Am I wrong to want more transparency?

I’m an early employee at a startup currently working to raise our Series A. I thought we were doing fairly well as our metrics looked really good and the CEO kept telling the team every week that we were “killing it” with months of runway. Then I found out that we were actually behind on our bills for a little while until we closed on a bridge round recently.

I’ve worked here long enough that the founders have to know I’m not the kind of person to jump ship at the first sign of trouble. I do believe in our product and mission very much. If I didn’t, I wouldn’t be working 50-70 hours a week on it. If I had known the situation was that dire, I would’ve offered to forgo my salary for a while (even as the main developer being paid way below market rate, this isn’t a trivial amount) and looked for freelance work. I’ve never seen any financials – the last time I asked for some numbers just to figure out what % equity I have in the company, the founders balked so I pretty much assume my equity is worthless.

I’ve received plenty of interest and job offers from other companies but have flat out turned them all down out of loyalty to the founders but what I’m getting from this is that they don’t really respect me as an employee and my loyalty is misplaced. I guess I’m just trying to understand this from the founders’ perspective. Why not be honest with your employees about the startup’s financial situation?

  • I can give you a reason they’re dishonest about financials: the company is fucking broke. A few weeks ago I found out that the startup I work at had zero money budgeted for new hires, any raises, or even bonuses–even for managers. You wouldn’t tell your staff that, because they’d leave.

    In any case your company is young and has already started siloing information. They’re not even telling you if you’re entitled to any equity, although my guess is it wouldn’t be worth anything if you were. You’re behind on bills and the CEO says you’ve got “runway” to land on. You might want to grab a parachute.

  • Sometimes information are not doled out to employees so they are not put in a position to spin things to others.

    • I told a coworker who has been in a rut about our financial circumstances. It motivated him to find a new job. So, yeah, you’re probably right!

  • I guess it’s hard to disclose the complete information. Often founders don’t want you to worry about the company’s financial as it incredibly increases to stress level and not everyone can take it, which may cause them to leave. Though I agree that it’s not fair for them to make this decision for you. But in the end it is up to their own discretion. I suggest you go and talk to them.

  • Why are you working 50-70 hours a week if your equity isn’t worth anything?

    Why would you offer to forgo your salary?

    Why do you believe you owe them loyalty?

    Why are you selling yourself short?

    Please think hard about these questions, then you will know the answer.

  • alot of these startups aren’t around to actually make money but elevate the value of the startup by trying to increase users.And flip. Eventually they run out of seed money and bye-bye-bye. Alot of worthless crap being built out there.It’s hilarious.

    The digital goldrush.

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