I am in the very fortunate position to be choosing among some great offers. My question is how to properly choose between
If comp were equal going to company (1) would be a no-brainer, but how much of a premium should I place on the brand of a company? Put another way, how can I place a number on things like exit option value, social/engineering prestige and so on.
One way to evaluate this is to look at where company alum go -- do they start companies, join startups, go to Big Tech, or are there lots of lifers?
You know the quote "you're the average of the 5 people you spend the most time":
You'll likely be the average of the 5 engineers on your team, so where they end up is very important for your future career.
Another dimension is longevity at the company. My sense from some of the companies in bucket 1 (many finance cos) is that they are much more performance driven -- some people have an actual PnL attached to their head. So if you're looking for more exploration and learning, I'd lean toward a more supportive environment (typically a well-funded company, and many other "tier 2" companies).
How do I assess the “brand premium” when choosing a company.
As mentioned in my thoughts on another thread from a Meta E4 evaluating offers, I don't think you really need to. You already have Meta on your resume, which is considered by 99% of recruiters to be a top-notch company. Getting more "brand names" on your resume is going to have diminishing returns.
Company prestige and pay are important, but given that your offers seem to be really good, I would actually optimize for different angles:
When pay is roughly equal, I think the above are far more important as they're more long-term oriented. And again, things are a lot different as you already have Meta on your resume.
If you haven't already, I recommend checking out these other resources as well: