- The pay is 2-3x what I could get paid at established firms
- The relationship-starting practices actually make sense (an interview amongst humans, often with C-levels, rather than with an HR-drone, and forms of testing that involve work on-product, rather than abstract and unrelated HR games).
- They are thankful to have me and pleasant to work with (as opposed to confronting the HR bureaucracy and middle management)
- I get better titles and better status/authority within the firm
I do good work, I produce value, and the startups that I work with see that and can measure it quantitatively. Established firms could if they wanted to, but that's the point: they don't want to. They want to pay you as little as they can get away with, and have you as silent and head-hung as they can get you to be.
I stopped working for stodgy HR- and middle-management-heavy firms years ago. It basically sucked, and was soul-sucking.