Journey to get a $500k+ offer at a public company

Google / Eng L4Scrub
May 31, 2018 182 Comments

Curious about people who have gotten offers that pay $500k+. Note that I'm NOT talking about current comp (which can factor in stock appreciation, or some convenient accounting of sign-on bonus). I'm talking about an offer where:

Base Salary + target bonus and
RSUs vesting each year AT GRANT PRICE

total up to $500k or more. How many years of experience did you have? What company made the offer and at what level? What space did you work in (something niche or general)? Any advice to someone who is a middling dev on how to get there?

This precludes people who have likely been promoted up in their company and people working at pre-ipo companies. Also before someone inevitably screams "TC or GTFO" my comp is at 340k at grant price.

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TOP 182 Comments
  • Amazon amawhole
    level and yoe
    May 31, 2018 21
    • Facebook O!6f
      500k+, 3 years of exp
      May 31, 2018
    • Breathometer / Eng 27savage
      That Facebook money, sweet
      Jun 1, 2018
    • Roku IUQJ80
      @27savage : what do you do then ?
      Jun 1, 2018
    • Tyler Technologies / Eng RGOd34
      And I make less than 100k 😢
      Jun 1, 2018
    • Breathometer / Eng 27savage
      @IUQJ80 r&d medical devices
      Jun 1, 2018
  • Google bajji
    Took 15 years to cross 500k at public company.

    After graduating, I worked for some random start up for 1 year. Then moved to a mid sized Enterprise software company (not in Bay area) and worked there for 11 years. Was a Director by the time I left. TC was $385k when I left.

    Joined a smaller preIPO in SF as a Manager and worked for 2 years. Total cash comp was $280k but with preIPO stock options, the TC was about 550k (with potential to increase .. hopefully once the company goes public. It's still preIPO btw).

    Joined Google last year as a level 7 manager for a total comp of $720k. Had competing offers from Amazon and Facebook (both for level 7) at that time which probably helped.

    15 years is a long time to get here. I am happy with my career so far but I envy all the bright folks these days who are having amazing career growth at such a young age.
    May 31, 2018 14
    • Oath htpernn
      Do you think developing a "jack of all trades" skill set is a viable approach for such a career path? I started off as a coder but have been straying off that path for quite some time
      Jun 1, 2018
    • Google bajji
      I became a Manager very early in my career (at year 5).

      In retrospect, I feel staying in one company for a long time gave me the opportunity to work on several projects many of which were short term but over time cumulatively made a big impact. I would say my growth to a Director level was relatively slow at that company.

      After that, Joining a preIPO/relatively-small company as a Sr. Engineering Manager (i.e in many ways a step down from my previous Director role) was a big move for me. It was very hard since I also took a hit on total cash comp. There were many days where I questioned my choice. However, I just motivated myself by looking at the new experience I was gaining (building a team quickly and delivering a consumer facing product and working with both product and infrastructure teams). In the end, the experience was hugely helpful. I got promoted to Director in a 2 years.

      My interviews at Google had two system design rounds and my experience at the previous company greatly helped. The management/leadership interviews were very conversational and there is really nothing one can do to "perform better" in those interviews.
      Jun 1, 2018
    • Oath htpernn
      Thank you for sharing your experience! This is extremely helpful! Really hope I can pave a path for myself like you did for yourself. Congrats on your success!
      Jun 1, 2018
    • Oracle Jccoejebbh
      Is there any coding questions for google L7 interview?
      Jun 2, 2018
    • Apple / Eng NRxt00
      bajji how much of your knowledge growth would you say comes from experience vs reading or hacking outside of the job?
      Jun 11, 2018
  • Facebook enginear
    The top companies all pay >500 in the current market for fairly senior engineers. Try to get to L6 or L7 at Google.

    It took me 6 years to get to 500k+ offers. 1 year at failed startup, 5 years at Google before I moved to FB.

    The key tricks for me are work on a thing that's growing, and that you're excited about. Care deeply about both software, impact, and the people and try to make all of them better.

    At Google, the culture rewards more backend-y things, and doesn't really reward risky projects (unless they pay off). Understand the tradeoffs there.
    May 31, 2018 12
    • Microsoft jfjeiwv76
      Unfortunately, the "growing part" is infinitely more important than the "excited" part. If you're excited about some important low level system that's not growing a lot, your velocity will be slower. Also, if you're "excited" about a field like video games development or game engines (which is hard work that requires a lot of knowledge about optimization/physics/computer graphics), that 500k will be pretty hard to get.
      May 31, 2018
    • Google usurper
      Yeah if what op is saying is true, it's better to be a mediocre engineer in cloud than an excited engineer at Waymo, because the company rewards projects that pay off in the short term. From what I hear, cloud is a ridiculous mess of too many cooks in the kitchen, but from what I've seen at Google that makes perfect sense that they would reward that "complexity".
      May 31, 2018
    • Google Hhgghfggff
      Great points. Any suggestion how to identify such problems that would help you to grow? For example in Facebook.
      May 31, 2018
    • Facebook enginear
      Microsoft person is totally right. Riding a rocket ship is way better for your career than doing stuff you care about.

      Personally I don't do my best work unless I'm excited about it. I do can good work, but not great work. Your mileage may differ, but I try hard to get both (or some balance)
      May 31, 2018
    • Facebook enginear
      @Hhggg... I think about opportunities out it from supply/demand/impact.

      For example, Facebook has publicly said they want to focus on integrity stuff. If you can make that better, you'll obviously have a huge impact on the company. You need lots of engineering to fix that problem. Not ***that** many engineers are fighting for those roles (compared to say VR or self driving cars).
      Jun 1, 2018
  • Facebook supichai
    People are way overpaid
    May 31, 2018 14
    • Reddit j73k7b
      @usurper What are you talking about? GDPR is going to fuck journalists (at least in Europe) by crashing publisher revenues. If anything ads based businesses give the creative class more flexibility and opportunities, not less. e.g. YouTube
      Jun 2, 2018
    • Tableau / Eng
      SloppyJoe

      Tableau Eng

      PRE
      Microsoft
      SloppyJoemore
      I agree @Odie. I've found "intelligent" people seem to get caught up in positive trends much deeper and quicker than average people who tend to be realists. I've seen this multiple times now. Right now it seems nothing can stop this crazy train but it's always amazing how fast a glitch in the rail can throw the industry off the tracks. I've always been a realist so perhaps I'm not as intelligent as some folks on here but I'm also a survivor.

      Just like I always tell people to buy a house that they can be happy living in for ten years since the market can always crash in a few years time and they will be stuck in the house to get back above water, find a job that's vital to your company you can be happy doing very well in for at least five years so if layoffs come, you won't be one of them.
      Jun 2, 2018
    • Facebook / Eng marsh
      Basic economics says no. They make 100k in profit per quarter on average for each employee. Wtf are you talking about.
      Jun 2, 2018
    • Facebook XGoog
      Basic economics says you’re a dumbass @marsh. Pareto principle says 20% of the employees roughly account for most of the profits. The rest of them are by definition “overpaid”.
      Jun 22, 2018
    • Facebook / Eng marsh
      Lol @ taking pareto principal as a literal fact. Like I'm honestly surprised. That rule is not meant to be taken that literally. You have to be stupid to believe that 20% of the employees make most of the profits. The number could be higher or could be lower but making statements like what you did is just dumb. There is a 0% chance you could prove any of what you just said.
      Jun 27, 2018
  • Western Digital Gibbs
    Ohh shit, you missed it just by 10k.
    May 31, 2018 6
    • Western Digital Gibbs
      🌲 fiddy
      May 31, 2018
    • Google / Eng L4Scrub
      OP
      🤦‍♂️ you win this round.
      May 31, 2018
    • Lending Club H8none
      Goddamn lochness 🐍
      May 31, 2018
    • Intel ules53
      Lmao
      May 31, 2018
    • Microsoft OIC-u812
      Bout tree fiddy
      Jun 1, 2018
  • McKesson cBvI24
    Enjoy peaceful life with Avg comp + don’t need to pay additional tax for your hard work + healthy + spend time on kids education === wealthy
    May 31, 2018 5
    • GoodRx 👹 boo
      Agreed. But all of that + 500k is definitely better.
      May 31, 2018
    • Rackspace rEEp18
      Worked 14 hours today to maintain 500k. Sometimes I think about going back to the simple life.
      May 31, 2018
    • Amazon QhrC74
      Keeping 500k with less stress is the best
      May 31, 2018
    • Cisco Avr1UsK
      VPs at Cisco. No work. 500k+
      May 31, 2018
    • Facebook wxPg83
      Lol @ Cisco
      Jun 16, 2018
  • Pivotal / Eng
    zarble

    Pivotal Eng

    PRE
    Amazon, Google
    zarblemore
    825k, 11 years experience, distinguished engineer (that's not exactly my title but it's close enough).

    For me the key negotiation element was making a specific pitch about how to improve and drive revenue at the company with a business plan for doing it.

    Being attached to a revenue-generating part of the company is key for driving higher offer values because your compensation is much easier to justify.

    It makes a lot of sense to pay someone $500k if they're bringing in an extra $20M+. If anything that's a bargain!

    My breakdown is:

    — $225k salary
    — $150k performance bonus tied to personal objectives
    — $150k performance bonus tied to team objectives
    — $300k RSUs
    May 31, 2018 2
    • Bloomberg / Eng the1
      How do you even make something like that happen? How do you even get a chance to pitch your idea to the right people?

      Say someone applies for an IC role, and then in the interview says they have this brilliant idea for a product, it is the wrong place and time right?
      Jun 2, 2018
    • Pivotal / Eng
      zarble

      Pivotal Eng

      PRE
      Amazon, Google
      zarblemore
      It's absolutely part luck. Yes, a standard technical interview is the wrong place for that — a hiring manager won't have any power there.

      I waited until I'd gotten past the rest of the interview and was having a final conversation with an executive (I knew from researching and talking to others that this particular executive was the most likely to interview me).
      Jun 2, 2018
  • IBM
    Wimi83

    IBM

    PRE
    Google, Goldman Sachs
    Wimi83more
    750k. 300k salary plus 450k annual in stock for 4 years assuming special project targets are met (which are trivial if competent).

    14 years experience. Was at 500ish k in GCE before current position change 10 months ago.

    The key negotiating tactic was to pitch essentially a viable plan for an entire complex project and explain relevant experience delivering related items. On a cloud related early project that splits research and product.
    May 31, 2018 5
    • New / Eng RhpJ71
      This is at IBM? Are you a IC or a Manager/Director?
      Jun 1, 2018
    • Apple / Eng
      Rijdi837sj

      Apple Eng

      PRE
      Google, Netflix
      Rijdi837sjmore
      Ibm vp or director? 750k is very high for ibm
      Jun 1, 2018
    • Oracle Ififydugi
      Did they tell you what project to do a pitch for? Companies are tightlipped on their projects at interview time?
      Jun 1, 2018
    • Bloomberg / Eng the1
      How do you even make something like that happen? How do you even get a chance to pitch your idea to the right people?

      Say someone applies for an IC role, and then in the interview says they have this brilliant idea for a product, it is the wrong place and time right?
      Jun 2, 2018
    • VMware / Product lRQQ72
      Yes bad place , what he didn't tell you was that you need great network of the right people to make the idea real....
      Sep 19, 2018
  • Uber bummer
    Just go to Netflix. I know someone with 4 years of experience who recently left Uber and makes $550k all cash at Netflix.
    May 31, 2018 3
    • ServiceNow fwgh76
      I heard something similar
      Jun 1, 2018
    • Apple / Eng
      Rijdi837sj

      Apple Eng

      PRE
      Google, Netflix
      Rijdi837sjmore
      How is it possible?
      Jun 1, 2018
    • Uber bummer
      Netflix hires all engineers at pretty much the same level - Sr. Software Eng. pretty much all hires end up in the 400k - 600k all cash band.
      Jun 2, 2018
  • Apple naidraug2
    15 years / Apple / ICT6 / Background in games
    May 31, 2018 4
    • Apple / Eng
      Rijdi837sj

      Apple Eng

      PRE
      Google, Netflix
      Rijdi837sjmore
      Hi apple fellow can you break down your numbers?
      Jun 1, 2018
    • Apple naidraug2
      $255K base / $660K RSU over 4 years / $95K signing
      Jun 2, 2018
    • Apple / Eng
      Rijdi837sj

      Apple Eng

      PRE
      Google, Netflix
      Rijdi837sjmore
      Finnally see an ict6! You guys are legendary lol. Great offer congrats
      Jun 2, 2018
    • Apple / Eng Decibel
      I’ve heard ICT-6 folks are very rare, but there are at least three of them on my team that I know of. Maybe it depends on the org? This is for the Riccio org.
      Jun 2, 2018
  • Google QNHJ03
    L7, 10yoe - TC ~$750k. Do good work and enjoy the ride... After my TC exceeded $300k... Additional $$ has not resulted in any more happiness and joy.
    Jun 1, 2018 9
    • Google tc=380;y=7
      L7 target is 25% yep
      Jun 1, 2018
    • Google tcCd20
      Nice username
      Jun 1, 2018
    • Google hedgeit
      I wonder if additional 3M$ could have added to joy.
      Jun 1, 2018
    • Apple naidraug2
      Agreed, I didn’t feel particularly different after crossing that $300K threshold. $400K, $500K, $600K, they’re all such ridiculous numbers they felt kind of meaningless.
      Jun 2, 2018
    • Cisco / Eng Vhfrsstbj
      Reality if you are avoiding lifestyle inflation almost all of the comp above spend is just going into a portfolio. Most people do not get the same fun watching a portfolio grow as they get from a stream of toys ... until the day the quit and basically do whatever the fuck they want.
      Jun 2, 2018
  • Rackspace rEEp18
    Specialize and work for multiple companies. I have three gigs totalling in the realm of 550k/year without factoring in option grants. Find out what everyone else is doing and do something that is valuable to those people. My dad begged me to get into software development but I chose field CTO because I knew there's no shortage of developers but there is a shortage of people who can hell-tank blame.
    May 31, 2018 13
    • Yahoo IwXw53
      Same! Pls add
      Jun 1, 2018
    • HPE JxyC45
      I am also interested!
      Jun 2, 2018
    • Facebook wutsluv
      I'm also interested
      Jun 4, 2018
    • Google _tomato
      What is a field CTO?
      Jun 25, 2018
    • Google _tomato
      And interested, of course!
      Jun 25, 2018
  • Google / Eng
    actim

    Google Eng

    PRE
    Nvidia
    actimmore
    Not exactly >500k but close enough and a bit of an outlier so I'm going to share: I got 480k TC at Tesla for senior eng (200k base), coming from Google Brain and negotiating well. 5 yrs after graduation but only 3 yrs at a top tier company
    May 31, 2018 2
    • Apple / Eng
      Rijdi837sj

      Apple Eng

      PRE
      Google, Netflix
      Rijdi837sjmore
      Tesla can pay this well? Got free tesla to drive too?
      Jun 1, 2018
    • Facebook fJdA28
      R u a PhD grad?
      Jun 1, 2018
  • Lyft / Mktg
    basedgod

    Lyft Mktg

    PRE
    startups
    basedgodmore
    ITT people who don’t know how they got to this point
    May 31, 2018 0
  • Ropes & Gray pjkg03
    Just why am I pretending to be a UX designer? These numbers are insane. How can I be like all of you?!
    May 31, 2018 8
    • Airbnb Gr888
      L6+ equivalent at top public and private companies can reach 500k TC. Same approach applies: work on high growth / revenue generating product teams, demonstrate leadership and negotiate aggressively.
      Jun 3, 2018
    • Google Designbad
      Yeah there definitely isn’t an 150-200 cap. I’m an L4 UX designer and making making more than that.
      Jun 3, 2018
    • Airbnb Gr888
      Base salaries will cap before $300k at VP levels at best at big co. Majority of TC comes from the initial equity grant and cash sign on.
      Jun 3, 2018
    • VMware / Product lRQQ72
      BS. I am not a VP and base+bonus is higher than 300k
      Sep 19, 2018
    • Airbnb Gr888
      Congrats! What’s your level and how much of that is just base?
      Sep 20, 2018
  • Facebook / Eng Qnyv15
    I’m E6 at FB in Infra that’s trending towards E7. I’m at $215k Base
    $70k Bonus
    $260k equity/yr

    It took 15+ years to get here.
    Jun 4, 2018 8
    • Apple / Eng
      Rijdi837sj

      Apple Eng

      PRE
      Google, Netflix
      Rijdi837sjmore
      what is MA?
      Jun 4, 2018
    • Facebook / Eng Qnyv15
      MA is meets all expectations. Bonus depends on your rating. I think 20% at E6 is MA. I don’t really know as cash bonus after taxes isn’t that much. I don’t pay that much attention to it. Much more concerned about equity refresher.
      Jun 4, 2018
    • New / Eng RhpJ71
      Cool. So you pretty much "exceed expectations" all the time? How hard is that in terms of time spent at work?
      Jun 4, 2018
    • Facebook / Eng testbot
      Hard to EE at E6 so "this guy fucks"
      Jun 4, 2018
    • Facebook / Eng Qnyv15
      Nope got MA before
      Jun 5, 2018
  • Cisco / Eng DogsRBest
    Valley. I am at 850. I did it by working my network hard after a history of serial big successes.
    May 31, 2018 2
    • Uber dBag
      850 in cisco is impressive. How much of TC are you spending on pharmaceuticals to survive?
      Jun 1, 2018
    • Cisco / Eng Vhfrsstbj
      Let me guess: you just started at Cisco from Google or Amazon.
      Jun 1, 2018
  • Cognizant Yo-yow
    300k (only mine not the household) and I’m happy. I work 9 months @14hrs a day min and in remaining 3months I just explore this beautiful world.
    May 31, 2018 5
    • Microsoft Wks
      That’s a pretty sweet deal actually.
      May 31, 2018
    • Amazon NtXsHoDe
      Not sure about 14hrs a day. Might be unhealthy in the long term. The 3 months vacay is damn sweet though
      May 31, 2018
    • Google / Eng
      actim

      Google Eng

      PRE
      Nvidia
      actimmore
      Is it a special arrangement that you have or does Cognizant allow this by policy?
      May 31, 2018
    • Cognizant Yo-yow
      I don’t work for Cognizant. That was long back.
      Jun 1, 2018
    • Google / Eng L4Scrub
      OP
      The question was if you make > 500k.

      Glad you were able to use this for your personal cathartic experience.
      Jun 2, 2018
  • Uber Lalu
    No mention of any hard skill anywhere on this thread. Really sorry state of the job market.
    May 31, 2018 1
    • FireEye / Design 123pdq
      I’m assuming each has the skill set or non-starter. All has skills, no?
      May 31, 2018
  • Microsoft Wks
    I’m oddly negotiating my TC 500k offer now. As of right now we are at 300k base, 100k cash sign on, 500k stock over 4 years sign on. Bonus potential is 200k yearly. They didn’t get into the split of cash vs stock for yearly, so at this point I’m assuming 50/50. 17 yoe.
    May 31, 2018 5
    • CanFab / Eng
      ⚡️⚡️⚡️

      CanFab Eng

      BIO
      Newly graduated Mechanical Engineer (UC Riverside) seeking opportunities and experience in design, manufacturing, materials, or any other field of Mech. Eng.
      ⚡️⚡️⚡️more
      What does yoe stand for?
      May 31, 2018
    • Uber / Other
      m57vg4

      Uber Other

      PRE
      Google
      m57vg4more
      years of experience
      May 31, 2018
    • Google krupuk
      Wow. 300k base. Which company is this ?
      May 31, 2018
    • eBay progit
      Manager or ic?
      May 31, 2018
    • Microsoft Wks
      Managing Director. Financial industry.
      May 31, 2018