Do you think it’s better to work at a startup - in hopes of an IPO, or is it better to work for a Big 4 tech company? (In hopes of making the most money)

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I’m at a startup now and actually getting paid more flat cash than big tech. I’m learning a ton, but the work is brutal. I don’t regret it, but I’d probably look for a cushy big tech job in the future if I can

likesmart

Yes learn a lot with the day 1 culture , get paid a ton but also nuances are sometimes they can be stuck in their ways .
Burning midnight oil for financial and professional benefits over WLB

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I currently work at Google and have been there for almost 9 years. But before that, I worked at three startups. Two of them went IPO and one was acquired (for a pittance, they made many mistakes even though they were in a good market and had great customers for a while).

Now, I'm 55. I would say that, barring having a family and needing the stability, going to a few different startups (especially the ones that are well run, have solid VC advisors, etc.) are great.

I'm not a SWE But a lot of times at a startup you can experiment with different stacks and libraries and things like that, really more innovative at heart. And of course, you can get your (what I call) "lottery tickets."

Are all startups the same? Absolutely not. But, compensation and stability aside (because I do have a family), I think it's worth it to at least try one or two startups, settle on your own personal brand, and then take a job with Google or something similar. In Google's case, you used to be able to exit the company on a good note (xoogler) and then come back within a period of time (maybe the amount of time to experience that startup?) and rejoin with a few interviews. You were prevetted.

That may all have changed recently, but there's definitely a strategy here of going between a startup and a big tech company and bouncing around for both compensation, equity, but also to experience new technology and be able to innovate a bit as well.

likesmart
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Right now I wouldn't bank on an IPO anytime soon the stock market is in the shitter and tech as a sector has cooled

likehelpful

This. You’d better be incredibly confident that the startup is a true unicorn with really robust funding.

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Well I’ve been thru the first one and the only thing good about it was the $$$. I hated the job at the end.

If you enjoy your work and the people you work with and you can afford to live on your salary, that’s all that matters in the end.

Now I want to try Big Tech!!! (If you’re looking for a SDE… Google, Apple, Amazon, Netflix, Microsoft, Meta… I’m your person!!!)

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I did big tech. I’m in a startup now. Go to big tech. 100%

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Would you like to share any thoughts or reasons why? Thanks

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You work to get paid. Chase the money.

likesmart

It depends upon where you are in your career and what you goals are. Never take a job for money. You will be miserable if you hate the work. Do what you love and be great at it, the money will come.

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That would be my advice as well. It depends on where you are in your career, and what you hope to do in the future. I would also lean toward an established corporation right now, as the start up environment can go south in a heartbeat.

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I’ve been on both sides. If money is your goal, big tech 100%. If you work at a startup, you risk stock dilution and have no idea when/if your company will IPO. Also unless you come in at an early stage or an executive role, your payout is likely not going to be very much. In the years it would take to IPO, your salary and stock at a big tech firm will likely be more than what you would get out of a lower salary and IPO at a startup.

Not to mention you could invest that higher payout at the big tech firm and get an even higher return in the time it takes for the IPO to happen. Given the conditions of the market at the moment, you’re more likely to get laid off than make it to IPO.

likehelpful

IPO is IFcome.

It may or may not work out. The company could be bought out before it’s IPO and you may not receive new shares until after the IPO when all c-level folks and directors are already millionaires. That’s exactly what happened in my case.

You might get lucky and join a unicorn like Figma and have all your RSUs immediately vested.

In either case, it comes down to what your passions are along with your tolerance for risk.

Based on current market conditions, I’d personally look for a company that’s already publicly traded and provides RSUs as part of their yearly compensation package. Much higher likelihood of a good return.

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That kinda what happened to me. A public company with RSU. 4 year vested and lots of 2-1 splits the one year I was there. Had enough for a down on my current home! 😃

Now I want a company I can afford to live on and support my family. If only my current company could do that…

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Having only done the startup route I would say the big tech route- but maybe the grass is always greener. At least in big tech the money is there you just have to figure out how to get more- with startups sometimes it’s just not there.

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There are pros and cons. I worked at a unicorn startup and made lots of friendships and wore plenty of hats. However, I also saw my options go from over 2 million to nothing, and I worked long hours, weekends and travelled plenty. Big tech companies offer real RSUs and name recognition. Real RSUs mean I can make real purchases that can actually change my family’s situation for the better predictably - home purchases, school tuition, etc.
Work wise, things were more specialized, but it was also easier to have wlb.

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There is just a huge difference between start-ups and Fortune 10 companies.

I worked for two startups, one that IPO’d and one that was acquired. Made solid money off both exits. I really enjoyed the fast paced culture, was super close with my coworkers, had tons of clear upword mobility opportunities and paths, etc. But also worked 10+ hours a day, had cheap benefits and insurance, etc.

Now I work at Google, make more money annually, have better benefits, have a much healthier work life balance, etc. But it is super slow paced, can get boring at times, definitely not as close to my coworkers now, moving up the corporate ladder takes longer, etc.

So it comes down to where you are in your career and what you are looking for / what excites you / what your risk tolerance is.

I have enjoyed both for different reasons 🙂

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Big tech is pretty boring. I’m jumping to a startup because I’m tired of being bored

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Working at a startup rn and I’d give it up just to be BORED.

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I personally do not work in tech but a ton of my friends do. Based on their experiences I would say the move is to go big tech for a few years just to get some brand recognition and experience. Then move into a higher role at a series D or later stage tech company where you can actually earn a significant chunk of equity in 2-4 years before they ideally exit. I’ve had a few friends pull this off and they’re all millionaires before the age of 30 and now are about to exit the workforce entirely and start their own start ups.

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In my experience it really comes down to workload and work/life balance. You can forget having the latter in a startup and you will be working a lot. The expectation is also you work a lot. But usually the work is interesting and fulfilling in a lot of ways. And usually the teams you work with are much closer knit.

At a larger company, I’ve found the work being incredible simple and basic. Low expectations so it’s easier to shine. Pay is often time comparable if not better. And it’s far easier to set boundaries for personal/work life. I prefer this at this point in my career.

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It depends on several factors. Having done both, I’d say big company. When I was at Meta in earlier years, I sold my stock and diversified into other startups. I had the funds to do that bc I was paid well. I wanted startup experience, so I left and while I was higher level roles and paid decent, I worked harder than I could have imagined, rode the ups/downs of founders, competition in the market, and growing/learning pains.

Ultimately, unless you come in very early funding rounds, have a good chunk of equity (leadership), and are poised for an acquisition or IPO…which is really rare and harder to know that early stage in what you’ll actually face…it’s a big risk.

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Why you want to work in a startup is an important question that you need to address. Priorities have to be clearly defined. To help you, below are a few parameters that you need to consider.

Why I need to join a startup?

1. Is it for Flexibility
2. Is it for Stability
3. Is it for a Work life Balance
4. Is it for Learning new things
5. Is it to create Wealth
6. Is it to take Ownership.
7. Is it for the culture
8. Is it for the pay package.

Once you have your priorities set and answers to the above question you will be able to take a calculative decision purely driven by data and your own personal goal.

likehelpful

For me, I wanted to work at established companies. The insecurity and unreliability of start up is a major turn off, even despite the potential monetary gains. But to each their own

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No need to choose one or the other. Many flip flop throughout their career. There are advantages and disadvantages to both. You get sick of one and switch to the other, and you can do that many times.
A lot of it depends on your life at the time.

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You can’t eat stock, depending on how your finances are going in

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