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Ask HN: Startups vs Big Companies: Which do you prefer?

Right now, I'm a software engineer at Microsoft. However, I'm wanting to move to a Web3 startup (well, if they give me a good offer). Yes, I am aware of the "problems" about blockchain/Web3 and that everyone hates it.

My heart and gut is telling me that I should go with the Web3 startup, no matter how much I convince myself otherwise. My mom is largely warning me against the idea of me joining one and pushes the idea of a "stable" job on me.

I get where she comes from, but even with my tech choices I was historically not the "default" or "most popular" type, I liked trying something different. Well, unless I really like a particular piece of software, like with FreeBSD, where I am a committer. But even then, my FreeBSD laptop is a very new HP Spectre x360 14 and not the "safe" option of a 10-year-old ThinkPad X220/T420, and I like Gnome even if everyone else doesn't.

Going back, I feel more entrepreneurial and not cut out for a "corporate job", I want to innovate on my job and take ownership. At the same time, with other important metrics like work-life balance and compensation, a "big company" also has its wins. But even at Microsoft I do have times when I am pretty much idle (even if I ask for work) nor do I want to work in "Big Data" forever either.

For reference, the startup is a Series B company. I also have interviews with another series C Web3 company, and a "big" firm (not FAANGMULA, but more like Pinterest or Dropbox sized).

However, about you all HN readers, especially those who worked at both startups and big companies (doesn't have to be FAANG), which do you prefer and why? I am leaning towards the Web3 startup if I get it, but also want other perspectives.

Yes, I did have an internship at a (now-dead) crypto CDN startup who almost hired me full-time, well before Microsoft came in.

  • 3 points
  • 9 days ago

  • @neelc
  • Created a post

Ask HN: Startups vs Big Companies: Which do you prefer?

@dannyeei 8 days

Replying to @neelc 🎙

In my opinion you've already got a job at Microsoft - and I imagine a decent amount of savings then. If things go bad you'll still have those skills and you'll be able to get another highly paid job in corporate. I strongly disagree that startups are like corporate. Startups don't have all the red tape which allows you to move very quickly which I personally find very satisfying!


@crate_barre 9 days

Replying to @neelc 🎙

It’s all the same shit. It’s just matter of your tolerance level for corporate b.s or startup b.s. The only thing about a vanilla big co is that it starts to look really lame (even to yourself) on a resume if you are in the 3+ year range. You start to feel icky, sort of like ‘oh geez am I really one of these h1b Fortune 500 shills now?’. The same goes for being at a startup for too long, then it becomes ‘oh geez am I really one of these wide eyed douchebags now that believes I have ownership and autonomy or some shit?’.

The most important thing I think a developer can do is remain compelling in the job market on your own two feet. While your mom may look at Microsoft and see it as some stable lottery ticket for life, in reality it can make you look less robust. That’s doubly so for a typical big co that doesn’t have the pedigree of Microsoft. My mom would probably say the same for my company, as in it’s well known - so what’s the problem? The problem is it looks lame past a certain point and she has no idea the nonsense involved in this job market.

For every person that joins a startup thinking they will have ownership, autonomy, or whatever else you can concoct, there is also a counter party that is leaving at the same time saying there was no ownership, autonomy, etc. It’s all perception. As you leave Microsoft, someone else is entering wide eyed.

It’s all just a giant game, so keep that track record fresh!


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