How remote work is changing tech pay: Seattle startup comp equals Silicon Valley, study says – GeekWire

From Space Needle to Golden Gate and beyond, U.S. startup pay is becoming more uniform, a recent study says. (Photos by Kevin Lisota, GeekWire; and Mark Gunn, via Flickr, Creative Commons 2.0)

Remote work is equalizing tech startup pay across the country, with Silicon Valley and San Francisco as the benchmark, and Seattle as Exhibit A.

That’s one insight from a recent study by financial technology company Carta: compensation packages at tech startups in the Seattle region now match those in the Bay Area, after increasing 3 percentage points in the past year.

“As remote work has become more of an expectation in 2022, salaries have begun to converge toward the higher-tier metros,” explains Peter Walker, head of Carta’s Insights team, in his summary of the findings.

Several factors are causing this convergence, Walker theorizes: “Some employees have become remote but kept their salary. Some companies with newly remote workforces are now competing for talent in a variety of markets across the country, rather than just in their home states.”

A chart from Carta’s recent compensation report shows growing parity in tech startup pay by geography.

Walker adds, “This trend, if it continues, will have far-reaching implications for both tech workers and the company leaders looking to make their next key hires.”

For example, he explains, some startups may start hiring more outside major U.S. tech hubs, and also internationally, as compensation converges across the country.

The trend is especially pronounced in the West, blurring the lines between Silicon Valley and Seattle, and reinforcing the notion of a growing West Coast “megalopolis.” This change has been driven in part by the rise of Silicon Valley engineering outposts in the Seattle region over the past decade.

Axios Seattle first reported Monday morning on Carta’s finding of newfound pay parity between Seattle and Bay Area startups.

Remote hiring is a key driver, with 62% of new hires now happening in states other than a startup’s designated headquarters, up from 35% in 2019, based on data from the companies included in the Carta study.

Even with this convergence of tech pay across geographies, about 84% of companies are taking geography into account when setting compensation, adjusting for the differences that do exist.

Inflation and the economic downturn add to a complex stew. The study shows the impact of belt-tightening and layoffs across the tech sector: 29% of departures in May 2022 were involuntary terminations, up from 15% in August 2021.

Carta, formerly known as eShares, is a San Francisco-based company that makes software for tracking and managing company equity, including stock compensation and cap tables. Carta says it based the study on data from 127,000 employee records from startups that use its compensation management platform.

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