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Stripe makes millionaires of its employees, breaking their 'golden handcuffs'

In a rare and welcome peripeteia, payments fintech Stripe has managed to claw back some of the valuation it lost last year and is making its collective workforce around $1bn cash-richer. That's enough to make 1,000 individual millionaires, but some people will be benefitting from this much more than others. 

Stock based compensation, often in the form of restricted stock units (RSUs) is a key component of Stripe's pay packages, and many of those RSUs are set to vest this year. Stripe therefore needed to take action. There have been two separate funding rounds, one now and one last March, allowing Stripe RSU-holders to cash-out.

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So who's seeing the largest influx of cash? We've used Levels.fyi data from across the past year to calculate average stock-based compensation at each level for software engineers:

Averages don't tell the whole story. While junior engineers earn $60k in stock on average, some earn less and some earn much more. One full-stack engineer in New York reported total compensation (TC) of $250k, with a $130k stock payment in their second year at the fintech. 

Stripe is the second-highest paying company in the world for principal engineers, but nearly 60% of its pay is in stock. Since January 2023, three principal engineers at Stripe who submitted data to levels have reported a yearly TC of $1m or more. One Stripe data engineer reported a stock payment alone of $985k.

Stripe's big buyback may have solved another big problem for its employees, the 'golden handcuffs' conundrum. In a popular but now-deleted post on jobs forum Blind, an Uber engineer described his $800k stock payments as a serious problem, as no employer wanted to buy them out to enable him to move. By giving employees the opportunity to cash out, it allows those who want to leave to do so. Founder Patrick Collison recently spoke about the importance of believing in the mission of the company, so this initiative will likely help root out current employees less enthused about working there.

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AUTHORAlex McMurray Editor

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