Chris Zaharias, founder of start-up SearchQuant, paced the stage at a recent rally in Palo Alto, Calif., barely able to contain his rage, with a clear message for the audience of 200 frustrated workers.
He called for nothing less than a collective uprising, which he said would need a "Rosa Parks moment."
"Stocks are the only way engineers can get rich and retire. Remember that," Zaharias said. "To live here in Palo Alto, you need about $1 million in equity gains. And given that only one in five start-ups are going to amount to something, you need to get that to happen."