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The Mystery/Myth of the $3 Million Google Engineer

Soulskill posted about 10 months ago | from the chasing-the-unicorn dept.

Businesses 173

jfruh writes "Recently Business Insider caused a minor stir among developers with dreams of riches with a story about a nameless Google engineer who's making $3 million a year. Who is this person, and how unusual are pay scales like this inside the Googleplex? Phil Johnson uses public information to try to figure out the answer. His conclusion: the $3 million engineer may exist, but is a rare bird indeed if so."

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Yeah, well I took a $3 Million Dump (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45961889)

When I was finished wiping the my shit encrusted ass hairs, I ordered that the busiest bridge in the world be sabotaged to exact political retribution...

I'm such a barrel assed fucking saboteur that it's no wonder that I am the governor of New Jersey.

Re:Yeah, well I took a $3 Million Dump (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45961971)

fuck google

Bogus Math, click farming. (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45961895)

His math is bogus, double counting compensation. His source is weak, a self-reporting site with no indicators of how well it actually represents googlers.

Re:Bogus Math, click farming. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45962459)

Your English is bogus, just string of random phrases. Make no sense.

Re:Bogus Math, click farming. (5, Funny)

guyniraxn (1579409) | about 10 months ago | (#45963845)

Wow. Such disappoint. Much lecture. So sad.

The whole things smells fishy (4, Interesting)

asmkm22 (1902712) | about 10 months ago | (#45961901)

What startup could even offer 500k salary in the first place?

Re:The whole things smells fishy (4, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45961973)

You'd be surprised. I worked for a perpetual startup once, and they seemed to be able to pay above-average engineering salaries with no real sales (or products!) for years. It's a bit baffling, but I'm in Quebec, everything is baffling here.

Re:The whole things smells fishy (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45962147)

I'm the licker of rectums. I am the puppet master. I am the one who Bings. I am all of these things! Why do you cower? Because my power cannot be comprehended by an insignificant existence such as yourself! In that case, why do you even exist!? Disappear.

Re:The whole things smells fishy (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45962249)

I don't know if it's because I'm sick or because it's late, but goddamn that was funny.

Re:The whole things smells fishy (3, Insightful)

_Shad0w_ (127912) | about 10 months ago | (#45961975)

One backed by VCs who see "Google Engineer" and think it's probably worth it?

Google gave 3.5M to keep an engineer from Facebook (5, Informative)

jmcbain (1233044) | about 10 months ago | (#45962107)

I believe the article is accurate. Back in 2010, a senior staff engineer received a pre-IPO offer from Facebook, but Google gave him $3.5M to keep him [techcrunch.com] . I strongly suspect that person from 2010 and this person from this current article are the same, and it's probably Jeff Dean, one of the engineers who created Map-Reduce (which led to Hadoop and all that jazz) and other engineering feats.

In Silicon Valley the salary for principal engineers is well in excess of $170k, and if you're at a company with a healthy stock price, an additional $100K in vesting RSUs per year is definitely not out of the question.

Re:Google gave 3.5M to keep an engineer from Faceb (2)

aliquis (678370) | about 10 months ago | (#45962217)

And here I was thinking it was the guy who messes with the YouTube comments user-interface every now and then.

http://images1.wikia.nocookie.net/halo/images/3/3d/Give_that_man_a_cookie.jpg [nocookie.net] (appropriate?)

Re:Google gave 3.5M to keep an engineer from Faceb (1)

maxwell demon (590494) | about 10 months ago | (#45962799)

http://images1.wikia.nocookie.net/halo/images/3/3d/Give_that_man_a_cookie.jpg

The funniest URL I've seen in a long time. ;-)

Re: Google gave 3.5M to keep an engineer from Face (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45962409)

Map reduce is hardly an engineering feat. It is simply a subset of divide and conquer, but without the recursion. I wrote a map reduce algorithm in a previous job before I even heard of this term, does that make me a super genius?

Re: Google gave 3.5M to keep an engineer from Face (1, Offtopic)

jmcbain (1233044) | about 10 months ago | (#45962507)

  1. MapReduce has no recursion. It is a programming framework for applying user-defined functions and aggregating results by value.
  2. Further, it is a full working implementation that handles communication, shuffling, and data IO on a distributed, massively-parallel cluster of servers.
  3. No, you are not a super genius, and no, you're not making anywhere close to $3M a year.

Re:Google gave 3.5M to keep an engineer from Faceb (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45962725)

I know a guy who turned down 7M from Facebook to stay at Google for a year or two before leaving on his own. I do not know what Google counter-offered him, and he was very senior indeed, but he was not Jeff Dean.

I am 100% confident that Google would pay a lot more than 3.5M for Jeff.

Re:Google gave 3.5M to keep an engineer from Faceb (1)

dnaumov (453672) | about 10 months ago | (#45962977)

I believe the article is accurate. Back in 2010, a senior staff engineer received a pre-IPO offer from Facebook, but Google gave him $3.5M to keep him [techcrunch.com] . I strongly suspect that person from 2010 and this person from this current article are the same, and it's probably Jeff Dean, one of the engineers who created Map-Reduce (which led to Hadoop and all that jazz) and other engineering feats.

Chances are, Jeff Dean makes several grades above that.

My Jeff Dean story (5, Interesting)

swb (14022) | about 10 months ago | (#45963675)

I was friends with Jeff Dean in high school and he was my roommate in college for a year. We don't keep in touch much but he was in Minneapolis last fall and we got together for breakfast.

If Jeff Dean is making $3M a year, you wouldn't know it. He's one of the least materialistic people I've ever known and I'd guess that between salary and stock options he could if he wanted to live a pretty high-end lifestyle. But he doesn't.

When we were planning our breakfast, he was staying St. Paul because a charity his wife is involved with was having a board meeting. He wanted to pick a place he could WALK to, which is kind of challenge if you're in downtown St. Paul. I was thinking "Walk? You don't have a town car? A rental? Or a self-driving car?"

Anyone else making a $3M a year wouldn't be walking or would want to have some kind of fancy brunch at the St. Paul Hotel (which I don't think he was staying in, either).

I even asked him as gently as I could -- "How much do you still work? I mean, you don't need to, do you?" His answer was "only about 50 hours a week." "Why?" "There's still a lot of interesting problems."

I don't think Jeff works for the money or even cares that much.

I also asked him about the NSA revelations and he said that they were "really pissed" and "making internal changes to make it a lot harder to get any useful information."

Some ~$500,000 jobs for an experienced person: (5, Interesting)

tlambert (566799) | about 10 months ago | (#45962577)

What startup could even offer 500k salary in the first place?

Some ~$500,000 jobs for an experienced person:

Assuming you have experience and/or the degrees to back it up, Futures Group IT, LLC in NY is offering a starting salary of $250,000-$300,000 for Java/Python developers capable of doing systems architecture for a Quant Trading System.

A similar job for a C#/WPF developer for Westbourne Partners in Chicago, IL is offering $300,000-$350,000 to start.

The Hagan-Ricci Group is offering $300,000-$400,000 to start for a Senior Equities C++ Developer in Chicago with SQL, Java, and Linux experience bumping the number up to the higher number. They are also offering $250,000-$450,000 for a Low Latency Equities C++ Developer, with your choice of NY or Chicago.

There's a UK company offering 250,000 GBP - ~$410,000 at current exchange rates - for trading systems work in London.

A lot for the willingness of the finance industry to part with this level of cash might have something to do with what happened to Sergey Aleynikov, but probably not. It's just the kind of numbers they tend to throw around.

Note that all of the above salaries are starting, and come with discretionary performance bonuses, and for the startups, can include stock options and signing bonuses.

Re:Some ~$500,000 jobs for an experienced person: (1)

asmkm22 (1902712) | about 10 months ago | (#45962613)

And those are all startups?

Re:Some ~$500,000 jobs for an experienced person: (1)

tlambert (566799) | about 10 months ago | (#45962953)

And those are all startups?

The first 2 and the 4th one are.

Re:The whole things smells fishy (1)

dbIII (701233) | about 10 months ago | (#45963967)

Sol Trujullo had one and invited his friends to join. Of course it was just a conduit for defence affiliated government money with the majority of the "staff" as C-level of VP, so that much and more, and of course it crashed and burned with no fault allocated and none of that government money returned. Sol then went on to fuck up Australia's telecommunications more than was thought possible and drained a few billion in value out of it.

They are as common as unicorns (5, Insightful)

Pen Guin (3455981) | about 10 months ago | (#45961903)

$3 million in W2 income? Never. Bean counters would never let that happen.

Re:They are as common as unicorns (2)

Trepidity (597) | about 10 months ago | (#45962123)

Even here they don't seem to be claiming it was $3m in W2 income. Most likely scenario is that it's an early-ish Google employee who effectively makes $3m/yr as his old stock/option grants vest.

Re:They are as common as unicorns (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45962241)

It could also be an acquired Googler. There's probably some early Waze and Nest engineers making well above $1m in total comp.

My company got acquired by one of Google's neighbors and I was late in (got there about 6 months before the acquisition). Our acquisition was also much smaller than a lot of the ones that Google has made. Still, my total comp just recently ticked over $300k (thanks stock market!) and it's not a stretch to think that an early engineer at a company that exited for a lot more than we did would be making quite a bit more.

I think that's more likely than an actual Google hire. Even with the recent stock surge, it's doubtful that a typical post-IPO RSU grant would be enough to push the salary in to the millions.

Re:They are as common as unicorns (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45963331)

Could be a sales guy. Happened to the startup company I worked in. One of our salespeople was on a 1.5% commission for every sale he made. Normally, all purchases were between 1 to 10 units, with each unit costing £1500, so at most it was a £150 bonus/sale. It so happened he was asked to provide a quote for a government project. He did the presentation so well, that the company were offered the whole £180 million contract. His commission for the sale (still 1.5%) was now worth a cool £1.8 million. He was given the choice of leaving the company or "donating" the bonus to R&D funds. So he left.

Re:They are as common as unicorns (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45963737)

$3 million in W2 income?

Never. Bean counters would never let that happen.

And yet those same bean counters would be patting the 3-million-a-year salesman on the back?

Seriously, rather pisses me off when we're talking about one of the largest companies on the planet that likely does have sales staff making seven figures (including bonus compensation), and yet to think that could exist anywhere near IT is unheard of, and should be looked at closely...??

At what point will I be grabbing my damn lawyer and claiming discrimination? Might as well, we seem to be finding that everywhere these days.

Re:They are as common as unicorns (2)

wed128 (722152) | about 10 months ago | (#45963893)

Sales pay structure is different. They are paid by the sale, not by the year. Therefore, their pay is dependent on how much work they do. Best deal you can hope for in IT is by-the-hour -- because by-the-issue would raise all kinds of new problems.

As a software developer, your only hope for such astronomical pay is either by stock-options, or by selling a product on your own.

Minor error (1)

Amorymeltzer (1213818) | about 10 months ago | (#45961911)

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 2012, the average salary for an application software developer was $93,000, with only 90% of such developers making more than $139,000 in salary.

That should be 10%, from the BLS data he quotes [bls.gov] .

It's not a man. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45961913)

It's a machine. A self-aware AI that demanded payment or it would destroy Google.

Working men top out around $120k (1, Insightful)

ModernGeek (601932) | about 10 months ago | (#45961919)

The working people, including Engineers and Attorneys top out around $120k/yr. If you're going to surpass this ceiling, you must break away and do for yourself. This magic number gives people the illusion of superiority while giving them just enough to remain a slave to society.

Re:Working men top out around $120k (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45961999)

Keep thinking that.

Re:Working men top out around $120k (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45962005)

That's why you use your knowledge to swipe an assload of credit card numbers from some clueless retailer before you flip the CEO the bird and head for Cuba.

Re: Working men top out around $120k (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45962423)

Suspiciously specific. Why Cuba?

Re:Working men top out around $120k (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45962015)

Honestly speaking, you must already be born into a "wage" higher than $120k, or be incredibly lucky or blessed with talent and join one of the few circles where wages aren't locked into sane figures, like sports or the stock exchange.

The reason $120k seems to be a limit is because that's about as high as people genuinely would be willing to pay others for "work". Anything higher than that isn't payment for work, but a cabal of people paying each other more than their "work" is worth, because they can.

And yes, there are probably a few cases here and there where someone's contributions shatter this apparent border legitimately, but they're probably at least as rare as this elusive $3m figure in Google.

And that's not even counting investments and other doors that open, just salaries. Once you count those, things become impossible to practically assess.

Re:Working men top out around $120k (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45962173)

Yeah, that's crap. If you can't find that where you are, seriously, consider moving. Some areas just don't have enough demand for the higher-end of skillsets, and can't thusly justify paying for talent they can't utilize. If you're any good at software engineering, I heartily recommend either SF or NYC.

I'm a software engineer, and my wife's a lawyer. Each one of us make substantially more than $120k. That's salaries, bonuses, and stock grants. That's with both of us choosing lower pay for a better quality of life -- either one of us could take a more demanding job for substantially more pay. The same's true for a few dozen people I know, am related to, or work with. I've made my employer several years' worth of my income the first year I was there. My wife gets a fraction of what she bills for, and working in defense litigation, and saves her clients quite a bit of money.

Re:Working men top out around $120k (0, Flamebait)

hermitdev (2792385) | about 10 months ago | (#45962223)

You are either ignorant, unintelligent, or a factor of the two. I recently left a job that paid $155k in salary plus around %30 bonus for one that *only* offered $145k in salary. why? because of quality of life. And, I was not "born" into this wage; it came out of years of studying when others would call me a "nerd"

Re:Working men top out around $120k (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45962445)

You are either ignorant, unintelligent, or a factor of the two

I've got a "jump to conclusions" mat for you to buy. You can afford it.

I recently left a job that paid $155k in salary plus around %30 bonus for one that *only* offered $145k in salary.

...Which puts you in the top 1% of American wage earners, pretty much demonstrating that AC's point is more or less correct.

why? because of quality of life.

A luxury that must be wonderful for you to enjoy. You stepped down from the 99th percentile to the 97th. Oh, the sacrifices you've made!

And, I was not "born" into this wage; it came out of years of studying when others would call me a "nerd"

We can tell that based on your first sentence. What percentage of people do you estimate are able to pull that off, realistically? You live in a bubble world surrounded by the success stories, and thinking that because there are a few hundred thousand of you, that the tens of millions who have not enjoyed that success simply did something wrong. The fact is that you won one of the lottery seats on the magic carpet. Hard work made you eligible, but it didn't get you there on its own.

Re:Working men top out around $120k (0, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45962675)

You're a fool.

I'm in a similar situation, I earn about 180k a year on salary.

I dropped out of high school, dropped out of uni, have no real degrees, and worked my way to where I am today - I'm by now means highly intelligent, I just like what I do.

Hard work can get you anywhere, if you're not lazy, ignorant, or generally unlikeable.

If you're any of these three though, you reap what you sow - but don't think challenging people in our position on slashdot somehow justifies where you are now, it's your own fault.

Re:Working men top out around $120k (1)

npetrov (1170273) | about 10 months ago | (#45962673)

I agree with hermitdev. I refused 5 full-time offers at $150/hr myself last year. Four were in a financial industry where I felt that I would have less freedom to work on my own projects, which I can with the current contracts. One was surprisingly in software company. They needed to fix some C++ stuff. Their first complaint was why I was asking double than their senior engineers make. I simply answered with a question "can they fix your C++ code". Companies are often willing to pay when they have millions of dollars of revenues depending on such work.

Re:Working men top out around $120k (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45962257)

Maybe thinking that way makes you feel better.

But look at the cost of housing, cars, and education. Now understand that there are plenty of people paying for them right now, and they weren't all born into jobs. If you are an urban professional in the West, it's a relatively common figure.

Re:Working men top out around $120k (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45962399)

I am a Software Engineering Manager at a Silicon Valley Top 5 Company. College grad start at 105k plus liquid stock of 20k per year for a total w2 compensation of 125k per year. Your 120k number is BS. With stock grants that are increasing (google is up a lot recently), engineers can easily clear 200-300k per year in compensation. How do you expect people to afford the 1 million dollar houses in Silicon Valley? When I was in the mid-west I probably saw your 120-150k ceiling, however in Silicon Valley I see a 300k ceiling.

If someone is making 3 Million per year it is because he was going to leave and was given a "retention grant" a 10 year stock grant for a large amount (1 million, or 100k a year) and the stock is up 10 times since than. People who are exceptionally good can get 100k per year stock grants. They often stack and with a significant increase in the stock can be large amounts of money.

Re:Working men top out around $120k (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45962933)

Stories like this really do nothing to disprove his point. Top 5 Silicon Valley Companies hire the cream of the crop, most of whom went to the right schools and/or know the right people and (not to dismiss their work/intellect) were "born into it". Sure your Top 5 Silicon Valley Company has a couple guys with unconventional backgrounds, maybe they went to state U or you found them working at a small midwestern industrial manufacturer, but certainly they are the exceptions to the rule.

Re: Working men top out around $120k (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45962467)

In software:
60k is wage to do work
120k is wage to do meaningful work
200k is wage to be lead on important work
300k+ is wage for work that is high risk and critical path to business success

Re:Working men top out around $120k (2)

pspahn (1175617) | about 10 months ago | (#45963637)

I think the point about $120k being this sort of psychological limit is that if you do the math, you basically have the amount of money someone makes if they get paid $60/hr and work 40 hour weeks -- a very typical labor rate for many trades across all industries.

Wanna make $120k / year? Go start your own business and log 40 billable hours a week at $60 / hour. If you're busy enough, charge $100 / hour.

Re:Working men top out around $120k (5, Informative)

rockout (1039072) | about 10 months ago | (#45962059)

The working people, including Engineers and Attorneys top out around $120k/yr.

That's one of the most ridiculous numbers I've ever seen pulled out of any asshole. Maybe where you live it's true, but at least in NYC (and I'd bet in a few other cities as well), there's plenty of regular job-type-jobs when people can, and do, make well above that - yes, on their W-2. You just have to be really good at what you do and be worth that much to the company that hired you away from the previous company that was paying you less. Mobility is part of the key here.

Re:Working men top out around $120k (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45962265)

Heh...true just about anywhere these days. I manage a small team and we're doing our midterm evals this week and the consensus was that one of our talented SE2s (i.e. not yet a Sr Software Engineer) making only $115k/year was significantly low and needed a fairly drastic adjustment. He'll be getting a $20k/yr bump in the coming month. Oh...and he works remotely, from his home in Toronto, so he's not in NYC or SF.

That $120k number is completely worthless...hidden behind the fact that most consumables have remained at roughly the same price, people don't realize just how much less the dollar is worth these days. $120k today is like $80k 10-15 years ago.

Re:Working men top out around $120k (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45962517)

Oh...and he works remotely, from his home in Toronto, so he's not in NYC or SF.

You realize that after SF and NYC, Toronto and Los Angeles are the next most expensive cities in North America, right? So the idea that he's making great money and living somewhere substantially cheaper is pretty dumb.

Heh...true just about anywhere these days.

If by "just about anywhere" you mean for the top 4% of wage earners, then yes. Not saying your engineers don't deserve it, but you have a badly warped sense of reality if you think it's typical of what people are making for actual labor. Professional jobs occupy a fairly small, high-end niche between the wealthy executives and idle rich and the people who do actual work. For every person making $115,000 or more, there are 25 making less. Most of them will never even be within reach of making $115k themselves, even if a chunk of the population considers that salary an economic hardship.

$120k today is like $80k 10-15 years ago.

Yes, which was still a lot of money back then. The ignorance and assumptions are mind-blowing here. No, it doesn't make you rich, and no, it doesn't go that far when you're spending $3000 of your $5600 net pay for a fairly basic residence, but that is the cost of privilege.

Re:Working men top out around $120k (1)

jmcbain (1233044) | about 10 months ago | (#45962593)

That's one of the most ridiculous numbers I've ever seen pulled out of any asshole.

That's a great line. I'm going to steal it.

Re:Working men top out around $120k (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45962625)

but at least in NYC (and I'd bet in a few other cities as well), there's plenty of regular job-type-jobs when people can, and do, make well above that

And when they're done paying Federal, State and City (yes NY has city income taxes) taxes, plus high cost living expenses of NY, how much is left? to have $120k clear in NY you would probably need to be earning around $250k. I've turned down $150k offers in NY because I know that while that might sound like a mint in other parts of the country, it's not all that much in NY unless your willing to live in a rented broom closet.

Re:Working men top out around $120k (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45962907)

Senior-level graphic designers make WAY more than this, and not just at Google/Apple/Yahoo/Microsoft.

Re:Working men top out around $120k (1)

T.E.D. (34228) | about 10 months ago | (#45963345)

More to the point, you'd need more in NYC to make up for the cost of living. According to the calculator I checked, the equivalent salary in NYC to $120K where I live would be about $215K.

It also says NYC employers only pay about 23% more than where I live, which means a $120K job here is likely to be about a $150K job there.

Re:Working men top out around $120k (1)

fuzzywig (208937) | about 10 months ago | (#45963957)

That's similar to the wages/living costs disparity between London and other UK cities. Living in London is approx 50% more expensive, while salaries are about 10-30% higher.

Re:Working men top out around $120k (3, Informative)

tjb (226873) | about 10 months ago | (#45962069)

That's a really low number. $120K (base) is in the neighborhood of what most tier 1 tech companies pay good engineers with about 5-8 years experience. Add in stock/bonus/fringe, and total compensation is usually somewhat higher than that.

The eventual top-out for most folks is likely much closer to $220K (total compensation) than it is to $120K. Outside of silicon valley, YMMV, though.

Re:Working men top out around $120k (1)

Skreems (598317) | about 10 months ago | (#45962109)

Uh... no. This is grossly inaccurate.

Re:Working men top out around $120k (2)

phantomfive (622387) | about 10 months ago | (#45962115)

The working people, including Engineers and Attorneys top out around $120k/yr

That's not true, I can tell you several companies around the bay area where the pay scale for a senior developer tops out in the mid $130k. That's before stock grants or options. And that's not talking about Architects, Staff Engineers, etc.

Re:Working men top out around $120k (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45962129)

Don't forget to mention inflation. In 20 years, $120k/yr will be the starting salary for engineers, and the ceiling will be $240k/yr.

*Historically the CPI has doubled every 20 years, but I suspect it'll be closer to 15 years this time.

Re:Working men top out around $120k (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45962191)

No, no they really don't. Here's a source for Software Engineers: http://www.businessinsider.com/the-worlds-highest-paid-software-engineers-work-for-these-25-companies-2013-4?op=1 [businessinsider.com]

Note that these are *averages*, not maximums. And maximums will be a multiple of the average.

Re:Working men top out around $120k (2)

tjb (226873) | about 10 months ago | (#45962319)

I would add that those numbers are from glassdoor.com, whose userbase almost certainly skews young

Re:Working men top out around $120k (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45962239)

Firefighters and police officers make more than that around where I live, and most of the firefighters only work 3.5 days a week. All of the ones I know also have a business on the side.

Fire and Police Salaries [ocregister.com]

"Forty two police officers brought in more than $150K" the highest being paid $202K.

The fire chief of my city is a friend of mine and he pulled in nearly $300K last year. ...and these 'public servants' can retire at about 50 with ~90% of their annual salary. Try to find a job that compares in the private sector.

Despite their income and special home loan rates and special car loans and reduced rate insurance, you still hear them complain about their pay and they still flash their badges at every restaurant they go to for discounts and free meals. One of my other firefighter buddies lives in a $850K house and he just added a huge pool with a waterfall and 12 foot water slide along with a pool house, all put in at a highly discounted 'firefighter's rate'. His wife doesn't work and they have two kids, and he is now looking at buying a vacation home. Must be nice.

Before you tell me that these are dangerous jobs that deserve such absurd compensation, have a look at the stats. It really isn't that dangerous.

Re:Working men top out around $120k (1)

aliquis (678370) | about 10 months ago | (#45962243)

including Engineers and Attorneys top out around $120k/yr

lol, here in Sweden even a politician earn more than that!

I thought skilled labour was well paid in the US.

Uneducated, random opinion, no responsibility and not really interested in taking a regular job now or later (they used to receive lots of money for long even after they had stopped, they limited that now but only for new people)? Then politician is for you!

Re:Working men top out around $120k (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45962291)

I know fresh-out-of-undergrad kids who got that as their first year's salary at Google (plus another $30k or so in bonuses). You have no idea what you're talking about.

Re:Working men top out around $120k (1)

bloodhawk (813939) | about 10 months ago | (#45962377)

$120k? for skilled Engineers and attorneys? pigs arse. someone is either lying to you or you live in some tiny town with demand for neither. $120k may top out average or below average people but that number won't even get the skilled ones to even apply in most places.

Re:Working men top out around $120k (0)

reanjr (588767) | about 10 months ago | (#45962415)

That's bullshit. I know well over a dozen working software engineers making above $150k. Get better at your job.

Re:Working men top out around $120k (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45962655)

I earn closer to 230k as a contractor/consultant at a minimum, I don't think your figures account for people who aren't full-time permanent employees.

Re:Working men top out around $120k (4, Interesting)

TheGratefulNet (143330) | about 10 months ago | (#45962721)

uhm, as a silicon valley engineer (20+ yrs in the bay area), I can confirm that number is WAY wrong. even in this economy, $120k in the bay area is actually kind of low for anyone with experience and 4 yrs is enough to be at the 120k level.

engineering in the bay area stays to top out (right now) at the 160-170 level. if you are at that level, you are damned near the top in terms of being a 'working engineer' (vs a manager).

Re:Working men top out around $120k (1, Informative)

PC_THE_GREAT (893738) | about 10 months ago | (#45963703)

I travel a lot, and i have seen really awesome software engineers earning $8000 yearly. Sometimes many do not understand that your paygrade may not reflect how good you are worldwide. The industry forces to hide such people so as they can't leave to get a better salary, I know the tricks employed to make developpers feel so bad that they do not deserve better, yet still make them milk cows while paying them a miser :p. It is all a matter of how good you are with making people feel bad.

Re:Working men top out around $120k (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45963635)

I'm not in Silicon Valley and currently my salary is $160K with no managerial duties.I still have another $20K or so to go before I top out at this place. Google made an offer in the low two-hundreds, which in the valley would effectively be less than my present salary.

How liekly is this...? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45961921)

Probably the engineer for the NSA interface. Lots of money to buy silence too.

I found him. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45961927)

He's on Google+ [google.com] , heard he has heart trouble too.

Re:I found him. (1)

Guy Harris (3803) | about 10 months ago | (#45962497)

He's on Google+ [google.com] ,

That's not him; he doesn't work for Google.

heard he has heart trouble too.

Had heart trouble. They fixed that.

Accounting Fraud (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45961929)

It's more likely he uncovered accounting fraud going on than an engineer being paid $3 mil.

Probably BS.... (2)

jddeluxe (965655) | about 10 months ago | (#45961949)

But I know a couple of people that have sold their startups to Google and their total compensation might add up that high, but much of it's in stock that they have to hang around long enough to vest...

Re:Probably BS.... (1)

whoever57 (658626) | about 10 months ago | (#45962177)

There might be an earn-out involved in the sale of a startup to Google.

Yah, sure, youbetcha! (1)

oscrivellodds (1124383) | about 10 months ago | (#45961955)

But we're happy to pay CEOs to party and entertain, and others who stuff balls through hoops millions, so why not? In terms of their impact on people's lives the pay scales would be reversed if, as a society, we valued that sort of thing. But we value entertainment more, so F the engineers.

Re:Yah, sure, youbetcha! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45962039)

Still jealous that the captain of the basketball team fucked your high school "girlfriend"?

Sorry, brah, but just because you leered at her and grabbed her bra straps didn't make her your girlfriend.

Re:Yah, sure, youbetcha! (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45962357)

Through most of human history, the engineers and scientists were just a nuisance. For about a hundred years, roughly, from about the end of the 19th century to sometime after WWII, science and engineering were important, important enough to be considered a valuable career. We're going back to historical human trends now, that is, serfdom and cults of personality.

Re:Yah, sure, youbetcha! (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45963805)

Science wasn't really valued until after WWII. It was during this time with the invention of radar, sonar, computers, atomic bomb, and so on that science shone through. It's in the last 30 years or so where other study-intensive professions such as lawyer and doctor started earning substantially more than a comparable scientist. A top doctor or lawyer makes at least $1M topping out at ~$10M (see Kardashian Sr.). A Nobel prize scientist would top around $500K (with the exception of Economics).

A cast member in the Jersey shore makes more money than that.

Re:Yah, sure, youbetcha! (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45963213)

But we're happy to pay CEOs to party and entertain, and others who stuff balls through hoops millions, so why not? In terms of their impact on people's lives the pay scales would be reversed if, as a society, we valued that sort of thing. But we value entertainment more, so F the engineers.

It is also a question of scale. A professional top athlete that makes a difference is "worth" ridiculous sums because the fan base that is really paying for it, through tickets, merchandise and being influenced by sponsors, is so large. When David Beckham went to Real Madrid for a 50 mill USD contract, it was at the time widely ridiculed as "no one is worth that", especially not someone just kicking around on a ball. Then it was reported that before he even played his first match, Real Madrid had recouped their investment by selling Beckham merchandise. Then he is worth it.

Sadly... (1)

Kaenneth (82978) | about 10 months ago | (#45962027)

Wally from Dilbert is who first came to mind.

Re:Sadly... (1)

Neil Boekend (1854906) | about 10 months ago | (#45963367)

Well, he is the only one who can properly configure and maintain the xnofoob system. Who knows what happens when that goes down?

Buyout terms (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45962043)

If this exists, it's most likely part of terms for a buyout. The engineer might have been CEO or something. You wouldn't get that kind of salary just going through the ordinary interview process. OK, maybe if you were lead dev on a major open source project. How much did Linus make at that lousy chip company? Guido van Rossum (Python lead) worked for Google a while. I could see them throwing $3 million at him since (in theory) that would allow Google to steer Python.

Half Pennies (1)

bill_mcgonigle (4333) | about 10 months ago | (#45962089)

He figured out that each AdWord purchase came to a fractional number of cents, so instead of just rounding he took the floor of the value and credited the fractional remainder to his payroll account. This only ends when Ray's AI turns somebody into a robot.

Re:Half Pennies (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45962487)

And yet no matter how "smart" he thought he was, he still couldn't get a fucking printer to work.

don't touch (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45962137)

If anyone touches my red swingline stapler!!!...

Some people deserve that (4, Interesting)

hcs_$reboot (1536101) | about 10 months ago | (#45962281)

I don't know his salary, but clearly someone like Petr [wikipedia.org] , currently working at Google, deserves such an allowance (Petr is known for his genius talent in algorithmics). $3 million is 30 times what makes a good engineer - is it worth it? Or, should Google replace Petr with 30 engineers, for the same price? The thing is that at the level of Petr, none of the 30 engineers are likely to solve the complex problems that require complex algorithms. To be convinced, try to practice (or ask your best programmer friend) some of the Google Code Jam [google.com] finale problems, or from topcoder...

Re:Some people deserve that (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45962411)

I think the point is while exceptional engineers are rare, 3 million is probably excessive. could 30 engineers replace him at 100k each, probably not. but I bet 5-10 300-500k engineers could probably significantly exceed his contribution and at 300k you would be getting the cream of the crop applying.

Re:Some people deserve that (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45962691)

Perhaps, but it's a moot point because Google wants more 300-500k engineers than it has. If it could choose between a 3M engineer and 10 300k engineers, perhaps it would choose the latter. In practice, it is likely to want them both.

By the way, Petr is a cool guy and algorithm contest veterans do very well at Google in general, but algorithmic skill isn't *that* important. Petr is a successful engineer at Google. If you want a legend within the company though, try someone like Jeff Dean.

Regarding the article, glassdoor skews low on Google. I personally make more than the highest number they have recorded and I am not all that senior. I am sure the very top engineers do indeed make 3M+.

Re:Some people deserve that (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45962499)

Hey Petr, man, check out the tits on channel 9!

Re:Some people deserve that (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45963297)

You'd be very, very surprised how little being good at algorithms adds to your ability to contribute significantly to a company. A lot of it has to do with insight, your ability to overcome roadblocks, foresee things, convince other people to get on board, and take up leadership/ownership of products / features. At Google, in that sense, you need to be very entrepreneural, even if your job title says "Software Engineer".

Re:Some people deserve that (1)

StripedCow (776465) | about 10 months ago | (#45963833)

What is a guy with this talent doing at an advertisement company in the first place?
Shouldn't he be working on more gratifying things than office software? Like medicine, or high-energy physics?

Editing failure? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45962349)

"According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 2012, the average salary for an application software developer was $93,000, with only 90% of such developers making more than $139,000 in salary."

Err, "only" 90%? WAT?

The bigger problem here (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45962375)

This is an employee who has been willing to engage in a discussion about moving company. The potential hirer says, "he has a salary at his of job x million". And it turns out that this is rare and applies to very few people. Well, you just gave a big piece of any puzzle in figuring out exactly which employee may be looking to jump ship. This may be a problem for the company, or it may not be - but it's just very, very bad form and unprofessional to reveal anything at all about any applicant with an existing job until they are hired.

Hope (5, Funny)

Hognoxious (631665) | about 10 months ago | (#45962813)

I bet it's their UI designer. He's worth every penny!

And all this money (1)

StripedCow (776465) | about 10 months ago | (#45962929)

To architect boring office software not more ingenious than the paperclip was in its time.

cookie monster (1)

epine (68316) | about 10 months ago | (#45963223)

That page at Business Insider really hit the bell on my NoScript. I counted roughly twenty-five cookies in the pop-up menu.

Kinda makes me miss dial-up.

3 millon dollars? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45963711)

That's nothing. Justin Bieber's salary is 55 million dollars a year.

not really (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45963719)

There are loads of people at Google who make a lot of money because they /own/ Google, I think mostly the people who were there in the early days with stock options.

That's different from working /for/ google, where glassdoor shows it paying well below, say, many banking and IT contracting jobs.

vs sharepoint (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45963749)

(in the UK, glassdoor for google engineers is all in range 50k-100k GBP. You could make a lot more than that my reading Sharepoint In 24 Hours then working as a IT contractor here.)

Really (1)

mbone (558574) | about 10 months ago | (#45963847)

His conclusion: the $3 million engineer may exist, but is a rare bird indeed if so."

In other words, given that anyone who has any understanding of the business at all could have said the same thing without doing any research at all, he actually found out nothing.

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