Slack, a messaging app for teams, has exploded in popularity since its debut in August 2013. It’s easy to see why: Slack’s “fun” UX and features are a welcome change from most functional-yet-boring enterprise software. But has Slack’s rampaging popularity transformed into high salaries for the software engineers who built and maintain it?
That’s an excellent question. Fortunately, we have levels.fyi, which anonymously crowdsources software-engineer salary data, to give us some idea of compensation at Slack. Moreover, we can compare Slack salaries to those at Microsoft, which is trying to erode Slack’s market share with Teams, a communication app bundled with Office.
On the compensation front, it’s also worth comparing Slack to Google and Facebook, both of which develop communication apps on a regular basis (and have their own eyes on the enterprise, in one fashion or another). Let’s break down the numbers for senior software engineers, the category for which levels.fyi seems to have the most reliable data:
(Because the question always comes up: We treat levels.fyi’s data as reasonably accurate. Although crowdsourcing data is problematic at moments, levels.fyi’s numbers align pretty strongly with those offered by Glassdoor, which also crowdsources its salary data. In other words, while this isn’t the most scientific way to determine salaries, we’re confident that the numbers are in the correct range.)
What can we conclude here? Like many up-and-coming companies, Slack offers pretty generous stock payouts to senior engineers. That stands in contrast to more “mature” tech firms such as Microsoft and Google, which tend to pay out a little less (on average) on the equity front, but lean hard into base salaries.
These “mature” tech companies also have multiple product lines and subsidiaries, as opposed to Slack, which basically has a single product. Instead of diversifying, Slack has also made a habit of doubling down on its messaging-app strengths; for example, acquiring rival HipChat from Atlassian back in 2018. That lack of diversification is potentially dangerous: If Slack can’t stay at the forefront of the messaging game, it doesn’t have another line of business to fall back on.
Fortunately, Slack’s ecosystem remains popular. Lots of bots automate various Slack processes; for example, there’s AppReviewBot, which sends reviews for any app right to a Slack channel, which can make that app’s developer team either more informed and/or neurotic, take your pick. And don’t forget the GIFS!
Bottom line: If you take a job at Slack and stick around until you land in a senior software engineer position, you can expect to pull down quite a bit in salary and other compensation. It’s also worth keeping in mind that specializing in certain skills can boost one’s salary even higher. For example, those who specialize in artificial intelligence (A.I.) and machine learning (ML) can rack up multi-million-dollar paychecks, once you factor in perks and benefits such as stock bonuses. Whatever company you work for, it’s always important to keep your skills up-to-date.