Marissa Mayer decided how much to pay employees at Yahoo based on a lesson she learned from Google

Marissa Mayer

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"Meet, not beat" was her strategy.

  • Yahoo's former CEO Marissa Mayer said in an interview with The New York Times that she used the same strategy for determining compensation at Yahoo and at Google, where she was an early employee.
  • It was called "meet, not beat," meaning she'd pay them enough to stay competitive, but not so much that they were only attracted to the job because of the salary.
  • Google salaries are on the higher end of tech companies, although they generally don't negotiate compensation with job candidates.


"Meet, not beat."

That was Marissa Mayer's strategy for determining new employees' compensation.
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Mayer was the CEO of Yahoo until it was bought by Verizon in 2017; she was also an early employee at Google. She shared this tidbit about salary-setting in an interview with The New York Times' David Gelles, for an installment of the Corner Office column.

When Google hit the 1,000-employee mark, the company's strategy around setting compensation changed. Mayer told Gelles: "You really want somebody who's coming for the right reasons. To get the people who are really aligned with the mission, you want to make sure that they're fairly compensated, but not necessarily motivated by that compensation."

Hence the "meet, not beat" tactic, which Mayer said she used at both Google and Yahoo. Presumably, that means she'd pay them fairly relative to other similar companies, but not so much better than they'd be paid at those companies.
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"It's the trade-off between mercenaries and missionaries," Mayer added.

Business Insider's Rachel Gillett reported on how Google determines compensation. According to Bob See, a principal recruiter for Google Engineering between 2005 and 2014, Google generally doesn't negotiate compensation packages with candidates. They will, however, usually revise their offer if the employee brings a competing offer to the table, See wrote on Quora.It's also worth noting that Google salaries are higher than salaries at most other tech companies, according to PayScale data. The median pay for an early-career employee is $106,900; for a mid-career employee, it's $151,600. (Yahoo isn't in the top 18 highest-paying tech companies, according to PayScale.)
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Other tech companies have similar stances on salary negotiation. Business Insider's Áine Caine spoke to Facebook VP of HR Janelle Gale, who said, "We don't want to get into a negotiation, because that basically means whoever is the best negotiator wins." Gale added, "We're not hiring you for your negotiation skills, unless you are in a negotiation role, like business development."

Read the full interview at The New York Times »

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