Robinhood became a household name in 2020, capitalizing on the rise of meme stocks and cryptocurrency. The company has had its share of controversies, which have resulted in a volatile stock price since its IPO in July 2021. That said, the company has strong reputation for engineering and design talent, and it has top of market compensation packages to match that.
The goal of this guide is to equip you with the essential pieces of information you need for your upcoming Robinhood negotiation. If your situation is unique or you want 1:1 support to ensure you maximize your compensation, please sign up for a free consultation with our expert negotiators.
Before starting any negotiation, it is important to understand the bigger picture when it comes to compensation components offered. A typical job offer for a tech role at Robinhood (e.g. Software Engineer) should contain the following monetary components:
This is what an example L3 Software Engineering offer at Robinhood looks like over a 4-year period.
*Note: stock refreshers won't actually be listed in the offer letter, but they are expected at Robinhood
Robinhood's base salary component is fairly standard. There is a base salary band associated with each role/level/location, and they pay employees bi-weekly.
The size of the salary band increases with seniority - at junior levels it is quite narrow. Senior Software Engineers at Robinhood have a base salary ranging from 175k - 230k in the Bay Area, whereas E5 at Facebook is $185K-$214K. The wide range is in part because L3 at Robinhood spills into L4, L5, and L6 at Google/Facebook.
It is certainly possible to negotiate this component, but the increase will typically be smaller than what is possible for the equity or signing bonus component.
Equity or Restricted Stock Units (RSUs)
Since Robinhood recently went public, there's naturally been a shift in how they offer equity. Instead of offering stock options, they now give out RSU's to new hires. They also have recently removed their 1-year vesting cliff.
Robinhood, like many big tech companies, vests equity grants evenly over 4 years. This means if you are granted $600K RSUs over a 4-year period, you will receive the following:
Equity and signing bonus are both the most easily negotiated portions of a Robinhood offer, though properly demonstrated leverage is necessary to get increases on both fronts.
At Robinhood your vesting commencement date is the 1st day of the month following your start. If you are interested in the specific details, we've included an anonymized example from an offer letter we negotiated.
"If your Start Date is between the 2nd through the 31st of a month, then your Vesting Commencement Date will be the 1st of the month immediately following your Start Date. The number of RSUs granted will be determined by dividing the target value by the price per share that is used by the Company to calculate RSUs in accordance with the Company’s standard equity award practices in effect at the time of grant, rounded up to the nearest whole share. You will vest in the RSUs quarterly over four years as measured from the Vesting Commencement Date, with 1/16th of the RSUs vesting three months after the Vesting Commencement Date."
Not all Robinhood offers include a signing bonus by default. It's a common recruiter trick to leave it out of the initial offer, which is in line with how many other tech companies operate. Often times this is a way recruiters will determine if a candidate is going to negotiate or not. Signing bonuses are a critical part of the negotiation at Robinhood because they have the ability to pay top of market. Facebook is traditionally known for having the highest signing bonuses for entry to mid-level employees (excluding Amazon which has a different comp structure), and Robinhood can offer signing bonuses in line with Facebook. For example, we've negotiated many $100K signing bonuses for senior engineers at Facebook, and at Robinhood we've seen senior software engineers hit $100K and even $110K. One difference is that Robinhood will often split larger signing bonuses over a 2-year period.
Robinhood will pay your signing bonus in your first month of employment - unlike Amazon which is prorated. However, they do require you to repay a portion of your signing bonus if you leave before the 1-year mark. Below, we've included the wording from a Robinhood offer.
"If your employment terminates for any reason before the one year anniversary of your Start Date, you will be required to repay a pro rata portion of the bonus to Robinhood (based on the number of full calendar months you were employed at Robinhood as of your termination date) on or before your last day of employment."
Stock refreshers are not guaranteed and are not explicitly listed in the offer letter. However, this is normal for most tech companies and you should still factor these into your decision. Robinhood has promised to offer competitive refreshers; unfortunately, it's tricky to verify since they have only been a public company for a few months. Right now, recruiters are quoting ~25% of the initial grant value as the target, so L2 software engineers would get $100K and L3 software engineers would get $180K. The refresher grant vests over a 4-year period, which is again typical for tech companies.
The inconvenient part is that the review cycle where the first refresher grant is given happens in Jan/Feb and you need to have been employed for 1 year before you are eligible to receive stock refreshers. Depending on your start date, there could be a substantial delay until you receive your first set of stock refreshers. After the initial refresher, you will continue to get these grants on a yearly base.
Candidates often find it helpful to have a high-level overview of the negotiation process. Before diving into that, it's important to understand how Robinhood's levels differ from other major tech companies
If you have not yet received an offer from Robinhood, there are a few critical mistakes to avoid:
With that out of the way, let's discuss the negotiation process at Robinhood:
There are two primary differences between junior and senior negotiations at Robinhood:
Above band offers: Robinhood is willing to go above band in some circumstances (which is not true for all companies). You would need to have sufficient leverage either in the form of a competing offer or a promotion opportunity at your current workplace. The process for going above band at Robinhood is time consuming, as it requires the recruiter to get approval from the hiring manager, HR Partner, and compensation partner before moving forward. In our experience, it can take up to a week, if not longer, for these above band offers to be approved.
Don't need offers in writing: Unlike Google, Robinhood does not usually require you to provide cross offers in writing. This can be useful because many companies avoid putting their offers in writing, which makes it hard to use them as leverage in other negotiations.
Robinhood's recent IPO: Robinhood just recently went public (July 2021), and because of this, a number of things changed in their compensation structure. Cash bonuses were introduced this year, and RSUs + stock refreshers are also new. We've seen recruiters exaggerate what you can expect to get and how quickly the stock will appreciate. Stock appreciation you should always ignore, and for bonus + refresher, you should ask what number is the "Meets Expectation" target.
Not always willing (or able) to match cross offers: To some extent this depends on what the value of your cross offer is, but we've seen a few situations where Robinhood was unwilling to match higher competing offers. They've said things to the effect of "we're not Google or Uber, we won't be able to exactly match what they're offering". There are still some options in these situation (e.g. looping in hiring manager, pushing for up-level, etc.), so definitely don't give up hope if this happens early in the negotiation.
Willing to extend timelines: Most recruiters we've worked with at Robinhood have been quite flexible on timelines. They aren't known for exploding offers or ghosting candidates. It can sometimes take a few days for recruiters to reply, but in our experience, that is not a red flag when negotiating with Robinhood specifically.
Step 1 is defining the strategy, which often starts by helping you create leverage for your negotiation (e.g. setting up conversations with FAANG recruiters).
Step 2 we decide on anchor numbers and target numbers with the goal of securing a top of band offer, based on our internal verified data sets.
Step 3 we create custom scripts for each of your calls, practice multiple 1:1 mock negotiations, and join your recruiter calls to guide you via chat.