Got an offer from a startup - are these red flags?

Amazon / Eng RedFlags
Feb 3, 2018 45 Comments

Got an offer from an MLish startup recently.

Red flags:

- at first didn’t offer to pay for the onsite, later did and chalked up to a “misunderstanding”
- gave really easy problems and 1 hard problem with coaching (didn’t get the hard one)
- easy hackerrank and phone screen
- have a bunch of offices despite only having a few hundred people
- office had a bunch of empty space, almost nobody there during the onsite
- recruiter seemed really amped to give me an offer despite mediocre performance on my part

Green flags

- super sharp interviewers from Stanford, Caltech, MIT, Harvard, equivalent schools
- seems to be working on an interesting space
- offer is pretty reasonable for the area at ~$130k cash plus ~$25k signing, no equity BS
- employees used to work at Google, FB, Jane Street, Dropbox
- role fits what I’m looking for to a T

Am I being paranoid or is this a decent offer?

comments

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TOP 45 Comments
  • MongoDB Donkey Kon
    No equity at a small startup is a very big red flag. You will likely learn a lot though. However, you should be rewarded if the company does well and make a big profit from stock. This seems like a company that may have a great idea, strong engineers but no one with a strong sale/business side. I’d avoid if they don’t give you stock. And consider if they give you enough and you believe in their vision.

    Feb 3, 2018 0
  • Yahoo vs35deu
    I don’t know what “no equity BS” means. You mean they gave you a fair amount of equity on a standard vesting schedule that you’re happy with? If so, it’s a below average offer, but nothing special.

    Do you mean they didn’t give you any equity? If so... RUN AWAY. You work at Amazon. You can do better than no equity from a shitty startup that pulls the shady stuff you’re saying.
    Feb 3, 2018 17
    • Proofpoint rix
      No equity is a screaming red flag.
      Feb 3, 2018
    • SoFi ehGL33
      Yahoo - although you’ll learn fast, you may not learn the best practices because everything is moving a lightning speed. For me personally, I found that a well-reputed start allowed me to know how best to succeed in my role and I’ve taken that to startups to help approach and manage the chaos.
      Feb 3, 2018
    • Amazon / Eng RedFlags
      OP
      Where’d you start?
      Feb 3, 2018
    • SoFi ehGL33
      FAANG. Still pays dividends even though it was my first job many years ago
      Feb 3, 2018
    • Amazon / Eng RedFlags
      OP
      Which one tho,
      Feb 4, 2018
  • Microsoft NpcH23
    What do you mean by no equity bs?
    Feb 3, 2018 3
    • MongoDB Donkey Kon
      Think he/she meant they didn’t get any equity, This is BullShit :)
      Feb 3, 2018
    • Amazon / Eng RedFlags
      OP
      The stereotype is equity that will likely never be worth anything is heavily valued in total compensation, whereas here it’s all cash at a decent rate for a new grad
      Feb 3, 2018
    • Microsoft NpcH23
      No equity? Really? Don’t go. It’s a bad sign that the management does not think you are a part of the team. They can say all the sweet stuff but their numbers aren’t showing it.
      Feb 4, 2018
  • Cognizant pmdz25.2
    Your gut already has the answer.
    Feb 3, 2018 0
  • Microsoft ysvr47
    You know your current level and what position you interviewed for. If the interview was too simple then that's a red flag. If you don't have many years of experience then go for it and you will learn a lot.
    Feb 3, 2018 7
    • Yahoo vs35deu
      Almost every influencer disagrees with you. NCGs will have very small roles at Google/Facebook, and they’ll gain just as much structure and process at a late stage startup. Brands are good but they’re easy to get into with 2 - 4 yrs experience.

      ETA: that said there’s no question that an average offer from Amazon is way better than a shitty offer at any unknown startup, especially and pre-C startup that doesn’t include equity. Run away from no equity.
      Feb 3, 2018
    • SEVENROOMS / Eng DEADB33F
      Startups in general are very hit or miss. I would go with the known thing for know.
      Feb 3, 2018
    • Yahoo vs35deu
      By series C or D you’re doing fine. But series seed or A or B no way. (ETA: i confused two threads. Yes unknown startup bad. Series C or D good. Amazon better than unknown startup but maybe equal to series C or D.) my bad.
      Feb 3, 2018
    • Microsoft ysvr47
      OP is asking for red flags n whether the offer is OK, not comparing FANG offers with his current offer.
      Feb 3, 2018
    • Yahoo vs35deu
      OP is asking for advice. We are giving it.
      Feb 3, 2018
  • New zgBx36
    Offer is relative to area. Where is it?
    Feb 3, 2018 4
    • Amazon / Eng RedFlags
      OP
      I’d give the company away if I gave the precise location but it’s cheaper than New York/SF
      Feb 3, 2018
    • New zgBx36
      Lol noone knows startups outside ny or sf
      Feb 3, 2018
    • SEVENROOMS / Eng DEADB33F
      Cheaper than NY?!? What region? The only other areas that comes to mind are Boston and Chicago.
      Feb 3, 2018
    • Amazon / Eng RedFlags
      OP
      It’s one of those
      Feb 4, 2018
  • This comment was deleted by original commenter.

    • Yahoo vs35deu
      What in the OP’s statement leads you to believe that? OP didn’t comment on cash flow anywhere.
      Feb 3, 2018
  • Intel pioneer
    Empty offices can be good or bad. Good if empty = work from home. Bad if empty = no employees.
    Feb 3, 2018 1
    • Amazon / Eng RedFlags
      OP
      They have 50-something engineers. Weather/rain was pretty bad during the onsite and the office was new so that could make sense.
      Feb 3, 2018
  • Lyft sUPA43
    This is just economics. the company is in an "uncool" location, offers no equity, and there's general shortage of tech employees. under these conditions they don't see much supply (that's you) and have to take whatever they can get.
    Feb 4, 2018 0
  • Databricks
    datadicks

    Databricks

    BIO
    I suck
    datadicksmore
    “MLish startup” already sounds bad. No equity is really bad. Don’t be blinded by all the pedigree. They are probably idiots too.
    Feb 4, 2018 0
  • New mrmez
    If they’re offering no equity they better make up for it on the cash side. Might be worth continuing to interview to see what your options are.
    Feb 4, 2018 0
  • OpenText / Eng no_scrubs
    I like empty offices. The facebook campus feels like Disneyland; too busy. And it's really hard to find parking.
    Feb 3, 2018 0
  • Amazon Qlch60
    Why wouldn't you expect equity?
    I think you could attribute most of the "red flags" to the fact that this is a relatively new startup.
    Feb 3, 2018 0

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