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New Web Startup Makes Salaries Transparent

In this era of web 2.0 nothing is sacred, EVERYTHING is public, and pretty much anyone can be a laptop voyeur into everything from your neighbor's tax bill to your friend's holiday bonus.

Zillow.com transformed the way people think about real estate--posting estimated house values, tax payments, and all sorts of demographic information about your neighborhood. Now the founder of Zillow has launched Glassdoor.com in public beta--providing information on employee salaries and bonuses, plus reviews and ratings of workplaces.

The company describes itself as "Tripadvisor of the workplace," others would call it "salary porn." Its beta site launched this Tuesday night, and it's already attracted hundreds of people to give their info, and I would guess equal numbers of devotees.

Back in Internet 1.0 Vault.com was the employee-rating site everyone talked about--I remember checking it out when I was first job hunting. But Glassdoor has a bunch more features, and unlike vault.com, it's all free. That is, free if you're willing to pony up your own data, anonymously of course.

As much as I'd love to voyeuristically read all about the employment landscape I can't say I'd feel comfortable about offering my own info. I'm sure NBC Universal wouldn't want to encourage such behavior, to say the least. Glassdoor checks your e-mail address and its staffers contact you if there are any questions of authenticity. If you don't mind sharing, you can peruse all sorts of data, and when it comes to salary info, you can graph and sort by employee function.

What's the juiciest stuff? Well, during this beta period you can see -- without giving any info yourself -- info for Google , Yahoo , Microsoft and Cisco . Lucky Google engineers don't just get unlimited free gourmet food, they also make between $80,000 and $150,000. Microsoft and Yahoo engineers average around the same. Reportedly, Apple engineers make less but when I just checked the site, it appears that you'll have to pony up some of your own numbers to see info on Apple.

It seems like the perfect tool for those job hunting-- they don't care about giving up info about their current gig, and they can search for comments and numbers about their fantasy position. It's not scientifically accurate -- it's only based on the numbers people volunteer. In contrast Salary.com works with large data sets reported by employers. I find the personal touch of these reviews and these numbers that much more compelling.

Questions? Comments? MediaMoney@cnbc.com

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  • Working from Los Angeles, Boorstin is CNBC's media and entertainment reporter and editor of CNBC.com's Media Money section.