Great software engineers are the backbone of any promising technology company—and they’re in rare supply. Big tech companies do everything they can to land talent, going so far as buying companies to acquire accomplished software engineers. In San Francisco, the median software engineer makes $100,000, according to the job site Glassdoor. But top coders can demand far higher annual salaries of $1 million or more.
The Information hunted down software engineers in the trenches who their companies can’t do without, the sort of people constantly being recruited by competitors. We gathered names from investors, CEOs and other programmers and whittled down the list by giving greater weight to software engineers who spend most of their time coding rather than working their way up the management ladder. We also focused on engineers earlier in their careers and those who hadn’t tried starting their own company.
These software engineers—well-known only among a small group of insiders—took different paths to coding and share a profound passion for what they do. In interviews, they offered rare insights into hot priorities at technology companies like Facebook and Palantir, mused on their favorite programming languages, revealed their biggest failures and shared their predictions.
This first installment of the series is focused on software engineers in Silicon Valley. More from other geographies and other technical fields to come.