My manager suggested me to leave?!

New selkip
May 30 41 Comments

Here’s the deal.

I was a very early employee at a startup and as a result the value of my equity package grew significantly in the past 3 years, to the point where my TC is now around 900k/y (200k of which is base). Obviously it’s not liquid, but in the past the company has offered limited buybacks for early employees, and I was able to take advantage of those, so that’s the stock price on which I’m basing the 900k number.

There is no short term plan for selling the company (3y horizon) but in general the tech is not really exciting, and the quality of the people we hire declines steadily due to competition from FAANG. Still, the company is growing in terms of revenues.

My performance is good, and my manager, who is a VP executive in the company and with whom I have a good relationship, told me that in his opinion I should leave and go to a place with better growth for my career (citing FAANG), even if that means lower TC. His point is that I already have a big lottery ticket since I’ve been here a few years and so I have already significant vested equity that I would take with me. The equity that I take with me is roughly valued 3M if the company were to sell at this valuation.

Still, the new equity that I vest every month is very valuable on paper, and makes the 900k/y (on top of the 3M) I was talking about. He said he is considering leaving too, for better growth.

I have 7yoe and FB offered me 400k for an E5 role last year, so there’s a difference.

What would you do?

Age:31
Yoe:7
Net worth: 1.3M liquid

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TOP 41 Comments
  • Microsoft UMbR31
    If a friendly VP is recommending you leave a start-up, then you do exactly that. Consider yourself fortunate to have this guidance from a senior person.
    May 30 3
    • Amazon
      ps.ily

      Amazon

      PRE
      Google
      ps.ilymore
      Especially if they’re hinting at going somewhere with more stable equity, might imply something incoming
      May 30
    • New selkip
      OP
      Actually, the thing that is incoming is that the upper management recently stated firm plans to keep going for 3 more years at a point where we were all kind of hoping that the ship would sell at the current numbers.

      So some people, such as my boss, are not comfortable investing 3 more years of their life into this, even if they reasonably believe that the outcome shouldn’t be too bad from a company perspective. It’s just the individual technical growth that’s lacking.

      And I’ve already been here almost 4 years, so that would become 7.
      May 30
    • Microsoft UMbR31
      I think he's just phrasing the message in such that a way that he won't get into trouble. :) I don't know the entire context but that's my read from your description.
      May 30
  • Cruise Automation zaNf64
    Good god. You can be FIRE so soon. I’d stay get more money and retire early. What’s the point of growth if you don’t need the money. And if you want to grow no need to join Facebook go anywhere with interesting problem after you get your money since money prob doesn’t matter.
    May 30 0
  • Oracle OCIwork
    Nothing guarantees that your existing company will not go down the hill and crash either. If you want to play it safe and be more motivated everyday, then it’s time to move on.
    May 30 1
    • New selkip
      OP
      That’s exactly my boss point. It’s just difficult to rationalize walking away from it, especially due to the buyback that happened.
      May 30
  • New xmslask
    Let's say you stayed for 3 years, and the company did well and got sold. You will be making roughly 3m + (900k *3) = about 6 plus 1m you have liquid. Total $7m

    You stay and the company did not do well. You will have $1m

    You left and the company did well. $3m + $1 liquid + $some money saved from 400k salary. Roughly around $4.5 millions.

    You left and the company did not do well. $1 liquid + $some money saved from 400k TC. Roughly around $1.5m.

    You decide
    May 30 1
    • New selkip
      OP
      That’s like saying that everything is possible. The mathematical average outcome of me staying ((7 + 1) / 2) is roughly the same of me leaving ((4.5 + 1.5) / 2).
      May 30
  • Amazon / Data pozbuw
    I feel you’re not in a position to be “greedy” here, sure do all that you want when youre dealing with mega giant public companies. You were lucky to have joined the right company at the right time, and already made a good fortune out of it, and no doubt you contributed to its growth tremendously, but as you already said there isnt much value you are adding from this point. Tbh its not unreasonable to think that the company founders would pretty much think of you trying to stubbornly stay at unreasonably high TC even after a tip from the vp as you stealing from their equity, since there is no more room in the product for you to add that much value. Take the fb offer, hone up your skills again for sometime and search for another young startup and grow them and make big bucks again.
    May 30 5
    • Google osgeek
      "make big bucks again". You make it sound so easy! FWIW, agree with your response
      May 30
    • New selkip
      OP
      Amazon: I don’t think your point if view is necessarily true: during the last review cycle 3 months ago I received a significant new stock grant (as in: 20% more of my original package), so I think the founders still think that I’m actually doing something and am not stealing their equity, otherwise they would have not approved such a generous grant.

      To be honest, I’d be thrilled if they laid me off with a 6 months severance or something, so they would make the decision for me lol.
      May 30
    • New / Eng |l|l||l|l|
      Are they keeping you on because there are certain systems only you can maintain/fix? If not, then why?
      May 30
    • New selkip
      OP
      What exactly is your point here? I’m not a bottleneck, I widely spread the knowledge about the stuff I worked on and if I were to get hit by a bus the company would survive completely fine, I don’t keep any tribal knowledge to myself.

      But yes, I created a whole lot of systems here and know a lot about the company, so very often people come to me to discuss NEW systems, and I help at the architectural level and also I individually contribute in my niche area of expertise.

      I work less because basically I know everything here, so it’s not a challenge and I’m not learning anything new. I do believe that from the other folks point of view, they are still extracting value out of me, so they’re happy to keep me around.
      May 30
    • New / Eng |l|l||l|l|
      I was genuinely curious, that's a good answer. If I were you I would just keep doing what I'm doing and retire in a few years. I don't see the point of "growing" when you've already made it, it's just a means to an end, but that's just me.
      May 30
  • Uber lock_up
    If you think the amount of stocks you have right now will allow you to achieve all of your financial goals (assuming nothing terrible happens), you should consider leaving. Having 20-30% more startup stocks in a few years may not change your future lifestyle much. If you switch to a new company, in addition to having better growth, you will also be diversifying your investments in the equity of a different and potentially more stable company.
    May 30 4
    • New selkip
      OP
      Unfortunately it’s pretty significant, with the new grants I have I could essentially be milking the cow much more over the next years. By leaving now I would essentially leave 60% of my grant on the table, and take with me 40%.
      May 30
    • Uber lock_up
      Got it. Then stay for another year or so. But, make sure you plan your exit ASAP if the exercise window is only 90 days. Otherwise you could be stuck with huge AMT bills or will need to leave options unexercised.
      May 30
    • New selkip
      OP
      I am exercising every year as I vest and I get periodically hit by AMT, no other way out (was never offered early exercise and now it’s too late). I’m used to the game unfortunately.

      Thankfully I slowly recoup it via AMT credits. The exercise cost is instead a sunk cost, for now.
      May 30
    • Uber lock_up
      Glad that you’re aware of the pitfalls of startup equity. Many folks realize this late in the game and pay the price.
      May 30
  • SAP
    ImposterX

    SAP

    PRE
    SAP
    ImposterXmore
    I know, it’s a side conversation, Hope that’s ok. How did your salary develop over the years and what role are you in?
    May 30 2
    • New selkip
      OP
      I started at around 120 and now I’m at 200 base plus some cash bonus. The biggest item is the equity package I got when joining the startup, and refreshers.

      I’m a standard senior SWE. I have a little more freedom due to me being so early and that’s why I have a good relationship with the VP
      May 30
    • SAP
      ImposterX

      SAP

      PRE
      SAP
      ImposterXmore
      Really nice job on the risk - reward side! Kudos
      May 30
  • LinkedIn stuffy🐷
    Can you cash out 20% of your annual equity? If you are making 200 + 700 and cash out 20% of that 700 you have 340 liquid TC plus huge upside which is pretty good.

    Also how is the WLB? Do you like working there? Can you take reduced responsibility?
    May 30 2
    • New selkip
      OP
      In general the buyback was a one off thing. It’s not guaranteed it will happen again.

      WLB is basically perfect, I don’t do anything at all these days, I work very little. Which is the reason why I should get better growth somewhere else. I’m basically rotting here and my skills are not put to good use, the business is very simple from an engineering point of view.
      May 30
    • LinkedIn stuffy🐷
      With perfect WLB you should stay around even for the sake of looking after your biggest asset/investment.

      If things go reasonably well you can exit with 5M+ in a few years. If I had 5M I would become a full time investor and live off my investment returns. I would not work for a $400K job that takes away most of my waking hours.
      May 30
  • New / Design Yesterday-
    Sounds like he isn’t sharing all the details into something he may have more visibility into.
    May 30 1
    • New selkip
      OP
      Actually, the “news” is that the upper management recently stated firm plans to keep going for 3 more years at a point where we were all kind of hoping that the ship would sell at the current numbers.

      So some people, such as my boss, are not comfortable investing 3 more years of their life into this, even if they reasonably believe that the outcome shouldn’t be too bad from a company perspective. It’s just the individual technical growth that’s lacking.

      And I’ve already been here almost 4 years, so that would become 7.
      May 30
  • Apple / Supply/Log miskasp2
    Honestly, with that TC I would stay. As you mentioned, the other offer you had is less than half of your TC so I would take the chance and stay.
    May 30 0
  • New
    _PhD

    New

    PRE
    Tesla Motors
    _PhDmore
    If you trust him and his suggestion is to leave, you should follow the hint. You never knew the truth about Frontline.
    He might be saving off your ass in some sense.
    May 30 0
  • Pure Storage WBgN
    You don’t work for Pure do you? I can imagine several of our early senior SWE’s saying exactly what you’re saying. 😉
    May 30 2
    • New selkip
      OP
      Haha no, the company here is much smaller. However, pure storage is public and so engineers can estimate to a reasonable degree what their liquid comp is like, right?

      I’m in a much more riskier position since I can’t, the company is still private.
      May 30
    • Tableau / Eng TacW56
      My guess was UiPath
      May 30
  • Credit Karma 🤐_💣
    Listen to you VP, get VP/director position at another company.
    May 30 1
    • New selkip
      OP
      Except that I can’t get a director position... I’m a super standard SWE, never managed anybody at all. And to be honest I like being an IC.
      May 30
  • eBay dtbnvz
    How do you have 1.3 million in liquid assets if you have only worked for 7 years at a startup?
    May 30 1
    • New selkip
      OP
      Because of the buyback I mentioned above. The company allowed me to cash out 20% of my equity. And I also save a good deal from my base and cash bonus.
      May 30
  • Cisco SFXH32
    I know you keep saying that the company is going 3 more years. However, if a senior leader is saying “we’re going three more years” then to you saying get out? It means they think what could happen is that the ride into the sunset isn’t a good one. I doubt you’d have the same prices. 3 years or not once the blood is in the water that’s it.
    May 30 0
  • This comment was deleted by original commenter.

    • New selkip
      OP
      I put all that in the post
      May 30
  • Facebook whodattt
    If the company is doing buybacks i would stay.

    But really what it boils down to is do you believe in the long term vision.
    May 31 0
  • Tableau / Eng TacW56
    I would recommend staying for 3 more years IF you think there’s a good chance of a liquidity event after that time. I’d also find a way to get motivated so that you feel like you’re contributing in a significant manner since you’ll have a strong vested interest in the success of the company. You can always go to a FB or Google in the future, but a ground floor opportunity like the one you describe is often a once-in-a-career event. If you’re suddenly financially comfortable after you get out in 3years, you could, as some suggest, retire. Or, as would be my preference, you could start your own company and follow your heart in doing exactly what ever floats your boat.
    May 30 0