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Bolt Salary Negotiation Guide

Do we like negotiating with Bolt?

Bolt can be tough to negotiate with but it is still worth the effort. We've heard a few claims of fixed salaries at each level (implying it's not negotiable), but this is not actually the case in practice. Like most companies, each Bolt compensation component has a compensation band (i.e. a range) set for the respective level. This confusion might stem from Bolt's consistent pay bands across locations, but we'll talk more about that in the remote pay section.

Bolt's compensation structure

  • Base Salary
  • Bolt Equity Package (see Bolt’s vesting schedule at the bottom of the page)
  • Signing Bonus (not included in all initial Bolt offers and sometimes split over two years)

Bolt recently switched from options to RSUs for its equity package. This is slowly becoming more common for private companies, and we do see similar policies at Databricks, Airtable, TikTok, Waymo, and other private companies.

The benefit is you don't pay to purchase the shares (i.e. the strike price of the options), but the downside is you are taxed on this income immediately and at a higher rate. Bolt RSUs are granted based on the last valuation round or 409A valuation (depending on when you join).

Bolt performance bonus targets

Unfortunately, there are no cash-based performance bonuses at Bolt. This is common for many startups (e.g. DoorDash only recently added them, none at Instacart, etc.).

Bolt does offer performance-based stock refreshers instead of the traditional fixed cash % of base salary. However, these refreshers aren't guaranteed and many recruiters are unable to share targets or past numbers.

The only form of cash bonus is for employee referrals that result in a candidate being hired.

Bolt's approach to remote pay

Bolt’s remote salary approach is industry leading. Across North America, offers are not heavily discounted based on where you choose to live. In our experience, Bolt offers have the same compensation band regardless of location and differences only start to pop up during negotiations. For example, it is typically easier to push for a top of band offer in tier 1 markets.

If you are working in a low cost of living area, Bolt is likely one of the top paying companies, which is certainly not the case in SF/NYC.

Bolt's relocation package

Bolt is a remote-first company, and as a result, there aren’t very many opportunities for relocation. However, if you’re in a unique position and are required to move, you should push for a $10k+ relocation package as a junior or mid-level employee. Senior relocation packages will be bespoke.

Most negotiable component

Equity is the most negotiable component of a Bolt offer package. This is usually the case for startups and particularly for companies like Bolt that place heavy emphasis on employees being aligned with the company's future success. Equity is then followed by signing bonus where there is still some room to negotiate. Base salary is the hardest to negotiate, but it is possible.

More information regarding how to negotiate via email, how to prep for a call with the help of scripts, and understanding equity and startup stock options is available on our blog.

Does Bolt require written offers?

Usually, they do not require written offers but you can expect a request for the details of the competing offer (e.g. what level is the position, role, location, etc.).

Will Bolt go above band if I have a strong competing offer?

This is tough to pull off at Bolt. We have seen cases where above band requests have been granted, but it required CTO approval. If you aren't making any progress with an above band request despite having a higher competing offer, pushing for an up-level can be one way to unlock higher compensation.

Is my hiring manager relationship important at Bolt?

It is not essential but is certainly important at Bolt. Your hiring manager can tip the scales in your favour during a negotiation. You should also maintain a positive relationship with your recruiter.

What does the hiring process look like at Bolt?

Bolt's hiring process typically has 4 stages: recruiter screen, tech screen, “onsite” interview and offer stage.

The first interview will be conducted on call with your recruiter and will focus on your background and experience.

The second part will be a tech screen which varies by level and team. Most people rate this as LC medium and some people have system design questions at this stage.

The last stage of the interview is the “onsite” interview, though this is virtual. Expect the usual set of questions with perhaps more emphasis on past project work.

Lastly, if you succeed and a Bolt offer is extended, this is where your salary negotiation process will begin.

For more information on which interview resource is the best for you, check out LeetCode Premium vs AlgoExpert vs InterviewCake vs HackerRank, a comprehensive guide to the most popular prep resources.

Does Bolt pay well compared to Stripe?

Let's use a Bolt software engineer salary at L4 as a point of comparison. The equivalent level at Stripe is L2 (Intermediate SWE). Stripe pays substantially more than Bolt at this level. The total comp for Bolt is around $290k/year but at Stripe it can go above $400k/year. It's worth noting that Stripe is one of the top paying companies in the industry, but regardless Bolt is paying below market rates unless you are in a low cost of living area.

What kind of benefits does Bolt offer?

We highly recommend focusing your negotiation on Bolt’s signing bonus and equity. However, there are of course other perks that are offered by the company that you should evaluate when comparing offers. The biggest benefit by far is the four-day work week and excellent work life balance. Bolt of course also offers the standard suite of tech benefits, but these aspects are less unique.

Bolt Equity Vesting Schedule

Year 1
25%
Year 2
25%
Year 3
25%
Year 4
25%
Year 5
25%
Year 5
%

Bolt Levels

Bolt Level

L3

L4

L5

L6

L7

=

Equivalent Level at Google

L3

L4

L5

L6

L7

Why use us?

Our Clients Love Moonchaser

Coming from a non-FAANG background, I was shocked to find out how much I could be earning. Before I signed up with Moonchaser, I made the mistake of telling Amazon my current compensation. Thankfully, Moonchaser knew exactly how to fix it and ended up getting me an offer that was 2.3X what I previously made and more than $600K higher than Amazon’s initial offer!

Through several weeks of interviews, Ganesh was always available to make sure I knew what to say for each conversation. I interviewed with start ups, Google, Facebook and Amazon and was really impressed that Moonchaser knew the comp ranges and were able to give me tailored advice for each – even the start ups.

There ended up being two particularly complex moments in my negotiation. One of the start-ups I had a personal relationship with and I wasn’t sure how it would affect the negotiation. I like that there was a focus on my individual circumstances and that they were leveraged to get me a higher offer. The other situation is that Amazon made a mistake on my written offer and initially wouldn’t rectify it. Ganesh was able to guide me through a challenging conversation to get it resolved.

Steve Commisso
L7 Principal Software Engineer, Amazon

Thanks to Wilson and the team at Moonchaser I got a ~$250K increase on my remote Facebook offer! I was initially worried I wouldn’t have much leverage because Facebook reached out to me, and I wasn’t interviewing anywhere else. Moonchaser introduced me to an Amazon L7 recruiter and helped me get that process started. I didn’t even end up needing to finish the Amazon interviews, since we were able to use some early compensation conversations to justify our numbers to Facebook.

At one point I was also considering pushing for an E7 role, and they wrote up a great script for me to broach the subject with my recruiter. She ended up giving me the option to do an additional interview to be considered for the higher-level position.

The whole process was very smooth, and I wouldn’t hesitate to use the service for any future negotiations. I found the regular calls with Wilson where we walked through strategy and discussed the scripts to be extremely helpful. Not only did it help with this negotiation, but I also learned a lot of useful negotiation tactics that I’ve already started to use in other situations.

Chris Jones
E6 Software Engineer, Facebook

As an engineering leader with decades of experience and having now gone through the negotiation with the team at Moonchaser, the only thing I can say is — get the help. Whether you realize you need it, or even if you think you don’t. Just because you have done well in engineering doesn't mean that you understand the tactics and limits of the recruiting process.

Moonchaser helped me get a $200K increase on my original Facebook offer without any competing offers.  It was clear that Moonchaser was deeply familiar with Facebook's negotiation playbook. I’d honestly give the experience an 11/10.

In addition, Moonchaser guided me on how to get the position switched to a revised remote role which was a huge deal at a personal level. They showed me how to redirect FB’s questions so that I could explore the possibility of not relocating, without ever having to say no to my original offer.

E7 Hardware Engineer
Facebook

This is my first FAANG role and I'm so happy I worked with Moonchaser (thanks again Annie!) for the negotiation. My goal was to increase my Google offer, but I was in a tricky situation where I only had 1 other interview (no offer yet) at a small startup. With their guidance, I managed to get a $240K increase on my Google offer, despite Google's policy of requiring cross offers in writing to justify an increase.

The mock negotiations were a big part of why I was able to get this increase. Going into the negotiation, I assumed the key factor was what to say but I quickly learned that how you say it is equally if not more important. This was clear when over the course of the call"no" turned into "I'll see what I can do" and eventually"I think we can make this work". A big part of this was also having someone with me on the calls to provide real time guidance. This took a lot of the stress out of the situation. I can't recommend this team highly enough!

Andrei Gorbushkin
L5 Technical Program Manager, Google

After receiving several job offers, I needed to make a decision within a few days. I wanted to make sure I was getting the best offer possible, so I decided to use Moonchaser. I was very pleased with their service. My coach, Sameer, was well prepared and had information about what compensation increases were likely possible. He provided detailed scripts covering a range of scenarios, and he did practice negotiations with me that helped me feel confident when I had the actual conversations.  

With his help I was able to increase one offer by $45k per year plus get a $50k signing bonus and then use that to increase my offer from Square, which was my first choice. All throughout he was very responsive as I was dealing with some tight deadlines and looking to wrap things up quickly. Moonchaser's fee was only a tiny fraction of the increase they helped me negotiate, and even though they would have made more money if I had taken the highest offer, Sameer always put my goals first and never pressured me to do so. I highly recommend Moonchaser!

L6 Software Engineer
Square

My friend introduced me to Moonchaser and I’m so glad they did. I initially did some calculations to see if working with them would be worth it - my final increase ended up being ~3x higher than what I had estimated to be possible!

Their data is much more accurate than anything I found online. Without Sameer's guidance, I would have never known (and would have probably been too nervous) to ask for >$800K for anAmazon L7 offer. Of course, it's not just not enough to throw out a big number, you also need to be able to justify it. Sameer guided me through negotiating an up-level at another company, which I didn’t even know was possible at my level. With their scripts, I was able to leverage my competing offer to get exec approval for my Amazon offer. They also knew all the tricks Amazon would play (e.g., assuming 15% stock appreciation) and exactly how to counter them.

My total 4-year compensation increased by $570K. I don't think I've ever had a higher ROI – I’m very thankful that this service exists!

L7 Principal Software Engineer
Amazon

Maximize your Bolt Offer

Bolt

has a unique set of negotiation policies. If you don’t have experience negotiating with them, you risk losing out on large amounts of money because of very small mistakes.

There are many of these rules you need to know to get the highest

Bolt

offer possible.