The new Sil­i­con Val­ley em­ployee

High salaries and perks await top tal­ent; even in­tern­ships can pay $6,000 a month.

The Denver Post - - BUSINESS - By Polly Mosendz

Com­pe­ti­tion for en­gi­neer­ing tal­ent re­mains fierce in Sil­i­con Val­ley. The megaplay­ers of­fer recruits lav­ish of­fices and gourmet cafe­te­rias along with all the usual cor­po­rate perks, such as gym mem­ber­ships and ex­pense ac­counts. But there’s noth­ing like good, old-fash­ioned money to en­tice top tal­ent.

In­tern­ship salaries in en­gi­neer­ing and prod­uct man­age­ment can ex­ceed $6,000 a month, but full-time salaries are even more im­pres­sive. Ac­cord­ing to data col­lected by Jesse Collins, a Sil­i­con Val­ley in­tern­turned-em­ployee, the av­er­age an­nual salary for a firstyear Sil­i­con Val­ley worker is more than $105,000, plus a nearly $13,000 stock bonus and al­most $26,000 cash bonus. The na­tional wage in­dex is $48,098.63, ac­cord­ing to data last com­piled by the So­cial Se­cu­rity Ad­min­is­tra­tion in 2015, or about a third of what an en­try-level en­gi­neer might earn at Face­book or Ama­zon.

A 26-year-old com­puter sci­ence stu­dent at Pur­due Univer­sity, Collins set out to put to­gether a data set of what his fel­low engi­neers are be­ing of­fered by their first em­ploy­ers . (A friend of his, Rod­ney Folz, put to­gether a sim­i­lar set of Val­ley in­tern­ship salary data ear­lier this year.) Us­ing a Google Form, Collins col­lected 290 pur­ported of­fers from big-name com­pa­nies. The data were sub­mit­ted by a mix of self-iden­ti­fied grad­u­ate and un­der­grad­u­ate stu­dents, as well as two over­achiev­ing high school stu­dents.

The form was shared in a prom­i­nent young engi­neers group on Face­book, col­lege web fo­rums and Red­dit.

Replies were sub­mit­ted anony­mously, and while the A Face­book em­ployee walks past a sign at the com­pany’s head­quar­ters in Menlo Park, Calif. A sur­vey has found that most new em­ploy­ees and in­terns in Sil­i­con Val­ley did not ne­go­ti­ate their of­fers. vast ma­jor­ity of re­spon­dents were of­fered soft­ware en­gi­neer­ing jobs, a hand­ful iden­ti­fied them­selves as an­a­lysts and man­agers. Most re­spon­dents iden­ti­fied as male un­der­grad­u­ate stu­dents. As with any on­line sur­vey — par­tic­u­larly a self-re­ported, anony­mous one — there’s room for bad data. For ex­am­ple, Collins said a sin­gle re­spon­dent claimed to get five job of­fers from big-name com­pa­nies. While not im­pos­si­ble, it’s rare at best and false at worst.

In an ef­fort to cor­rob­o­rate this self-re­ported data, Bloomberg com­pared Collins’s data set with av­er­age salaries recorded by salary tracker Glass­door.

Typ­i­cal base salary of $120,345 at Face­book

The site listed Face­book’s typ­i­cal base salary as $120,345, slightly higher than Collins’s fig­ure, but the stock and cash bonuses were con­sid­er­ably lower on Glass­door, at $21,450 and $14,333, re­spec­tively. A source with knowl­edge of the mat­ter said Face­book’s salary fig­ures were closer to Glass­door’s than the data set. (A spokes­woman for Face­book de­clined to com­ment, cit­ing a com­pany pol­icy not to dis­cuss em­ployee com­pen­sa­tion.) Glass­door’s num­ber for Snap Inc.’s salary was sim­i­lar to Collins’s num­ber, as was the salary for Twit­ter and Uber, though the bonus amounts dif­fered. (Twit­ter de­clined to com­ment and Snap did not re­turn re­quests for com­ment. Uber de­clined to com­ment, how­ever, a source with knowl­edge of the mat­ter in­di­cated the num­bers in Collins’s data set are ac­cu­rate.)

High rents match high salaries

“I can ob­vi­ously un­der­stand that in this po­lit­i­cal cli­mate, it’s prob­a­bly a lit­tle bit in­tense see­ing those sort of num­bers,” Collins, who is orig­i­nally from Australia and started at Pur­due’s un­der­grad­u­ate pro­gram at 22, said of the salaries and bonuses. “But I think it’s also im­por­tant to re­mem­ber the lo­ca­tions of a lot of th­ese.”

In San Fran­cisco, the me­dian monthly rent on a onebed­room apart­ment is more than $3,300. It’s high in San Jose and East Bay, Calif., as well, all places where young Val­ley residents might con­sider liv­ing.

Rent in Man­hat­tan, home to sev­eral com­pa­nies on the list, can be more than $3,000 a month. Abid­ing by the old rule that rent should be a third of one’s take home pay, em­ploy­ees liv­ing in th­ese ar­eas should be earn­ing at least $108,000. Fol­low­ing that for­mula, the first-year salaries at such places as IBM and Mi­crosoft seem fair, if not a bit low. (IBM did not re­ply to a re­quest for com­ment, and Mi­crosoft de­clined to com­ment on the data.)

The salaries at mega-uni­corns Face­book, Snap, and Uber are not en­tirely sur­pris­ing.

It is no­table, how­ever, that legacy fi­nan­cial in­sti­tu­tions Gold­man Sachs and Cap­i­tal One fall at the bot­tom of the list in to­tal com­pen­sa­tion when com­pared with Val­ley com­pa­nies.

The typ­i­cal Gold­man Sachs an­a­lyst’s to­tal com­pen­sa­tion on Glass­door is listed at $98,509, just $1,842 more than what Collins found, which could be in part be­cause Glass­door fac­tors in more highly ranked an­a­lysts rather than all firstyear em­ploy­ees. Re­spon­dents in this data set who were of­fered jobs by Cap­i­tal One were pri­mar­ily engi­neers rather than bank an­a­lysts, and their to­tal firstyear com­pen­sa­tion was $100,144, which is within $200 of Glass­door’s find­ing. (Nei­ther com­pany re­turned a re­quest for com­ment.) Re­cently, there’s been a rush for tra­di­tional fi­nan­cial com­pa­nies to hire engi­neers. But when given the choice be­tween a Val­ley salary or a bank salary, the de­ci­sion is easy for any re­cent grad­u­ate: Go where the money is.

In­ter­est­ingly, re­spon­dents to Collins’s sur­vey over­whelm­ingly said they did not ne­go­ti­ate their of­fer. April’s sur­vey of Sil­i­con Val­ley in­terns found a sim­i­lar fail­ure to ne­go­ti­ate. Collins at­tributes this lack of ne­go­ti­a­tion to the lengthy and “te­dious” in­ter­view process and fear that an al­ready lofty of­fer might be re­scinded. “I think that fear is a lit­tle bit ir­ra­tional,” he said. “I think as long as you’re cour­te­ous about it, most em­ploy­ers are will­ing to meet you some­where.”

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