Author Topic: Stick with startup or move on?  (Read 2802 times)


  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
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Stick with startup or move on?
« on: February 05, 2016, 11:28:15 AM »
I'm a software developer and have worked for the same startup for the last three and a half years. I'm currently working 20 hours per week. I occasionally do consulting work for other clients during the rest of my time.

The business is growing steadily but slowly. We're not currently profitable but at the present rate we should be breaking even by the middle of this year. The long-term prospects look pretty good; it's a recurring revenue business with annual or multi-year contracts, pretty high switching costs, and solid gross profit margins, so once we've signed up enough customers to pay our basic expenses, it seems unlikely that we'd suddenly take a big hit or start losing money again.

I'm currently paid $40,000 per year. In addition to salary, I have full benefits and significant stock options. The options will be fully vested in the middle of next year. If fully vested, they would allow me to buy shares totalling 2% of the company. I'm currently vested at somewhere between 1% and 1.5%. The market rate for a full time position with my qualifications is somewhere around $120k-$150k.

I'm trying to decide whether/how long to stay in this position. The advantages of staying:

1. I have a great relationship with all of my coworkers and my manager and enjoy the time I spend at work.
2. I have a lot of autonomy in the work I do; I'm completely in charge of technical decisions and because it's a small team, have lots of opportunities to make suggestions in other areas as well.
3. I like the flexibility of only being committed to work 20 hours. It leaves me lots of time to work out, spend time with friends, pursue other hobbies, etc. It's not that common to find part-time positions in this field; both employers and job seekers prefer to work full time since there's so much to do and the salaries are so high.
4. If the company does well and ends up being acquired or IPO'ing, the additional vesting of stock options could be worth a lot of money, more than I'd make up in salary working somewhere else.

Disadvantages of staying:

1. I've been in the same job for what's a pretty long time both compared to people in my profession, and as a proportion of my entire career (I've been working for about 7 years). Working on the same codebase means I'm growing and learning a lot less than I would be if I switched jobs and had to tackle new and unfamiliar problems.
2. There's nobody on the team technically senior to me who could mentor me, or that I could have technical discussions with. Because of the slow growth, it's not in the cards for such a hire to be made for at least the next year, maybe more.
3. If I don't do consulting work for cash and the options end up being worthless, I'm in a much worse financial situation than if I switched to an all-cash full time job now. I spend about $25k a year so I could conceivably be saving $50k or more per year if my estimates of my full time value are correct and I left to take another position.

There are a couple of options other than just staying with this job or quitting and taking a full time job now. I could stay and keep pursuing consulting gigs; this is what I did last year and made about $25k in additional income. I could ask to go full time at the current gig either now or next year when my options are fully vested. Perhaps there are others I haven't thought of. What would you do?


  • Handlebar Stache
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Re: Stick with startup or move on?
« Reply #1 on: February 05, 2016, 11:32:32 AM »
I'd stick it out for a year and ramp up the consulting.  Can you find consulting gigs that are a bit longer term that would allow you to learn more and have something to point to if you need to switch jobs?  If you're saving a big chunk of your income (and you are), I think having a pleasant workplace with work you enjoy should not be undervalued. 


  • Walrus Stache
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Re: Stick with startup or move on?
« Reply #2 on: February 05, 2016, 11:57:13 AM »
A half-time job is like gold...most companies seem irrationally averse to hiring someone on at less than full-time hours.

How much would it cost you to exercise your shares right now? What do you expect the timeline and valuation for an eventual exit to be?


  • Handlebar Stache
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Re: Stick with startup or move on?
« Reply #3 on: February 05, 2016, 11:59:03 AM »
It really depends what your long term goals are.  If you're aggressively trying for FIRE, you should probably be applying to those higher paid jobs.  If you really love life right now and have no major desire for FI, then there's nothing wrong with staying put for a little while and thinking about it.  You could also focus more on your side gigs and try to do a lot of your learning and growth there.


  • Handlebar Stache
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Re: Stick with startup or move on?
« Reply #4 on: February 05, 2016, 12:12:31 PM »
Quit and recommend me for the job. :)

I would stay. A part-time salaried position with decent benefits is like finding a unicorn. Especially in the software development industry. I would love a job like that.


  • Bristles
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Re: Stick with startup or move on?
« Reply #5 on: February 09, 2016, 02:09:24 AM »
Stay put!!!  That's an awesome gig.  Use the consulting side jobs to exercise and find some private mentors to grow... who says they have to be part of the company to be useful?