All of the numbers in this article are very believable.
I have a BS degree from the University of Nebraska. And not the prestigious Raikes school, but the normal old pre-Raikes degree program.
After a summer internship, I got an offer from McDonnel Douglas for 48k.
My offer from Microsoft was more like the 60k figure. I took that one, because it didn't involve living in St. Louis.
The year: 2000
So, 60k to start right out of college was a going rate for top-tier companies... fifteen years ago.
Some companies paid much more, and sometimes that was a company decision, and sometimes it was a reality of where the position was located. For instance, before I had even finished my degree, I was recruited for a position with a 99k starting salary. That firm, however, was in NYC. When you adjust for NYC cost of living, it's not such an eye-popping number.
Subsequent to these numbers from 15 years ago, I have been involved in lots of hiring at Microsoft in the years I've been here.
Starting salaries have adjusted upward significantly since I was hired.
If you can score an engineering position with a top software/services company like Microsoft, you will be paid exceptionally well. For someone fresh out of college, there is just an obscene amount of money on the table.
Different companies target different spots in the industry pay curve. Microsoft by no means targets the top of the salary scale, but neither do we target the bottom. At times, Microsoft has been seen as, to put it mildly, "pretty uncool". At times, there has been lots of startup money and equity available for top quality grads to go after.
In those time periods, Microsoft has to offer more money to continue to attract new talent.
If you want to work at a company where lots of people want to work (e.g. a games company, or SpaceX), those organizations don't have to compete as much with offer packages, since their brands have a high intrinsic draw.
While I don't know what a Netflix offer package is like, Netflix states that their policy is to pay very high wages - the wage they'd be willing to pay to keep someone excellent who wanted to leave.
Finally, it's important to consider the type of organization you're looking at joining. Do they do software/IT, or is that a cost of doing business for them? If a company is in the business of selling shoes, but has an unavoidable need for software engineers, they're going to treat software engineers as a cost of doing business.
If a company is in the business of building software, they're going to think differently about compensation and retention.
Finally, companies that aren't well established players in the software space can have difficulty making big offer packages. At times in my career, I've been frustrated and have looked elsewhere, and the smaller, less profitable companies I've spoken with are offering tens of thousands lower than what I was already making.... making the friction of leaving financially tremendous.
(my personal financial plan is to expect a 50% paycut when something happens to my MSFT employment)
In summary, I have no problem believing the numbers. Top quality CS people at top quality organizations are paid outrageously well.
However, I get that lots of people are expressing disbelief. Let's talk about why that may be. The survey data could be skewed by multiple factors:
- the locale of the person responding
- the self-selection bias of the person responding (e.g. are people happy with their comp more likely to fill out a survey?)
- the kind of organization the survey respondants work for...
If you surveyed internal apps developers at regional insurance offices, in the Midwest, you would get a different picture from a survey of facebook engineers...