The 20 Highest Paying Startup Unicorns

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The 20 Highest Paying Startup Unicorns

It makes sense for unicorns, or startups valued at more than $1 billion, to use those means to attract top talent with more generous pay, but which of this magical herd pays employees the most?

We pulled together all 153 unicorns currently listed on the Crunchbase Unicorn Leaderboard and then matched them up with data provided by Glassdoor to give you, our readers, the top 20 highest paying startup unicorns.

Uber would be a good guess for top dollar salaries. But, you might be surprised to find Cloudera, a software company providing Apache Hadoop-based software and support to businesses, pays best, with an employee median salary coming in at more than $142,000.

Despite its large coffers, Uber does not make it in the top 10 for best-paying unicorns. The ridesharing giant comes in at number 15 with a median salary of $101,600, right above Eventbrite.

*Note salaries listed are the annual median for all employees. Glassdoor works on a voluntary basis for salary info so you’d have to search through individual job titles to get a good sense of the salary for each type of job. 

  1. Clouderamedian salary $142,240 – As mentioned above, this is a big data company built on the Hadoop platform. The startup offers a free open source version and a paid version for businesses. The company has more than a billion dollars in funding including $740 million last March from Intel Capital and they have a valuation in the $4 billion range.
  2. Jawbonemedian annual base salary $130,000 – A wearable health and fitness company in the crowded armband activity tracker space. The Jawbone Up product tracks steps, sleep and other metrics for the body. The startup has more than $819 million in the bank and a valuation at $3 billion.
  3. Medallia median annual base salary $121,920 – This is a customer service management platform providing Saas to hospitality, retail, and financial services businesses with $255 million in funding and a valuation of $1.25 billion.
  4. Pinterestmedian annual base salary $118,420 – It’s a little bit of everything from discovering cool products and DIY projects to a new shopping portal for retailers to sell beauty and fashion items. SV Angel led the latest round in May, giving the startup a more than $11 billion valuation and putting the total funding at $1.32 billion to date.
  5. Dropbox – median annual base salary $116,840 – The cloud storage startup is rumored to be seeking an initial public offering soon, but it’s still a startup unicorn for now, with a valuation of $10.35 billion and $1.11 billion from Index, Blackrock Ventures and a number of other prominent investors (with half a billion of that investment in debt financing from JP Morgan).
  6. Airbnb – median annual base salary $116,840 – The worldwide vacation rental marketplace has caused much consternation among San Francisco voters, but it might be a nice place to collect a paycheck. The startup is valued at more than $25 billion, with $2.3 billion in funding to date.
  7. Kabam – median annual base salary $116,840 – This online game maker grew really fast over the past five years. A LinkedIn search puts the startup at a little more than 2,000 employees. Kabam has raised close to $245 million, with a $1.02 billion valuation.
  8. AppDynamics – median annual base salary $114,218 – This app performance analysis startup is worth $1 billion at present, with $290 million in the bank.
  9. Credit Karma – median annual base salary $111,760 – Offering free credit reports seems to be good business. This startup is a recent addition to the herd and was thought to be undervalued until a $175 million round this summer topped it at a $3.5 billion valuation (up 250% from previous value), making the total funded to date $368 million. We recently did a Cribs episode there for those curious about work life.
  10. Okta – median annual base salary $110,000 – Secure identity management startups are hot in this unprotected world of ours. Okta is one with a high value, too, at $1.2 billion on paper. The startup has raised a total of $230 million thus far.
  11. MongoDB – median annual base salary $109,728 – Popular for its NoSQL database, the big data startup has raised $311 million so far, with a valuation of $1.35 billion, but keep in mind that’s a slight downgrade from the previous round.
  12. Palantir – median annual base salary $105,000 – the big data company used by the U.S. government has been well-funded since its launch in 2004. Headquarters are in Palo Alto so that might be a bad commute for those living in the 7×7, but with a valuation of $20 billion and $1.67 billion in VC funding, it looks like a good place to negotiate for top pay.
  13. Twilio – median annual base salary $105,000 – This platform for developer communications (“API’s for texting”) enables startups and companies alike to create an interface for call centers, customer service and any other type of phone service. The seven-year-old startup is now also in unicorn land with a valuation just over the $1 billion mark and $234 million in its coffers.
  14. AppNexus – median annual base salary $104.550 – The indie leader of programmatic online advertising has grown up quite a bit (and likely ready to IPO). We’ll let you know if we hear more on that. The startup has raised $288 million, with a $1.19 billion valuation.
  15. Uber – median annual base salary $101,600 – Speaking of IPO’s, Uber CEO Travis Kalanick repeatedly shuts down any such notion of doing just that. Instead, the worldwide rideshare phenom seems intent on winning China. It’s also the crown regent of all magical, mythical startup creatures, with a giant $51 billion valuation and $8.21 billion in the bank.
  16. Eventbrite – median annual base salary $101,600 – The global live events platform is no doubt a fun place to work for those who like going out and doing things. The six-figure median salary also looks quite attractive…until you realize headquarters are in San Francisco and that’s just a tick above the average when you consider taxes and rent. Still, with $200 million in the bank and a valuation of $1.02 billion, that’s not too shabby for the company.
  17. Zuoramedian annual base salary $96,736 – This is one of those lesser-known unicorns, but it powers the subscription sales of a lot of businesses like Dell, Box, and Qualcomm. Zuora is another b2b tech company rumored to be getting ready for an IPO, and with nearly $243 million in the bank and a valuation of $1.12, the subscription economy could take it there soon.
  18. Gilt Groupe – median annual base salary $95,000 – The swank online shopping site hit a rough patch recently, cutting 45 jobs in hopes of hitting profit goals. This one’s just barely over the unicorn bar at $1.1. billion, with $286 million in the bank. It’ll be out of the races if it drops in value.
  19. DocuSign –median annual base salary $85,000 – Brokers and real estate agents regularly use this $3 billion dollar electronic signature startup to get documents signed on the spot. CEO Keith Krach helped the startup raise nearly $400 million of it’s $508 million in funding, but recently announced he’d be stepping down from his position.
  20. MediaMathmedian annual base salary $80,264 – This digital advertising startup is not as well-known as some of the other magical horses on our list, but the numbers add up to a unicorn valuation of just over one billion dollars, with $208 million in the bank (with more than half of that, $105 million, as debt).

*Square and Atlassian were listed on CrunchBase as unicorns at the time we pulled this data, and both made it onto the list of 20 top paying unicorns. However, Square and Atlassian were taken off because they have announced plans to go public.