I've been having lots of conversations with folks looking to join an early-stage startup (Seed to Series B) and negotiating their offers. A few thoughts based on my experiences... 🧵

1/ Make a spreadsheet and calculate your current comp vs. your startup offer.

Here’s an example ✏️


2/ If you're coming from a larger company, you shouldn't expect the startup to beat your cash comp or your overall comp based on the value of the stock today. You're betting on the startup being more valuable in four years to make up for that gap.

3/ In this example, you have to believe the company you’re joining will be able to 3X in value in order for you to beat your previous comp. If you don’t believe that’s possible, you shouldn’t join the startup.


4/ I firmly believe that you should optimize for equity, after you feel your cash comp is comfortably covering your living expenses/other needs. Why? Your cash comp will often be corrected over time as the company grows and brings people ops/comp people in-house.

5/ Of course, you might get a generous equity refresher if you're performing well over time, but that’s more rare and it may not be at the option price it was when you joined (and as a result, you'll be paying a lot more for it).

6/ Spend some time figuring out what your market comp is. Ask your friends/colleagues in the same role/level for their compensation info. Make sure to compare their equity value to what it was at the time it was granted (not what it was valued at years later...).

7/ Now, you’ll have a full picture of your current comp, your offer and a market comparison or two. This will arm you with enough data to have a transparent conversation about what you feel is fair and reasonable given certain startup outcomes (a 3X, 10X, etc.)