When I moved to US to join Facebook a decade back, I had no idea whether the offer I was given was good or bad. I actually didn’t even negotiate and accepted whatever number they gave me. It was partially because I was so excited just to be given an offer and partially because I had no idea what was expected. Facebook to their credit ended up giving me 7–8% higher than what they had initially offered (I am assuming because they were holding something in buffer expecting me to negotiate — which I didn’t).
Fortunately over the last few years, because of glassdoor, levels.fyi and other similar websites, it has become really easy to find what is average and the range. One thing which is still lacking is how much you can make if you are really good — think top 1% of all engineers at FB (~100 engineers at FB). In this post, I will share my compensation and career progression over the years which hopefully will give you an idea of how fast you can grow and compensation if you continue to do really well.
Quick Note: The values below are based on zero stock appreciation i.e. if I was given a grant at $50 share price and it is now vesting at $200, I am still using $50 to calculate the values below because this is what FB was actually paying me and the appreciation was the reward for the risk I took.
I will talk about how I progressed in career and compensation I received each year below but if you are here just for the numbers, here you go:
Here is a brief version of how I got to E8 and my compensation over the years. TLDR in the end in case you want to skip.
I started at FB as E4 with base salary of $127k and starting grant worth $280k. Facebook was trying out lot of new products and there was lot of low hanging fruit across the company. The first half was mainly operating as solo engineer who can build a production ready prototype really quickly and I launched 3 new large features/small products. In second half, on one of the important products in our area, all 3 seniors engineers who were working on it changed teams. I stepped up and told my manager I will take care of this. Given the importance of the product, within 6 months, the team was back to 4 engineers and since I was the first one, I became the Tech Lead for the product.
Because of the 3 launches and building a 4 people team, I was promoted to E5 and given bonus of 32k (10% as E4 and performance rating multiplier of 2.5x) and refreshers worth 112k.
Total compensation: $229k
Even though I had become the Tech Lead last half, this was the first year where I actually started operating as one. I was not even in top 3 of the team of 10 based on engineering skills but I was able to come up with ideas, convert them into actual product really quickly while continuing to support rest of the team. Together we delivered two really successful projects and also rewrote almost the whole product to be much more maintainable and easy to build upon. Based on this, by end of year we had grown the team to 10 engineers.
Because of continuing the make the product more successful and building the team of 10 engineers, I was promoted to E6 and given bonus of 56k (15% as E5 and performance rating multiplier of 2.5x). I was also given refreshers worth $185k. Because of success of the team and my role in it, I was given additional grant of $486k. This grant is on top of yearly refreshers and only given to 3–5% of all engineers across the company.
Total compensation: $304k
I left my last team and started a new one with 2 other engineers to rebuild one of major FB products from scratch. In 6 months we had a working version and got blessing from leadership to invest in this product. We started recruiting team heavily the team grew to 12 engineers by end of the year. We continued to build the product but we still hadn’t launched which in hindsight was a mistake. We should have built iteratively instead of the big-bang we were shooting for.
I was given bonus of 60k (20% as E6 and performance rating multiplier of 1.625x) and refreshers worth 200k. Because of the progress we had made towards the new product, I was also given additional grant worth $860k.
Total compensation: $508k
To scale the team, we split the team into 4 sub-teams with each of them having separate Tech Leads. This allowed us to grow the team to over 30 engineers. But this was the year the chickens came home to roost. Our big bang launch didn’t go as well and while product was an improvement over the existing one, it was definitely not worth the level of investment we had made.
I was given 45k bonus (20% as E6 and performance rating multiplier of 1.125x). this was lowest performance multiplier and received my first rating of “Meets All”. No additional grant this time.
Total compensation: $775k (Actual number in W2 was >$1M because of appreciation in stock)
Given the sub-teams were now operating independently really well, my role diminished and I switched the teams to start a new one with 4 engineers. Within 6 months, we had the first version and got buy-in from leadership for the long march. I had learnt from my mistakes and this time we launched quickly and even though the numbers were small, the growth and retention was really good . Based on this we grew the team to 8 engineers.
I was given 47k bonus (20% as E6 and performance rating multiplier of 1.125x) and refreshers worth 225k. Given most of the year was building the foundation, my ratings were lower but by end of the year we had shown we were successful and based on this I was given additional grant worth $907k and I was promoted to E7.
Total compensation: $750k
We continued to make the product better and it continued to grow really well but was still small on FB scale. We started three new products in parallel and by end of year two of them had failed but one of them started showing signs of success. Based on the success of the initial product and promise of second product, the team was now 15 engineers and three sub-teams.
I was back to good ratings and got bonus of 93k bonus (25% as E7 and performance rating multiplier of 1.625x) and refreshers worth 650k. Based on the future projected impact, I was given an additional grant worth $816k.
Total compensation: $1.1M
This was the year product really broke through. It started getting mentioned in Facebook m-team meetings and started making impact on overall Facebook numbers. The team grew to 25 engineers. We took two new bets and one of them failed but other one showed signs of success. We had a portfolio now with one really success product, one moderately successful and one future bet.
I was given 78k bonus (25% as E7 and performance rating multiplier of 1.25x), refreshers worth 650k and additional equity grant worth $1.2M. Given the impact of our product on Facebook top-line, I was was promoted to E8.
Total compensation: $1.3M
I started the journey again by forming a new team of 4 people. Still in early stages of the new product.
This year I was given 90k Bonus (30% as E8 and performance rating multiplier of 1x), refreshers worth 840k and additional grant worth $1.1M.
Year 8 total compensation: $1.5M (Actual number in W2 was >$2M because of appreciation in stock)
The TLDR version of years in Facebook is:
- Year 1 was learn to become a good engineer,
- Year 2 was learn become a good Tech Lead
- Year 3–4 were to start something new from scratch. Even though we were not successful but learnt how to do it
- Year 5–9 have been following the model from year 3–4 i.e. start something new, launch and improve the product and finally scale it and make it successful.
- Early years were a mix of my ability, luck and being in the right place. If the three senior engineers hadn’t left the team, I would not have become Tech Lead so soon and would have been at least one level lower and my lifetime earnings at FB 25% lower
- Later years were mainly my ability in finding the next opportunity before others and then executing well.
- E6->E7 and E7->E8 promotions were mainly about making something successful. My execution could have been perfect but if the product didn’t work, I would not have been promoted.
In future posts, I will talk more about the skills needed at each of the levels and difference in compensation between an average and really good engineer at Facebook. Follow me to be notified of future stories.