How many Google engineers make more than $ 500,000 a year? How "good" an interpreter (percentile) would this engineer have to be?

Updated on : December 6, 2021 by Anthony Henderson



How many Google engineers make more than $ 500,000 a year? How "good" an interpreter (percentile) would this engineer have to be?

I'm guessing 5-10% (T6 staff and up, but not recently promoted to that level) of Google engineers get it right. I don't have specifics about Google, but I'm an individual executive-level contributor with decades in the industry.

Within companies, the seniority of a position defines a range in which hiring begins in terms of salary, cash bonus, and equity, with seniority implying scope of responsibility plus technical depth, not just time spent. the industry. Trading and leverage determine where they fall in that range.

Elsewhere, Silicon Valley engineers around the core level (with 15-20 years of actual experience

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I'm guessing 5-10% (T6 staff and up, but not recently promoted to that level) of Google engineers get it right. I don't have specifics about Google, but I'm an individual executive-level contributor with decades in the industry.

Within companies, the seniority of a position defines a range in which hiring begins in terms of salary, cash bonus, and equity, with seniority implying scope of responsibility plus technical depth, not just time spent. the industry. Trading and leverage determine where they fall in that range.

Elsewhere, Silicon Valley engineers around the top tier (with 15-20 years of actual experience delivering leading products and equipment, not title inflation) can get $ 200K - $ 250K in base salary. Since senior engineering degrees imply relative impact, large company degrees are less for a given absolute impact. When a distinguished engineer moves the needle on revenue at Google, that has a measurable impact at $ 15 billion / quarter, so only tens of millions don't get there. Based on Google level descriptions and fractions of executive level IQs elsewhere, it appears that the corresponding Google level is "personal."

At that level, salary is not the largest part of total compensation - there are hundreds of thousands in restricted stocks of large companies each year.

The "distinguished engineer" is the next step beyond the chief engineer, often classified and compensated at least as a director; At Microsoft, it's a level 70 position with an annual compensation of about $ 1 million. "Fellow" continues as a vice president. With a stock move of $ 3M / yr it wouldn't be unreasonable at a big tech company like Google.

Some senior engineers may be doing it too. GOOG shares ranged from $ 400- $ 600 in 2010 and reached $ 1,100 in 2014, so such an engineer with a salary of $ 200,000 and equal equity could receive $ 600- $ 800,000 in compensation during 2014 not including upgrade grants and bonuses.

The highest revenues that are not one-time deals for "normal" engineers could come from acquisitions, which Google does long ago (84 from February 2010 to January 2014), with options and restricted shares in the acquiring company replacing hires in the company being acquired. Take a multi-million dollar stake in a startup, multiply it by Google's share growth, and you could hit multi-million dollar annual numbers. When much of that is taxed as long-term capital gains or qualified small business stocks, it equates to a much higher salary.

I would say minimal. My theory is that there is a silent majority of Google employees who earn less than the market salary for their skill level. HR leverages the benefits Google offers as a justification for providing below-market salaries. The highest paid Google employees often get these salaries in response to threats or counter-offers from other companies who are pulling Google employees. Google workers who move up from their current level to the next do not reach astronomical salary levels at the time of their promotion. The raises are much more conservative in that regard. Therefore, there is a halt in

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I would say minimal. My theory is that there is a silent majority of Google employees who earn less than the market salary for their skill level. HR leverages the benefits Google offers as a justification for providing below-market salaries. The highest paid Google employees often get these salaries in response to threats or counter-offers from other companies who are pulling Google employees. Google workers who move up from their current level to the next do not reach astronomical salary levels at the time of their promotion. The raises are much more conservative in that regard. Therefore, there is a great incentive to compare prices, even work for other companies,

Sounds a bit dysfunctional, doesn't it?

I don't have any direct knowledge of this, but I treat it as a "Fermi problem" and use Edmond Lau's knowledge for What are the different levels of software engineers at Google? In addition to information on Glassdoor, I would say that almost anyone at the Senior Engineer level (and above) does it and probably a fraction of people at the Senior Personnel Engineer level as well. This is something like 30 to 100 people.

Of course, $ 500K means base + equity; people who think that $ 500K base salaries occur outside of the CEO / CFO / etc. they are not very familiar with Silicon Valley.

If that report is even technically correct, it is an exceptional situation. I will expand as apparently that sentence itself is too indirect. First of all, as others have pointed out, this is a report of what someone told a journalist that someone else told them was doing during salary negotiations, making it suspicious in all sorts of ways.

There are several ways that someone who works for a large company, especially Google, could have a very high cash income that is dependent on them staying. If they have older stocks that are still consolidating, or a very large bonus that may depend on achievements

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If that report is even technically correct, it is an exceptional situation. I will expand as apparently that sentence itself is too indirect. First of all, as others have pointed out, this is a report of what someone told a journalist that someone else told them was doing during salary negotiations, making it suspicious in all sorts of ways.

There are several ways that someone who works for a large company, especially Google, could have a very high cash income that is dependent on them staying. If they have old stocks that are still being consolidated, or a very large bonus that can depend on the achievement of certain results. However, none of these things is actually $ 500k in cash income.

So I suspect the answer is technically zero - no one has a real salary of $ 500k.

First, it is important to note that a significant portion (or majority) of high compensation packages are delivered in stock, which are subject to high taxes when you sell them.

Since the question comes down to engineers only, I think it's safe to say that less than 0.05% of engineers have compensation packages worth $ 500k + a year.

On the level, in addition to Fellows, we are talking about people who received offers to leave and counter offers to stay (again, the counter offers are mainly about more stocks). The level is not the best indicator in this case, it depends on the responsibility of the engineer.

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First, it is important to note that a significant portion (or majority) of high compensation packages are delivered in stock, which are subject to high taxes when you sell them.

Since the question comes down to engineers only, I think it's safe to say that less than 0.05% of engineers have compensation packages worth $ 500k + a year.

On the level, in addition to Fellows, we are talking about people who received offers to leave and counter offers to stay (again, the counter offers are mainly about more stocks). The level is not the best indicator in this case, it depends on the responsibilities of the engineer and the "indispensable", but mainly we are looking towards the Principal and higher with those counter offers.

Promotions on Google are based on the process used to award tenure and promotions to university professors. Engineers write a self-assessment of their own achievements, ask their peers and the manager for written comments, and then an independent committee of senior engineers reviews written comments, manager's scores, code, design documents, etc. and make a final decision. . Although time consuming, it is much fairer than a traditional system in which the manager makes decisions unilaterally.

The criteria for promotion vary depending on the level of the technical ladder you are on and f

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Promotions on Google are based on the process used to award tenure and promotions to university professors. Engineers write a self-assessment of their own achievements, ask their peers and the manager for written comments, and then an independent committee of senior engineers reviews written comments, manager's scores, code, design documents, etc. and make a final decision. . Although time consuming, it is much fairer than a traditional system in which the manager makes decisions unilaterally.

The criteria for obtaining a promotion vary according to the level of the technical ladder in which you are and from one situation to another; everyone's circumstances are different. Here is a brief summary of the most common levels and general guidelines for each:

Software Engineer II. This is where someone who has finished college would start. SEIIs generally require a lot of design and code guidance from senior engineers.

Software Engineer III. An SEIII is expected to be independent and self-directed. Typically, if a person can create a design document for a subcomponent of a larger system, know which teams to work with to launch it, and write well-structured code without much guidance from senior engineers, they are in the right range for SEIII. People with PhDs start here, people with college degrees often rise to this level after 1 or 2 years, and a good fraction of those with industry experience start at SEIII.

Senior programming engineer. This level requires leadership (e.g. being the technology leader of a 3-5 person team) or independent, self-directed work on a very substantial technical problem that requires substantial design, e.g. launching a new server, adding a new signal . to the search algorithm, or redesign a large component of an existing system. The main thing that distinguishes Senior from SEIII is the presence of leadership or greater complexity / technical scope at work. Most Google engineers rise to the top level at some point, although the time it takes varies quite a bit, usually 2-4 years. Often times, people with industry experience start here.

Plant software engineer. It requires leadership and technical complexity as defined by "senior software engineer", as well as impact at the enterprise level. As a rough guide, the impact of an engineer at the personnel level should be able to be explained to people outside of his team or group. About 15% of Google engineers are at the staff level. This is the first level that not all engineers are expected to reach (ie, it is okay to "beat" at the top level).

Senior Plant Engineer, Principal Engineer, Distinguished Engineer, Google Scholar. Perhaps 5% of engineers will reach these levels sometime and usually after more than 5 years at Google or with very important achievements in the industry. You have to do something that impacts the entire company or the IT industry in general. For example, Guido van Rossum (inventor of Python) was a senior engineer and Ken Thompson (inventor of Unix) was a distinguished engineer.

There is also a parallel track for managers: manager, director, vice president, etc.

One final thought: many young people at Google are obsessed with promotions. That's to be expected - there are plenty of ambitious Type A personalities who have been trained their entire lives to seek honors and awards. My advice is to focus less on "climbing the ladder" and more on learning how to be a great engineer, building productive relationships with your peers, and working on things that have a big impact and that matter to you personally. Those are the only things that matter in the end.

I have been with the company for 10 years, I started as a recent graduate with a bachelor's degree and I am a senior software engineer.

tl; dr

Here are some things that are generally true, but there are and always will be exceptions:

  • To get to L5, and to some extent L6: you can keep doing more of what you're doing, just better.
  • For 6, this mostly depends on your project / scope / leadership. If the project expands to be large / complex and you grow into it, the leadership opportunity will naturally present itself. Sometimes there will simply be a lot of hurdles that you have to overcome in order for your project to succeed.
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I have been with the company for 10 years, I started as a recent graduate with a bachelor's degree and I am a senior software engineer.

tl; dr

Here are some things that are generally true, but there are and always will be exceptions:

  • To get to L5, and to some extent L6: you can keep doing more of what you're doing, just better.
  • For 6, this mostly depends on your project / scope / leadership. If the project expands to be large / complex and you grow into it, the leadership opportunity will naturally present itself. Sometimes there will simply be too many obstacles to overcome to get your project off the ground; then you deal with leadership first.
  • After level 5, the job and role requirements change more drastically.
    • At age 6, there is much more emphasis on leadership and product success. This may only involve your immediate team set. Owner of vague problems. You can navigate the ambiguity.
    • In 7, there is more emphasis on organizational success and leadership across teams and work areas. This even has to involve providing leadership on other APs or teams that are slightly further away than those adjacent to your own team. Not for the simple fact of providing it, but because it is a necessity for your goals. Business impact at Google level.
    • 6-7 requirements is a more dramatic change than 5-6.

On job requirements: Marshall Goldsmith's book What Got You Here Don't Get You There talks about this. Sure, you can keep increasing your tech skills by doing more of the same; But how to develop your organizational leadership and navigation skills is unclear. Everyone has a different path and there is no book you can read with an algorithm on how to become a better leader.

Able to solve vague problems means: you can solve practically anything and also determine if the original problem presented was in fact a problem or was attributed to something else that was not known at the time it appeared. For example, an engineering manager thinks that Project Foo needs a Bar feature set; you go and research it and discover a nest of problems you need to discuss and end up convincing the entire organization that your new proposal for the Baz role is more appropriate to solve the high-level problem. This is also known as expert; understand complex subtleties that are often overlooked.

At level 6 and especially at 7, you must be willing to take risks and put your reputation and credibility (and that of your team) at stake in order to make moves big enough for those levels. This is actually quite stressful and requires a lot of energy to handle properly, because it can create perception problems. It's easy to say "team X is not doing a great job", but you will also rarely hear "but it is true that my own team has never done that" at the same time. Many engineers of level 5 and below do not notice it.

You have to be passionate about technology and you just want to launch cool stuff. This is where discussions of minutiae come in: you have to acknowledge people's good intentions. Normally, nobody wants to sabotage anything. It's your job to keep people focused.

You have to be an expert in leadership challenges.

You have to know how to climb yourself. Use your time to add value where others cannot. This sometimes means that you have to steer clear of the details of the design if someone else is able to do so. See "release cool stuff" - this is not a competition to see who can have their name on a design document if everyone is able to design and code it correctly.

You will find that you have more important things to worry about, like the pile of other designs, fires and plans that are in direct conflict with the huge project you are trying to launch.

Keep in mind that each level involves competition at the previous level, but your day to day focuses on different things. Each level is more meta than the previous one, and soon you will reach the limit of climbing. This is why you need a different skill set and mindset for each level to be successful.

Note that the climb to L6 + can also be a disadvantage, and I know people who do NOT want to be actively promoted to L6 or L7. It's expected to handle these really tough problems that don't even remotely seem to sit alone and code or design. Emphasis on sitting alone. You have to stop thinking that way.

L5 -> L6 -> L7 scale at these levels: Team-> Org -> Company (2+ PA); When you lack formal or strict authority, in addition to realizing that you cannot know all the details of each team, different types of skill sets are needed to navigate successfully.

L5: Begin with the final state of what you want to build. Create some design documents, have your team people and assigned roles work with you, start delegating a bit, keep the project going.

L6: Do what you did in L5, but now you have to work with a more complicated set of equipment and functions. Start thinking a little more business-centric and make decisions based on creating successful products and businesses; or get more than 2 very different teams in different organizations to work with each other; ie the center of 3-4 + teams in your own organization for your project (s). At this stage, you should still be able to show that you are a deep tech savvy and see things from high to low level of detail that others might miss.

L7: Start with an end state or two of what you want to build. Get a dozen different teams that are NOT assigned to work with you to agree to a plan, because your support is absolutely necessary. They are distributed in different APs. You need to establish credibility and leadership skills quickly. Either get someone at the top to conduct an OKR, or do it the "hard way" like I did and go straight to the teams; Either way, you need to have a strong case if you want someone to support you. At this stage, there may be an emphasis on seeing things that others do not see from a higher level.

E6 on Facebook and L6 on Google are at the same level, so you are talking about 2 different levels. In my mind, you should think about:

  1. What will you be doing? Especially with an E6 deal on Facebook, the company likely has 1 or 2 features in mind for you. Yes, you can * sorta, kinda * pick the team you want from the bootcamp, but they'll likely guide you to the recruiting team with the domain expertise you have. E5 on Google probably means you are a cog in the wheel and need to do a 6+ month evaluation on a computer of your choice before you are even considered a standard engineer in a game.
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E6 on Facebook and L6 on Google are at the same level, so you are talking about 2 different levels. In my mind, you should think about:

  1. What will you be doing? Especially with an E6 deal on Facebook, the company likely has 1 or 2 features in mind for you. Yes, you can * sorta, kinda * pick the team you want from the bootcamp, but they'll likely guide you to the recruiting team with the domain expertise you have. E5 on Google probably means that you are a cog in the wheel and need to do a 6+ month evaluation on a team of their choice before they even consider you as a standard engineer on a juicy project.
  2. How much do you want technical responsibility? E5 to E6 is a huge leap in responsibility. You range from being an independent engineer to a recognized leader on the team. As a result, your manager will treat you differently. Your manager will push you to make sure you have a juicy “E6 scope” problem to work on after the team picks up speed. This eventually involves leading a project for the team that contains some combination of: business critical, long-lasting, technically complex, cross-stack, multi-person, multi-team. This is either an advantage or a disadvantage depending on your career goals. You probably won't be doing 9–5 on Facebook the first review cycle or two until you understand the scope of the system. In Google,
  3. How much do you want mobility? If you do a good job on your E5 project on Google, some interesting teams might talk to you. In general, a well-performing E6 on Facebook has tons of career options internally and your boss is investing a significant amount of time to make sure you're happy to stay on the team. It is often quite easy to go from E6-> M1 if you are interested in trying management because many of the skills required to go from E5-> E6 overlap significantly with the basic skills of M-track. At Google, this will likely require significant paperwork and a manager who truly believes in you.
  4. What's in a paycheck? Depending on where you got the job offer, Facebook or Google might have a higher salary band. Overall, Facebook has rated its stock as more growth-oriented than Google, so I wouldn't be surprised if FB's offering was lower. I would mainly focus on the paycheck if there is a large variance (20% +). Anything less than that can be offset by the slightly higher performance bonuses that come naturally from a job you like. Of course, feel free to trade numbers, as there is always room for maneuver at the higher end of the hiring spectrum.

I don't know what the numbers are now, but 10 years ago the average (median) startup pay was ~ $ 8,000. (According to an IEEE study). The average time it took to get that payment was 12 years. (Which is exactly the same as the payoff time for CVs. Follow up to see what your likely payoff time is.) That's not much for all those years of 80-hour workweeks. The median (median) payment was a bit higher, something like $ 32,000. What that tells you is that the bias is extreme towards the low to zero pay side. And that a very small number receive very large payments. I do not have it in front of

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I don't know what the numbers are now, but 10 years ago the average (median) startup pay was ~ $ 8,000. (According to an IEEE study). The average time it took to get that payment was 12 years. (Which is exactly the same as the payoff time for CVs. Follow up to see what your payoff time will be.) That's not much for all those years of 80-hour workweeks. The median (median) payment was a bit higher, something like $ 32,000. What that tells you is that the bias is extreme towards the low to zero pay side. And that a very small number receive very large payments. I don't have it in front of me, but my memory is that much less than 1% receive $ 1MM or more.

Having run a startup, one of the problems I had was that people were spending too much time. Among real humans (as opposed to fictional ones), working more than 50 hours per week for more than a few weeks without a break impairs your ability to function. It seems like they're working really hard, but what's really going on is a lot of negative work, by which I mean people come to work fried and screw things up because they can't think clearly even if they want to. . I was able to document a tripling of the productivity of the team that had a time restriction placed on the job. This is not popular in Silicon Valley startup culture, but it is very real. One of the reasons startups fail is that people work so hard that they can no longer think clearly.

I have some old friends from startups that I joined. Several I have kept in touch with now live in trailer parks more than 100 miles outside of the Bay Area, and they find it difficult to get a job because they are too old. They have next to nothing and make a living working in retail positions or once every 2-3 years landing a contract programming position. (It's interesting to hang out with someone in a bar, see them after they collapsed, remember the hotshot they once were.) Recently, one of them told me what it was like: He was making $ 12K / month as a contractor for a few months, but was "treated like a contagious disease" by the permanent full-time staff of a large employer in the valley.

Two of the people I used to work with in the startup world committed suicide when their startups failed, lost everything, and couldn't get a job. One of those who committed suicide had been through 5 startups, all of which collapsed. He was 48 years old. I've had two others who died of heart attacks between the ages of 30 and 40 while working hard at startups.

Some others I kept up with saw the writing on the wall and left the software. You are an enrolled agent doing taxes and doing well. Another works in money management. A third was dedicated to the sale of insurance. Another entered into mortgage proceedings. Two others went back to school and became scientists in various fields.

Of all those I worked with, one got paid more than $ 1MM. I hardly knew that guy.

It is not a huge sample. I have 11 people that I have kept up with since the inception game. Suicide: 2. Caravan parking and not leaving: 3 Careers changed: 5 (2 of those who changed careers were in science). Charging with $ 4MM: 1
For those who are concerned, 1 of the 11 was a woman. The rest were men. All of them were ambitious and very good. The woman was the fastest and best programmer I have ever met, truly extraordinary. A phenomenon. She was one of those who changed fields and is doing well.

You can add to that number the 2 young people who died of heart attacks on the job. Cola and fast food diets combined with sitting all day and night are not good for you.

So be very careful what you decide to do. The industry press loves winners. You don't know about the other 95%. It's no fun living in an RV park, unable to afford anything you don't buy at Goodwill. Women don't stay for that. Each of these people (except those who suffered heart attacks) was left with their spouse. (The woman also.) The boys in the trailer park are alone.

(Generally, I don't like to reply anonymously. But some of those connected to me rely on me as a gateway so they can get back into at least one more contract position to earn some decent money. It's not fair to women. people connected with me to feel that I am inadvertently embarrassing them, or exposing them to ridicule or worse. If they want to go out and share their stories, that's what they decide. I say this even though I think this shame and stigma is attached to Too many failures in the startup game is a serious problem. I don't think it's ethical to "take them out" in the culture of the Valley, any more than it is ethical to take out someone who is gay and is in the closet. That is their business).

I am a plant engineer at Google. My opinion is a bit different from the others here.

Normal levels are 3/4/5, with 5 being Senior Engineer. It's normal for me to go up to level 5, Senior. What that level means is this: Google has something that needs to be done and knows that you can take care of it on your own with no hassle. In other words, Google knows what the problems are, knows what the answer is, and trusts that you will do it and take care of the details.

The next level is 6, Plant Engineer. What this means is: Google knows what the problem is, but doesn't know what

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I am a plant engineer at Google. My opinion is a bit different from the others here.

Normal levels are 3/4/5, with 5 being Senior Engineer. It's normal for me to go up to level 5, Senior. What that level means is this: Google has something that needs to be done and knows that you can take care of it on your own with no hassle. In other words, Google knows what the problems are, knows what the answer is, and trusts that you will do it and take care of the details.

The next level is 6, Plant Engineer. What this means is: Google knows what the problem is, but does not know what the answer is, but is confident that you will figure out how to solve the problem. Levels above 6 are more concerned with identifying problems / goals and figuring out which ones to address (in addition to things at all other levels).

So in my opinion the best way to become a plant engineer is to have a history of solving problems that other people don't know the answer to right away. If there are problems, where people scratch their heads and think, "I'm not quite sure how we should do it," and you are constantly solving those problems, then that is where you want to go. to level 6, Staff. People will say, "I'm glad person X did it, because he didn't know how to solve the problem."

Also, at level 6, you need to have a broad view of how things work at Google and which teams are working on which projects in your department.

You have to get to level 5 first, Senior. That's where people look at a problem and think, "In general, I know how to approach it, but it is complex and involves a lot of work and a lot of experience." Addressing those issues is the way to get to level 5. People will say, "I'm glad X did it, because it seemed complex, like it took a lot of work."

To get to level 4, people should think of you: "I'm glad X is working on this for me, because they didn't need a lot of help or guidance and they figured it out for themselves."

To get to level 3, people should think of you: "I'm glad X is here, because they understand how computers really work, they learn fast, they are passionate about technology, they can take charge, they communicate well, they are friendly and fun , and they can see the underlying abstract patterns that are obscured by many surface details. "

Well, the link doesn't work anymore, but in any case, this is one of the reasons I really don't like tech media - it's so misleading.

Look, the best software engineers can make a lot of money, I'm not going to scoff at that fact and they are some of the highest paid upper-middle class Americans (other than people in finance). However, the programmers do not. First of all, no one will pay a programmer much more than 80,000 at best, even in the most beautiful places in California and in the rest of the world, it is more like 30-40,000. So this article has already confused "programmer" with "software engineer." They are

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Well, the link doesn't work anymore, but in any case, this is one of the reasons I really don't like tech media - it's so misleading.

Look, the best software engineers can make a lot of money, I'm not going to scoff at that fact and they are some of the highest paid upper-middle class Americans (other than people in finance). However, the programmers do not. First of all, no one will pay a programmer much more than 80,000 at best, even in the most beautiful places in California and in the rest of the world, it is more like 30-40,000. So this article has already confused "programmer" with "software engineer." They are not the same and your salary can be up to 10 times different.

Second, Google has a specific subsidiary, which I think is now known as "X" under the Alphabet umbrella. These are essentially independent companies with their own staff and lead staff. If you're in one of these, you're basically running a startup backed and owned by Alphabet (aka Google). That means if you are one of the "programmers" leading the autonomous car division known as Waymo, then you will make 3 million a year because you are essentially a low-end CEO. I mean, you're not a fucking programmer, you're the CEO of a self-driving car startup.


The answer is zero, programmers earn 3 million a year. Do you really think some low-end grunt is offered to run a start-up company as a CTO for 500k being a "programmer"? Let's go.

This is why I really hate the media when it comes to technology. I watch TV shows where someone was a Google employee and somehow has private jets and they drive it in a limo. This is not how it works. Most engineers, if they lose their job, cannot pay their rent if they cannot quickly find another job. Some lucky few make it big, but their titles aren't "software engineer," they sound like ridiculous shit like "super ultra ring engineer fellowship" or "studio chief technology officer" or "vice president of the San Francisco office. Matthew".

Finally, Alphabet is now a large company with many subsidiaries. It is very possible that many people are making millions of dollars in the company because the expected CEO compensation package for Fortune 500 companies is $ 15 million a year. So $ 3 million a year as head of one of the subsidiaries is actually quite a paltry salary package.

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