Web3 Salaries Soar to $750,000 for Rank-and-File Devs
Web3 projects are using token-based incentives to pump up compensation.
By: Owen FernauDive
Web2 giants like Google and Facebook have long been beacons for talent seeking cushy paydays, and for good reason — senior software engineers at all five FAANG companies make well over $300,000 a year, according to levels.fyi.
It didn’t take long for web3 to catch up.
Jobs with similar lofty income levels have emerged at web3 startups. A senior Solidity engineer position at Silo Finance, a lending protocol, recently turned heads with a reported salary ranging from $300,000 to $750,000.
Other eye-popping postings have crossed the wires: TempleDAO, an OlympusDAO fork, posted a job paying $300,000 to $900,000 and it quickly made the rounds on Twitter. LooksRare also offered a package that topped $600,000, according to The Daily Ape.
“Regardless if you like it or not Web3 is easily 2x to 5x what Silicon Valley pays,” tweeted Peter Levels, founder of Nomad List, linking to Silo’s job posting.
Tech has been generating gaudy compensation packages for devs since the world was young. What’s striking about this level of loftiness is that it’s coming in startups, not relatively mature ventures with listed stocks and all the options-driven compensation packages that entails. Salaries are a leading indicator of momentum so it seems clear that web3 demand is soaring. And it doesn’t matter that crypto prices are stuck in the doldrums. The buzz on Sand Hill Road is that every major venture firm is hiring a web3 partner.
Still, web3 is producing its own brand of creative compensation just like Silicon Valley. For example, Silo’s posting has a “basic salary” of $300,000, with the remaining $450,000 coming in the form of tokens. Naturally, there’s no guarantee that the SILO tokens will maintain their value.
Web3 Jobs, which posted the Silo position, actually lists the max salary of a Solidity developer as being $180,000. But the base is $60,000, so the difference appears to be coming from token-based incentives.
It’s clear that web3 engineers are getting paid extremely well, and token-based comp is similar to the stock option-based comp that’s long prevailed in the Valley: both forms are designed to vest the employee in the growth of the venture over a period of time. And that’s a common sense incentive to employ when building web3 projects in a marketplace where fortunes are made so rapidly.
“How do we keep senior smart contract developers from retiring?” quipped former Sushiswap CTO Joseph Delong on Twitter.
The high sums for Solidity engineers speaks to the increasing leverage that technical skills have in the digital economy. And unlike web2, where developers have to climb the corporate ladder web3 tends to be a more laterally constructed place where agile, competent people can make their fortunes quicker, and at more projects.
Competition to Hire
“When you’re talking about a senior Solidity engineer, your years of Solidity experience are irrelevant,” Tyler Reynolds, an angel investor and advisor to Silo Finance, told The Defiant. “I’ve seen someone coding for Solidity for six months and they’re excellent. Others claim to be coding Solidity for four years and are terrible.”
Despite crypto’s recent slump, hiring hasn’t stalled either. Indeed, according to Daniel Adler, founder of CryptoCurrency Jobs, a job board launched in 2017, competition to hire web3 talent has actually picked up.
Adler also said talent migration isn’t just happening at the junior level anymore — C-suite executives, with careers to lose, are also making the jump to web3. Maybe that means the space has been thoroughly derisked.
The draws to web3 aren’t entirely financial either. The mission-driven nature of crypto, as well as the space’s culture of creativity, are big attractions for people who’ve been laboring in the more hierarchical web2 environment. “Even if we assume FAANG pays better, people are still making the move to crypto,” Adler said.
Still, there are rumblings of discontent among web3 engineers. A poll by Uniswap founder Hayden Adam, showed a large discrepancy between what people thought Ethereum core developers, who work on the Layer 1 protocol on which hundreds of apps depend, get paid.
No matter how you slice it, the opportunity to make more than a half million dollars a year in as a crypto engineer is pretty attractive. Especially considering that the opportunities are abundant.
Then again, talent may be scarce. Silo’s job opening has been up for 30 days, according to Web 3 jobs. Maybe it needs to offer more money.