Storage Wars: Dropbox Software Engineer Salaries vs. Google

Over the past few years, Dropbox—which helped popularize online storage as a service—has faced increasing competition from Google, Apple, and Microsoft. But that hasn’t stopped Dropbox from paying its software engineers a whole lot of cash and stock, according to a new analysis by levels.fyi.

Levels.fyi crowdsources salary and compensation data from various companies. Because that data is submitted anonymously, it’s not the most scientific way of discovering how much those firms actually pay; that being said, levels.fyi’s numbers often align closely with other crowdsourced-compensation platforms such as Glassdoor, which is a good indicator of ballpark accuracy. 

With all that in mind, here’s the levels.fyi breakdown of how much Dropbox pays its software engineers from the IC1 through IC5 levels:

As Google and other tech giants have expanded their cloud-storage options (often with super-cheap deals), Dropbox has tried to expand its product roadmap to encompass organization and collaboration features. A few years ago, for example, it launched Dropbox Paper, a collaboration tool that allows teams to share and build documents together, set up launch plans, and more. The company’s survival partially hinges on whether clients will ultimately find those offerings more useful than whatever equivalents the tech giants can produce.   

Just like the tech giants, though, landing a software-engineering job at Dropbox is an intensive process, with quite a number of interviews and tests. The company places a good deal of emphasis on cultural fit, with interviewers focusing on past experience, how the candidate handles team disagreements and product failures, and so on. Check out this interview that Dice did a few years back with a Dropbox engineering manager for more insight into the company’s hiring philosophy:

Dropbox’s software-engineering salaries are also comparable to what a software engineer might find at Google. Here’s a breakdown (again, from levels.fyi) of what many software engineers earn at the search-engine giant

No matter what the company, though, software engineers are generally well-compensated. For example, software engineers at Microsoft also earn comfortable six-figure salaries, especially once they ascend to more senior engineering levels. For Dropbox, its high compensation for software engineers is the cost of keeping that talent out of the hands of its well-monetized rivals. The company’s emphasis on the “value add”—whether that’s collaboration and productivity add-ons to its core storage product, or other must-haves such as solid encryption—could prove the differentiators that allow it to survive in an increasingly crowded arena of cloud-storage firms.