Tech workers have been warning each other about the dangers of working for hot tech companies — where common stock holders will be last in line to get paid when companies fall short of unicorn goals.
A recent New York Times story about Good Technology, which was said to be worth $1.1 billion but sold to BlackBerry for just $425 million, helped fuel a conversation warning tech workers that they could end up with stock worth very little should the valuation of the "hot" tech company they work for crash.
There are now 140 privately-held companies valued at $1 billion or more. Part of the danger comes from leadership being corrupt or not capable of running a company.
Hacker News saw more than 250 comments on the NYT stories, many of which warned that if valuations crash, the employees are most likely to lose out — not the executives or investors. With more startups raising money at high valuations, many workers don't realize that investors have negotiated clauses to protect themselves from loss, even if valuations crash.
"Unless the company gets lucky, employees lose," billionaire investor Mark Cuban said on Twitter.
Another issue discussed were employees that take lower salaries in exchange for stock options. That option only works well if the company has a big IPO or gets bought at a very high price, tech workers said.