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Inside the Culture of the Top Tech Companies

Inside the Culture of the Top Tech Companies

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. If you click through and make a purchase, I’ll earn a commission, at no additional cost to you. Read my full disclosure here.

Disclosure: This post might contain affiliate links. If you click through and make a purchase, I’ll earn a commission, at no additional cost to you. Read my full disclosure here.

In my previous post titled “Salaries for Software Engineers are On FIRE!” I compared the compensation packages for the top high-tech companies. However, high compensation is not the only reason to join a specific company. In this post I will provide a detailed comparison of the culture in the top tech companies (FAANGM: Facebook, Amazon, Apple, Netflix, Google, Microsoft). As I discussed in my previous post, my suggestion to Software Engineers in order to maximize their income is to work in a top-paying tech company. The goal of this post is to help find the best corporate fit based on each person’s criteria.

The content of this post is based on my own experiences, as well as on discussions with my contacts in each company.

Corporate culture matters. How management chooses to treat its people impacts everything – for better or for worse.

Simon Sinek

Comparison matrix

FBAmazonAppleNetflixGoogleMicrosoft
Work-life
Balance (average)
Not
Good
Not Good Not Good Not Good GreatGreat
High PIP RateYesYesNoYesNoNo
Market
pay percentile
90%75%75%95%80-85%60-65%
Stock RefresherHighLowHighNoneHighLow
Bottom-up decisionsTop-downTop-down Top-down Yes Yes, eng- driven Top-
down
Internal information flowHighLowLowLowHighHigh
FoodFreeNoneSub-sidized FreeFreeSub-sidized
PromotionsFast

(Up-or-out)
FastSlowNo promosSlowSlow
Mega backdoor RothYesNoYesYesYesYes
401k
match
50%
(up to 7% of pay)
3-year vest period

50%
(up to 4% of pay)
50% (up to 6% of pay)100% (up to 4% of pay) 50% (up to $9k)

or

100%
(up to $3k)
50%
(up to
$9k)
ESPPNoNoYesNoNoYes

In summary

  • Facebook
    • Pros: Great pay, “move fast and break things” mentality
    • Cons: Up-or-out culture, high PIP rate
  • Amazon
    • Pros: Good pay for those who stay 4+ years, great stock growth, fast promotions
    • Cons: Bad work-life balance, competitive culture, high PIP rate, high attrition, most sign-on RSUs vesting on 3rd and 4th year of employment (vesting schedule: 5%/15%/40%/40% each year), 401k match vests only after 3 years, salary capped at $160k, Total Compensation Target (TCT) means that performance refreshers might be minimal/zero for high performers due to increases in the stock price that was awarded
  • Apple
    • Pros: Good pay
    • Cons: Secretive culture, bad work-life balance
  • Netflix
    • Pros: Top-of-the-market compensation (cash-only), bottoms-up culture
    • Cons: Bad work-life balance, high PIP rate
  • Google
    • Pros: Great pay, great work-life balance, engineering-driven bottoms-up culture
    • Cons: Slow promotions
  • Microsoft
    • Pros: Great work-life balance (also known as the “country club”)
    • Cons: Low pay, slow promotions

Additional information

  1. Benefits comparison
    • Levels.fyi: Detailed comparison for all the benefits of the biggest tech companies
  2. Facebook
    • CNBC: Inside Facebook’s ‘cult-like’ workplace, where dissent is discouraged and employees pretend to be happy all the time
    • Forbes: What You Can Learn From The Facebook Culture Crisis?
  3. Amazon
    • New York Times: Inside Amazon: Wrestling Big Ideas in a Bruising Workplace
    • FACE of Amazon: Hundreds of personal stories from mistreated Amazon employees
    • TeamBlind: How performance refreshers work at Amazon
  4. Apple
    • Vox: How I survived and thrived in Apple’s legendary environment of super-secrecy
    • Business Insider: Apple employees break their vow of secrecy to describe the best — and worst — things about working for Apple
  5. Netflix
    • Netflix: Official description of the corporate culture, as conceived by Netflix CEO Reed Hastings and HR chief Patty McCord.
    • The Week: Netflix’s “Culture of Fear”
    • Wall Street Journal: At Netflix, Radical Transparency and Blunt Firings Unsettle the Ranks
  6. Google
  7. Microsoft
    • Happymillfam: Guide for the maximization of all the monetary benefits that are provided to Microsoft employees
    • Teino Boswell: Comprehensive list of all the Microsoft benefits

Interview preparation guides

If you are interested in switching to a higher-paying role, then you will find lots of great information in the following interview preparation guides:

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