I've worked at 5 different startups in my career in Silicon
Valley. While every company is unique, there are many similarities
between Silicon Valley startups. As workplaces go, Silicon Valley
startups embody the American dream: they're exciting, fun, and provide
employees with great flexibility and freedom. Join the right startup, and
you can change the world!
This book covers topics of interest to anyone who wants to work at
- How do you get a job at a startup?
- If I don't have a green card, will changing jobs cause me to have a longer wait before I get one?
- How do you choose which startups to talk to?
- How do you approach interviewing at a startup?
- How would you negotiate compensation?
- Once at a startup, what should you do to maximize gains from
- Why is it advantageous to exercise your stock options in certain
- What do the clauses in your offer letter mean?
- How do the clauses in your stock options contract affect you?
New in Third Edition
- How does switching jobs affect your green card application?
- When can you safely switch jobs?
- Negotiating with Co-Founders
- Phases of negotiation and how to deal with each one.
- Surviving an acquisition or transformation to a big company.
New In Second Edition
In addition, thanks to Tom Galloway, every chapter has been re-written and updated with the latest information.
- Special share classes such as F class shares and how they affect you.
- Case studies covering two real life negotiations!
- Green cards.
- Red flags when at a startup.
Drawing from my 17 years of experience at various pre-IPO
companies in Silicon Valley, I provide answers to the above
questions. Extensive examples, case studies, and detailed background
are in the book.
After learning about the personal finance side of handling stock
options, I joined Google less than a year before the IPO and
discovered that what I had learned was hardly common
knowledge. Despite explaining the details to several colleagues, many
chose not to do the financially advantageous thing, leading to an
increased tax liability of several hundred thousand dollars.
This book was the result of observing these failures, and trying to
prevent others from making the same mistakes.
Read the story behind the book
View An Engineer's Guide to Silicon Valley Startups Presentation and Audio Stream
What's different about this book?
- Emphasis on the engineering non-founder. Most startup books are
focused on the founder(s). For every founder at a successful company,
there are hundreds of non-founders. This book is for everyone who is
not a founder. I don't tell you how to raise money or read a
term-sheet. That's the founder's job. Frequently, the founder's goals
and your goals are different. For instance, when negotiating
compensation, the employee and employer sit on opposite sides of the
- Short and to the point. Pages are not wasted telling you how to
write a resume. I show you how an engineering interviewer
thinks. I did over 300 interviews for Google, and sat on a hiring
committee for 3 years. Before that, I was an engineering manager for 3
different startups and also performed hundreds of interviews.
- Covers the important tax planning topics that very few startups
will tell you because of fear of lawsuits. Employers are not
allowed to push their stock onto their employees.
- Quotes and experience from well-known successful startup experts
Rosing (Google's first Senior VP of
Rothschild (VP of Technology at Facebook, Co-Founder of Veritas,
Co-Founder of Mpath Interactive), and other startup veterans.
- More importantly, you'll get to learn what other engineers think!
Table of Contents
- Are Startups For You?
- Landing That Job
- Negotiating Compensation
- At Your Startup
- Tax Planning
- Leaving Your Startup
- Basic Financial Planning For Engineers
- My Startup Story
Download a PDF excerpt
of this book!
- Brings back many fond memories. -- Reed Hastings, CEO, Netflix, Inc.
- Congratulations on completing your book, it is full of good advice and is an easy read as well. -- James Ausman, Director of Operations, CBS Interactive.
- Having worked at three different startups and three large corporations
all of different size and dynamics I can really relate to the topic. I
remember working with Piaw at Escalate and I can say without any doubt
that he was one of the smartest people I met. He has a certain winning
attitude which is always reflected in everything he does, be it
designing systems, cycling or writing a book. His new book is full of
great ideas and communicates well some of the common dilemmas many
engineers face when they choose to try out a startup. I find all of
the advice he gives to be very practical and downright useful. -- Robert Emmery, Oracle.
- it's thin and packed full of content with zero fluff -- Xianhang Zhang.
- My biggest complaint about the book is that you didn't write it 6 years ago when I could have really made use of it. -- Arturo Crespo, Staff Engineer, Google, Inc.
- I work at the University of Minnesota and work with a number of comp sci grad students. I've been recommending your book to a number of them who are about to graduate and are thinking about what to do next. -- Peter Clark, University of Minnesota.
- I bought your book yesterday and just finished reading it. As a software engineer working in Boston startups for three years, I really wish I had read this 3-4 years ago.
Thanks for taking the time to compile all of this information. There are so many founder-perspective resources, but so little for engineers. I'm recommending this to several people. -- Winfield Peterson, Software Engineer.
- Dear Sir: I just wanted to let you know that I spent all day reading your book. I found it as fascinating as an adventure novel.
My first computer was an IBM installed in a special room built just for it. I had a great big disc in a container that was placed in a drawer - about 30 years later my son found one at the college he attended. Same child is now in Silicon Valley absorbing your book and living the first few chapters.
It has given me tremendous insight into the world he inhabits and, I believe, much good advice to himself. -- Barbara
- Larry Hosken has written a great review of An Engineer's Guide to Silicon Valley Startups
- Read the GoodReads Reviews
- An Engineer’s Guide to Silicon Valley Startups is one of those quirky books that perfectly match Silicon Valley culture. If you’re an engineer in the valley or coming out, this is a useful read. --- Steve Blank, Books for Startups
- This kind of books are no where to be found - I as an engineer probing in
the dark for "what's next" have looked very hard for career guidance for the
past few years, and yours are the only and "working" books to give
enlightenment. --- Cindy Zhou
- "All in all, it's a very well written book. Thanks for sharing your
experience and I am glad I read it." --- Tianzhou Chen, Silicon Valley Engineer.
Paperback: 6x9 Perfect bound format, 147 black and white pages.
ISBN 1450579833 EAN-139781450579834
DRM-free electronic edition: 1064KB
PDF. Combined .zip delivery size (886KB) Hassle
Free License. Note that you must supply an e-mail address
for digital delivery. If I have to mail you a CD or DVD I will have to
charge shipping and handling.
Please use Google Checkout or Paypal to purchase. Please note
that all sales are final. The third edition digital version is only available directly from the author. It will not be available on the Kindle or the Nook!
|Buy Paperback: $43.95:
Buy Digital Edition $24.95:
If you bought the second edition of the book, I'm offering a discount for people who wish to upgrade.
Piaw Na has worked as a pre-IPO employee at 3 companies (Pure Software
), and 2 unsuccessful
). He maintains
a blog at http://piaw.blogspot.com
If you would like to discuss this book with
the mailing list
Of Further Interest
An ex-Googler, Samantha Crow, has started a business helping people
work on their resumes. It's
called Sam Reads
, and if you're struggling to get your resume noticed, may
be of help. If you do use her, tell her I sent you.