell those odds, i.e., have someone invest in you.
I think it is great that Michael understands exactly what he wants in terms of a compensation package. And for a variety of reasons, its pretty clear that a "startup" isn't going to meet those needs. So he's currently "Contractor at Self-Employed" which is also fine because you really do have a lot of flexibility as a contractor that you don't have as a rank-and-file employee at BigCo.
But the anger and the hurt, that is not healthy.
The impression that rant leaves me with is that Michael feels he brings great value to the organization, and wants to be compensated commensurately with that value. And yet nobody has agreed to his terms. It may be they can't (reading his list is a lot of capital to invest in a single employee), it may be they disagree about value, or it may be they have structural issues around it (managing the expectations of other employees, Etc.) The "shut up and pay me what I'm worth" mantra is not a healthy internal dialog, it instantly makes you enemies with the very person you're trying to be friends with, the guy with the job. Worse it focuses your effort on the wrong question.
Lets use a very simple analogy for how this can go wrong. Lets say you own a bicycle, and one of the tires has a slow leak. You go into an "inflation" store and the sales guy has really nice compressors, they've got pressure values that are accurate to within 1/10th PSI, they have valves to deliver exactly the right amount of inflation, large multi-gallon storage tanks to deliver air efficiently and on time, and valves, a most wondrous universal valving system that pretty much guarantees you will never have a tire that this thing can't inflate. All for the low low price of $899. And the bike rider says, "I really just need a hand pump, I'm prepared to pay $25 for it..."
Now is our consumer some ignorant boob that can't see the value of a truly fine tire inflation apparatus? No. And the sales guy shouldn't get mad if the customer isn't willing to over pay so much to achieve their goal of keeping a leaky tire from going flat.
The key is that it isn't that the tire inflator isn't "worth" the money, its that the problem isn't worth the inflater's price. It would work, but the extra cost doesn't bring extra value.
So Michael's rant might be he cannot find a company yet that has the size problems that he can solve. No doubt there are such companies, but the larger the problem size, the harder it is to connect with the person who is looking.
Some folks take the path of being 'under employed' to get at least some benefits while they seek out the right spot, some start their own thing, but yelling at the YC founders and insinuating that their goal in life is to fleece their employees in the pursuit of their own success does Michael a disservice.
That single employee with his background represents millions of dollars per year in revenue, he should be asking for more and you should get a clue.
For what it's worth, I have 18 years experience, and I'm working very, very happily for a YC 09 company. I'm fairly old school in my thinking, and I've been through the Bust, so I've seen perks come and go. I just want a fair salary, good colleagues, a boss that cares, and interesting and challenging work. Perks are nice, but I don't feel entitled to any.
Actually, the first perk in my career that I have completely head-over-heels loved is our ZeroCater lunch service. I really look forward to lunch every single day.
I hope he's not valuing his PTO based on the salary he's getting.
I'm a 24 year old with no college degree and I currently cost about $800 per day on contract. (Not hypothetical, billing at that rate right now.) I'd rather make twice as much money consulting, pick my own damn healthcare plan, go to whatever conferences I want without asking^H^H^H^H^H^Hbegging, and stash that much more money towards runway.
I just left a YC company myself. I would only work for a YC company because it was time for me to learn, it no longer is.
It's time for me to earn, so I'll contract until I get a business rolling.
If you approach working at a YC company like a piker, you're going to be disappointed. It's an opportunity to build up a network and learn how startups work so that you can eventually do your own thing. (IMHO anyway)
Employee equity is consistently pathetic. Not worth it.
It also doesn't seem like he's asking for what he wants. Does he not know how to negotiate? Tell the YC founders what you want.
People are really bad at getting what they want unless it's offered to them on a silver platter.
Edit: The whole post, frankly, seems like an advertisement for his irrationality with regards to the expected value of perks.
1. You're paying a higher marginal tax rate on your earnings than he is on his salary. Self-employment tax is a real bitch.
2. If you're buying your own health insurance, the benefits you get for the price are undoubtable lower than the benefits he gets with his (paid for) package, or you're paying through the nose. "Group plans" are generally better, and cheaper, than individual plans.
3. Should something terrible happen to you, or should you fail to find work for awhile, you are not eligible for unemployment.
I see lots of folks swear by "being a contractor" when they're young, only to start searching for a salaried position after a few bad experiences.
When I took over my company, the absolute first thing I did was switch every "contractor" to a full-time employee. It's better for both parties.
Of course it's better for the company, they want the ability to coerce the employee and hold their livelihood/healthcare hostage.
With my arrangement, I keep the same healthcare plan no matter who I'm working for or what I'm doing.
You can basically always keep your health insurance. You just have to pay a higher premium than your employer paid for it. They aren't "holding your health care hostage", they're given you a benefit of being a part of a group; a risk pool insurance companies are willing to give discounted rates to. Get fired, or quit? Just call the insurance company and ask what it'd cost to keep your coverage as is. There's generally ALWAYS an individual plan available with the exact same benefit levels.
Health insurance used to be a hostage game due primarily to pre-existing conditions. That's becoming less of an issue thanks to new laws (and if you were employable, was never much of an issue anyway).
However, I did not mean "just" insurance. Contractor arrangements are terrible for both the contractor and the company, in the long run.
Independence and the ability to come and go as I please is more valuable to me than whatever risk/reward calculation you're working with in your head.
1. I was never independent. I had a "client", or a "contractor", I was obligated to fulfill. I only got paid if I did so, and I only got more contract jobs if I did a good job.
2. When one contract was over, I had to run out and find another one. While doing so, I was making exactly nothing. If I timed things right, I'd go from one contract to another, but that's not always possible, so I'd have a week or so of dead time where I should have been making money, but didn't.
3. If I was sick, there wasn't a team of structure in place to deal with it. I was sick. I didn't get paid. It sucked. Often it meant I had to do double-shift days to make up the lost time.
4. There was absolutely no "reward". There was just a steady, sometimes unsteady, stream of money, which worked out to about what I'd make salaried somewhere after I factor in everything.
5. As a salaried employee, I was still completely free to quit. No one could "make" me stay at a job I hated. And there aren't many (if any) legal ramifications of doing so. However, as a contractor, I might have a legal obligation (literally a contract), and the client had a completely valid way to sue me if I broke contract by not completing the work. Some clients demanded real contracts for long-term projects, and that absolutely sucked.
6. Founder spend payroll? Great. Contract abruptly ended. Scramble to find more work, no idea when I'll get paid for the money they already owe.
Being a contractor doesn't make you free or independent in any way that a salaried employee isn't.
The only way it works out is if you turn yourself into a business, and hire other people. That's basically what I did, and even now, I'm not really independent. I have employees/clients counting on me.
The only real "independence" comes from wealth that isn't generated or dependent on labor.
I add 2 months of runway for each week I work. Not exactly a big deal.
>Often it meant I had to do double-shift days to make up the lost time.
I'm starting to develop a picture of you under-billing, if you felt obligated to do so.
>There was absolutely no "reward"
Can we just get to the part where we recognize we value different things and move on?
>As a salaried employee, I was still completely free to quit.
Except for the part where if you're the type of person to prefer working on 5, 10, or 15 different things a year as opposed to one thing for 5 years, you're penalized as an employee because you'll be seen as a job hopper. It does real palpable damage to your career as a salaried employee to quit a job.
>Being a contractor doesn't make you free or independent in any way that a salaried employee isn't.
That's plainly false.
This was always a waste of time, but now it's an expensive waste of time.
Troll somebody else who hasn't drunk your kool-aid.
> I prefer working with clients to having a boss. I prefer having customers to having a client.
To me, it was just trading one noun for another.
> I'm starting to develop a picture of you under-billing, if you felt obligated to do so.
Projects have deadlines. This isn't a matter of under-billing, it's the fact of life.
> Except for the part where if you're the type of person to prefer working on 5, 10, or 15 different things a year as opposed to one thing for 5 years, you're penalized as an employee because you'll be seen as a job hopper.
Not really. Go work for an agency that does lots of different things. I own a digital agency, and we build lots and lots of different things every week. My creatives/engineers can jump on stuff they're interested in (we actually encourage that).
If you feel like you're more "free" as a contractor, great. Personally, I found I thought that until I realized it was nonsense.
There are things that are better too.
Asserting your independence and keeping a distance is a good place to start there. Don't be another employee.
Not until 1 Jan 2014, unfortunately.
You know, I had a similar career path and was also contracting at 24 with several years of experience under my belt. I get what you say because I've worked freelance most of my life, and do care bout self-ownership. On the other hand, my view of what constitutes 'a long time' has shifted substantially since I was your age (I'm 42 now). In this market, I don't think you need to worry about being held hostage; maybe it's a proxy for something else that's bugging you that you haven't identified yet.
Didn't you just say you are 24?
Your snark isn't appreciated.
And let me be clear, "founding my own company" wasn't "easier". It was infinitely harder, though ultimately more rewarding for me.
You're essentially scorning me for taking my own path towards what you did.
I think you've built a wonderful position for yourself, but I'd urge you to be mindful of thepotential pitfalls in the future.
I'm not too knowledgeable on the exact scenarios and how much more (if any) such people with serious medical issues would pay, but I agree with you that this is something to be cognizant of.
He thinks he's doing himself a favor and getting what he's "worth", but that doesn't seem to be the case.
FWIW, if anyone did ask my advice about what benefits to offer, I'd tell them to err on the side of generosity. I certainly tell them to err on that side with equity grants.
It's unfair that YC is being singled out here. These are genuine VC-istan issues, not limited to YC startups.
All of the YC founders I know are great, but sample size is small.
I didn't see anything in the article state that you guys were explicitly advising founders to do these things. One of the first things the OP says is:
"YC seems to be a cult which is quite adept at turning college students into millionaires while creating billions of dollars of wealth for Venture Capitalists."
So the outcomes he's referring to may just be a direct result of the level of prior business experience amongst people you accept into the program.
Edit: To clarify, there is huge difference between offering no benefits and offering fewer benefits than a large company. I'm not advocating treating employees like crap. I'm saying that there is a potential benefit to startups who don't try to compete on monetary benefits. Startups should provide as many benefits as possible, but not worry about competing with the financial packages that a large company can provide.
Also, if you disagree, please give your reasoning below. Downvoting to show disagreement just seems lazy.
I see a lot about how these start-ups state "competitive salary, great compensation, etc."
Instead, just say, "hey, we will pay you crap but come work for us anyway because you believe in our idea."
Somehow, I don't think that would get traction, when its put that way.
What vision? I thought we are all professionals working for the money.
It seems bleeding edge capitalism forgets the "free market" and "egoism turns out for the best" and resorts to idealism and religious-like "visions" for the company -- in order to have fools work for less than they could.
Hi, I wasn't answering to your comment as it is, just got inspiration from your "vision" quote (something that one hears often repeated from startup guys).
>That said, most people don't work solely for money and I'm sure you don't either. If they did, then everyone would want to work on Wall Street.
Sure (I also care for the work environment, tech involved etc), but that doesn't mean I work for some "vision" or that I even believe that 99% of startups even have a vision worthy of mention.
That said, most people don't work solely for money and I'm sure you don't either. If they did, then everyone would want to work on Wall Street.
1. Startups don't have as much money as a large corporation.
2. You, as an engineer, have more autonomy at a startup than a large corporation.
The reason I would choose to work at a startup over a corporation is because I value my autonomy, even if it means making less money than I would if I took a job at a large company. When I am a 45 year old father, my priorities will probably change. There's nothing wrong with that.
The question at hand is, should startups try to compete with large corporations on benefit packages? Benefits are important to feeling welcome and appreciated at work. At no point have I claimed otherwise.
My sole claim has been that if I had to make a tradeoff between certain benefits (that don't necessarily impact me as a young recent college graduate) and increased autonomy, I will pick autonomy. This is why startups optimize for recruiting younger developers. If a young developer thinks an idea is cool and believes in it, she will work her ass off. A 45 year old father, on the other hand, has other priorities. To reiterate, there is nothing wrong with that! But if a startup cannot afford to support such an experienced programmer (startups can't offer competitive salary, job safety, 401k, etc), it's better for the 45yo father to consider that before hand, rather than get burned later.
If the startup had offered him the same benefits and salary as the large company, he may have accepted the startup's offer. The startup could then go out of business in 2 months, and he'd be screwed. A young college graduate would have far more flexibility to bounce back and find another job, simply because the younger developer has fewer responsibilities.
A startup should offer as many benefits as it can. But the reality is that most startups simply cannot provide the same benefits as a large company, and I think that's ok. It's really not as evil as the author makes it seem because startups are targeting a different demographic than him.
If a startup's lack of benefits aren't acceptable to you, then you probably also shouldn't be taking the many other risks involved with doing a startup.
These benefits also make an employees life easier, giving them more time to spend on your precious startup.
There are other ways to weed out the "another job" candidates.
When someone in the valley says "there is a shortage of talent", what they really mean is... there is a shortage of "talent willing to work for a pathetic salary".
I've worked with companies who have a 1-month "escape hatch" on-boarding plan, wherein either the employer or employee can terminate the agreement no-harm-no-foul if expectations are not aligned. This is obviously more of a social agreement, as most companies use at-will employment contracts. This way, you can still treat your employees right.
For example, a 45 year old father who might be screwed if the startup shuts down 2 months later probably should not be applying to startups. However, a young recent college grad will have a much easier time bouncing back if the startup shuts down, simply because she has fewer responsibilities than the father. As a result, a lot of those benefits that the father is looking for are also less important to the recent college grad.
Of course, the startup should give the best possible benefits it can afford. But I don't see anything wrong with the startup focusing its limited resources on finding the employees that are better fits.
There's nothing wrong with paying less because your resources are better placed elsewhere. I just don't buy the idea that paying less gets you better candidates. Sure, it might filter, a little bit, for people who really care about your business. But it's also going to filter, a lot, for people who can't get better jobs elsewhere.
Regarding compensation: the total package should be enough that people don't worry about money. Ever. If you're doing your job, you may not make them rich but you pay enough that people aren't worried about daily living expenses.
The issue here-- why benefits are so important-- is that VC-istan startups are in such a state where the concerns of a 45-year-old with kids are seen as freaky and unusual. There's a very large talent pool that's being overlooked.
Perhaps what you want to say is that you don't like the benefits packages that startups with young founders provide, because they don't understand what a more senior engineer expects on that side of the compensation equation. That might be more fair.
"I'm just this guy who used to enjoy tech, now I would rather build bicycles. I still work in the tech industry, for the money, but I no longer call myself a "technologist"."
So points well made that a guy with children, in mid-career, and without much of a passion for the field he's working in finds a Y-Combinator offer to be less compelling than a more traditional package.
But I'm not sure what the takeaway should be for Y-Combinator companies.
I'm sure you could come up with a whole list of why it's compelling to join a Y-Combinator startup, the one that strikes me is that providing great value to a Y-Combinator start-up puts you in a great position to leverage your own attention from PG and crew.
So at some level the lesson here feels like how can Y-Combinator recruiters (or CEO recruiters) minimize distractions from candidates that ultimately don't want the job you're offering?
The answer is to highlight the tangible benefits of being part of a Y-Combinator startup while candidly addressing what "you're not" so the wrong candidates don't waste their time, or yours.
I think the takeaway is, you're not building something sustainable if you can't attract people with kids. Kids are a very natural and common lifecycle event for people over the age of 25.
In terms of dollars and cents, the notion that you're building a team of "world class talent" that doesn't include anyone over the age of 30 is silly.
Not that the vast majority of startups need world class talent, but that's neither her nor there.
Marketing to these people is basically selling to the tortoise rather than the hare , and success in doing so probably means building that attitude from the inside out.Tortoises aren't very exciting to look at, but there are a lot of them and they are pretty successful in evolutionary terms. So don't grudge them their lettuce.
Actually, I love that. If our company was a little further along and I could afford to hire him I'd make an approach.
I don't think tech is the be-all and end-all of things, it's a tool we use. I prefer to have a techie who is able to feel the tactile quality in the process of bicycle building (bespoke frame-building through to just getting your hands dirty piecing components together) as I'd hope such an eye would course through everything that person did.
If he's a tech guy with 20 years experience, and that eye for a quality build and the aesthetic utility in a bicycle, then I'd be keen to see whether his work reflects it.
Companies go through phases, and the beg, borrow and steal... and poor package and renumeration... is the first phase and we should all seek to get beyond that quickly.
A business should be sustainable. To me that means that the costs of the business should be able to be fully met and not externalised: a good package for good people is part of that. As soon as it's possible to, that should be in place... because if we're not building a sustainable business then what are we doing?
Absolutely agreed. I just wrote about this recently, arguing that to be the best programmer, you really need to do something else as a specialty, and have programming simply as your trade. Programming is a value enhancer on another skill, and (in my opinion) is less value if it's the only thing you can offer. Effectively, your skill caps out at some point, and to continue increasing your impact you need to draw on something else too.
1. Study CS in school, get employed as a programmer in an unrelated industry and attempt to absorb industry knowledge from your coworkers outside the IT department (easier to do at a small company). Industry knowledge will inform your code projects and put them in context, but your job is still to write code and not to participate in business decisions.
2. Study business admin or econ in school, get employed in marketing or operations, and attempt to learn programming on the side. You can use programming skills to write personal automation scripts and maybe some internal productivity apps to share with your colleagues, but will not be asked or trusted to work on any production codebase as that is not part of your job description, and they already hired dedicated programmers to do that. You do not have a lot of time to work on coding anyway, because you have other responsibilities.
Things can get more fuzzy at a small company where people tend to wear more hats. But at most big companies, job descriptions are pretty specialized, and programming either is your job or it isn't.
The point is this comment serves as a microcosm of this thread; a faceoff between stereotypes of a boring, big company with benefits and sexy startup with lottery ticket potential. The truth, as usual, is somewhere in between. There really is work, even outside of the Valley, that solves real (fun!) problems with real compensation. To assume only two paths to whatever personal definition of success in this field is limiting your options.
I find it telling that both of your paths include school. Life is a better teacher than school will ever be; the person you're describing may be hard to find straight out of college, but after a few more years of life, they will tend to broaden their horizons (and have hobbies that don't include programming).
It seems pretty clear that he feels YC companies are not offering enough equity to make this tradeoff worthwhile. Thus, the only practical solution for YC companies to attract talent like the author is to provide more equity.
If they don't have a seat on the board, they have no reason to trust that their equity will not be diluted into dust.
It seems like a core assertion of the article (and in the comments) is that being a YC company means very little to anyone other than the founders.
Honest question: A few years out, how much does it matter to employees? Do they get to go the clubhouse? What's in it for them, other than a hope that their paychecks will come more reliably?
For founders, YC, fuck yeah--but I don't think for employees the value prop is there compared with having actual awesome compensation.
Personally, a potential hire's having been at a yc vs a non-yc company has no bearing on my decision either way.
But the point of the article is that working for a YC startup isn't in ANYONE's interest. You don't get the security of a large established company, but you also don't get any of the equity that the founders get. And there are plenty of medium-to-large size companies that have well-established business models that are great places to work, have awesome technology, and are solving difficult problems. Working for a startup without equity has no up-side and plenty of down-side.
Unless the YC startup is doing something you really believe in - and I don't just mean 'cool tech' - I mean something that you can feel good about having participated in 10 years from now, something that made you or the world better - insist on equity. Otherwise you're being exploited.
- Agreement to pay for 3 conferences per year(Surge, Velocity, and
ChefConf), an $18k/year benefit
- $2500/year FSA, Employer funded
- 401k, 5% match. (II end up with $24,750/year in my 401K plan)
- Full health insurance for myself and my daughter, no Premium
- Health club membership
- $150/month Clipper card budget
- 30 days of PTO, a $9,840/year benefit
I work in the Portland area and have had the opportunity to work at some pretty great companies around here but there is no way to get much other than the 401k benefit (and even then a 5% match may not happen) and maybe the health club membership.
Health insurance will sometimes cover yourself but once you add a spouse and/or kids it's going to cost the company a lot more so there is going to be a premium. I currently work downtown and my company covers my parking (which isn't cheap) but others haven't.
I don't know about the Bay area but there is no way you'd get 30 days of PTO from anywhere here, I've never heard of that even from a non-profit I interviewed with once.
I now work remotely for a Fortune 100 that gives me a major portion of those benefits, plus a higher salary.
It can be done, my Portland-based comrade. I'll buy you a beer sometime if you like.
10 vacation days
10 holidays (Christmas, etc.)
5 sick days
That's 25 days; 30 is a bit more than usual but I'd believe it.
Now, if that's what he means by 30 PTO days, I'm dubious about only 15 PTO days at the startup.
The two most important factors IMO: the tech and the team.
> I turned them down because they were preparing to make me a below-market offer in exchange for what I expected to be an insulting amount of equity, and a non-existant benefits package.
There are three possible answers to an offer: yes, no, counter. It's really odd to focus this much on salary + benefits without even taking the time to counter. We're not-entirely-dissimilar from the YC company he was describing, and the simple truth is that we lack many on paper benefits because we haven't taken the time to formalize many of them. Which means there's lots of leeway to ask for stuff. There's no strict "3 conferences per year" but I'm pretty sure everyone in the company goes to any conference they want to (including Velocity, and ChefConf ... you might see them there).
> The YCombinator company probably didn't care enough to have their lawyer draw up the paperwork so that their employees can execute on their stock options from the first day to avoid AMT.
Really? I'm pretty sure the standard docs nearly all YC companies use are pretty solid, and they'll usually even have their lawyers help with an 83b election. There's a lot of math and snark based on a "probably" that's probably wrong.
> Both companies offer the same, worthless stock options of 0.50% of the company, before an expected dilution.
If they just raised at a $40mm valuation, 0.5% equity is literally worth $200k to them right now (in the sense that they could exchanged another 0.5% of the company for $200k). If they're anything like us, they don't want to give up equity anyway. We would happily give a higher salary with no equity to new hires.
Equity is really a chance to trade some salary for a large check if things go incredibly well. It's not the rational choice at early employee levels, but it's a chance to get a little of the risk/reward action. The reality is that higher equity levels (ie: founder levels) come with a huge amount of risk, which often isn't feasible for people that can pull large salaries.
True for a stock grant, but these are stock options.
How folks plan to run a business that way and yet feel its 'entitlement' for an employee to do the same thing is weird to me.
Has anyone ever tried to take advantage of "Unlimited Vacation" at an early startup? I mean, sincerely tried to invoke that contractual promise as a way to take 3+ weeks consecutively?
No vacation policies are meaningful with the right company culture.
I mean, all the psych research says that it takes at least 4+ days until people really get work off their mind, and the work-mindset starts a few days before returning. So vacations start to be effective at a minimum of 2 consecutive, uninterrupted weeks (coincidentally a legal requirement in a bunch of countries). If you're taking vacation in small blocks or continue to think about work on vacation, then you and the company lose the working days spent, but aren't getting the expected recovery/productivity/burnout-prevention/etc benefits for which vacations are actually implemented.
Classifying any of these as "employee is out taking vacation time" is a giant spin.
That's not vacation, that's telecommuting.
Every story I see about the supposed "tech talent crunch" makes me wince at the fact that the average web developer salary is about the same from when I started my company five years ago to now. If there's really a shortage, the makers ought to be getting paid: in dollars, not kool aid.
This isn't even to mention the "glory deficit" that goes with being an employee. With today's incubator explosion, any decent technologist can own 50%+ of their own company. If they're going to work for yours, you'd better pay them. And spend more time glorifying those who want to work as a team, rather than those that chase the CEO/Founder glory (a common blog post written by CEOs, Founders and VCs).
Whenever I lost or was on the verge of losing an employee to a startup, it was pretty convincing to walk them through what "hey, you get a whole percent of the company!" really means, even in a nine figure acquisition... and then compare that totally-at-risk, totally unlikely result (as the OP does) to the much better, and not-at-risk, salary + bonus from Large Company.
Difference is of course when you pick that lottery winner and 1% post-dilution is actually something. And that's what everyone's playing, right?
It's not 1995 anymore. Now there ARE candidates who have been there and done that. It's clearly better to have employees with startup experience who don't operate always in crisis mode.
I mean, all else being equal, what is the expected value of 0.5% of the equity of the average startup at stage X these days?
Let's say that there are 5 board members, and 3 of them are VC reps. Those VC companies have 50% of the company, with dibs on the first $50 million. Now, it's time to sell the company.
Pretend the company could be worth between $0 million and $100 million. Figure out what the VCs are likely to sell the company for, remembering that they get 100% of the first $50 million and 0% of the next $50 million.
Even if you sustained no dilution, 0.5% of $100M is only $500K. Don't get me wrong, $500K is nice, but by no means is that life-changing money.
There are parts of the US where it's a big house and almost enough to retire on, if you're lazy and willing to live cheap. It's definitely a few years of runway, if you've got an idea you want to explore. It's definitely a no-loan college education.
Remember risk in our (assumed rational) finance market is as much tied to your ability to have enough liquidity as it is to have a positive outcome.
Mean? Somewhere in-between $0 and your typical exit.
Here are a few tips for others startup employees:
1. Take the least amount of stock possible - your startup is statistically unlikely to succeed. It'd be better to bump your salary up $10-20K than to get the stock.
2. Unless it's liquid - it's worthless.
3. Valuations pre-cashflow - are useless. Anybody can value anything at insane levels using just one dollar. I value HN at $1 billion by offering to buy only 1 share of 1 billion in common stock for $1 right now. See the implicit valuation leverage. I took a dollar, then invented the billion.
4. If you work for a "nasty" startup - one which people can consider to be negative long term to one or more parties - expect eventual collapse or flat line growth (Zynga/Groupon).
5. Companies exist to make management, investors and founders rich - they hold the vast majority of the stock - and benefit greatly from path dependence and network effects. You on the other hand don't. Expect to be screwed at any time.
Think of it like this. Managers/founders of most companies are pretty dipshit - how is it that they can own so much more stock? Simple. Be there earlier! Akin to how old money works. Imagine if you were the first person to squat land near what has now become Manhattan. You'd easily be worth hundreds of millions. There is obviously some skill in researching, predicting, working and acquiring land that will soon appreciate in value. But it's not worth nearly that much. Path dependence, luck and network effects do that. See GFC boom and that dumbass cousin who made and almost certainly lost millions in housing to understand how this works out.
Startups really aren't that different to a speculative investment in a house during boom times. Once you understand this - a lot of things start to make a hell of a lot more sense.
6. PG says be relentlessly resourceful. That's useful. But even better is to be relentlessly cynical.
Free t-shirts? Just an easy way to drop your salary and indoctrinate you - scratch that - it's a god damn uniform - freedom be damned! Free food? You took a $30-$40K pay cut to take the damn job - the food isn't worth a tenth of that + you're now working during lunch hours! Free hardware? That's only $2-$4K.
Hackathons? That's just work during your free time - or if it's during work time, it's a startup product you should own, but don't. More days off? Aren't you already working 60+ hours a week today! Culture shit after work? That's just more indoctrination. Gym membership? Only $200-500 - peanuts! Flexible work hours? That just means work more, but do it at times that aren't 9-5. Parental leave? Big companies and Europe have had that for ages.
Oh, and that culture fit crap? That's just discrimination - rebranded! What? You don't like what other late 20s upper-class educated males like? Be gone heathen!
Not saying big companies or government jobs are any better. But at the very least you're already cynical about those things and demand to get paid well enough in risk-adjusted terms.
This is a worthwhile suggestion regardless of startup or not. You don't want a large portion of your assets tied up in the company you work for, where a calamitous event can both cause you to lose your job and your savings. Take the cash, invest it in / bet it on something where there is low correlation between the investment performance and your probability of continued employment.
Someone like you shouldn't work for a startup. Go and work for a big company, go poison the atmosphere there. It's just not a good fit on both ends. If they're cheating you so bad, if it's so obviously a bad deal, why do you even care? In your view, startups suck and no one makes a lot of money or learns anything, so you aren't missing much.
Go work at Oracle and be happy with your 401k.
I remember talking to a friend of mine who had to fire half his workforce in order to give his company six months more runway to succeed- he was absolutely devastated about it. Those coworkers were his friends and allies. He still did it, though. To a certain extent it wasn't even his choice.
Realizing these things does not make you a corporate workaday drone.
Check us out: http://www.simplyinsured.com
Why are schools failing to teach engineers about caring for their own careers? I do not think most business majors would put up with kind of crap. They are all taught to negotiate for salary and to get high earnings early as a basis for later demands. They also understand how stock options work and that 0.5% over a four-year vesting cycle with no protection in the event of acquisition is an atrociously bad deal.
CS graduates have it very good right now, much, much better than business majors.
I've worked at 2 early-stage "prestigious enough" startups and now work at a much larger company that offers a much better work-life balance/salary/benefits/etc. What I've found is that contrary to my fears, it does indeed have "smart people, interesting problems to work on", etc. - without the BS you have to deal with at smaller and/or unprofitable startups (bad benefits, hours, etc.). To be fair, it's harder to find larger companies that offer this, and the one I'm at isn't massive, it's no more than 50 people.
Unless invalidated startups begin offering better equity packages (because most can't usually afford to pay market salaries) they are going to see talent leave. It baffles me to think that companies think they can get away with this. And to those engineers who accept below-market salaries and small equity packages I ask you to question why - know that even if you work your *ss off and the product succeeds, your equity payout is probably in the tens of thousands at most - a typical bonus for a lot of entry/mid-level software engineers.
This is the part where we wave our hands and drop a smoke bomb.
You're theoretically right, but it never works out that way. For all intents and purposes, in the current state of the tech economy, there is no inherent risk to working for a startup. If my company went belly-up today I'll bounce off the floor juuuust fine.
Equity at this point is not being given in exchange for the risk of the company failing, it's given as a tool to decrease other forms of compensation.
And it's a shitty trade. Founders know it and experienced employees know it. The only people who are falling for this are the fresh-faced college grads who think 0.1% pre-dilution of your startup will make them rich.
But lots of engineers get convinced to take huge pay cuts in exchange for a pittance in equity, and to forego huge amounts of benefits that are worth real cash.
"Compensated with appropriate equity" is bullshit. If this was standard operating procedure we wouldn't be walking around acting like sub-1% pre-dilution is worth anything whatsoever.
Companies I've worked for in the past would never dole out more than 1% to engineers, but dropped anywhere from 2-5% on sales / biz-dev / managers. In one case, the engineers had actually been with the company for years and working at half-market wages prior to the non-technical hires.
I'm a current founder and my first 10 employees are going to get a hell of a lot more than .5%
But, founders obviously cannot have anti-dilution prevention. When a company is founded, by definition the founders have 100% of it, and the only way they can raise money is by diluting.
If two founders and three VC reps are sitting around the board table discussing the next round of funding, if there is heavy dilution it will often include stock grants to all the people sitting around the table to reduce their pain. An employee doesn't have a seat sitting around that table, so he is more likely to be pinched by dilution that the founders or the VCs.
Potentially later stage startups that retain founders as C level executives grant stock but that's a separate distinction I would think.
If you aren't around that board room table, you are SOL.
I've learned that founders have a much greater risk/reward ratio than employees. The ratio is really not even close. The assumption that founders risk it "all" is a fallacy. The assumption that employees have less risk is also inaccurate. It depends on the situation, sure -- but I know plenty of startups founded by people who can crash and burn and not have their livelihood affected.
As for "risk compensated with appropriate equity", I'd have to say that most early-stage employees get screwed. The only case where early-stage pans out with commensurate reward at the employee level is when a company goes public. Given that most successful exits nowadays are through acquisition, most early employees are simply hosed.
Yes. We should also note that IPOs are much more rare than they once were, the entire world economy is flat or failing, and the flurry of $1M/employee acqu-hires from last year by Apple, Google and Facebook was an aberration and not an economic principle that is likely to be repeated, and even then didn't benefit the actual engineers.
The reward upside on yet-another-startup doing the same thing is quite poor.
On the other hand, creating your own business and avoiding VC's entirely is still a good bet compared to these other alternatives. For those who want risk, it's a great way to go. For risk avoiders, there's tons of well compensated employment working for mature and reasonable companies.
What is the value proposition of these startups that have low compensation, completely retarded so-called products, and almost no chance whatsoever of going public? None.
In my own case, I've been working for 18 months with no salary and I don't consider myself unique. Most founders go down the same long long road before they bring on their first employee. I've learned that most employees (if they haven't gone through the process of founding a company) dismiss the amount of risk founders take on to get a company to the point of even being able to make their first hire.
The whole question seems like we should create a standard model for the risk reward and set equity appropriately.
I don't think this is really the issue. The issue is that the economics of startups don't really work if you expect below-market salaries to be a thing.
Founders shoulder tremendous risk and (the smart ones) live on starvation-level salaries for months, if not years, before they bring on their first employee. Sure - and they deserve to be compensated appropriately via equity.
Employees, having taken on only minimal risk, don't deserve much equity at all - equity at this point is a bonus and a motivator to act in the company's best interests.
This works great. The problem comes along when we bring in sub-market salaries. The reduction in salary or benefits demands an increase in equity - equity coming directly out of the founders.
And here's where it all falls apart: to make up for below-market compensation, the amount of equity that would be rationally required would mean too little equity to account for founder risk. The numbers simply do not add up.
True(er) a decade or so ago, but definitely not true today. Founders currently, if they're doing it right, risk a bruised ego and a submarket salary for a few years. Employee risk is about the same.
Some of you may be too young to remember the good old, bad old days of the Cold War, but one thing that was supposed to be anathema to Americans were "planned economies". It was proposed, mostly by corporate types and their supporters, that the US should not be a planned economy, it should be an economy like how the US is run - the majority stockholders of corporations make decisions about capital and production.
What happens when production decisions are not planned? There is a risk capital can be spent to create a product no one wants. Isn't that half the discussion on HN - minimal viable products, agile development, and other methods to try to avoid this? Why do the angels, VCs, and now blessed founders deserve so much money? Because they took on risk.
So the VCs tell us we should avoid planned economies and have an economy with risk - where capital is wasted on products no one wants. Then we're told they deserve all of this money because our economy has so much risk. It's a great tautology if you're willing to swallow it.
Living in San Francisco is expensive as fuck. You should do everything to make your employees lives easier so they can concentrate more time to work.
In the start-up world, if you don't think the company is going to grow then what's the point joining the team? It sounds like the author is looking for settling down, a stable income which is more suitable with bigger companies like Google.
It's weird to compare two different kinds of companies. High risk high return, low risk low return always holds. He's looking for something with low risk and of course, he doesn't want to work with any Y Companies. No right or wrong tho, personal choice.
Why is it everyone is still afraid or committed to upholding this "taboo" about talk regarding salaries? Companies LOVE this. What's fair? Fuck if I know. I don't know what anyone else makes but my close friends, and that's a tiny sampling.
While you're sharing advice, why intentionally spread ignorance? "Fuck you, pay me" you say. But what if my asking price is unbeknownst to me below market for someone of my experience, work ethic, age, and talent? That has an impact on both me AND you. Think about it.
It could have been good for people job hunting or interested generally at an "inside look" at the market.
There's nothing wrong with looking at all your free market offers and making your choice.
For some reason I can't understand though, you crossed the line into "YC companies owe me better". They don't. They owe you what ever offer they seem reasonable if they took the time you interview you. You owe them consideration of their offer and an answer. That's the dance.
If the pattern is that obvious, what's he doing going back for interviews 4..12?
In a shock development, apparently YC companies don't slaver over "senior" employees who have stuff like this in their profiles: "I'm just this guy who used to enjoy tech, now I would rather build bicycles. I still work in the tech industry, for the money, but I no longer call myself a "technologist"."
Wow, you can really feel the passion.
If you think a company should offer a higher salary and/or better benefits, then best is to be frank and tell them. Especially since you are experienced and you've been given offers, a simple email or call saying "Hey guys, I think what you're doing is great but there are other companies at the same stage as you giving much better salaries/benefits", I like to think they'd be open to listening and looking to change. A illogical correlation + complaint on HN is not exactly doing yourself or anyone any good.
I'm on my phone. In landscape it's readable, but in portrait the lines break weird like an email program wrapped them wrong.
I make around to slightly above market rates.
I have no benefits.
I pay for health insurance.
I have no paid vacation.
I don't get catered lunches.
I don't get a foosball table either.
Even though I'm a field service engineer, I don't even have a company vehicle.
I'm a mid-career telecom engineer, I've been doing telecom support and IT Service for 10 years, I would love to find a permanent position, every perm role I have made it into, I've been either downsized or outsourced out of. So I contract. So when I see someone like this bemoaning their very good situation, I can't help but roll my eyes a little.
I know in NYC when the company I was with sold, my total tax rate was 52% on it.
Someone scrimping and saving every penny and working a side job is not going to grab some hardware that helps them work, or take a cab when they need it to get to an important meeting, or work overnight, etc. they are going to scrimp and save and be less effective and clock out ASAP each day to do their contracting or spend time with their kid.
It doesn't really surprise me that he then considers joining a C round company the same as joining a freshly funded YC company and that he thinks both will just sell to a talent acquisition. And that he doesn't think a smaller earlier company gives him a lot more independence and control over what happens to the company. You can find a lot of founders who definitely will not go for a talent acquisition, which you would do if you are going for a big win. And joining a later round at the same equity means much less upside for the big win. You aren't going to be part of as many big valuation increases. But if you aren't putting a lot into the startup and are spending time on kids, contacting on the side, saving up for a house, I kind of doubt you are going for a big win at your company anyway.
It's OK if you aren't going for a big win, but should you join a startup if you aren't? Should you say joining a startup is a bad idea when you are intentionally making all the choices that make it a bad idea? I don't think he's really in a position to even understand the cost benefits of more cash/benefits vs. more equity and more runway and better startup performance since he doesn't care about the startup's performance, so of course he prefers more cash/benefits.
A bit of an aside but could someone elaborate on this? Is the OP referring to an 83(b) election? If so, isn't that his responsibility (of course, the company should advise him to do this). Or is this referring to something else?
At any rate, my impression is that there would be California taxes as well on that income, bringing the taxes well above 15%.
You do have to pay for the shares out of pocket though so it's a risky move - could end up having paid cash for worthless shares, especially in an early stage company.
- 30k/year (minus all the taxes) ~21/23k/y
- 28 days for holidays.
- No health insurances (free health insurance on the country)
- No conferences
- No pluses.
Profitable companies: a bit more of money, but not that much: 35K/year.
About shares, as usual: the promise. some of them makes you sign something but to opt those you need to stay around 5 years, wait to be IPO or you can sell the opt to the company for a really stupid price.
With taxes you pay the pension, etc.
I personally hate having "benefits" in my compensation which come out of my salary which I don't really want. Sometimes companies get tax savings (i.e. they can deduct, I can't), but VERY RARELY do they get actual dollar savings (health insurance is one weird case, due to some people being more expensive to insure than they could ever pay, and that risk being spread across a group).
My personal ideal benefits package is:
0) Private office, 24x7 hvac, a door, decent security, locking storage, parking on-site ideally with a guard or gate. Essentially non-negotiable (or, wfh). EV parking would be nice too soon.
1) Max 401k match and maybe even profit sharing (in California, I'd happily take $1 of salary and put it into employer 401k match) -- I think you can get up to 46k/yr max, so 15k personal contribution, 5% salary match, and the rest as profit share up to 46k.
2) FSA, Transportation accounts (fully deductible for employer, and non-taxed). I ended up buying a bunch of air filters and condoms when I had an FSA, and I guess I could find a use for a TSA.
3) As much hardware as I realistically can use ($10-20k/yr -- not just computers, but I'd love to have a budget for a hw lab). Someone recently questioned whether a $4k per developer laptop budget was legitimate, and I seriously question why someone would deny a $1-2k marginal expense on a worker generating >$500k/yr in returns.
4) Conference/books/etc. (time is the big cost for the company there, not the cost) -- and "if you're speaking at a conference related to work, we cover nice travel)
5) Free food/etc. (i.e. RG's "unlimited Seamless"). Bad food is of negative value, since I'll feel obligated to eat it.
6) Decent travel when travel is required. Not first class, but helping you make it less painful -- either letting you do your own bookings (I'm better than any corp travel agent I've used), or doing it for you. Optimize for ff status. I pretty much need a $65/day car vs. a $30/day car (and tend to pay for the upgrade out of pocket when it's not covered), but would in exchange prefer a more complex $300 routed ticket vs. a $500 direct flight, and would stay on starwood points sometimes vs. paying cash.
7) I prefer to keep my health insurance separate from the company, for practical and philosophical reasons. (I pay $118/mo for better coverage than ~any company I've seen). Give me $5k/yr into my HSA instead, and pay any other marginal insurance benefit to me as extra salary or more RAM or something.
8) Use of company resources for personal projects (e.g. hosting a tech user's group, or helping friends launch their own startups by letting them use conference rooms when meeting with people, etc. etc.
I'm curious if people are "picky" like me, or would just prefer a bunch of benefits as a package. There are HR reasons to give everyone the same thing, but IMO one of the advantages of being a small startup is being able to customize packages for people. If I hired someone with sick kids, I'd obviously make sure there were a group health insurance plan for him or her. If I hired someone who was on an H1B or otherwise needed citizenship sponsorship, I'd call in favors with undersecretaries to write letters on his behalf. etc. There's no need for a small company to act like a megacorp.
You've got to be kidding me. I mean that's nice. But it's just so idealistic and so outside of the realities of the vast majority of people that live on planet Earth. I just see too much anti-money stuff on HN sometimes. It's as if everyone thinks their startup is changing the world for the better but many times it's just some CRUD based marketing tool or something ... not exactly feeding kids Sudan.
> (I pay $118/mo for better coverage than ~any company I've seen)
I don't know how old you are but that is unlikely to last. If it does, you are in such a minority here that I don't see how that furthers a point (along with the "money's no big thang" deal, it's a very anomalous situation). Just being honest.
Where are you getting your better coverage than at a company? I heard group coverage was insanely difficult to get outside the umbrella of a large risk pool (ie, corporate)...
Most of the times benefits offered are optional - I've never been forced into any benefit at my company. Also the cost for benefits are usually better for larger pools than smaller so some of the not-as-popular options you state would cost the company an inordinate amount if you were the only subscriber.
I forgot about FSA reductions (which were already pretty bad when you have both an HSA and FSA). I probably don't have anything useful to spend FSA money on.
Other employer contributions. If the plan document permits, the employer can make additional contributions (other than matching contributions) for participants, including participants who choose not to contribute elective deferrals to the 401(k) plan. If the 401(k) plan is top-heavy, the employer may be required to make minimum contributions on behalf of certain employees. In general, a plan is top-heavy if the account balances of key employees exceed 60% of the account balances of all employees. The rules relating to the determination of whether a plan is top-heavy are complex. Please refer to section 1.416-1 of the Income Tax Regulations for the rules describing how to determine whether a plan is top-heavy.
NOTE: I am not an accountant or lawyer.
(Personal bias: healthcare, developer tools, hard tech -- other people probably have different preferences)
Tesla or SpaceX or Cryptography Research or Flylogic might top these, but any would be better than Wells Fargo, IMO.
overall this is true, but its as rare as a finding an employee like the one in the article to accept accept below market rates and less than stellar benefits.
(The exception was government contracting, where it was >$250k/yr but the most meaningless work, 3 year old broken Dell laptops, and generally horrible.)
Could you please elaborate on this?