A senior engineer in the Bay Area makes US$400+k annually. And yes, I think my experience and products would seat me in that tier of engineers. I am effectively giving up a million bucks every two years by running my own show. This is 1M dollars, risk-free. (Takes a deep breath). And I will be lying if I say that money means nothing to me.
The other side is tempting
My brother is working at Amazon now, and he will probably be at Facebook next year. The money is great, the perks are great, but above all, I envy the fact that when my brother sleeps at night, he sleeps without worrying if he will have a job tomorrow. To go home and switch off completely, to go on leave, and have a vacation. I am obsessed like an OCD patient is. On the business, on products, on the code quality, on team morale, on the growth trajectory. Thankfully I have booze and sex to offer a respite when I need one.
What success means to me
I have checked every item on my bucket list. Except for the last one, to build a great business.
And in my opinion, it is deeply satisfying to build a business. To trim and prime an organisation that offers value that someone is willing to pay an excess (in terms of margin) for. I am proud to say that every cent that I have ever made was made through a product or service that my business has built. Can you fathom that? That I, a bag of blood, would create something useful to some people in the world.
Having the freedom to own something that I build -- to own every success and failure. And that is what success means to me -- Ownership.
I will be lying if I say that money means nothing to me. Thankfully, that is only partially true. I love building a business more than anything.