JustAin'tFair asks: "Last year, I took a chance on a small but promising startup. When they approached me, it was a 3-person operation (all involved were investors) with a functional website, a viable piece of technology, and a problem. Their prototype was just that -- a prototype. They were experiencing serious maintenance and scalability problems, and had exhausted their own technical knowledge. I agreed to come on board as their first employee, in return for a decent salary and a nice vesting schedule."
To make a long story short:"My old boss & his partners netted a very nice payday, on the backs of their former employees. What would you do to protect yourself? I got a fair salary, but in the end, they got far more out of me than I got out of them. Would you contract? Get a parachute written into your contract? What have you done?"
"In 6 months, I rewrote and redesigned most of the key subsystems, built new servers, hired new staff, and got the company rolling on a serious path. Serious senior architect-level stuff. Then it all fell apart: one day, out of the blue, they fired all of us, claiming shortfalls in funding, and so on. It sucked -- it always does (I watched my own startup fall apart in the dotcom 1.0 days). So the other day, I saw they were bought out.
In the end, that's their right. At-will employment, and all that. However, it chafes me to get screwed like that."