So far, we've left out one big, almost too obvious, driver of what makes people ignore the negative and hope for the best: the chance to win the lottery. At a nearly $70 billion valuation, if Uber ever goes public, it has the chance to make many current employees who are able to stick it out unbelievably wealthy.
The former recruiter who supported operations said he would routinely convince potential candidates to join by painting the picture of what their stock could be worth once Uber went public. For many — including himself — the allure of striking it rich was enough for them to look past pretty much anything else about the job. The recruiter assumed that he'd stay around long enough to earn his full equity in the company. But after having his first child, he could no longer justify the long hours and relatively low base pay. He left Uber after just one year.
"We would give ridiculous stock plans because people believed in Uber, the growth and the ability to return on that stock promise," he said. "Luckily for me, my wife worked, but it was tough. I started to see that I am not going to get ahead because I wasn't playing their game. I was meeting expectations, but no matter what, if you had to take a day off because your child is sick, it was frowned upon."
Just this week, Uber updated its employee stock option policy to be more friendly to longer tenured employees: For workers that last at least three years at the pre-IPO startup, they now have seven years — as opposed to 30 days — to exercise their options. Previously, if ex-Uber employees did not exercise their costly shares in the 30-day period, they forfeit the stock back to the company entirely and are left with nothing.
Still, the closer people get to the IPO date, the less likely those employees are to truly cash in. How well the company attracts and retains talent from now until the IPO — when recruiters can no longer sell a dream — is also an open question. If comparable tech companies are any barometer for what Uber has in store for it once it goes public, recruiting and retaining top talent will only become more challenging: The average tenure of an employee at Twitter who joined pre-IPO is more than double the average tenure of employees who joined after the social network went public.
And, according to our data, Twitter's ability to attract top talent went down by 14 percent in the year after its stock hit the public market.
But for now, Uber continues on its amazing ride, a magnet for bad news and a magnet for job hoppers. Even if Uber can't keep this up — and the monthly drops in applications and job views point to real hurdles — another company like it will inevitably take its place. There will always be some firm dangling big rewards — in money and experience — for the talent who can hack a challenging workplace. Someone's going to launch those groundbreaking products, rebuild that brand, cash out in that once-in-a-lifetime IPO. Why not you?
"If what energizes people is solving big problems, that is going to be the motivator... It's not going to be the media," Minadakis said. "It doesn't matter what the media says. It matters if people within the company are advocates, and if they are, others will join."
This article originally appeared on LinkedIn.
Caroline Fairchild is a Senior Editor at LinkedIn. You can subscribe to her weekly newsletter here.
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