Two Offers: Weighing Stock Options vs. "Sure Thing"
I haven't worked at a startup before, so trying to gauge how likely it is that stock options would work in my favor vs. being a disappointment after 5 years. (Also would appreciate any thoughts about the long-term differences in career path for a DE vs. a PA).
I'm currently at Amazon as an L5 BIE. TC is about 150k including stock.
I have an offer from a Stage C startup for the equivalent of an L5 Data Engineer. Base is 135k and stock options at current valuation take TC to about 170k (although obviously not liquid at this point). They are projecting some big growth numbers which could take TC to the equivalent of 300-500k/year from the initial four year vest. All signs point to a bullish stance for the company. This would be at their HQ.
I also have an offer from a late stage startup for the equivalent of an L6 Product Analyst. The base is also 135k, but there's also about 35k in targeted bonus (cash + RSUs) and another 35k in new-hire RSUs. This brings TC to about 205k, and possibly more if valuation increases after an IPO. The risk is obviously lower here due to higher cash compensation (with the bonus), the use of RSUs instead of options, and a strong likelihood of an IPO soon. This would be at a satellite office.
I tried to negotiate with the Stage C startup since the PA comp is stronger with lower risk, but they are unwilling to change the offer much. There's nothing wrong with the late-stage company, but if I put compensation aside I'd prefer to land at the earlier-stage company. So a few things I'm looking for feedback on:
1) Negotiation: is this normal for a startup to basically just say "no" when you ask if they can match a stronger offer?
2) Likelihood of stock options working out: everything I've read online is very pessimistic towards stock options and recommends valuing them at $0 when making a decision. The first startup seems very strong and well-placed, but do any of you have prior experience with something like this?
3) Career path: I'm still undecided about what I want to do with my life. Both the DE and PA positions exercise different strengths of mine. The DE could potentially be a transition into SDE if I work at it, whereas PA might transition into Data Science? Although moving into DS at an L6 is much harder.
4) Any other thoughts that might be helpful.