Survey: Base salary matters less than equity compensation for a majority of professionals

A new Blind poll sought to better understand employee sentiments regarding their overall benefits package when joining pre-IPO companies.


Image: iStock/g-stockstudio

Amid a global pandemic, 2020 managed to be a historic year for initial public offerings. Last year, more than 470 IPOs raised $155 billion; markedly more than the most recent high of $88 billion raised by 309 listings in 2014, according to Nasdaq data. To better understand the employee sentiments regarding compensation at pre-IPO companies, Blind, an anonymous network for professionals, recently featured two polls on the topic. Turns out, equity is more important than their overall base salary for the majority of respondents.

"Having options when it comes to compensation packages is never a bad thing, but it can be confusing to choose between them. However, equity seems to be taking a strong lead in terms of total compensation packages," said Fiorella Riccobono, author of a Blind blog post about the polls.

Joining a pre-IPO company and compensation

Blind's survey ran from Feb. 19 through Feb. 24 and received more than 3,220 responses. One poll question posed a hypothetical scenario and asked users whether base salary or equity would matter more if they were joining a pre-IPO company. The majority of respondents (60%) said that base salary mattered less than equity.

Response data by industry

As part of Blind's anonymous framework, users are able to identify their place of employment. As a result, survey data can be parsed out by employer and industry. Overall, 65% of respondents employed at Capital One said base salary mattered more than equity. Slightly more than half of Expedia Group respondents (55%) said base salary mattered more than equity compared to 50% of Intel, JPMorgan Chase, Intuit, GE and Box employees.

On the other hand, 91% of Snap and Databricks employees said equity mattered more than base salary with 11 respondents surveyed for each company. Of the nine Slack respondents, 89% said equity mattered more than base salary compared to 88% of the 16 DoorDash respondents.

Reduced base salary for increased equity?

The poll also featured a second question: "Would you be willing to take a reduction in base salary to increase your equity in your total compensation?" Overall, 58% of the 2,897 those surveyed responded affirmatively with 42% saying they would not be willing to take a salary decrease for increased equity.

All of the Roblox and Stripe respondents said they'd be willing to take a reduced salary for increased equity, although Blind's raw data only included responses for seven respondents at each company. More than 90% of the 11 Tableau Software respondents said they were willing to take a reduced base salary for increased equity.

A general overview of Blind's findings is available online for those so inclined.

Also see