LARGE technology firms used to hold on to their high-flying employees by agreeing not to poach them from each other. “If you hire a single one of these people, that means war,” Steve Jobs, Apple’s then boss, warned Sergey Brin, a founder of Google, in 2005. That was an illegal arrangement, and in 2015 Apple, Google, Adobe and Intel paid a $415m settlement to engineers whose pay had been held down as a result.
Today wage suppression in Silicon Valley is even more of a distant memory than dial-up internet and mainframe computers. Last year technology companies in America recorded expenses of more than $40bn in stock-based compensation. Exact comparisons are difficult, but to put that sum in perspective it is roughly 60% more than the bonus pool paid to the New York employees of Wall Street banks.
The money tech firms throw at employees has ballooned as competition to hire and hang on to top talent in engineering, data science, artificial intelligence and digital marketing has soared. Even entry-level engineers can easily earn $120,000 a year, more than most people their age can make on Wall Street; mid-career executives with technical…Continue reading