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I think the free market mostly answers this question. According to indeed.com, the average software engineer salary is $91K. So obviously a company (assuming they could properly identify them) would pay $910K/year to a 10x programmer. Are there people out there making that for pure coding (i.e. not management)? Maybe, but it seems doubtful. I would think that generally 99.9999% of programmers make less than $400K if they're just doing programming (I'm excluding things like options or equity in comp, which is mostly just a lotto ticket anyway). So the market seems to think that even the absolute best are 3x-4x programmers.



On the contrary, I've seen that options/equity is how the 10x programmers are compensated in most large companies. Everyone has a 100-200k base pay and the average programmers get 50k in options, whereas the 10x one gets 500k.


Acqui-hires are basically, companies paying multiples of standard salary for exceptional programmers.


So obviously a company (assuming they could properly identify them) would pay $910K/year to a 10x programmer.

The 10x-100x engineers tend to have names like Carmack and Torvalds. So, yes, they tend to get what they're worth, in the end.


is Torvalds earning 900k/year? i dont know, but i have doubts that he is.

But using salary is a wrong metric, because a 100x programmer would be founding their own company, and the value they gain is sometimes worth way more than 100x the average salary had they remained a salaried employee.


Following a Efficient Wage approach, productivity and wages don't grow linearly.




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