Hello Devrant. I really need a second opinion on this one. I work in this promising start-up and our current evaluation is about 10 mill $. I have a vesting opportunity in the company where I earn 2.5% of none dilutable shares in the company over three years. I also get salary of about 500$ a month just to survive. Though it is the plan that I get a decent salary once we have more funding secured.

I'm the CTO of the company where we are 10 employees in total and 5 are in the development team.

I've been programming for about one year now so I'm not that experienced and some of the guys I lead are much more experienced than me. Which is good because I grow my skills quickly, but it is a challenge sometimes.

I'm really in doubt if I have got a good deal in the company. I started working in February and back then the company was valued at around 1.5 mill $. I have always been loose about not demanding money right away and said to the CEO that we will figure that out about the money eventually and I trusted him blindly. When he gave the offer of 2.5% vesting I just accepted it right away, because I was a beginner in coding and I just wanted to learn. Also I was traveling around the world for a few months at the time and it was a great way to get a little money quickly.

I also study together with two colleges who are some of my best friends. We study business development at university and have round 1.5 year left. It's a lot of work
but we've managed to only study about 1 week in advance of the exams and still pass. So we all still working full time on the company.

I've never known how many shares the other guys had, but yesterday me and the other partners had a meeting about some contract and the CEO pointed out how many shares everybody had. I was stunned to hear that the my two other colleges that I study with have 10% each. And the reason for that is that they helped start the company from the beginning and I've only joined when it was around 6 months old. Still I find it difficult to that that it's fair that they should have 4 times as much as me. I would say the amount of value we provide to the company is about the same. One of the guys is only the son of the CEO, which should not change anything.

For me it's not all about the money but I don't want to be taken advantage of. I can't determine if I'm being overdramatic about this and whether it is a good deal or if it sucks and I should find another place to work. Also my studies at the University are pretty much intertwined with the company by now. All our school projects are something that creates value to the company and if I leave I would have to dramatically change the direction of my education.

I know that there is a lot of information here and that I'm not the best at writing, but what would you have done in my situation?

  • 6
    Welcome, little green circle!

    Two things regarding your rant:
    - You seem to be overthinking a lot, try to talk to the CEO/boss (calmly of course) about what troubles you
    - Always ask for whatever salary/share to be written down with date/name/signature

    Good luck! Hope the company continues to grow!
  • 2
    I've talked to the CEO calmly about this a few weeks ago and he wasn't willing to increase my shares but he said there was certain bonuses awaiting once we reach certain milestones.
  • 2
    @dav1221 bonuses equally distributed or like with the shares?
  • 1
    @h4xx3r the bonuses will be distributed according to how the CEO sees fit. So probably by how much each person contributed to reaching the milestone.
  • 2
    @dav1221 well, you've already seen how much the CEO see it fit even when the amount of work done was almost equal
  • 3
    You learn at some point that you are never over dramatic about such things. If you produce so much value and all you get is a salary for barely surviving, while doubling your salary would be no trouble, with the company worth ten million and you having a large share in CREATING that value, you can tell what the CEO thinks of you. And if those two colleagues have four times your share and you never knew about it, I doubt they are really friends of yours. Lastly, while you must be repaid for your work with proper salary, when you have a share in the company you stop being a simple salary man and you have a say in the decisions of the company. You don't take orders any more, you reach mutual agreements over the work. When you have a share, you DEMAND that your word has weight. And everything has to be signed in agreements. Even a true friend whom you trust blindly would never let you do business with them without everything formally agreed - I wouldn't.You will grow from this situation.
  • 0
    When you say 2.5%, do you mean 2.5% of the company's valuation? ie: $250,000 at the current value? What options do you have for the shares you would get? Is there someone to whom you could sell them without putting ownership of the company in danger? With numbers like those, without pay, it feels like they're pushing you out.
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