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Negotiating an offer for a Staff role at a Series B -- the recruiter said they were making an offer but only gave me a range

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Principal Software Engineer at Taro Communitya month ago

Hello! I'm in the final stages of my interview process at a few companies. I heard two days ago that I'd be getting an offer from a public company and just today a Series B company said they were going to extend an offer. (I have 30 minute chat with a Series A CEO tomorrow and an offer seems likely) The Series B company today gave me their comp range for Staff, but did not make a specific offer. The recruiter asked me to come up with what I wanted my comp to be now that I know the band for Staff. It felt odd not getting a specific number.. but I suppose I can consider for the purpose of negotiation that they are offering the top of the range and I can negotiate from there? The recruiter did say I was their best interview (!) so I feel like I have a fair bit of leverage here to potentially get an offer well above the stated band.

This is a bit further complicated however by the fact that I disagree with the methodology the recruiter used to value their options & tokens. I.e. if I agreed with their valuation the TC at the top of their range is what I am targeting, but according to my calculations the TC at the top of the range is 35% too low. So I'd probably need them to double the equity/token package to make this worthwhile. The top of the range for base is also below my base target, but not that dramatically. . . more like 5%.

Am I better off asking for a Sr Staff leveling or just ask for comp that's above the band for the Staff title? I imagine bands are more strict at public companies than they are at a Series B.

Finally, I'm wondering what people think about adding acceleration & severance upon termination w/o cause as a negotiation lever. Given the volatility of the cryptocurrency market I am concerned about job security in this role, so some security that would be provided by an acceleration upon termination clause in my contract would help me swallow the somewhat low base & illiquid equity that they are offering. Do Series B companies ever provide that to non-VP/C-level hires?



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    Tech Lead/Manager at Meta, Pinterest, Kosei
    a month ago

    Instead of revealing a full offer, I would recommend making an ask on the equity component, which is where you'll get the most movement. Say something higher than the top of range, and explain why you're worth that much because:

    1. Explain that you need to account for the illiquidity of joining a private company and the volatility in the market.
    2. Use the classic line that you believe in the company and want to participate in the upside that you'll help create.

    Once you get some signal on what equity they can offer, you can likely move the number even more once you introduce salary and sign-on as additional levers. I talk about this here: Determine Levers You Can Pull.

    Do you have a sense of how your current role maps to Staff vs Sr Staff, either in terms of scope or title? Your title appears to be "Principal" SWE, so I'd assume you could reasonably make the ask to Sr. Staff, and that can unlock a higher pay band.

    There's a good chance you'll get rejected, but it's worth making the ask (or at least, ask the question, "I'm curious how you made the leveling determination" to get them thinking about it).

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      Principal Software Engineer [OP]
      Taro Community
      a month ago

      Thanks for your thoughts, that makes a good deal of sense.

      The role prior to the most recent one was Big Tech 'Staff', but my most recent role was 'Principal' at a Series A startup, so my level is more like Staff or Sr Staff rather than a Big Tech Principal role. I applied for a role that was posted as 'Staff' which is why I got leveled at Staff, I suppose? Interestingly the posted job listing shows the top of the range for base right at my lower limit, although the recruiter told me the top of the range is 5% lower than that. So it shouldn't be hard to negotiate for the top of the range in the job posting I suspect.

      Rather than countering with a specific equity amount immediately it seems worthwhile to first ask for Sr Staff? Because I don't know what the Sr Staff band is, if I ask for a specific equity number and Sr Staff at the same time and then they give me sr staff I'm stuck at the equity number I proposed even if it's not at the top of the Sr Staff band? So the process would run in 3 steps:

      1. Title
      2. Equity
      3. Base
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    Tech Lead/Manager at Meta, Pinterest, Kosei
    a month ago

    IMO the acceleration/severance is not worth asking for unless you know others at Staff/Sr Staff level who have successfully asked for it. Two reasons:

    • My experience (mostly from Big Tech) is that these special clauses are reserved for Director+ candidates.
    • Your incentives are not aligned with the company for things like acceleration (it's obviously good for you, but it's dead weight on the cap table for the company).
      • In any case, if the company does let you go, it likely means the equity has dubious value anyway.