Small company or big company?

October 2018

A friend doing a job search recently asked me:

A choice I will likely have is whether to work at a larger company… or a startup… I was wondering if you had any particular feelings on this question.

In the long run I’m hoping to work at a non-startup due to hours/general quality of life as well as salary and stability for the considerations of family life and the fact that the projects I’m interested in don’t necessarily have good prospects as short-term revenue generally. … I worry that startups are often competing with other startups in a crowded marketplace [and that working] at a startup means selecting one that will eventually “win” either through getting a hold in the industry or getting bought up. Choosing one that “loses” means my work may go entirely to waste? … Larger companies of course don’t have a great track record at significantly shaking things up.

Here’s what I replied with:

Thanks to my anonymous friend for prompting this post! Thanks to erubin on hacker news for useful feedback about salaries.


  1. I’m sure there exist non-dystopian parts of Microsoft. It would be statistically compatible with my observations for Microsoft to be up to perhaps 10% non-dystopian. If you work at Microsoft and don’t think your environment is dystopian, congratulations, you may be in the lucky 10%. (But also, double check that the dystopia hasn’t crept up on you–this happens!) 

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