How much should web programmers be paid in start ups?


I am working for a start up company in California. I am currently the only backend developer building a social network for this company. Before there was a team of 2 backend, 2 frontend and looking to hire more but now it's just myself and another front end developer.

I have been tasked with building the framework for the site, building the site itself, and building an API layer so the 3rd party mobile development team can make the same system calls as we can without having to work with the database. Six months into the project we switched from MySQL to MongoDB so the ground work for the proversion of the website that was build before I got there also has to be converted to MongoDB. It is also my first time working with MongoDB. It was kinda just decided that we did not think MySQL would be able to meet our scaling needs.

I am also in-charge of infrastructure. I have to be a system admin. I have to decide on which hardware we are going to run the website from and develop a fault tolerant load balanced network for the platform to run on. I have also been working on a custom version of Debian Linux that our system will be running on. These include database servers and application servers (HTTP/PHP). I have been building media management servers for user content, backup servers' logic layer that will give detailed marketing information. Currently I am only getting paid 35k a year for this type of work and I am curious on what sort of realistic figure I should be approaching my boss with.


asked Oct 12 '11 at 16:53
Wojons Tech
101 points
  • There is no good answer to this question, apart from "It depends", as there are way too many variables. – Steve Jones 12 years ago
  • the advice someone will give to a fellow busness owner vs to somoene they think is the employ is different. – Wojons Tech 12 years ago
  • If you hate your job then quit. If you think you should be paid more then tell your manager. An [appeal to authority]( to your manager saying well the SE Guys said I should make this much will not be well received. There are far to many variables you have not included to even guess at the number. But the answer is you should be paid what you were told you would be paid when you accepted the job. – Chad 12 years ago
  • I do not hate my job at all i love the application i am developing it is the reason i am still there but I was trying to cllect what a reasonable amount someone would get paid for a project like this. – Wojons Tech 12 years ago
  • I down-voted you because I think you should have been honest with this community about your position and intent. You should have simply posted: "I'm a programmer at a Start-Up and I'm getting 35K per year, doing x, y, and z. Am I getting underpaid. Some people might have an issue with the topic because it isn't really about a start-up, it's about your job, but it would have been a FAR better way to post this question. A question better placed on a programming forum, most likely. However, I would have had no issue with it, were you actually up front about it. Voting to close this. – Ryan Chatterton 12 years ago
  • @RyanChatterton You are correct I should have made it very honest the reason I put it in start ups is because the company i am working for is a start up. – Wojons Tech 12 years ago
  • @RyanChatterton I have edited the post and hopefully it is more honest, and you can let me know what you think. – Wojons Tech 12 years ago

3 Answers


IMO $35k is super low. From what I've heard from startups in the Valley $60k/year is about the absolute bottom end they are paid and that comes with lots of equity. If I was working at a startup creating your product I'd expect at least $80k/year with equity.

answered Oct 13 '11 at 01:59
Ryan Doherty
598 points
  • oh its not my company so dont rate me down on it i just writting it from there point of view. I am one of the programmers and my partner and I wanted to know what most people expect when programing for a start up. We are still trying to decide how to appoch our super visors for a raise. Currently Since they are paying me hourly and i have to work 100 hours a sweek its a little better but still :( – Wojons Tech 12 years ago
  • If you are an experienced developer with a strong track record of successes then $35k is certainly too low. However, it does not look like you are using a web browser with spell check so - 35k may be appropriate ;) – Ryan Doom 12 years ago


A good programmer, that costs twice as much as a crap programmer, is 3 times more efficient.

answered Oct 13 '11 at 06:46
James B
81 points
  • I think i understand how to appoch this – Wojons Tech 12 years ago
  • Wish I could upvote this by 10 – Lloyd 12 years ago


It does not look like you can hire somebody in US less than for 60k.

As low-cost solution you can outsource a web-developer or outsource the developing of entire project.

You can outsource a contractor here Rates vary much but you can get somebody with rate starting at 20$. So your annual expense will be like 40k. Often more costly developer does not mean better developer. Of course you’ll have some discomfort related to different time zones etc.

Also you can check this really big ‘bodyshop’ to outsource developing of entire project (they have like 10k of developers)

answered Mar 8 '12 at 21:47
Activation Cloud
153 points

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