I'm in a pretty similar situation (I'm a CS senior in the US and took a SWE job offer from a unicorn). If I had the choice, I would go into direct work. Ben Todd said the following earlier this year:
I’d typically prefer someone in [non-leadership] roles to an additional person donating $400,000–$4 million per year (again, with huge variance depending on fit).
To me, those numbers sound high enough to swamp the downsides of working on community building that you mentioned, if you'd like to choose whichever option is higher-impact.
(I'm posting this as a... (read more)
[...] you would have to argue that:There are longtermist organizations that are currently funding-constrained,Such that more funding would enable them to do more or better work,And this funding can't be met by existing large EA philanthropists.It's not clear to me that any of these points are true.
[...] you would have to argue that:
It's not clear to me that any of these points are true.
It seems to me that those points might currently be true of Rethink Priorities. See these relevant paragraphs from this recent EA Forum post on their 2021 Impact and 2022 Strategy:
If better funded, we would be able to do more high-quality work and employ more tal
I would have counted it as a big company and not a startup in thinking about this post, but maybe that's not how the author intended it?
I thought Stripe would be in the reference class of startups (since it still raises money from VCs), until I read Michael Dickens's reply to this comment. I agree that it was a supremely bad example, though. The other companies I mentioned probably count?
There are also a lot of smaller/newer companies that pay about as much as Google/Meta that I didn't mention in my first comment. They're mostly unicorns (though not all of... (read more)
Face value compensation at the top tech companies is generally much higher than what you would get at a startup. Have a look at https://levels.fyi
It's more complicated than that. Some top startups (e.g. Stripe, Airtable, Databricks, Scale AI, ByteDance, Benchling, and several others) pay at least as much or a lot more than e.g. Google/Meta. Some of those (Stripe, Airtable, Scale AI) seem to offer new grads close to $100k more than Google does on average in the first year (counting signing bonuses, and assuming the valuation of all of those companies doesn'... (read more)
FWIW my completely personal and highly speculative view is that EA orgs and EA leaders tend to talk too much about x-risk and not enough about s-risk, mostly because the former is more palatable, and is currently sufficient for advocating for s-risk relevant causes anyway. Or more concretely: It's pretty easy to imagine an asteroid hitting the planet, killing everyone, and eliminating the possibility of future humans. It's a lot wackier, more alienating and more bizarre to imagine an AI that not only destroys humanity, but permanently enslaves it in some k