Bolt can be tough to negotiate with but it is still worth the effort. We've heard a few claims of fixed salaries at each level (implying it's not negotiable), but this is not actually the case in practice. Like most companies, each Bolt compensation component has a compensation band (i.e. a range) set for the respective level. This confusion might stem from Bolt's consistent pay bands across locations, but we'll talk more about that in the remote pay section.
Bolt recently switched from options to RSUs for its equity package. This is slowly becoming more common for private companies, and we do see similar policies at Databricks, Airtable, TikTok, Waymo, and other private companies.
The benefit is you don't pay to purchase the shares (i.e. the strike price of the options), but the downside is you are taxed on this income immediately and at a higher rate. Bolt RSUs are granted based on the last valuation round or 409A valuation (depending on when you join).
Unfortunately, there are no cash-based performance bonuses at Bolt. This is common for many startups (e.g. DoorDash only recently added them, none at Instacart, etc.).
Bolt does offer performance-based stock refreshers instead of the traditional fixed cash % of base salary. However, these refreshers aren't guaranteed and many recruiters are unable to share targets or past numbers.
The only form of cash bonus is for employee referrals that result in a candidate being hired.
Bolt’s remote salary approach is industry leading. Across North America, offers are not heavily discounted based on where you choose to live. In our experience, Bolt offers have the same compensation band regardless of location and differences only start to pop up during negotiations. For example, it is typically easier to push for a top of band offer in tier 1 markets.
If you are working in a low cost of living area, Bolt is likely one of the top paying companies, which is certainly not the case in SF/NYC.
Bolt is a remote-first company, and as a result, there aren’t very many opportunities for relocation. However, if you’re in a unique position and are required to move, you should push for a $10k+ relocation package as a junior or mid-level employee. Senior relocation packages will be bespoke.
Equity is the most negotiable component of a Bolt offer package. This is usually the case for startups and particularly for companies like Bolt that place heavy emphasis on employees being aligned with the company's future success. Equity is then followed by signing bonus where there is still some room to negotiate. Base salary is the hardest to negotiate, but it is possible.
Usually, they do not require written offers but you can expect a request for the details of the competing offer (e.g. what level is the position, role, location, etc.).
This is tough to pull off at Bolt. We have seen cases where above band requests have been granted, but it required CTO approval. If you aren't making any progress with an above band request despite having a higher competing offer, pushing for an up-level can be one way to unlock higher compensation.
It is not essential but is certainly important at Bolt. Your hiring manager can tip the scales in your favour during a negotiation. You should also maintain a positive relationship with your recruiter.
Bolt's hiring process typically has 4 stages: recruiter screen, tech screen, “onsite” interview and offer stage.
The first interview will be conducted on call with your recruiter and will focus on your background and experience.
The second part will be a tech screen which varies by level and team. Most people rate this as LC medium and some people have system design questions at this stage.
The last stage of the interview is the “onsite” interview, though this is virtual. Expect the usual set of questions with perhaps more emphasis on past project work.
Lastly, if you succeed and a Bolt offer is extended, this is where your salary negotiation process will begin.
Let's use a Bolt software engineer salary at L4 as a point of comparison. The equivalent level at Stripe is L2 (Intermediate SWE). Stripe pays substantially more than Bolt at this level. The total comp for Bolt is around $290k/year but at Stripe it can go above $400k/year. It's worth noting that Stripe is one of the top paying companies in the industry, but regardless Bolt is paying below market rates unless you are in a low cost of living area.
We highly recommend focusing your negotiation on Bolt’s signing bonus and equity. However, there are of course other perks that are offered by the company that you should evaluate when comparing offers. The biggest benefit by far is the four-day work week and excellent work life balance. Bolt of course also offers the standard suite of tech benefits, but these aspects are less unique.
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has a unique set of negotiation policies. If you don’t have experience negotiating with them, you risk losing out on large amounts of money because of very small mistakes.
There are many of these rules you need to know to get the highest