Table of Contents
- Robinhood Offer Compensation Components
- Robinhood Negotiation Process
- Robinhood-Specific Negotiation Advice
Robinhood Offer Compensation Components
Before starting any negotiation, it is important to understand the bigger picture when it comes to compensation components offered. A typical job offer for a tech role at Robinhood (e.g. Software Engineer) should contain the following monetary components:
- Base Salary
- Equity (also known as Restricted Stock Units - RSUs)
- Signing Bonus
- Performance Bonus
- Stock Refreshers
This is what an example L3 Software Engineering offer at Robinhood looks like over a 4-year period.
*Note: stock refreshers won't actually be listed in the offer letter, but they are expected at Robinhood
Robinhood's base salary component is fairly standard. There is a base salary band associated with each role/level/location, and they pay employees bi-weekly.
The size of the salary band increases with seniority - at junior levels it is quite narrow. Senior Software Engineers at Robinhood have a base salary ranging from 175k - 230k in the Bay Area, whereas E5 at Facebook is $185K-$214K. The wide range is in part because L3 at Robinhood spills into L4, L5, and L6 at Google/Facebook.
It is certainly possible to negotiate this component, but the increase will typically be smaller than what is possible for the equity or signing bonus component.
Equity or Restricted Stock Units (RSUs)
Since Robinhood recently went public, there's naturally been a shift in how they offer equity. Instead of offering stock options, they now give out RSU's to new hires. They also have recently removed their 1-year vesting cliff.
Robinhood, like many big tech companies, vests equity grants evenly over 4 years. This means if you are granted $600K RSUs over a 4-year period, you will receive the following:
- Year 1: 25% ($150K)
- Year 2: 25% ($150K)
- Year 3: 25% ($150K)
- Year 4: 25% ($150K)
Equity and signing bonus are both the most easily negotiated portions of a Robinhood offer, though properly demonstrated leverage is necessary to get increases on both fronts.
At Robinhood your vesting commencement date is the 1st day of the month following your start. If you are interested in the specific details, we've included an anonymized example from an offer letter we negotiated.
"If your Start Date is between the 2nd through the 31st of a month, then your Vesting Commencement Date will be the 1st of the month immediately following your Start Date. The number of RSUs granted will be determined by dividing the target value by the price per share that is used by the Company to calculate RSUs in accordance with the Company’s standard equity award practices in effect at the time of grant, rounded up to the nearest whole share. You will vest in the RSUs quarterly over four years as measured from the Vesting Commencement Date, with 1/16th of the RSUs vesting three months after the Vesting Commencement Date."
Not all Robinhood offers include a signing bonus by default. It's a common recruiter trick to leave it out of the initial offer, which is in line with how many other tech companies operate. Often times this is a way recruiters will determine if a candidate is going to negotiate or not. Signing bonuses are a critical part of the negotiation at Robinhood because they have the ability to pay top of market. Facebook is traditionally known for having the highest signing bonuses for entry to mid-level employees (excluding Amazon which has a different comp structure), and Robinhood can offer signing bonuses in line with Facebook. For example, we've negotiated many $100K signing bonuses for senior engineers at Facebook, and at Robinhood we've seen senior software engineers hit $100K and even $110K. One difference is that Robinhood will often split larger signing bonuses over a 2-year period.
Robinhood will pay your signing bonus in your first month of employment - unlike Amazon which is prorated. However, they do require you to repay a portion of your signing bonus if you leave before the 1-year mark. Below, we've included the wording from a Robinhood offer.
"If your employment terminates for any reason before the one year anniversary of your Start Date, you will be required to repay a pro rata portion of the bonus to Robinhood (based on the number of full calendar months you were employed at Robinhood as of your termination date) on or before your last day of employment."
Stock refreshers are not guaranteed and are not explicitly listed in the offer letter. However, this is normal for most tech companies and you should still factor these into your decision. Robinhood has promised to offer competitive refreshers; unfortunately, it's tricky to verify since they have only been a public company for a few months. Right now, recruiters are quoting ~25% of the initial grant value as the target, so L2 software engineers would get $100K and L3 software engineers would get $180K. The refresher grant vests over a 4-year period, which is again typical for tech companies.
The inconvenient part is that the review cycle where the first refresher grant is given happens in Jan/Feb and you need to have been employed for 1 year before you are eligible to receive stock refreshers. Depending on your start date, there could be a substantial delay until you receive your first set of stock refreshers. After the initial refresher, you will continue to get these grants on a yearly base.
Robinhood Negotiation Process
Candidates often find it helpful to have a high-level overview of the negotiation process. Before diving into that, it's important to understand how Robinhood's levels differ from other major tech companies
- L1 - Entry Level Software Engineer, equivalent to L3 at Google
- L2 – Software Engineer, equivalent to L4 at Google
- L3 - Senior Software Engineer, equivalent to L5 at Google
- L4 - Staff Software Engineer, equivalent to L6 at Google
- L5 - Senior Staff Software Engineer, equivalent to L7 at Google
- L6 - Principal Software Engineer, equivalent to L8 at Google
If you have not yet received an offer from Robinhood, there are a few critical mistakes to avoid:
- Do not share your current compensation. In many states (e.g. California) it is illegal for companies to ask this, so you are certainly within your rights to say "I do not feel comfortable sharing that information"
- Do not share your compensation expectations. This is a common request now that recruiters are not able to ask about your current compensation. It is certainly harmful to share a low number, but sharing a very high number can also be a bad start to the negotiation as this will increase the likelihood that you are asked for proof of a competing offer. Instead, reply with something along the lines of "Right now I'm focused on the interview process and don't have a number in mind, but I'm confident we will be able to get to a number that works for both of us"
With that out of the way, let's discuss the negotiation process at Robinhood:
- After finishing up your onsite, you will hear back from a recruiter within ~1 week. Robinhood is typically a bit slower than companies like Amazon & Facebook, but it does depend on your recruiter
- Your recruiter will then reach out to setup a call, often saying something along the lines of "I have some exciting news to share". This is the offer call
- On the offer call, the recruiter may push you for compensation expectations. However, if properly deflected, they are usually willing to extend an initial offer
- We recommend you take time to digest the initial offer and consider the best point of leverage for your counter offer discussion
- You will then setup your second call with the recruiter to discuss the offer. On that call you will disclose your counter offer. The recruiter will likely push back and at Rora we build a tree diagram unique to your situation with the most likely objections and the optimal responses to those objections. The goal is to get the recruiter to take your counter-offer number back to the team as needed
- Robinhood tends to move slowly, especially if you are asking for an above band number. We've seen recruiters take more than a week to respond
- It is possible to push back again, but your recruiter will likely be reticent to take your request back to the team unless you have new information to bring to the table
There are two primary differences between junior and senior negotiations at Robinhood:
- Senior employees are likely to see fewer pressure tactics compared to junior employees. For example, requests for competing offers in writing can be more easily deflected. Generally speaking, recruiters working with these candidates provide more of a white glove service
- Recruiters will push you more to give them an initial number if you are more senior, rather than providing an offer. Given the importance of senior leaders and the wide range of the salary bands, they are typically hesitant to risk losing a candidate. This means the first number you provide is very important for anchoring the negotiation
Can I Lose my Robinhood Offer by Negotiating?
This is far and away the number 1 question Rora’s career partners are asked. It is a very common and valid fear, especially in today’s volatile economy. But what’s the actual probability that, when negotiating with Robinhood, they would decide to pull the offer?
First, let’s discuss how it would benefit Robinhood to rescind the offer. The primary reason a hiring manager would elect to rescind an offer would be a fear of liability with their intended hire - i.e., this hire may cause a scandal, this hire will in no way be able to perform their duties, this hire will be detrimental to Robinhood, etc. Other than that, by the time an offer has been extended, Robinhood has already invested a substantial amount of time and money into the candidate they’re giving an offer to, and should have a concrete understanding of how this candidate will perform in the role. It would be a net loss for the company to go through all those interviews, conversations, and putting together the offer to then decide that they want to cut ties with the candidate – this is a risk they try mitigate before giving an offer.
Even in this economy, we have seen clients get increases in their offers from companies of all sizes by making respectful and well-reasoned requests. It’s very unlikely a company would pull the offer based on negotiation. Based on our data, we’ve only seen this happen less than 0.5% of the time - and that includes companies that are on hiring slowdown/freezes right now.
Now, there is a fundamental difference between getting an offer rescinded and losing the offer due to headcount. A headcount loss is solely based on the state of Robinhood and the necessity of the role within the team. This isn’t common but can occasionally happen if needs at the company shift – and is more common with earlier-stage startups. It does not reflect your interview performance or skill level, and oftentimes companies will try to keep in touch with you and share other opportunities once headcount opens up. If your offer was rescinded, the company would not have any interest in keeping you warm.
Regardless of the low likelihood of getting an offer rescinded, we know that this is a very common fear – and one that often holds candidates back from negotiating! To help mitigate the risk (and increase your confidence while negotiating) - follow these dos and don’ts to lower the probability of your offer getting rescinded:
- Do keep it professional - avoid getting into politics or making jokes that may be poorly received and make your hiring manager think you might be a liability to the company
- Do give justification and reasoning behind your ask for increased compensation – this could be based on your market value, another opportunity you have, specific expertise you bring to the table, or the strong relationship you’ve built with your hiring manager
- Do your first compensation ask over a phone call - in most cases we see a higher rate of success and understanding when the first ask is done over a call versus an email
- Do demonstrate to your hiring manager that you’re a solid candidate who would be a strong hire by creating and collaborating on an impact roadmap (outlining your 30 day, 60 day, and 90 day goals for getting started in your new role and your understanding of the priorities for this position)
- Do your best to understand the necessity of the role on this team - How critical is it? How long has the role been open for? This can help you determine the likelihood of the headcount being lost – and also the leverage you may have in negotiating
Robinhood-Specific Negotiation Advice
Above band offers: Robinhood is willing to go above band in some circumstances (which is not true for all companies). You would need to have sufficient leverage either in the form of a competing offer or a promotion opportunity at your current workplace. The process for going above band at Robinhood is time consuming, as it requires the recruiter to get approval from the hiring manager, HR Partner, and compensation partner before moving forward. In our experience, it can take up to a week, if not longer, for these above band offers to be approved.
Don't need offers in writing: Unlike Google, Robinhood does not usually require you to provide cross offers in writing. This can be useful because many companies avoid putting their offers in writing, which makes it hard to use them as leverage in other negotiations.
Robinhood's recent IPO: Robinhood went public in July 2021 and, because of this, a number of things changed in their compensation structure. Cash bonuses were introduced this year, and RSUs + stock refreshers are also new. We've seen recruiters exaggerate what you can expect to get and how quickly the stock will appreciate. Stock appreciation you should always ignore, and for bonus + refresher, you should ask what number is the "Meets Expectation" target.
Not always willing (or able) to match cross offers: To some extent this depends on what the value of your cross offer is, but we've seen a few situations where Robinhood was unwilling to match higher competing offers. They've said things to the effect of "we're not Google or Uber, we won't be able to exactly match what they're offering". There are still some options in these situation (e.g. looping in hiring manager, pushing for up-level, etc.), so definitely don't give up hope if this happens early in the negotiation.
Willing to extend timelines: Most recruiters we've worked with at Robinhood have been quite flexible on timelines. They aren't known for exploding offers or ghosting candidates. It can sometimes take a few days for recruiters to reply, but in our experience, that is not a red flag when negotiating with Robinhood specifically.