We can’t live in a world where everyone wants to be a founder. Starting a business may be hard, but scaling a business is where all the value of a company gets built. For every founder, we need dozens or more engineers, product managers, business developers, salespeople, marketers, and others to build a startup into a sustainable, economically-competitive entity. Silicon Valley’s founder premium needs to adjust accordingly.
Equity is one valve for making this a bit more democratic. Having a startup’s talent, especially those with single-digit employee numbers, receive a bit more equity would probably assist startups in recruiting, and may also allow them to focus more of their attention on getting the best people.
But, we also need to shift our culture and empower our employees to build their own careers, networks, and ultimately, dreams. Companies should take the opportunity to encourage their engineers to give technical talks, release open-source code libraries, and receive external credit for the work that they are doing. The same is true on the business-side as well. Interestingly, these sorts of practices are fairly common at Silicon Valley’s top companies — evidence that such practices are ultimately beneficial to startups.