Jimmy's blog
photography, robots, drawings, and other "art"

My notes on salary and equity

May 29th, 2015

Managing is about making decisions quickly and more importantly, correctly. Every decision I need to make, I can discuss with my team except for determining their salary and equity numbers which is a solo endeavor. This makes it all the more important as a VPE or manager that you get this process right to do justice to your team. It all comes down to benchmarking, a salary/equity formula, and logistics. Here are my notes.

Research benchmarks to determine bands. Here are some resources I’ve found useful:

The best resources are the ones that can sort by company size, stage, location, discipline, etc. Startups can not and should not compete with big cats like Google or Facebook. Most resources only talk about software engineering but Option Driver for example also tracks hardware engineering.

Decide on a formula to be clear to yourself on what you find important rather than just straight away making a discretionary judgment call. This makes discussion easier with your reports, let’s you give some amount of transparency in the process, and makes you more objective. I like Buffer’s formula: Salary = job type X seniority X experience. They provide a good explanation here.

Establish and communicate clear logistics to have this be the smallest distraction possible in your team. This is a company-wide decision and I’ve been part of both focal and anniversary based processes. Focal is where you review everyone at one time rather than at everyone’s anniversary date. I strongly prefer focal so you can batch process and only have to think about salaries once or twice a year rather than many times a year. This also makes it fairer because management tends to be more generous when we’re doing well and we tighten up our purses when we’re facing a short runway. Some writing on this here and how to deal with the edge case when someone starts right before the review date when doing focal.

Buffer has an open salary policy. That’s pretty progressive. My gut tells me that it introduces more distraction than it is worth and sometimes you do need to make an exception to make that crucial hire at the right time. I put the burden on myself to be fair between team members by doing my homework and with a rule of thumb that I won’t be embarrassed and can justify the numbers in the hypothetical situation that they are leaked.

You can’t really make everybody happy. Just try to make the protocol as fair and objective as possible. In the end, if you’ve really thought this through, you can be confident and firm and don’t need to do much negotiating. Negotiating is a distraction and talented engineers don’t have a lot of patience for negotiating. So if you find yourself spending a lot of time negotiating you’re doing it at the disservice of those talented engineers that don’t. Be willing to let people walk away because they are not happy with their numbers. Even if it’s over as small an amount as $5K difference or 0.001% equity.

Moped

April 18th, 2011

Michael Park introduced me to the zen of moped maintenance and helped me fix up this two stroke engine from the 1970s.

Elegance = Power / Complexity

Curly Hair

April 3rd, 2011

I asked Noreen if we could push the envelope of what’s possible with hair. Falon wanted big and curly.


Above: Falon

Hair: Noreen Fox
Make up: Carinn Kanaki

Rectangular to Polar

April 2nd, 2011

Take your panorama, convert from rectangular to polar coordinates, and you got yourself a little sphere world.


Above: Philadelphia Museum of Art

FEASTival

October 15th, 2010

I photographed the FEASTival, as part of the live arts Fringe festival this year. It invites the big shots of Philadelphia’s restaurant scene to set up tables. I got to meet Stephen Starr, Jose Garces, Michael Solomonov etc. Mayor Nutter and Ed Rendell were also present for me to snap some shots of. Besides all these famous people and delicious food though, what I enjoyed was the performers on the ceiling hanging on wires dancing above the crowd.

one second film, two hour photo

September 1st, 2010

This is a concept that has been in my head for a long time and I’ve finally managed to try it out. To capture the full sunset multiple images were composited together to form this photo. Some parts of this image show clouds during daylight, while other parts show high-rises late in the night. No longer do my photos capture only a fraction of a second. This image was made over the course of a couple hours.


Above: Amelie Boquoi

Cookie

July 8th, 2010

A cookie in photography is short for cookaloris. It’s a technique where you shoot your flash through something with holes so the light that goes through creates a textured shadow. For example you can aim your light source at a piece of plywood, that has a bunch of random cut holes like this. Instead of an evenly lit background you can achieve a more varied image with shadows and highlights.

I like to use natural light as much as I can. In this one I’ve consciously used the shadows created by the sun coming through the trees as basically a gigantic cookie. Highlights and shadows create a patterned texture on the grass adding lots of depth to this photo. The red and green make for a great contrast. Flashes coming in from left and right, both at 1/2 power. One light to highlight Falon’s wavy hair and another one to create a rim light on her long legs.


Above: Falon

Warehouse

May 18th, 2010

It’s fun to shoot in old warehouses. You can walk around and discover cool little spots to photograph everywhere. We’re in front of an old freight elevator here which I thought would make a great backdrop.

I like the way the light falls on Amber’s hair. A little more than just a rim light, but not too much and some shadows are being cast on her face. Speedlites camera left and right. I forget what settings. Oops!

Above: Amber Curia

The Robot Etudes

May 10th, 2010

This blog usually functions as a journal for my photography endeavors, but I’m quite excited about this next project and figured it’s somewhat related that I decided to throw it in.

For the past three months architects and engineers students at the University of Pennsylvania have been working together on building mechatronic devices (think robots) to interact with actors in a play. Etudes were created and are loosely inspired by Shakespeare’s Midsummer Night’s dream. They will be performed this Saturday by the Pig Iron Theatre Troupe at the Harold Prince Theater of the Annenberg Center.

The very avant-garde Pig Iron Theatre Troupe is highly renowned so we are lucky to work with them and Shakespeare was a rad hipster in his day so brush up on them here and here.

Being a roboticist by day and photographer by night I’m always interested in mixing the art and engineering disciplines. Often though when I look around and find these two disciplines combined it dilutes the two and the sum is less than the parts. The result usually being mediocre engineering and crappy art. It is difficult to find the right balance in which one discipline not only does not take away from the other, but that it actually enhances.

Adding technology may be fun for engineers, but may not work theatrically. What architects want to do, may not work engineering wise. Were we able to additively combine engineering with architecture with theatre? I’ll let you decide for yourself. Reserve your tickets here.

Private Show

March 10th, 2010

Photographers always get front row seats. Or we get to hang out backstage with the band. But what’s best is that sometime we get hired and get our own private show.

Above: Timaree Schmit

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