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Alexander Nguyen

Alexander Nguyen

Alexander Nguyen

Alexander Nguyen

2 months ago

A Comparison of Amazon, Microsoft, and Google's Compensation

Learn or earn

In 2020, I started software engineering. My base wage has progressed as follows:

Amazon (2020): $112,000

Microsoft (2021): $123,000

Google (2022): $169,000

I didn't major in math, but those jumps appear more than a 7% wage increase. Here's a deeper look at the three.

The Three Categories of Compensation

Most software engineering compensation packages at IT organizations follow this format.

Minimum Salary

Base salary is pre-tax income. Most organizations give a base pay. This is paid biweekly, twice monthly, or monthly.

Recruiting Bonus

Sign-On incentives are one-time rewards to new hires. Companies need an incentive to switch. If you leave early, you must pay back the whole cost or a pro-rated amount.

Equity

Equity is complex and requires its own post. A company will promise to give you a certain amount of company stock but when you get it depends on your offer. 25% per year for 4 years, then it's gone.

If a company gives you $100,000 and distributes 25% every year for 4 years, expect $25,000 worth of company stock in your stock brokerage on your 1 year work anniversary.

Performance Bonus

Tech offers may include yearly performance bonuses. Depends on performance and funding. I've only seen 0-20%.

Engineers' overall compensation usually includes:

Base Salary + Sign-On + (Total Equity)/4 + Average Performance Bonus

Amazon: (TC: 150k)

Photo by ANIRUDH on Unsplash

Base Pay System

Amazon pays Seattle employees monthly on the first work day. I'd rather have my money sooner than later, even if it saves processing and pay statements.

The company upped its base pay cap from $160,000 to $350,000 to compete with other tech companies.

Performance Bonus

Amazon has no performance bonus, so you can work as little or as much as you like and get paid the same. Amazon is savvy to avoid promising benefits it can't deliver.

Sign-On Bonus

Amazon gives two two-year sign-up bonuses. First-year workers could receive $20,000 and second-year workers $15,000. It's probably to make up for the company's strange equity structure.

If you leave during the first year, you'll owe the entire money and a prorated amount for the second year bonus.

Equity

Most organizations prefer a 25%, 25%, 25%, 25% equity structure. Amazon takes a different approach with end-heavy equity:

  • the first year, 5%

  • 15% after one year.

  • 20% then every six months

We thought it was constructed this way to keep staff longer.

Microsoft (TC: 185k)

Photo by Louis-Philippe Poitras on Unsplash

Base Pay System

Microsoft paid biweekly.

Gainful Performance

My offer letter suggested a 0%-20% performance bonus. Everyone will be satisfied with a 10% raise at year's end.

But misleading press where the budget for the bonus is doubled can upset some employees because they won't earn double their expected bonus. Still barely 10% for 2022 average.

Sign-On Bonus

Microsoft's sign-on bonus is a one-time payout. The contract can require 2-year employment. You must negotiate 1 year. It's pro-rated, so that's fair.

Equity

Microsoft is one of those companies that has standard 25% equity structure. Except if you’re a new graduate.

In that case it’ll be

  • 25% six months later

  • 25% each year following that

New grads will acquire equity in 3.5 years, not 4. I'm guessing it's to keep new grads around longer.

Google (TC: 300k)

Photo by Rubaitul Azad on Unsplash

Base Pay Structure

Google pays biweekly.

Performance Bonus

Google's offer letter specifies a 15% bonus. It's wonderful there's no cap, but I might still get 0%. A little more than Microsoft’s 10% and a lot more than Amazon’s 0%.

Sign-On Bonus

Google gave a 1-year sign-up incentive. If the contract is only 1 year, I can move without any extra obligations.

Not as fantastic as Amazon's sign-up bonuses, but the remainder of the package might compensate.

Equity

We covered Amazon's tail-heavy compensation structure, so Google's front-heavy equity structure may surprise you.

Annual structure breakdown

  • 33% Year 1

  • 33% Year 2

  • 22% Year 3

  • 12% Year 4

The goal is to get them to Google and keep them there.

Final Thoughts

This post hopefully helped you understand the 3 firms' compensation arrangements.

There's always more to discuss, such as refreshers, 401k benefits, and business discounts, but I hope this shows a distinction between these 3 firms.

Alexander Nguyen

Alexander Nguyen

4 months ago

How can you bargain for $300,000 at Google?

Don’t give a number

Photo by Vitaly Taranov on Unsplash

Google pays its software engineers generously. While many of their employees are competent, they disregard a critical skill to maximize their pay.

Negotiation.

If Google employees have never negotiated, they're as helpless as anyone else.

In this piece, I'll reveal a compensation negotiation tip that will set you apart.

The Fallacy of Negotiating

How do you negotiate your salary? “Just give them a number twice the amount you really want”. - Someplace on the internet

Above is typical negotiation advice. If you ask for more than you want, the recruiter may meet you halfway.

It seems logical and great, but here's why you shouldn't follow that advice.

Haitian hostage rescue

In 1977, an official's aunt was kidnapped in Haiti. The kidnappers demanded $150,000 for the aunt's life. It seems reasonable until you realize why kidnappers want $150,000.

FBI detective and negotiator Chris Voss researched why they demanded so much.

“So they could party through the weekend”

When he realized their ransom was for partying, he offered $4,751 and a CD stereo. Criminals freed the aunt.

These thieves gave 31.57x their estimated amount and got a fraction. You shouldn't trust these thieves to negotiate your compensation.

What happened?

Negotiating your offer and Haiti

This narrative teaches you how to negotiate with a large number.

You can and will be talked down.

If a recruiter asks your wage expectation and you offer double, be ready to explain why.

If you can't justify your request, you may be offered less. The recruiter will notice and talk you down.

Reasonably,

  • a tiny bit more than the present amount you earn

  • a small premium over an alternative offer

  • a little less than the role's allotted amount

Real-World Illustration

Photo by Christina @ wocintechchat.com on Unsplash

Recruiter: What’s your expected salary? Candidate: (I know the role is usually $100,000) $200,000 Recruiter: How much are you compensated in your current role? Candidate: $90,000 Recruiter: We’d be excited to offer you $95,000 for your experiences for the role.

So Why Do They Even Ask?

Recruiters ask for a number to negotiate a lower one. Asking yourself limits you.

You'll rarely get more than you asked for, and your request can be lowered.

The takeaway from all of this is to never give an expected compensation.

Tell them you haven't thought about it when you applied.