My Data Scientist Offers from Airbnb, Lyft, TwitterMar 07, 2023
Before getting into it, I must admit that I hesitated to broach this topic. Talking about money can be awkward.
Let’s talk about something people rarely talk about - money. Specifically, I want to go over the compensation packages that I received as part of offers during my last job search.
However, I have been asked about this frequently, and I feel that this information is worthwhile. Sharing about compensation can hopefully bridge an advantage that employers in the tech space often have over employees. Knowledge is power.
So now that you know a bit more about my motivations, this blog will look at my offers from three industry leaders: Twitter, Lyft, and Airbnb. Though their proposed total compensation packages differed greatly, they all maintained a few key components: an annual salary, a sign-on bonus, and stock options, and I will share all the specific numbers for all of that. The personal context of my offers matters greatly as well, so I’ll be sharing that too.
Now, let’s dive in!
What Is in a Data Science Job Offer Package?
Not every data science job offer will be the same, but all are likely to have three primary components: salary, stocks, and a sign-on bonus. The numbers for these, as you will find when looking at my offers later, can vary widely from company to company.
But before looking at my offers, I want to briefly go over what each component of a compensation package usually entails.
Salary and Annual Bonus
Salaries in the tech industry are straightforward. It’s an annual salary, and you can expect the typical tech company salaries to be low six figures, which slowly increases as your years of experience.
Salary also impacts the annual bonus which is typically paid once a year at the end of the year. It tends to be between 5% - 15% of your salary.
What’s nice about the salary compared to other parts of an offer is that it is guaranteed and offered at a regular schedule, typically biweekly. The stock offering value, however, can fluctuate. Stocks are also vested less frequently, usually quarterly, semiannually or even annually.
But what exactly does the stock offer mean in a compensation package?
In some cases, this can be quite straightforward. If the company is publicly traded, you can get a good idea of the current market value with the number of shares offered in the package. To make things easier, most of the time, the recruiter will simply use the current market value instead of the number of shares to communicate with you regarding the offer package.
If your offer is for stock in a pre-public company (a common occurrence in the tech world), it may still be worth considering. This type of stock offering is often called an RSU, or restricted stock unit, and can basically be thought of as a giant IOU from the company. If the business succeeds and makes it to a public stock offering, your shares in the company could become very valuable. Of course, the opposite is also possible. Many RSUs can end up being worthless.
The last thing to remember about stocks is that they normally vest over time. This means that even if you are offered 4,000 shares, you typically will be given a portion on an annual basis. This normally occurs over a four-year cycle and is used as a way to boost retention and keep employees invested in the company’s success.
Sign-On Bonus and Other Benefits
A sign-on bonus is a one-time payment that is usually made to entice a candidate to accept an offer. These can be large payments or small, but the important part to remember is that they will be a one-time occurrence. You cannot count on them annually like a salary or stock disbursement.
Finally, when looking at your compensation package, money isn’t the only thing to consider. There are many other items such as health care, vacation days, family leave policies, and more. The value of these items depends on your personal situation. What gets spelled out exactly in an offer varies from company to company, so you may need to ask questions to find out the details on things that matter to you.
Evaluating an Offer
When it comes time to evaluate your offer, which one of the three main components (salary, stock, and bonuses) matters most is up to you.
Some enjoy the security that a high salary can provide, while others prefer the greater potential returns of stock offerings. If you think a sign-on bonus could never factor into your decision, you probably just haven’t been offered a high enough amount yet. You will want to consider all three things carefully when you get an offer.
Besides those three main factors, other ancillary benefits and details such as corporate culture, office space, and healthcare providers will also factor into how you view an offer.
The Context of My Offers
Before we get to the heart of the subject (the details of my offers), let’s first take some time to put things in context. The facts surrounding my offers will help to provide key insight and also serve as a comparison point for your own job search.
At the time I was receiving these offers, I had much less experience in the industry than I do now (obviously). I had been working at a smaller tech company for about a year and a half when—even though I was a strong performer—I was laid off. This precipitated my job search, which I undertook with an understandable fervor.
This context matters greatly as it shows both my own personal factors as well as the larger business context that led to the offers which I received. In short, someone with a different background and skills would almost certainly receive a different offer. Larger shifts in the industry certainly play a role as well.
My Data Science Job Offers
Below you will find the package value of my 3 offers from 2019. The formula I’m using to calculate the total package value is:
Package Value = Annual Salary + Annual Bonus + One Year Stock Value + Sign-on Bonus
Be sure to read till the end as I am going to show you how the package values changed from 2019 when I receive them to 2022 when I wrote this article.
My offer from Twitter included a base salary of $140k, RSUs valued at $133,000, and a sign-on bonus of $22,000. The annual bonus was 10% of the base salary. Adding all those together, the annual compensation was $207,000.
Lyft offered me a Level 4 position. Their offer included a $155,000 annual salary, 8,000 RSU valued at the time at $378,000, and a sign-on bonus of $10,000. When compared to the other offers I had received, Lyft’s offer had the smallest sign-on bonus, the second-best annual salary, and the highest-valued stock offerings at the time.
With an included 15% annual bonus, the total package was worth about $283,000 annually in 2019. Needless to say, this was an offer I strongly considered at the time.
The last offer I received was from Airbnb. Interestingly enough, I was able to get all of my offers in the same week, which made comparing them much easier.
The Airbnb offer included a $25,000 sign-on bonus with a $170,000 annual salary. The stock offerings were for 3,500 shares that would be dispersed over four years, or 875 shares a year. Each share was valued at $105, so this was valued as an additional $91,875 in annual compensation. Over four years, this added up to a total of 367.5k in stock alone.
When combined with an annual bonus that was worth 15% of my salary, the total annual compensation was worth more than $312,000.
When I first started my data science journey, I never thought I would be lucky enough to get an offer from a company as well-known as Twitter, let alone Lyft and Airbnb as well! For some, the prestige of working for a name-brand company might be something to consider. For others, it won’t matter at all.
2019 Versus 2022: How Do My Offers Compare?
The economy has changed since 2019, so let’s take a quick look at how my offers from 2019 stack up today. As you can probably guess, the biggest difference will be found in the stock component, as this is the only factor that has changed in the intervening years.
When it comes to which offer did the best over time, this would probably have to be Airbnb. This is because Airbnb’s stock has never dipped below its initial IPO price, which adds value to my initial offer in the process.
In comparison, Twitter’s stock saw little change in value, so its offer would likely be valued much the same today.
And while Lyft went public just as Airbnb did, its stock didn’t do as well, minimally diminishing the annual value of the 2019 stock offering today (stock prices from March 2022).
Here are the package value comparisons based on the previous formula:
- Jan. 2019: $207,325
- Mar. 2022: $210,657
- Jan. 2019: $282,950
- Mar. 2022: $264,250
- Jan. 2019: $312,375
- Mar. 2022: $465,500
Which offer should I have accepted in 2019 then? There was more to consider than just what package would make me the most amount of money. Many people find that chasing dollars in the tech industry might only lead to dissatisfaction with their positions. In my case, in addition to the package values, my decision was also based on more nebulous factors such as culture and fit.
These can be hard factors to discern without a visit, which is why I always recommend a visit to the office if possible. I was lucky enough to take a field trip to Airbnb which left me with a truly remarkable impression of the people and culture. The offices were so cool! (You can find out more about my field trip experiences in my video here.) At the end of the day, I just felt more comfortable at Airbnb.
But what about looking at just financial considerations? Well, the stock offerings from Airbnb certainly would have made me richer, yet there was no way of knowing this at the time. Also, it’s worth noting that I was able to successfully negotiate a better offer from Airbnb, which is probably why it ended up being the best.
Even Better Offers Await, If You Negotiate
If you are impressed with the above compensation, you might be surprised to find that one of them (Airbnb) was 82k higher than the initial offer I received. They initially pitched me a package with 230k in annual compensation which turned into 312k by their final offer. How did I accomplish this?
Through the art of negotiation.
If you’re intrigued, you can read more about offer negotiation here. It goes over three tips that anyone can use to negotiate an offer to improve their compensation - without feeling sleazy!
Thanks for reading and best of luck with your job search!