My Response to “A Google Programmer ‘Blew Off’ A $500,000 Salary At A Startup — Because He’s Already Making $3 Million Every Year”

The Stream Founder

One single person with the purple bucket inspired 15 others to dig the stream he started. Lover’s Point Beach, Monterey, California (Photo source:

In a recent article by Business Insider, it told a story that a large, successful enterprise startup tried to poach a “programmer” currently working at Google. The startup made the programmer what it thought was a big offer: a $500,000 salary but the programmer told the startup thanks, but Google was currently paying him $3 million per year in cash and restricted stock units.

Someone read this article and posted a question in Quora to ask how to become a $3 million programmer. An ex-Googler replied with an answer that was viewed and shared half a million times and was re-published by Forbes. The original article can be found here, in which he mentioned not all programmers get paid that much. There are two types of workers, Type 1 and Type 2 and only by becoming a Type 2 worker can he or she demand such handsome package that out-competes the opportunity of becoming his own boss. The following is my take on this article putting in the context I am familiar with.

It’s our choice to be a type 1 or type 2 worker.

The difference is, if we’re blinded and chained to be Type 1, like most people do, we passively trade our skills and time for a pay that we always feel below what we’ve contributed to the company (thus the resentment towards those “lazy people” within the big corp who probably get paid more but doing less);

Whereas if we believe in our capability and aim at being Type 2, we’re actually creating value and adding a bigger price tag on ourselves, instead of just to the company (most people mistaken it with the old saying of “doing 1% more”, but being disappointed at the end why the company isn’t paying him 5% in return). Turning ourselves into Type 2 is indeed turning the table around, accumulating chips towards the payees while taking bargaining power away from the check payers. It may be true that no “employee” is irreplaceable to an employer, but some business partners are just indispensable to a company. Type 2 workers are indeed business partners in that sense.

That’s exactly the reason why VCs and IPOs are not keen on concrete and established P&L because there is already a ceiling price for what to bet on, but rather they would fancy a bet on traction and explosive scalability that potentially earns them exponentially big.


1) From a company’s point of view, do you have what it takes to attract Type 2 workers? Do you have the financial power to retain Type 2 because essentially you need a package to compete with a budding business owner and its growth and potential earnings, if not by hard cash, are you ready to give up shares? Do you have the business vision, solid growth plan, open-mindedness and facilities to encourage morphing from Type 1 to Type 2 mindset? Are you ready to embrace true “intrapreneurship”?

2) From an employee’s point of view, do you have what it takes to be a Type 2 worker? Are you prepared to put in extra more for some unwarranted return? Do you have the perseverance to push your case from Type 1 to Type 1.x even your company may not immediately recognize and appreciate your intention? It’s very rare case like Whatsapp’s founder to be forced into being strictly Type 2 because no one want to take him in day one, while in reality it’s all too easy for us to fall back into being Type 1 because of all the discouragement we face.

3) The working relationship between company and workforce is going to change in the near future, the term knowledge-worker will obsolete, with Type 1 workers becoming more easily disposable because of technology disruption, what used to be a 10-people team job of combined 50 years of experience can now be fulfilled by a fresh graduate using 1/10 of the time, whereas Type 2 workers will become more valuable and sought after. Are we well-equipped with skill-set and mentality to be Type 2?

Original article from Quora

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