Sustainable FOSS and Equal Pay

Equal pay at Oxide Computer, a Silicon Valley startup

I found some aspects of the article linked above particularly interesting:

  1. founders and employees receive the same pay: so all compensation is based on value generated rather than founder and experience privileges

  2. All teammates too receive the same pay: they say that this eliminates competition within the team, which increases collective productivity and everyone can discuss their pay openly which increases trust.

  3. Fully remote companies like GitLab factor in location while compensating their employees whereas Oxide Computer says location doesn’t affect compensation:

Some will say that we should be paying people differently based on different geographical locations. I know there are thoughtful people who pay folks differently based on their zip code, but (respectfully), we disagree with this approach. Companies spin this by explaining they are merely paying people based on their cost of living, but this is absurd: do we increase someone’s salary when their spouse loses their job or when their kid goes to college? Do we slash it when they inherit money from their deceased parent or move in with someone? The answer to all of these is no, of course not: we pay people based on their work, not their costs. The truth is that companies pay people less in other geographies for a simple reason: because they can. We at Oxide just don’t agree with this; we pay people the same regardless of where they pick up their mail.

I find the above pointer conflicting: I don’t need more than 2k EUR/month to live happily. And if I got paid more than that, not only will I be indulging in greed, but also I’ll have way more purchasing power than my peers, which is unfair.

But their logic is sound as well. If there’s going to be a pay difference based on location, then what do you do with the value/compensation difference? There has to be an ethical way to use that difference,


Perhaps offer an option to put aside money towards a grant for the next generation of coders?

Fund interns who are still at uni? Or who want to study?

When I was at uni I got a grant for my studies, plus I got an industry placement for a year in the middle of my course. Which was salaried. Not alot but it wasn’t nothing.

Or put it aside to build up and contribute to a fund managed by an organisation like NLNet.

Or put aside a hardship fund for everyone in your org.


Good ideas!

Maybe the employee can be offered these choices so that they can decide how their contribution can be spent.

An employee in this situation may very well start their own competing business. They will be selling to the same market, so there’s a good chance that they will make more money.

So I feel that the employee must have some say in how the money generated by their contribution will be spent. Maybe if it is something that they like, then they will feel more satisfied and happy about it :slight_smile: