I think the expected value in terms of earnings on for-profit entrepreneurship is much higher than most salaried jobs, maybe with the exception of quantitative trading. (I don’t have a BOTEC for this)
The main objection to this I can imagine is that entrepreneurship offers worse job security (and at least initially, worse pay) than for-profit entrepreneurship.
I think this is true, so I think graduates without dependents who are interested in earning-to-give should take a high paying jobs for 1-2 years to save enough money to support themselves, then spend 1-2 years trying their hand at for-profit start-ups. If it doesn’t seem to be going well and especially if they have dependents, then they should consider switching back to a being an employee.
Another potential objection might be that some or many for-profit start ups do harm, so I think to avoid this EAs should focus on start ups where the direct social impact of the start-up is also net positive.
I think a greater focus on for-profit entrepreneurship for earning-to-givers from an early stage in EA’s history have meant that millions more would have gone to global health charities by now.
I think that being an employee and opening a startup are such very different career paths that the decision should be made very much based on personal fit.
(Also, if someone is a good fit for founding a startup, I'd suggest they consider opening or being a leader at an EA aligned org. Not for everyone, but at least consider)
With the likes of FTX, Wave, etc, I agree that the EV of EA startups is now obviously high. But this is because EAs are much better at startups than average, to an extent that was not entirely obvious (at least not to everyone) a decade ago.
Yes, startup people always said we should start startups, but it wasn't clear whether they were right.
On initial investigations, we could see that given VC-funding, founders exit with an average of $10M (and only ~1% of startups seemed to attain VC funding). Stanford-alumnus founders attained (unconditional on funding) a net worth of ~$10M. YC founders around $20M. And then the first dozen EA and rationalist startups were false starts. Whereas folks in software or finance could make a million a year.
So yes, it seemed good, but exactly how good was not obvious at that time. One could argue it is a good case for more people exploring unusual things, for reasons of value of information.
Related post: Resources on the expected value of founding a for-profit start-up?
I think the bigger problem is that a large fraction of the people who EtG was targeted at were people who were risk-averse about their career path. EA motivating people to make crazy career shifts is a very new phenomenon, and "to do the most good, you should start a company with a 90% chance of failure" would not have been a winning message imo.