Then, one day in June the Swiss Hooli recruiter called me while I was in Viareggio, Tuscany, working at NavalCompany. Recruiter: “Hey RIP, here’s the offer: 128k base salary gross per year, plus ~7k transportation and health insurance, plus 15% target bonus gross per year, plus a stocks package worth ~80k vesting regularly over the next 4 years, plus other benefits quantifiable in 10k per year“.
I couldn’t help myself but laugh and jump like a crazy. The recruiter laughed too. I guess they expect these kind of reactions. Yes, the Moore’s Law of my salary was not yet over. I remember I asked for a relocation package (I had to negotiate a little!) and the recruiter checked few things: “we usually don’t do for such a close relocation but I’ll see what I can obtain for you 😉“. A couple of hours later he called me back: “Ok RIP, we offer you 2 months of accommodation, plus a local estate agent to help you finding a new home, plus we cover your moving costs up to 10k, plus we give you a 2k lump sum so that you can buy seasonal clothing and give tips to the movers“. I’m not joking, in the offer letter it was stated exactly this. I had 2000 Chf (1666 Euro, 2 PhD student salaries) for spare costs like tips to the movers.
That is what my new golden cage looked like! No more complete freedom, but look at this! I’m 35 years old, I have the greatest opportunity in my life and should I decline it like I did for BGC? Maybe tomorrow NavalCompany will be hit by the financial crisis (yes, it happened!) and they will have to interrupt our lucrative collaboration. I can’t say no to Hooli. It’s the last train bla bla bla.
I told them I can’t join before November 1st, 2012, since I wanted to have yet another very very long sabbatical. I went the Mint, the same day: “Mint, I got this offer. I accepted it. I’m working here till mid July“. The Mint: “Well, congratulations! We obviously can’t compete against Hooli, so… thanks for all the work you’ve done here!” I have been transparent during the whole process though. They knew I was going to try at Hooli and that our collaboration could have been interrupted in case I got the offer.
I took the longest sabbatical in my professional history (3 months and half: July 15th to October 31st 2012) to prepare myself to the amazing new life. The uber-long sabbatical experience wasn’t that great though. I have vague memories. MissRIP was working and we had few vacation days together. We went biking along the Donauradweg for 10 days and in Croatia for a 4 days quick vacation. I remember not being able to achieve much. I went to Rome, Naples, I attended the wedding of my best friends in October. This is the only red flag I need to triple check these days with respect the whole FIRE plan. That very time I had an early retirement like experience it was not that good. I can find excuses: I had to prepare things for the expat, I had to visit family and friends, I had to correct exams and give ratings to students,… but the truth is that in October I felt a little bit depressed and worthless. The impostor syndrome was peaking. I never investigated that deeply enough.
I started on Monday November 5th 2012. I still work at Hooli, after 3 years and 9 months at the time of writing this post (July 2016). I’ve been working with the most skilled engineers I’ve ever met. I work in an amazing workplace, surrounded by smart people and a respectful environment. I’ve learned to respect diversity (not that I was a racist before!), I’ve learned to get rid or at least aware of unconscious cognitive biases, I’ve learned how to reward people. I hosted an Intern last summer, so I’ve got bites of management too. I’ve been promoted once and I got yearly raises and equity refreshes. I’ve got a generous Swiss pension pillar 2 matching program too.
Here follows the history of compensations 2012-2016:
This compensation history doesn’t take into account benefits like transportation and health insurance, pension plan and other general benefits (that sums up to >30k per year).
Yes, this year I may take home more than 250k Swiss Francs.