Silicon Valley Double Speak: The Salary Edition
Posted at 11:13h, 03 May 2016 in List Archive by Bonnie Halper No Comments 135 Likes Share

Question of the Day: Do You Earn Less Than a Silicon Valley Intern? Chances are, the answer is ‘Yes.’ One of the big tech news stories of last week was the amount of money that tech companies tend to pay their summer interns. Here’s the Forbes list of The Best-Paying Tech Companies for Interns. According to the article, “Facebook interns earn an average monthly base pay of $6,056, according to Glassdoor. Interns at Google rake in $5,678 per month, on average—while those at Amazon and Apple make $5,366 and $4,914 per month, respectively.” Not including perks and benefits, and keeping in mind that internships generally last just a few short months. Annualized (around $80K), not bad base salaries, generally, for untrained and relatively unskilled college students.

We anxiously await the follow-on article about how much these companies are paying newly-minted entry level grads, and if they’re offering them housing and travel as well.

What was not as widely reported was the fact that Intel Lays Off 12,000 People After Lobbying For More Foreign Workers.“…The firings stand out in light of Intel’s lobbying to expand the H-1B visa program. In 2013, the company’s government affairs managers complained that Intel simply can’t find enough homegrown workers in technical fields to meet its needs,” the piece reads. Another point that was underreported: Americans haven’t gotten a raise in 16 years.

What was also not mentioned was that several of the companies on the top-oaying intern list, including Facebook, lobby heavily to increase the number of H1Bs, thus replacing American workers. Which no doubt helped to contribute to the fact that Mark Zuckerberg made $4 billion last week to become the 6th wealthiest person (yes, we know it was based on earnings). On top of its phenomenal earnings announcement last week, Facebook also announced “a clever three-for-one share split that prevents the dilution of its increasingly popular shares and allows founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg to maintain control of the company into the future,” writes Fast Company. As Bloomberg notes, Zuckerberg can “use the new shares for things like acquisitions and compensation without fear of reducing his influence.” In a blog post, the CEO added that the stock split will make it easier for him and his wife to give away 99% of his shares: “I’ll be able to keep founder control of Facebook so we can continue to build for the long term, and Priscilla and I will be able to give our money to fund important work sooner,” Zuckerberg said.”

While escaping paying income taxes, of course, which the press, again, often neglects to mention.

There’s no doubt that Facebook has made some very smart moves, but it hasn’t all been upside in its quest for (further) global expansion. Free Basic was something less than a rousing success, and users – and customers – can be something of a fickle bunch: eventually, they’ll want to use something else.

For the record, this is How You¹re Making Facebook a Money Machine, according to the New York Times, in an article that points out that “Pundits made a big deal this week about how Facebook excelled as Apple stumbled. But there was a warning for Facebook in Apple’s results. Apple has relied heavily on one product — the iPhone — for much of its revenue, so when sales of the device slowed, there was little Apple could do to keep growing. Facebook is even more reliant on a single element: advertising revenue. If people spend markedly less time on Facebook — because an enticing new network comes along, for example — the company’s revenue growth could slow.”

There was a time when Google completely dominated ad revenue as well, and speaking of Google, they’re certainly having their problems in the EU at the moment. Apple certainly has built up quite a war chest over the years, having held sway as the most valuable company in the world for quite a while. But at the moment, Apple’s stock heads toward longest loss streak in 18 years. No one stays on top forever and we even find ourselves wondering of late if we’re looking at the last gasps of so-called tech exceptionalism.

We mention all of this as it seems that we’re very much on the eve of a bubble, from many indications and reports and if the first one was a result of too much money being thrown at too much inexperience, as well as the number of inexperienced investors suddenly entering the fray, this one has more to do with the incredible build up of unmitigated hubris.

If Facebook and Google are any indication, there’s no doubt that tech would love to eat the world, and by drawing in young undergrad talent and paying them astonishing amounts of money – at least temporarily and maybe setting them up for unrealistic expectations – perhaps have nothing against taking a bite out of their young as well. Eventually, the world bites back. Every dog has its day, and lest we forget, payback is a bitch. Onward and forward.