The We Company—which created WeWork, provider of shared workspaces, as well as WeLive, provider of shared living spaces—is going public. In its IPO prospectus, the firm revealed revenues of $1.54 billion for the first half of 2019, along with $900 million in net losses.
For most “unicorn” startups, it’s always been about rapid growth, even in the face of staggering quarterly losses. That’s why Uber, despite burning through billions of dollars annually, was willing to go public in May. The theory is that, if you can demonstrate a path to eventually profitability, investors will want to get in on your stock’s proverbial “ground floor.” The downside, of course, is those profits may never materialize—which means investors will lose.
At the moment, the number of WeWork locations has risen to 528, with plans to open an additional 169 worldwide. “Our membership base has grown by over 100% every year since 2014,” reads the We Company filing. “It took us more than seven years to achieve $1 billion of run-rate revenue, but only one additional year to reach $2 billion of run-rate revenue and just six months to reach $3 billion of run-rate revenue.”
Whether or not the We Company can survive in the long-term, the company’s software engineers are likely waiting for the IPO with baited breath, especially if they have stock options. And how much do those engineers actually earn? Fortunately, there are a number of crowdsourced compensation numbers out there.
For example, Glassdoor estimates that the average WeWork software engineer makes a base pay of $122,032, accompanied by a cash bonus of $15,962 and stock bonuses of roughly $45,353. That’s pretty good for a company that, despite its stated mission to “elevate the world’s consciousness,” is basically a sub-leaser of office and living space (with a pretty handy app/social network thingie for members).
Meanwhile, levels.fyi (which is a fantastic source for crowdsourced salary data) suggests that WeWork software engineers at the L3 level can make $147,500, with stock worth $28,438 per year; at the L4 level, base salary rises to $170,500.
How does this compare to other tech firms (as sourced via levels.fyi)? At Apple, ICT2 roles (i.e., the lowest rung of the software engineering ladder) pay an average of $118,810 in base salary, along with annual stock options worth roughly $27,119, and a bonus of $14,619.
Meanwhile, at Google, new software engineers (e.g., those who’ve just graduated from college) at the L3 level average salaries of $124,009, with annual stock options of $42,660 and a bonus of $21,417. Microsoft offers engineers at its lowest “SDE” level $105,747 in average annual salary, $28,650 in stock, and a bonus of $21,378. (We also have the breakdown of Amazon’s entry-level software engineer salaries.)
Those software engineer salaries can increase rapidly, especially if the professionals in question specialize in something particularly valuable, such as artificial intelligence (A.I.) and machine learning. If the We Company continues to branch out into diverse areas, its need for engineers with specialized knowledge may only increase, leading to still higher salaries.
Of course, compensation for many software engineers at the We Company/WeWork could change rapidly once the company IPOs, depending on how much equity they have (and when those shares will actually vest). This might be a wild ride for some folks.