Thursday, May 10, 2012

Wanna work for free in San Diego?

I assume this sort of informal exchange is probably more common than is understood. But still:
Medicinal chemist (Torrey Pines) 
A San Diego biotech start up is looking for a hands-on medicinal chemist to synthesize small molecule heterocyclic drug candidates. The successful candidate will have had several years or more of experience in the lab, preferably in industry, and be able to search literature to create synthetic plans and extract relevant schemes and procedures. In addition, the successful candidate will need to know how to run samples and interpret NMR and LC-MS data. 
The company does not currently have funding, although we have applied for several grants and expect responses in the near future. Until the company is financed, salary will be paid in the form of company stock. (Emphasis CJ's) This is an excellent opportunity to get into a very promising start-up at the ground level. 
If interested, please send me a copy of your resume, and any questions you have about the company. 
Good heavens. (Thanks to reader IH for spotting this gem.)

UPDATE: From the comments, proof that I have excellent and very knowledgeable readers:

Advice for jobseekers looking for startup work (particularly aimed at this position):
1) Don't be enamoured with the number of zeroes in your stock amount. Know how many shares are outstanding and calculate the percent ownership of the company. If you are in "at the ground floor" and no pay as this guy says, you should probably be looking at double digit ownership. It could be up to 50% depending on how much experience you bring and how many partners are already on board. 
2) Find out what kind of stock you have. There are different types of stock and stock options. Make sure you get founders stock in this case. The differences are in payout order. When investors come in and you have regular employee stock options, you don't get paid until everyone who put money in gets their original investment. Founders stock puts you somewhere at the front of the line. 
3) Make sure your "strike price" is almost zero. The strike price is what you pay for options. Some places will make you pay that up front, some will subtract the original strike price from your future earnings. Figure out what your plan is. 
4) Make sure you negotiate your eventual salary and put everything in writing. If this is a good potential company, make sure you decouple the stock from your eventual salary. Based on the statistic that most startups fail within a few years, cash in hand is always worth more than the promise of future stock.
Thank you, Anon051020120900 -- I am honored that you're reading my blog.

12 comments:

  1. Are things really so bad that this will draw very many resumes?

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  2. Stock? How about meals? Medicinal Chemist: Will Work for Food.

    If you are an unemployed medicinal chemist in SD and you have a spouse/partner with a job, this isn't a bad way to at least keep your head and hands in the game...

    They'll get quite a bit of interest, I'd bet. Hopefully it's not a scary new trend for medicinal chemists.

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  3. I imagine that there are enough medicinal chemists in SD that have been unemployed for a while that this will draw more resumes than you might think. The thought of it sickens me and I feel like no one should subject themself to such ludicrous circumstances, but I'm fortunate to not be in the dire straits that many of my fellow medicinal chemists are in so I'm in no place to judge.

    As a side note, does anybody want to start a betting pool as to what the starting salary will be if they end up getting their funding? I'm guessing $40K.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Advice for jobseekers looking for startup work (particularly aimed at this position):

    1) Don't be enamoured with the number of zeroes in your stock amount. Know how many shares are outstanding and calculate the percent ownership of the company. If you are in "at the ground floor" and no pay as this guy says, you should probably be looking at double digit ownership. It could be up to 50% depending on how much experience you bring and how many partners are already on board.

    2) Find out what kind of stock you have. There are different types of stock and stock options. Make sure you get founders stock in this case. The differences are in payout order. When investors come in and you have regular employee stock options, you don't get paid until everyone who put money in gets their original investment. Founders stock puts you somewhere at the front of the line.

    3) Make sure your "strike price" is almost zero. The strike price is what you pay for options. Some places will make you pay that up front, some will subtract the original strike price from your future earnings. Figure out what your plan is.

    4) Make sure you negotiate your eventual salary and put everything in writing. If this is a good potential company, make sure you decouple the stock from your eventual salary. Based on the statistic that most startups fail within a few years, cash in hand is always worth more than the promise of future stock.


    That being said, the entrepreneurial world is exciting, but filled with people trying to get a quick buck. Always make sure you look out for yourself first, and remember that Facebook/Instagram/NextBigThing,Inc is the exception, not the rule (especially in the chemistry world).

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Really well written and thank you for all the information!

      Chemjobber - while I appreciate you drawing attention to the job posting, following it up with some information like this, definitely makes the post more useful.

      Delete
    2. More information can be found here regarding employee equity amongst other startup issues:

      http://mba-mondays.pandamian.com/tableofcontents/

      The relevant equity chapters are 35-43.

      Delete
  5. Not that this makes this job any more salable, but there ARE laid-off Pharma folks in the area, and I'm sure a few of them even have severance packages that they can (temporarily) utilize to keep afloat while they make a few compounds for this company. But, were it me accepting this offer, I'd want a very discrete timeline, i.e., I'll shill for you for 3 months, but after that, funding or bust.

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  6. Must be tough getting used to eating stock for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Not to mention wearing stock khakis and shirts.

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  7. Using reagents with carcinogen warning labels and maybe a few cyanide reactions all without health insurance, sounds like an awesome opportunity!

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  8. Wow. Sadly, this company will likely get dozens of CVs from people who don't realize just how little stock in a private biotech is actually worth (even before the inevitable massive reverse split that will happen).

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  9. Would this count as a $0 Salary in the ACS survey? Sure would skew the results.

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  10. This is just sad. I bet the founder/president will pay himself first when he gets the funding and layoff the chemists who helped him in the initial phase to hire some Chinese postdocs who will work for cheap.

    ReplyDelete