Devon Zuegel devonzuegel.com

What startups can learn from pirates about compensation  ↦

Devon Zuegel draws a comparison that I would’ve never thought of:

Pirate crews developed a surprisingly similar approach to compensation in the 17th century. Just like many startups, they also balanced equity incentives with other mechanisms that would be familiar to a startup employee today, such as bonuses.

These surprising similarities offer an interesting frame through which we can reflect on why startup equity and bonuses are structured the way they are. We can learn a lot about the theory of compensation in modern companies by looking at how pirates designed incentives to organize and motivate their work.

Maybe it’s time to stop hiring “frontend wizards” and start looking for “frontend pirates” instead, matey.


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