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Businesses The Almighty Buck Google

The Mystery/Myth of the $3 Million Google Engineer 173

jfruh writes "Recently Business Insider caused a minor stir among developers with dreams of riches with a story about a nameless Google engineer who's making $3 million a year. Who is this person, and how unusual are pay scales like this inside the Googleplex? Phil Johnson uses public information to try to figure out the answer. His conclusion: the $3 million engineer may exist, but is a rare bird indeed if so."
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The Mystery/Myth of the $3 Million Google Engineer

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 15, 2014 @01:09AM (#45961895)

    His math is bogus, double counting compensation. His source is weak, a self-reporting site with no indicators of how well it actually represents googlers.

  • by Pen Guin ( 3455981 ) on Wednesday January 15, 2014 @01:11AM (#45961903)
    $3 million in W2 income? Never. Bean counters would never let that happen.
  • by ModernGeek ( 601932 ) on Wednesday January 15, 2014 @01:15AM (#45961919)
    The working people, including Engineers and Attorneys top out around $120k/yr. If you're going to surpass this ceiling, you must break away and do for yourself. This magic number gives people the illusion of superiority while giving them just enough to remain a slave to society.
  • by _Shad0w_ ( 127912 ) on Wednesday January 15, 2014 @01:22AM (#45961975)

    One backed by VCs who see "Google Engineer" and think it's probably worth it?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 15, 2014 @01:32AM (#45962015)

    Honestly speaking, you must already be born into a "wage" higher than $120k, or be incredibly lucky or blessed with talent and join one of the few circles where wages aren't locked into sane figures, like sports or the stock exchange.

    The reason $120k seems to be a limit is because that's about as high as people genuinely would be willing to pay others for "work". Anything higher than that isn't payment for work, but a cabal of people paying each other more than their "work" is worth, because they can.

    And yes, there are probably a few cases here and there where someone's contributions shatter this apparent border legitimately, but they're probably at least as rare as this elusive $3m figure in Google.

    And that's not even counting investments and other doors that open, just salaries. Once you count those, things become impossible to practically assess.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 15, 2014 @03:01AM (#45962411)
    I think the point is while exceptional engineers are rare, 3 million is probably excessive. could 30 engineers replace him at 100k each, probably not. but I bet 5-10 300-500k engineers could probably significantly exceed his contribution and at 300k you would be getting the cream of the crop applying.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 15, 2014 @03:09AM (#45962445)

    You are either ignorant, unintelligent, or a factor of the two

    I've got a "jump to conclusions" mat for you to buy. You can afford it.

    I recently left a job that paid $155k in salary plus around %30 bonus for one that *only* offered $145k in salary.

    ...Which puts you in the top 1% of American wage earners, pretty much demonstrating that AC's point is more or less correct.

    why? because of quality of life.

    A luxury that must be wonderful for you to enjoy. You stepped down from the 99th percentile to the 97th. Oh, the sacrifices you've made!

    And, I was not "born" into this wage; it came out of years of studying when others would call me a "nerd"

    We can tell that based on your first sentence. What percentage of people do you estimate are able to pull that off, realistically? You live in a bubble world surrounded by the success stories, and thinking that because there are a few hundred thousand of you, that the tens of millions who have not enjoyed that success simply did something wrong. The fact is that you won one of the lottery seats on the magic carpet. Hard work made you eligible, but it didn't get you there on its own.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 15, 2014 @03:27AM (#45962517)

    Oh...and he works remotely, from his home in Toronto, so he's not in NYC or SF.

    You realize that after SF and NYC, Toronto and Los Angeles are the next most expensive cities in North America, right? So the idea that he's making great money and living somewhere substantially cheaper is pretty dumb.

    Heh...true just about anywhere these days.

    If by "just about anywhere" you mean for the top 4% of wage earners, then yes. Not saying your engineers don't deserve it, but you have a badly warped sense of reality if you think it's typical of what people are making for actual labor. Professional jobs occupy a fairly small, high-end niche between the wealthy executives and idle rich and the people who do actual work. For every person making $115,000 or more, there are 25 making less. Most of them will never even be within reach of making $115k themselves, even if a chunk of the population considers that salary an economic hardship.

    $120k today is like $80k 10-15 years ago.

    Yes, which was still a lot of money back then. The ignorance and assumptions are mind-blowing here. No, it doesn't make you rich, and no, it doesn't go that far when you're spending $3000 of your $5600 net pay for a fairly basic residence, but that is the cost of privilege.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 15, 2014 @05:11AM (#45962933)

    Stories like this really do nothing to disprove his point. Top 5 Silicon Valley Companies hire the cream of the crop, most of whom went to the right schools and/or know the right people and (not to dismiss their work/intellect) were "born into it". Sure your Top 5 Silicon Valley Company has a couple guys with unconventional backgrounds, maybe they went to state U or you found them working at a small midwestern industrial manufacturer, but certainly they are the exceptions to the rule.

In the realm of scientific observation, luck is granted only to those who are prepared. - Louis Pasteur