For some programmers and entrepreneurs in the tech startup scene, being acquired by Google is a dream come true.
But not when you’re the only member of your five-person company that’s left behind.
An anonymous woman using the gossip app Secret has described the heartbreaking way she alleges Google treated her when it became interested in the company she founded.
Google decided to hire her five male colleagues in an acquisition deal, but not her. Even though she founded the company and “the product was my idea,” she didn’t get a deal because she was not an engineer.
Worse, she made only a $US60,000 salary at the startup while her male colleagues were paid twice that. “Their attitude was, We can leave you with nothing because you’re a girl and you have a rich boyfriend,” she told New York magazine.
She was left with $US10,000 while her former colleagues received signing bonuses, $US250,000 annual salaries, New York Magazine reported after speaking with her. On Secret, the woman — who was given the pseudonym “Amy” by New York — claims their compensation packages could ultimately be worth $US5 million.
Here’s what the woman says happened, from her comments on Secret:
The salary per engineer and the CEO was $US250k. Double what they were making at our startup, but around what they were making at their last corp job. Now, I did not personally examine anyone’s paperwork from google, but my CEO did tell me that one of the engineers got a deal that, when fully vested, would create a 5m total package including stock, starting bonus, etc. I was told the other engineers received similar deals. This information was communicated to me in rode to explain why the company was taking the deal they said they wouldn’t take. And it was mentioned that they were sure I would be ok with the $US10k, as they knew my live-in-bf had recently had a large payout.
The woman went on to warn other entrepreneurs not to trust a Google acquihire:
They said the deal was contingent in leaving me behind, and they thought 10k was a decent price for me. Clearly not. I am obviously still heartbroken over my team betraying me. I can’t blame them, in a way. As purple lightning [another commenter] guessed, our funding was running out, and google is offering a soft landing for everyone (except me). Now- are they discriminating based on my gender? I have no idea. I’m a startup generalist. I do sales, product/project/ graphics/basically anything that isn’t code. I was given a coding and product manager interview. I was given maths and logic puzzles. I was told ‘I don’t believe you did all the things you say you did.” So, I have no idea why they didn’t give me an offer. But, the company was literally my idea. The product was my idea. I designed the entire UI/ux logo etc. I just have no idea if my gender played a part. How could I know? At this point, my #1 goal is to have my story be a warning to other founders. Don’t trust aquihires, don’t let them exclude a founder, and don’t think google is going to play fair.
More details came out in the comments, such as the fact that. Google gave her company money to pay their investors back, and said she wasn’t “a fit” because she isn’t “an area expert.” The anonymous co-founder was responsible for the product’s user interface, graphics, customer service and sales among other duties. She had been with the company since the beginning.
“I’m not great at just one of those,” she responded to one comment. “I did all of them.”
The situation again brings up the debate about whether the tech industry discriminates against women. The software development field is dominated by men, and women in tech skew more heavily in marketing or mid-management roles that do not require coding or engineering skills.
In this case, however, the company and the product only exist because “Amy” was a founder, even though she is not an engineer.
“I think I am done with tech,” she wrote in response to a comment. “I appreciate your kindnesses. But I feel betrayed by my investors, my CEO and my team. I understand that everyone else has a house, family, kids, etc, but we agreed we were in this together. Two years gone.”
Google did not immediately respond to a request for comment.