Among Twitter Inc’s highest-paid executives, Christopher Fry’s name stands out. The senior vice president of engineering raked in $10.3 million last year, just behind Twitter Chief Executive Dick Costolo’s $11.5 million, according to Twitter’s IPO documents.
That is more than the paychecks of executives such as Chief Technology Officer Adam Messinger, Chief Financial Officer Mike Gupta and Chief Operating Officer Ali Rowghani.
Welcome to Silicon Valley, where a shortage of top engineering talent amid an explosion of venture capital-backed start-ups is inflating paychecks.
“The number of A-players in Silicon Valley hasn’t grown,” said Iain Grant, a recruiter at Riviera Partners, which specializes in placing engineers at venture-capital backed start-ups. “But the demand for them has gone through the roof.”
Stories abound about the lengths to which employers will go to attract engineering talent - in addition to the free cafeterias, laundry services and shuttle buses that the Googles and Facebooks of the world are already famous for.
One start-up offered a coveted engineer a year’s lease on a Tesla sedan, which costs in the neighborhood of $1,000 a month, said venture capitalist Venky Ganesan.
At Hotel Tonight, which offers a mobile app for last-minute hotel bookings, CEO Sam Shank described staging the office to appear extra lively for a prospective hire. He roped in two employees for a game of ping-pong and positioned another group right by the bar. It worked: the recruit signed on and built a key piece of the company’s software.
In Fry’s case, his compensation came mostly in the form of stock awards, valued last year at $10.1 million, according to Twitter’s IPO documents registered with securities regulators. He drew a salary of $145,513 and a bonus of $100,000.
Some might call that underpaid. Facebook VP of engineering, Mike Schroepfer, took in $24.4 million in stock awards the year before the social network’s 2012 initial public offering.