How do founders decide what to get?
“We all took really small salaries to improve the runway for the company,” she said. At Syndio, she tried a different approach: While its leadership was taking salaries below the market, “they weren’t nearly as low as the choices we made when we co-founded SmartSheet,” she said. She added that it is a good idea for founders and CEOs of startups to simply ask their investors for the right salary. (Ms. Mandelbaum is among its investors.) She said moments of economic uncertainty can exacerbate inequality.
Ms Lefcourt said that, overall, she would prefer to see the founders use some of their funding to pay themselves comfortable salaries. She said an amount like $100,000, which is in the $80,000 to $180,000 range she sees fit in most cases, probably won’t “move the needle” in the company’s overall financial statements. However, this amount can move the needle in the founder’s quality of life.
Maryam Nasrat, founder of Breshna, a gaming company, said she believes “there is an opportunity cost for every dollar” that comes from investors. At a conference earlier this year, she was moving hotel rooms every night to save money. She recently received investor funding and thought “$100 could go to more Twitter ads or something.”
Speaking of the role of venture capitalists, Ms. Mandelbaum said: “I think we have a responsibility to make sure that people get paid fairly. I really do.” “I think it’s also our responsibility to make sure that companies, regardless of the founder, are funded at the same level so we can pay people what they’re due,” she added.
As tech companies face layoffs — last month Cameo, a celebrity shout-out app, and On Deck, a professional services company, were among those to cut at least 20 percent of their employees — and ratings plummeted, it’s It is possible that some of the founders will. They feel pressure to cut their salaries.
“Maybe eating ramen in a small apartment will feel more normal again,” said Ms. Livecourt, quickly adding, “I wouldn’t recommend it.”