Joining a Company
Startups are very risky endeavors. Before joining one, you should do your diligence to learn about the company and the position you are being offered to ensure that you believe that the team and the company are worth dedicating the next few years of your life to.
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Job interviews are terribly insufficient for both sides – a candidate only gets to experience their prospective employer through a few select individuals and the hiring manager would actually rather observe interactions in a real job setting as opposed to a series of 45 minute discussions. “Try Before You Buy” is where both parties figure out a way to work on a project together before mutually committing. Well, it seems like “ditching the interview” is growing in popularity.
Offer letters are short and easy to read, as far as legal documents go. But they contain some seemingly scary terms that are (1) ubiquitous in Silicon Valley and (2) usually “no big deal”. We’re not saying that no one has ever gotten into a conflict or lawsuit over these terms—just that it isn’t common. The offer letters from the major Silicon Valley law firms are very consistent. Here are the seemingly scary terms from an offer letter.
In this post, we cover some things you should ask about the company, including: Can you give me the offer in writing? How does my compensation compare to my peers in the company? What are my options worth? What percentage of the company do my options represent on a fully diluted basis? Can I exercise my unvested options early?
We’ve been answering this question a lot lately: “I have a job offer at a startup, am I getting a good deal?” This isn’t a comprehensive answer—just some questions we would ask if we had an offer. If you don’t understand your offer, get a lawyer. But—right or wrong—most people don’t hire lawyers to review their offer letter.