Silicon Valley startups are buying fewer $10,000 bikes to give away as signing bonuses


broken bicycle

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Silicon Valley startups and tech companies are famous for their luxurious employee perks.


Twitter offers its employees acupuncture, for example. Facebook gives $4,000 cash bonuses to new parents. And Adobe forces employees to take time off by literally shutting down for two weeks each year.

But at least one perk that's been in vogue - expensive, custom bicycles given out as signing bonuses - could be on the way out. And it could be a sign that startups are looking to spend the millions they've raised from investors more responsibly as anxiety over an impending market downturn sets in.

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Palo Alto Bicycles is a shop that sells and custom-makes high-end bikes. These bikes, which ranged in price from $1,000 to $15,000, were used by some tech companies as signing bonuses, according to The New York Times.

From NYT's Katie Benner:


The message of more caution is not lost on all start-ups. Some are cutting back on expenses, albeit just a little. Jeff Selzer, the manager of Palo Alto Bicycles, a specialty bike store, said he was seeing fewer start-ups build custom $10,000 bicycles as signing bonuses for new managers.

Business Insider reached out to Palo Alto Bicycles' general manager Jeff Selzer who confirmed that there has been a decline in these types of extravagant purchases over the past couple of years.

Paolo Alto bike shop

Palo Alto Bicycles

A sample of the bikes Palo Alto Bicycles sells on its website

Selzer also mentioned a purchase made by a Google employee for 5 or 6 bikes costing upwards of $1,500 a piece. But he says "that kind of purchasing has slowed" and that he's seen a shift in all of his sales from more "disposable income purchases" to utilitarian purchases.

The tightening up of budgets seems to be a trend as startups prepare for investors to close their wallets.


Two New York-based startup investors recently told Business Insider that, beginning in the third quarter of last year, board meeting conversations began shifting significantly at their companies to focus on reaching profitability instead of growth, for example.

How long will the cautious spending last?

"Until we all forget again," one of the investors joked.