Hackernoon logoDavid Vs. Goliath: Startups and Big Tech, Which Trumps Which? by@techlead

David Vs. Goliath: Startups and Big Tech, Which Trumps Which?

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@techleadPatrick Shyu

YouTuber (500k subs), Ex-Google/ex-Facebook Tech Lead.

Ex-Google TechLead explains differences between working at a tech startup and a large company, and their pros & cons.

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Disclosure: Some links are affiliate links to products. I may receive a small commission for purchases made through these links.

Video Transcript:

Note: This transcript is auto-generated by YouTube and may not be entirely accurate.

00:00

hey tech leech here and welcome back to

00:01

another episode of the tech lead today

00:04

we're going to talk about a very

00:05

fascinating interesting topic startups

00:07

versus big tech companies it is coffee

00:10

time with the tech lead I am the tech

00:12

lead at Google tech lead by the way

00:14

let's have a sip here not bad not bad at

00:20

all now sunny cooler let me just clarify

00:24

something for you if you are working in

00:27

tech adult and I think that you're gonna

00:29

be doing great you're gonna be doing

00:30

good and no choice is really going to be

00:32

a bad choice and startup or big tech

00:34

company it's all good really now I have

00:36

worked in a combination of startups as

00:38

well as at Google as an X Google tech

00:41

lead and they're very different in some

00:44

ways but they're also very similar the

00:45

quality of life that you get your

00:47

overall standard of living it's about

00:49

the same really now we have a new

00:51

sponsor today and I would actually

00:52

highly recommend that you guys check

00:54

them out

00:54

ting mobile if you live in the US and

00:56

you're using cell phone service and

00:58

you're paying like 50 60 bucks a month

01:00

for this service it's a contract you're

01:02

locked into one or two year contracts

01:04

you know that's just really not the way

01:06

to go there are far better options ting

01:08

Mobile offers you paper use cell phone

01:10

service and the cost is very cheap you

01:12

can figure out how much it might cost

01:14

you I would say for an average person

01:15

it's probably gonna be 15 to 25 bucks or

01:18

something like that and one of the best

01:19

parts is that there's no contract you're

01:21

not locked into anything you know I

01:23

remember when I was trying to become a

01:24

world citizen travel all over the place

01:26

and embrace that mobile lifestyle one of

01:29

the things I was really locking me down

01:30

was my cell phone service it was just

01:32

tying me to the u.s. tied me down there

01:34

with that one or two-year cell phone

01:36

contract and that was one thing that

01:37

kept weighing on me so with t-mobile you

01:40

get a no contract cell phone plan you

01:41

get voice messaging data all comes at

01:44

the very reasonable standard rate and

01:46

the great thing is it's so simple to

01:48

setup there's no contract you just send

01:49

them a dollar they send you a SIM card

01:51

back you plug that into your cell phone

01:53

and then you're off and running and when

01:54

you're gonna save so much money check

01:56

them out ting Mobile there'll be a link

01:57

in the description below and you can

01:59

thank me later you know no matter

02:00

whether you're working at a startup or a

02:02

big tech company you're gonna be having

02:04

a pretty sweet comfy job you're gonna go

02:06

and you work at the computer you do some

02:08

typing do some code spend some time

02:10

surfing the net surfing reddit play some

02:12

ping pong you may

02:13

have to pay for your online tour you may

02:14

get some lunch catered and by the way

02:16

the food that these large tech companies

02:18

are not necessarily better there may

02:20

simply just be more variety but it's all

02:22

going to be buffet style food and often

02:24

is quite easy to beat any of the sweet

02:26

just go to any restaurant and the food

02:28

quality is already going to be beaten

02:29

supposedly they like to advertise that

02:31

they've got all-star chefs but in order

02:33

to feed thousands of people it's just

02:36

going to cost way too much they're gonna

02:38

end up using more basic ingredients trip

02:40

ingredients and then do it buffet style

02:42

and you're not going to want to eat too

02:43

much food anyway it's not gonna be

02:45

healthy for you just gonna get

02:46

overweight essentially most of the time

02:48

no matter where you are you're going to

02:49

be working at the computer doing some

02:51

code across startups and big tech

02:53

companies is going to be similar now

02:55

let's talk about the main differences

02:56

here one is going to be compensation

02:58

compensation at a tech company a public

03:01

tech company is going to be well-known

03:02

it's going to be fixed

03:03

you're gonna know exactly what you're

03:05

getting is a public company and when you

03:07

get stuck you're gonna know for sure

03:09

that that's going to be worth something

03:10

when you go into a start-up you don't

03:13

really know what the value of that stock

03:15

is going to be and oftentimes it's going

03:17

to be a complete mystery it's going to

03:18

be completely obfuscated for you and

03:20

startups have a bunch of different ways

03:22

to screw you over they can dilute the

03:24

stock they can kick you out fire you

03:25

before they IPO they can delay their IPO

03:28

intentionally and force you to stick

03:29

around and stay at the company and work

03:31

longer they can tell you that you have a

03:32

million shares but it really there could

03:34

be a hundred trillion shares outstanding

03:36

and many companies simply aren't going

03:38

to tell you what percentage of the

03:40

company you truly own and even if you

03:42

were to somehow find that out which you

03:44

probably won't be able to find out most

03:46

companies I've seen they never quite

03:47

tell you exactly what percentage you own

03:49

even if you do find out they're just

03:51

going to devalue that when you finally

03:53

leave the company when you quit

03:54

oftentimes they'll say that you have to

03:56

exercise these stock options within a

03:58

certain amount of time like saying you

04:00

got three months to use that up and when

04:02

you do exercise those options you're

04:04

going to have to pay tons of taxes on

04:05

this stuff if the company never IPOs and

04:08

it could take ten years before the

04:10

company actually IPOs you've just paid a

04:12

bunch of money on stock and you've taken

04:14

a big risk you don't really know what

04:16

you're getting sometimes this stuff all

04:18

pans out maybe you'll get some money but

04:20

oftentimes it's not necessarily going to

04:22

be life-changing money I'm known

04:24

scenarios where I've joined companies

04:26

actually in other

04:26

people join companies and then the

04:28

startup eventually gets acquired right

04:30

acquisition happens more commonly than

04:33

IPOs and in an acquisition everybody

04:35

gets some payment for their stock it's

04:37

not all that much it's not really

04:39

life-changing money you might be like 50

04:41

K right 60 K something like that

04:43

if you're lucky it could be more if

04:45

you're not lucky it could be less one

04:47

thing that a lot of engineers don't know

04:49

is that even if your engineer number one

04:51

at the company you could already be

04:53

getting less than say 1% of the company

04:55

you would be putting in as much work if

04:57

not more work than the founders and

04:59

still the founders would have like 99%

05:01

of the company you would have one

05:02

percent or even 0.1% by the time your

05:06

employee numbers say ten or twenty your

05:08

ownership would already be point zero

05:10

zero zero one percent or something like

05:11

that

05:12

it would be a minuscule amount and

05:13

that's just a culture of startups

05:15

personally I got so disgusted by all of

05:17

this one time I remember I had the

05:19

business partner a friend and we were

05:21

going to start a company together and

05:23

then he said that yeah we would be 50/50

05:26

partners except he wanted 50.1% and I

05:29

would get 49.9% I just thought why why

05:32

not just 5050 and he was so insistent on

05:35

this point that it smelled fishy to me

05:37

and I backed out of the whole deal and I

05:39

didn't start the business because I

05:41

figured that he could just say well

05:43

let's take a vote should I get kicked

05:44

out of the company after I feel

05:46

everything yeah let's take a vote he's

05:48

got 51% ownership oh yeah he wins I mean

05:50

he could just kick me out he can do

05:52

whatever he wants now it's just our

05:53

pretty tricky and I remember there were

05:55

even times in my life when I just sort

05:57

of said to myself I don't like startups

05:59

I don't want to work at them and if I

06:01

were gonna work I would rather work

06:03

either for a large tech company or I

06:05

would found the company on my own and

06:07

those would be the options I would be

06:08

going for now having said that let's

06:11

talk about some of the good things about

06:13

startups because I've worked out a few

06:15

of them and there's some good things

06:16

about them one is the challenges are

06:18

going to be very different between

06:20

start-up and large tech company large

06:22

tech company you often work in a large

06:24

code base a lot of the challenges are

06:25

going to be organizational you're going

06:27

to have to deal with a lot of people

06:28

cross-functional teams and there's going

06:31

to be a ton of code and people blocking

06:32

everything that you're trying to do and

06:34

in a small tech company in a start-up

06:36

you're going to have a lot more freedom

06:38

and anything you want to do

06:39

anything you want to try just not going

06:42

to be a lot of people standing away you

06:43

want to try something you have the

06:45

flexibility to try that and that goes

06:47

for rolls as well so if you don't really

06:49

want to be an engineer let's say you

06:51

want to be more of a product manager or

06:53

designer or prototype or in a large tech

06:56

company it would be an entire shift in

06:58

careers you would have to get the proper

07:00

approvals maybe even do an interview

07:02

just so that you could do some p.m. work

07:03

however in its small startup you're

07:06

gonna have a lot more freedoms to take

07:08

on any role that you want and in this

07:10

sense I would say that there may even be

07:12

better career mobility for example if

07:14

you wanted to get into management it may

07:16

take a lot of effort to get into say

07:18

senior management at Google right that

07:21

would require you proving yourself and

07:22

everything but if you were to go to a

07:24

start-up you could probably get a

07:26

management role quite easily because the

07:28

requirements just aren't as strict you

07:29

can start building up your experience

07:31

and over a number of years you would

07:33

have that experience and then you can

07:34

transfer into large tech company like

07:36

Google and do management there and you

07:38

would already have built up a lot of

07:39

that experience if that were your

07:41

interest and so if there were areas in

07:43

your career that you want to do develop

07:45

more into a startup may be a good path

07:47

for that and that's really what a

07:48

startup is good for I would say it's

07:50

learning so I would recommend this if

07:54

you are a junior engineer or even if

07:56

you're not and you want to get some more

07:58

experience and learn and build your

08:00

skills in a certain technology there may

08:02

be a field that you're interested in

08:03

getting more until you think it's cool

08:05

and you want to do that then the startup

08:07

is a great way to do that the worst

08:09

reason to join the startup is because

08:11

you think as a library ticket and it's

08:13

going to make you rich and you hate the

08:14

work and you're not trying to learn

08:15

anything but you're just doing that

08:17

currently for the money because in that

08:18

scenario I would say I startup there's a

08:21

little chance it's going to work out for

08:22

you if I you curveballs money the other

08:24

thing I might mention here is that I

08:25

don't think money is the proper

08:27

motivation number one if you're a junior

08:29

engineer say either way your pace look I

08:32

know it sounds like a lot for you now

08:34

but it's not going to make a difference

08:35

for you in a few years when you look

08:37

back on that salary range that you're at

08:39

just spend your time trying to learn and

08:41

guide your career in the direction that

08:43

you want it to go to but trying to argue

08:45

and optimize for a few thousand bucks

08:47

here and there it's just not really the

08:49

right time to be doing that because

08:50

you're really splitting pennies at

08:52

point the other great thing about

08:53

startups is they can be a little bit

08:55

more closed now I remember I worked in a

08:57

start-up with one of my professors and

08:59

during the company holiday party it was

09:02

just us with our spouses or girlfriends

09:04

or boyfriends or whatever and there just

09:06

felt more like a family the office was

09:08

like the professor's living room you

09:10

don't really get this sort of dynamic

09:11

when you're in a larger company in which

09:13

it's an open door right people are

09:15

coming and going all the time and

09:17

there's tons of people that you may be

09:18

interacting with you don't really get to

09:20

know anybody really that well sometimes

09:22

people just get fired to just disappear

09:25

randomly and that just seems to happen

09:27

sometimes

09:28

so overall let me put it this way I

09:30

think that if you can get into a large

09:31

tech company then you might as well try

09:33

and it's good to explore your options

09:35

and see what you can get

09:36

but startups are great too you can learn

09:39

a lot there develop your skills and

09:40

experience there are some good

09:42

connections get to know some people

09:43

there and overall it's probably going to

09:45

be a pretty good time working there

09:46

because it's not like going to a large

09:49

tech company like Google you're gonna

09:50

have a 10 times better experience there

09:53

it's not quite like that it's more like

09:54

it's just bigger it's not like the food

09:56

is 10 times better it's not like the

09:58

computers are 10 times more powerful

10:00

it's still essentially the same stuff

10:02

the same environment that you're working

10:03

in maybe for lunch instead of having a

10:06

single item on the menu you may have 10

10:08

different items on the menu but you

10:09

still just pick one thing to eat when

10:11

you interact with people and self

10:12

interacting with five people you may

10:14

have to interact with 50 people when you

10:17

work on a codebase it would just be a

10:18

larger codebase and the office overall

10:20

may be larger instead of having a single

10:22

building there may be 10 different

10:24

buildings that are interconnected but

10:26

you still end up going to a single

10:27

building your small little desk whenever

10:29

you're going to work in that sense the

10:31

work environment is similar and often in

10:33

many scenarios a startups work

10:35

environment the facilities the bathrooms

10:38

the kitchens that stuff can actually be

10:39

better and higher quality than what you

10:41

may find that large tech companies I

10:43

will say that for a lot of people it

10:44

might make sense at some point once

10:46

you've learned enough once you've

10:47

developed enough experience that you may

10:50

want to prioritize compensation maybe

10:52

make sure that you've got some real

10:53

money on the table that you can lock in

10:55

there maybe tackle some different types

10:57

of technical problems and challenges

10:59

those that have to do with larger code

11:01

bases dealing with many different types

11:03

of people you know that

11:04

interesting challenge in itself and also

11:06

just add some more options to your lunch

11:08

menu those are all things that larger

11:10

tech companies will be able to offer you

11:11

so it may not be a bad idea to consider

11:13

those two at some point I mean the way

11:15

you think about startups versus large

11:17

companies in the comments below if you

11:19

liked the video give a like and

11:20

subscribe and see you next time right

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