Sarah wonders if this means there’s been a fundamental shift in the Silicon Valley working-for-the-future ethos.
In a story titled “The Mercenaries in Facebook’s Midst,” she writes:
What has happened to the start-up work ethic in Silicon Valley? Time was, the region was teeming with believers–be it believers in a company or believers in the sometimes naive, lottery-ticket hope that options would make them billionaires. People who work at the most highly valued startup in Silicon Valley and rush to sell for a smaller valuation–just as an IPO is starting to look likely–aren’t believers. They are mercenaries.
CNET’s Caroline McCarthy says Sarah has it all wrong.
“People in the industry” tell Caroline that Facebook salaries are lower than elsewhere, and to better understand why all the Facebook employees want to cash out, you have to put yourself in their shoes.
Imagine, for a moment or two, that you are a character whom we will call Joe Facebook. You are a software engineer, so it’s pretty safe to say that you’re a dude (apologies to all the women in computer science out there). You’re in your mid-20s, and you’ve been working for Zuckerberg & co. for a few years now, ever since you graduated from Harvard or Stanford or some other big-name institution with a hefty price tag. You grew up in a small town in the Northeast or Midwest, which is why instead of living in Facebook’s hometown of Palo Alto, you’ve opted to get a taste of the cosmopolitan by living in San Francisco and making the commute in this sweet little Prius you bought last year. Your girlfriend, who’s been remarkably tolerant of all those late nights of coding, said something recently about how it’s a buyer’s market and she’s getting sick of her roommates. Maybe you’d like to pay off some of those student loans and stop living like a bike messenger.
SAI reader Erik Schwartz, who says he was an early Yahoo employee, suggests there’s another reason Facebookers are selling stock: It is really smart to diversify.
I worked at YHOO from 1997-2000, I was a “same day sale” guy the whole time. I got nailed in taxes. Paying the short term cap gains taxes were totally worth not owning YHOO in 2001. If 90% of your net worth is tied up in one stock then diversifying is s good thing.
I know several paper millionaires from that era who lost a fortune and still have to work. You can’t retire on “theoretical profits”.
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