I work for a startup that is currently in the scaling up stage.

The team is growing quickly and I'm positioned as the CTO.

Managing/scaling teams has never been anything I've done before but I am currently managing a team of 10. I am certainly underpaid heavily compared to other developers I know that work in the industry. I'm also not 100% sold on the business model.

I've recently been offered a higher paying position at a long standing established company in a mid-level position, and part of a very large technical team (200+ people).

It's attractive because of the higher pay, good benefits and job stability. My current job also comes with a lot of pressure/stress (e.g "if we lose X client, Y people lose their jobs") which wouldn't be the case in the new job.

What are the plusses and minuses for either taking/not taking the stable job?


The basic question to ask yourself is, do you have ambition? How much are you willing to sacrifice for your ambition? Right now, you're the CTO of a fast-growing but potentially fragile startup. That can wind up with you being effectively "promoted" very quickly, and getting a lot of experience very fast in a high-ranking position. If your company stabilized, you could wind up n a very strong position. If it crashes, you still have something to throw on the resume. You've never managed/scaled teams before? Well, this is how you get that experience managing/scaling teams. Once you have that experience, you'll be a lot more valuable... for other high-stress jobs.

That having been said, you have a very high-stress position where you're not being paid well. If you do not have that burning ambition, this is a great time to downshift into a more comfortable life.

My guess is that you're currently underpaid because your company can't afford to pay you well right now. Are they offering you adequate compensation otherwise? Usually the deal on things like this is that you don't get as much pay up front, but you get some sort of stock option setup so that you make quite a lot of money if everything works out. If that is not what is going on in your case, and you think you might want to stay, I would suggest discussing things with the people in charge of the purse. You have an offer in hand, after all. If they don't come up with some way to make it worth your while, you can walk.

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  • Hmm, the idea of working "for low money because you get shares!" is rather from our Parent's era. Nobody does that today. You get plenty of money AND plenty of shares. Looked at another way, no startups begin or are able to begin which are so badly funded that they try to get programmers to work "for shares and low/no money!" So yeah, I agree with the last sentence. – Fattie Feb 4 '19 at 18:21
  • You are incorrect. Startups do begin that way... and your view of the job market is rosier than the life that many experience. – Ben Barden Feb 4 '19 at 18:58
  • But Ben - you can literally glance to "angel.co" to see all the startups, desperate (!!) for programmers, paying high salaries and shares too (of course). I do understand what you mean about rosier but ..................... it's an almost completely international market. Again, I totally agree w/ your last three sentences. I would just add ".. and negotiate hard since it's a 'you can hardly lose' market for programmers!" – Fattie Feb 4 '19 at 20:01

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