It’s been a rough few years at Yahoo. Way back in 2012, former Google executive Marissa Mayer was named CEO of the longtime internet stalwart, which some pundits believed would mark the beginning of a spectacular turnaround. Instead, Mayer made some bad moves (including her insensitive characterizing of layoffs as a “remix”) and helped sell the company to Verizon before heading off to start Lumi Labs.
Now a subsidiary, Yahoo has continued to muddle along, its late ‘90s heyday fading in the rearview mirror. Given that tortured history, why would any software engineer want to work there? The answer is pretty straightforward: Despite its crises and mismanagement, Yahoo remains a major tech brand, and its products continue to serve many millions of people every month. In other words, it’s a chance to work with projects with an impact (even if that impact isn’t as large as, say, Google).
There’s also a not-inconsiderable amount of cash on the table, according to crowdsourced salary information from levels.fyi. Yahoo’s software engineer salary at the “interim software engineer” level—roughly equivalent to someone with a Master’s degree, or some experience in development—can earn a salary, stock options, and bonus that match those offered at other firms. Check out the chart:
Compare those Yahoo salaries to Apple’s ICT2 roles (i.e., the lowest rung of the software engineering ladder), which pay an average of $118,810 in base salary, along with annual stock options worth roughly $27,119, and a bonus of $14,619. At Google (Mayer’s old haunt!), 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.
Meanwhile, Microsoft offers engineers at its lowest “SDE” level $105,747 in average annual salary, $28,650 in stock, and a bonus of $21,378. At level 60 (slightly higher), salaries climb to an average of $114,747, with stock options worth $27,674 and a bonus of $16,716.
According to Glassdoor (which also crowdsources its data), the average software engineer at Yahoo makes $124,023 in base pay, along with annual cash bonus of $10,876 and stock bonus of $10,919. That aligns roughly with the data presented by levels.fyi (especially when you consider that Glassdoor’s data is encompassing engineers with various experience levels and salary points).
All of these tech companies pay notably higher than the “average” tech-industry salary. According to the most recent Dice Salary survey, average annual salaries in 2018 remained flat, at $93,244—a mere 0.6 percent increase from 2017. Indeed, some 68 percent of respondents to Dice’s survey said they’d change employers to receive higher compensation.
When it comes to the big tech companies and retaining talent, though, it’s probably not about low compensation. Although these massive firms offer the opportunity to work on big projects, the levels of bureaucracy can drive ambitious tech professionals insane. A company like Yahoo might present some good learning opportunities for a freshly minted software engineer, but after a few years, they might feel the urge to strike out for something new.