myth busting

Would a Senior Developer in Bulgaria Leave a Secure Job to Join a Startup for Stock Options?

To summarize, the short answer was rather no. ©Andy Beales,Unsplash
To summarize, the short answer was rather no. ©Andy Beales,Unsplash
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There’s this legend: senior software developers only stay in companies whose visions and value they share, where they work with interesting technologies and don’t really care that much about the wage. Well… During the weekend Lubomir Yanchev, founder of four-year-old smart home startup MClimate, asked the members of the biggest IT community in Bulgaria – DevBG, whether a senior developer would join a young venture for average wage and stock options. To summarize, the short answer was rather no. This, however, shows some symptoms of the ecosystem and they are related to mistrust, misconception of the term startup and not least, the unfavorable legislation.  Based on the discussion we followed, here are the strongest opinions on the matter and the probable reasons for them:

Insecurity and triple effort

One of the top rated responds to the post said exactly this: No one with a family or mortgage would. As startups are risky business, some of the group members even suggested wages should be a bit higher as compensation. According to other users, this however would rather limit the choice to less experienced developers.

Last but not least, the expectation that one would be doing at least triple as much as in a corporation for less money, even with a stock option, might be a very realistic one. In the DEV.Bg several people stated they’ve tried the startup live and came back to the secure job.

Mistrust: Startups are here only for the cheap funding

Probably due to the fact that the term startup gained massive popularity only after the first EU-backed investment funds Launchub and Eleven appeared, a lot of developers don’t take this type of business seriously. Several group members stated they wouldn’t join a Bulgarian startup in particular, motivated by their understanding that local startups are not exciting and innovative enough, or are here to draw off European money.

An important note here would be the fact that the first wave of Eleven and Launchub backed startups is almost gone and most of the well performing startups on the market right now are product of other processes – the ex-Telerik community, transition from profitable service to product businesses etc.

Stock option is not a real option in Bulgaria

How would the stock options distributed and who would have what right to vote at all, was another widely discussed topic. The truth is that the Bulgarian legislation is not flexible at all in this regard. A startup could be either a limited firm or a joint stock company. The limited one is a cheaper and less flexible version in which the owner of some stock could potentially make decisions alongside with other shareholders. The JSC on the other hand, besides being expensive, doesn’t offer favorable conditions for smaller investors or shareholders as their stock don’t really matter when decisions are made. In this regard, the Bulgarian Startup Association is lobbying for a new type of hybrid company, which might get passed in 2019.

On a more positive note, there were also few motivated candidates who stated they would be happy to take the risk.


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