Key startup employees: how was your retention package at exit?
I’m in the position of being a very early SWE at a startup (employee #3, startup is now 270 people) that might have a successful exit in a couple years, and I’ve been advised from various people (outside the company) that I should stay until the end because there will likely be an additional pot of gold to be split among key people like me, regardless of the final valuation.
I have a very good relationship with CEO, CTO and several VPs and they highly value my work, but I’d also like to have an experience at FAANG (I have standard offers at FB E5 and Netflix).
Have you ever had this experience? Would I really leave a bunch of money on the table if I left before the exit?
Consider I already have a bunch of equity under the form of vested and exercised options because I’ve already been here a few years. My equity on paper is worth about 4M and I would bring that with me if I were to leave (startup valuation is 500M at the last round, I originally had 2% that went down to slightly less than 1% due to dilutions).
A few friends experienced with startups told me it’s not uncommon to see amounts of 1-5M being thrown at key employees on top of the equity cashout, as a retention package to have them stay a couple years after the acquisition.
If it wasn’t for the money, I would be 100% out of here, since my growth is stagnating, and I’m feeling the opportunity cost of waiting for the carrot stick.