I was intrigued by a previous poster and decided to reframe the question. Being in the valley for almost 15 years. I’ve seen countless founders promise engineers “sweat equity” if they would contribute work to their startup. This can be part time or full time. Note these are not legitimate co-founder type arrangements where the person joining will get significant equity (10%+) just – hey work for me, I give you shares.
Basically ZERO pay and a very small equity portion usually based on hours worked. The percentage of equity is seldom disclosed, usually just a number of shares.
I try to follow the progress of these startups and almost inevitably ALL of them fail or continue as zombies. I’m not surprised because these startups normally churn through engineers who lose interest in their “equity” and lack of progress and drop out leaving their half finished code for the next schmuck to pick up.
Hence my curiousity…. has anyone ever made serious money joining a startup on this kind of arrangement?