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Engineers at This Chinese Startup Can Make $3M Per Year

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A company needs to hire excellent employees in order to thrive. But, it’s not easy to attract top talent — especially for a startup. However, one Beijing company may have found a solution.

Entrepreneur and founder of Beijing ByteDance Technology Co., Zhang Yiming, has embraced a recruitment strategy that offers top employees very high pay. The policy gives employees the opportunity to make upwards of $1 million in salary per year, plus options. Compensation can total, or even exceed, $3 million annually.

“Unlimited salary for unlimited talent.”

Zhang attracted more than just new hires when he announced his recruitment strategy. He also drew international media attention. In an interview that followed with Bloomberg, Zhang explained his policy quite simply: “Unlimited salary for unlimited talent.”

“Our philosophy is to pay the top of the market to get the best,” he told Bloomberg. “The company that wants to achieve the most, you need the best talent.”

Zhang didn’t offer comment on specific figures but he did indicate that most of his employees elect to receive stock over cash.

So far, the bold recruitment strategy seems to be paying off. The company has hired top performers from much more established companies by offering to raise salaries — sometimes as much as 50 percent, plus options.

It should be noted that there seems to be a bidding war going on for talent in some industries in China. Senior AI engineers there can reportedly earn as much as $1 to $2 million per year, although mostly those salaries are in stocks. Another startup there is offering a compensation package that pays $30 million over four years if key targets are reached.

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The Company Is Somewhat Controversial

Will this policy of unlimited salary pay off in the end for ByteDance or its employees? That remains to be seem. The company’s investors are aware there is a considerable risk.

“They need to keep evolving,” Neil Shen, one of the company’s investors, told Bloomberg.

Some have concerns that the company’s earnings might not continue as projected. But, Zhang says he’s confident that the strategy will work out in the end.

Some say that the company itself is somewhat controversial. They’re best known for their mobile app Jinri Tautiao (or, Today’s Headlines). The app aggregates news articles and videos from hundreds of other media outlets. After just five years, they now have more than 120 million daily users. The company is valued at $20 billion. (The Washington Post points out, for perspective, that this is twice the valuation of News Corp and seven times the value of The New York Times.) However, hosting content from outside sources has drawn criticism — and copyright lawsuits.

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