Twitter Takeover Bid Could Scramble Social Media Hiring

Tesla CEO Elon Musk has offered to buy Twitter for $43 billion. If his effort succeeds, it wouldn’t just radically change the micro-blogging giant; the ripples would likely extend through the rest of the social media sphere, impacting Meta (er, Facebook) and other companies in unexpected ways. 

For example, if Musk takes over the company and institutes changes that make it a great place to work, complete with groundbreaking innovations, it could pull much-needed talent from Meta, TikTok, and other companies. But if he pulls off the acquisition, and Twitter erodes or collapses, it could push more free talent onto the market. 

Whatever transpires with Twitter, social media companies potentially face big changes in coming months and years. Meta is essentially betting the company on augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) apps and services; it’s also the focus of anti-trust investigations that could force it to either split off or make significant changes to Instagram, WhatsApp, and other properties. Meanwhile, Snap continues to build an audience (predictions of its death were premature), TikTok’s growth is making executives at other companies sweat, and Reddit remains a force. 

With all that in mind, here’s what many of the social-media giants pay their entry-level software engineers:

As you can see, compensation is roughly equal at all these companies—although your ultimate take-home largely hinges on how well the stock performs in the medium- to long-term. As with many tech companies, stock becomes a larger percentage of your overall compensation package as you climb through the ranks: once you’re a senior engineer, a rapidly rising stock price can translate into many hundreds of thousands of dollars per year.   

At Twitter, senior staff software engineers (SWEs) can make $729,000 and more, and stock payouts can hit $400,000. Under new Twitter CEO Parag Agrawal, who took the helm in late 2021 following the departure of co-founder and former CEO Jack Dorsey, the company has focused more on integrating cutting-edge technologies such as artificial intelligence (A.I.) and machine learning into its tech stack; specializing in those skills could potentially boost your compensation even higher. But if Musk succeeds in his effort, who knows how things will change?