The 20 Best Unicorn Companies For Paying Software Engineers Top Dollar

Last week we brought you the 20 highest paying unicorns, based on median annual salary for all employees. This time around, we centered our search on the unicorns paying best for programmers.

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 the top 20 highest paying startup unicorns for software engineering jobs.

In our previous report, we revealed cloud-based big data company Cloudera paid the best overall. Dropbox now takes the top spot when narrowing it down to engineering wages with a median annual base salary of $144,573, followed by Jawbone ($141,224) and Cloudera ($139,217) to round out the top three.

*This report is based on unicorn companies from the CrunchBase list that have at least 15 salary reports for software engineers, as reported on Glassdoor as of 11/13/15. The annual base salary reports must have been submitted in U.S. dollars by full-time employees.

  1. Dropbox – median annual base salary $144,573 – 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 $600 million in the bank from Index, Blackrock Ventures and a number of other prominent investors.
  2. Jawbonemedian annual base salary $141,224 – 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 $726 million in the bank and a valuation at $3 billion.
  3. Clouderamedian salary $139,217– 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.
  4. Medallia median annual base salary $138,680 – 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.
  5. ZScaler – median annual base salary $133,071 – The cloud security platform raised a $100 million B round in August to help build out its technology. That makes for a total of $138 million in cash and tips it to unicorn status at $1.1 billion in value.
  6. Airbnb – median annual base salary $131,612 – 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. Uber – median annual base salary $130,000 – 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.
  8. DocuSign – median annual base salary $129,453 – Brokers and real estate agents regularly use this $3 billion 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.
  9. AppDynamics – median annual base salary $128,905 – This app performance analysis startup is worth $1 billion at present, with $207 million in the bank.
  10. Okta – median annual base salary $127,931 – 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. Spotify – median annual base salary $127,695 – The Swedish music platform is now valued at a hefty $8.5 billion, but is not without competitors. Apple jumped into the music streaming market this year. Pandora, which recently bought Spotify competitor Rdio, also tunes in with a market cap at a bit less than half the valuation of Spotify, but with more than $1 billion in the bank, Spotify has plenty of room – and looks likely to pay programmers well, too.
  12. Tango – median annual base salary $126,348 – Just tipping into the unicorn club with a $1.1 billion valuation, this mobile messaging app offers an e-commerce platform powered by Alibaba and Walmart. The Chinese conglomerate led the latest round for Tango, adding up to a total of $369 in funding.
  13. Gilt Groupe – median annual base salary $124,500 – 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.
  14. Twilio – median annual base salary $123,749 – 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 $204 million in its coffers.
  15. Pinterestmedian annual base salary $121,920 – 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.
  16. AppNexus – median annual base salary $119,762 – 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.
  17. Kabam – median annual base salary $115,829 – 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 billion valuation.
  18. Glassdoor – median annual base salary $115,000 – This startup is fairly new to the unicorn club. The company raised $70 million at the beginning of this year, with a valuation just under a billion dollars. However, upon further examination of its growth and triple-digit revenue puts the company review site at a tick more than $1 billion in paper and a rounded up $162 million in funding.
  19. Credit Karma – median annual base salary $115,00 – 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). We recently did a Cribs episode there for those curious about work life.
  20. ZocDoc – median annual base salary $114,134 – The eight-year-old online medical care suggestion service officially joined the herd this summer with a round of $130 million in funding, now valuing the startup at $1.8 billion on paper.

*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 for engineers. However, Square and Atlassian were taken off because Square has since gone public and Atlassian has announced plans to go public.