What are the pros and cons of working as a software engineer for Google or Microsoft versus starting your own startup like Zoom or Uber or Airbnb did when they started out?

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Google and Microsoft are both giant tech companies that offer great benefits and salaries to their employees. However, they also have strict work schedules and can be inflexible when it comes to new ideas. In contrast, startups are often much more flexible and allow employees to have a greater sense of ownership over their work. They also typically offer lower salaries and fewer benefits, but the trade-off is that you have the opportunity to be more creative and innovative. If you’re the type of person who likes to take risks and be rewarded for your creativity, then starting your own startup may be a better option for you than working for a large corporation.

Google, Microsoft, and Apple are all giant tech companies that started out as small startups. Google and Microsoft both began in the garage of their founders, while Apple was started in a basement. All three companies are now worth billions of dollars. But which is the better option for a software engineer: working for one of these huge companies, or starting your own startup?

There are pros and cons to both choices. Working for a big company like Google or Microsoft comes with a lot of perks. These companies can offer competitive salaries, great benefits, and the chance to work on cutting-edge projects. However, they can also be inflexible and bureaucratic. Startups, on the other hand, are much more nimble and offer the opportunity to be more creative. But they also come with more risks, as most startups fail within the first few years.

Google/Microsoft

Pros:

  • Top-of-the-market salaries.
  • Equity that is definitely going to be worth something once it vests.
  • Insane perks.
  • No risk. You have a very comfortable job that you can stay in for as long as you want.
  • You get all the tools and help you need.
  • You’re in a large community of like-minded engineers.
  • Having a well-known brand on your CV opens up many career opportunities.

Cons:

  • The work can be a bit mundane.
  • There is bureaucracy and petty office politics.
  • You have to answer to managers.
  • You won’t have a huge impact on the company.
  • It won’t make you rich. Just upper middle class.
  • Large tech companies often have questionable ethics.

Startup

Pros:

  • You don’t have to answer to anyone (except your customers).
  • It’s a very informal atmosphere.
  • It’s exciting. You never know what’s going to happen to the company in the next few months.
  • You have a huge impact on the success of the company.
  • You pick up many new skills quickly.
  • Building something from scratch is very rewarding.
  • If the company succeeds, you will become filthy rich.

Cons:

  • Lower salary.
  • The company will most likely fail and your equity will be worthless.
  • You’ll experience constant setbacks until you reach product-market fit.
  • Your office perks are most likely limited to a coffee machine.
  • You have to do everything yourself, including tasks that you hate.
  • You’ll probably work longer hours.

To conclude:

Ultimately, it depends on what you want out of your career. If you want stability and the chance to work on some of the most innovative projects in the world, then working for a big tech company is the way to go. But if you’re willing to take on more risk in exchange for the chance to create something truly new and revolutionary, then starting your own startup may be the right path for you.


Some people tried everything from tiny startups to mid-sized companies to large behemoths. Based on experience, They’ve found that They very much enjoy working in startups, creating something new. But They’ve also been lucky to meet founders that value their skillset. It is always good to want to start your own company at some point, but the timing and idea has to be right.

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