Inside Pollen's Transparent Compensation Data
An exclusive inside look at the pay philosophy, regional differences and numbers of the defunct events tech startup. Based on 430 data points.
Pollen was an events tech startup founded in 2015, which raised more than $200M in funding and employed about 600 people by 2022. It defied gravity by appearing to thrive at the same time as the Covid-19 pandemic shut down swathes of the events industry, worldwide. But after a series of layoffs, the company ran out of money and entered administration last August. Today, employees are still owed months’ worth of wages and pension contributions. I covered the collapse of the company at the time in the article Inside Pollen’s collapse: “$200M raised” but staff unpaid - exclusive. It remains my most in-depth investigative article.
During its existence, Pollen did something very interesting: implementing pay transparency. Every employee could examine a PDF with compensation details for every role at the company. I’ve got access to this information and in this issue we’ll dissect it, going well beyond the raw data by covering:
Pollen’s compensation philosophy. How did the company weigh cash compensation and equity?
The pay transparency report. An overview of the report and the cadence at which it was published.
Tech compensation numbers. How much were software engineers, designers, product managers and other tech functions paid?
Regional pay differences. Pollen employed a large number of people in the UK, Poland, the US and from across the EU, also hiring from Sweden and Mexico. How was pay calibrated across these regions?
Highest and lowest-paid roles. Which roles did the company reward most and which the least?
Budgets by organization. How did funding for the tech organization compare to funding of other organizations such as Marketing, Operations and Revenue?
Inspiration to take from this pay transparency report and numbers. How can you use this data in budgeting, and what are the caveats to be aware of?
Reports. Access to three detailed reports in Google sheets, where you can slice and dice the data derived from 430 data points.
Subscribers have access to a cleaned and browsable version of the data set, which can be helpful in diving in to get further details, and in refining your compensation philosophy. As a note, this data set is even more expansive and detailed than the Inside Microsoft’s compensation numbers which we covered last August.
As a note, this newsletter issue contains more diagrams than usual that analyze the data - 18 of them! This means that many email clients will cut off the full issue. Read this issue online to go through it without the cutoff.