Will I quit my SWE Job at Meta/FB to work at Manifold Markets?
70%
chance
Jul 31
M$3,620 bet
I've been working at Facebook/Meta since 2019. I've been interested in prediction markets for years now, and have been following Manifold Markets ever since I found out about them in the ACX grant post. I made some moves to build a Prediction Market style platform in the same space a few months ago, but ultimately couldn't get it off the ground as a part-time thing. WHY I'M INTERESTED IN JOINING: - I'm very bullish on the potential of prediction markets. - I can see how Manifold Markets could become a massive success. Their frictionless market creation makes it obviously superior to its competitors in my book, as well as the ability to add liquidity to a market without affecting it. - The killer feature in my opinion will be markets with a real money prize-pool. I was excited to see that in their roadmap, under "Subsidized markets for information (see: Metaculus Tournament on AI Risk)". - While I think there's a lot of value in play-currencies, I'm excited to hear their plans for A) " A fully decentralized non-custodial prediction market platform on Solana" and B) "An easy-to-use fully-custodial prediction market platform". - As the presumably first non-founding engineer, I'd expect to be offered significant equity, which I could see becoming very valuable. - The company is fully remote, which is important for me (I currently WFH). - The company has significant runway after securing 2M in their seed round. WHY I MIGHT NOT END UP JOINING - I haven't talked to anybody in the team yet as of 5/11/2022. - There's no offer on the table as of 5/11/2022, and don't know yet if they'll be interested. - I don't know if they can offer a compensation package that is competitive with an IC5 Facebook package. - While I fit the job requirements, I haven't had experience working at a startup. - I'm very rusty with Leetcode style questions, so I'm hoping the founders find them silly (as do I). - The vast majority of early-startup fails, which would make this a much riskier move that staying at Facebook. 5/11/2022: - Set up a Zoom call with Austin Chen tomorrow at 5:30pm. 5/12/2022 : More details in the comments :) - Had a call with Austin and James, which went great and made me much more interested in joining. - There's no offer on the table yet, but they'd be happy to do a 1-month trial period (compensated) and then put forward an offer if it goes well. I'm 90% confident it'd go well. - We briefly touched on potential compensation, and the datapoint they shared was very fair in terms of equity while lower than I expected in terms of salary. - We talked about the roadmap and they were very open to my ideas. - In terms of timing, they suggested I do a trial period starting June 14 (when I'm back from holiday), which I am very keen on doing. Close date updated to 2022-07-31 11:59 pm 5/13/2022: I've grown more excited to join - I've just reached out to Austin and James via email to talk about starting that trial period in mid-June, depending on agreeing on comp. 5/24/2022: Agreed with Austin to start the Trial Period on June 13. From my side, I'm strongly leaning towards joining, whether I like the company culture during the trial period (plus agreeing on comp) will be what convinces me. From their side, It'll depend on how I do during the trial period. 5/26/2022: Had a call with Stephen to make introductions. We discussed my technical background, and talked about the direction of the platform. On my request, It's looking like instead of an extended 4 week work trial, they might be willing to do a round of technical interviews. I've been looking at their codebase and I'm confident I can be productive there from the get-go
FRCassarino

FRCassarino 2 days ago

5/26/2022: Had a call with Stephen to make introductions. We discussed my technical background, and talked about the direction of the platform. On my request, It's looking like instead of an extended 4 week work trial, they might be willing to do a round of technical interviews. I've been looking at their codebase and I'm confident I can be productive there from the get-go
FRCassarino

FRCassarino 2 days ago

oops meant to add this tl;dr to the description
FRCassarino

FRCassarino 2 days ago

5/26/2022: Had a call with Stephen to make introductions. We discussed my technical background, and talked about the direction of the platform. I checked my employment contract yesterday, and found that I'll need to give 4 weeks notice if I do end up resigning. This would slow down things considerably. It'd mean a 4 week trial period part time, then the offer, and another 4 week part time period while I run down my notice. I don't think I could work 2 jobs for 8 weeks without being very burn out by the end. On my request, It's looking like instead of an extended 4 week work trial, they might be willing to do a round of technical interviews. This sounds great to me - but it does mean they'll base their decision on a smaller sample size, so do adjust your bets accordingly. I've been looking at their codebase and I'm confident I can be productive there from the get-go. ~50% of my current job is full-stack web development, and we share some of the same stack - React, Javascript + Flow (instead of Typescript). They chose an unconventional architecture (they run almost everything on the client side as opposed to a traditional MVC), but it seems fairly straightforward. I'll suggest the technical interviews to consist of tasks within their codebase.
NuñoSempere

Nuño Sempere bought M$900 of YES3 days ago

Seems about even now
FRCassarino

FRCassarino 4 days ago

5/24/2022: Agreed with Austin to start the Trial Period on June 13. From my side, I'm strongly leaning towards joining, whether I like the company culture during the trial period (plus agreeing on comp) will be what convinces me. From their side, It'll depend on how I do during the trial period.
Austin

Austin is betting YES at 29% 14 days ago

We're fully remote and don't have a ton of meetings, but we do have a daily standup at 11am PT. Happy to work with different schedules and countries! Non US workers may getting a different set of benefits (primarily, we may engage as a contractor for logistical reasons) but we'd expect to put forth a very competitive package too, including equity for a longterm, fulltime hire.
Undox

Undox is betting NO at 29% 14 days ago

Austin thanks for that level of transparency. It is a big “green” (good!) flag in my book. In that note can you say what your thinking is on timezones and different countries. My time zone for example would allow a 1-2 hr overlap with a SF typical day. And paying international adds some complications. Is it something you would consider. I think many abroad would also be interested in the answer.
Austin

Austin is betting YES at 28% 14 days ago

Also, for the benefit of anyone else wondering, the comp datapoint we're thinking of is $160k base, 2% equity for a founding engineer role. Of course, dependent on skillset, experience, etc etc. And fwiw the founders take $99k base, and have ~22% equity each.
agrippa

agrippa is betting NO at 29% 14 days ago

@Austin Very cool level of transparency, would be interests in updates on whether you regret this in the future.
Undox

Undox is betting NO at 29% 13 days ago

@agrippa well needless to say you can create a market for that exact question. I would think 20% or lower
Austin

Austin is betting YES at 28% 14 days ago

Federico had some excellent questions to ask -- thought I'd post them here as well, along with my responses! 1- How much runway does your current funding give you? We have ~2.5m in the bank and are currently spending ~$100k month, mostly on salaries; so ~2 years. That said, I wouldn't be surprised if we doubled our team size over the course of the next year, so about 1-1.5 years of funding seems more realistic. See: https://manifoldmarkets.notion.site/Cash-Runway-6ca41a0d6d1f4485b19b5494e4423dd1 (Wish we had a public dashboard for this; someday for a hackathon project!) 2- What equity vesting schedule do you have in mind for employees? Our founder equities vest monthly over a 4 year period, no cliff. We'd expect to offer the same to employees who join after a 1-month work trial, as they've been significantly de-risked in terms of whether we'd be a good fit to work together. Thinking that we'd offer extended exercise windows too (something like 7 years?). Some of this is depending on how tricky it is to get the paperwork for it, but we expect to use Pulley for this and for it not to be too hard. 3- Would you be happy to share any of your current growth metrics? Of course! They're public here: https://manifold.markets/analytics Of these, DAU is probably the one we track most closely, but all in all we don't use these metrics religiously; we're still early enough in the product cycle that we steer by intuition rather than data. 4- Your seed-round memo says you're hoping to raise a Series A in 1 year, if you achieve your traction goals. Anything to share on this topic, your general confidence levels, etc? Hm nothing special to share, beyond what we communicate/ship all the time. Since the seed round we've mostly gone on to do a few projects that we've thought would be important underpinnings; primarily: - Doubling team size - Open sourcing - Withdrawing to charity - Fixing new user experience These don't directly lead to more growth, but starting soon and over the next two months we expect to be working on a variety of growth levels. General confidence levels feel quite high; I own YES shares on https://manifold.markets/Austin/will-manifold-ever-be-worth-1b but NO shares on https://manifold.markets/Austin/will-manifold-ever-be-worth-1t-10 (though frankly, a 1% chance of a 1T company is pretty bonkers)
FRCassarino

FRCassarino 15 days ago

[LONG] Austin, James: I thought it'd be a cool futarchy-ish experiment to be super transparent with the market, but please let me know if you're iffy about this and I'll just share much less and keep our communications fully private :) 5/12/2022: - Had a call with Austin and James. I thought it went really well. They sound like brilliant guys, that are very passionate about what they are doing, and they came off as kind and straightforward. We talked quite a bit about the prize-pool idea, which they thought was cool and are eager to give it a shot. From their side, they asked about my previous experience and the kind of projects I enjoy working on, and as far as I can tell its a great fit for the company. I'm also very excited with the scrappy "lets figure out a way to grow every week" vibe. We discussed starting with a part-time trial period starting June 14, which I'm very much eager to do. We touched on potential compensation very briefly - I won't share specific numbers. I found the equity side to be fair (although we didn't touch on the vesting schedule), and the salary on the low-side. In terms of expected total compensation for the next year, it can't compete with a FB E5 salary, but obviously there's a larger potential upside if Manifold makes it to another funding round and beyond. To be clear, **THERE'S NO ACTUAL OFFER YET**, they just shared a comp datapoint, and I haven't yet discussed how flexible it is. Overall, I'm very keen on joining but pretty terrified about the risky nature of joining a very early startup that doesn't yet have product market fit, especially during a recession-ish period. I have very high conviction on the promise of prediction markets long term, but I'm weary of my biases to have convictions on Manifold's medium-term survival. From an outside view , only 20-30% of seeded companies make it to Series A, and only 7% end up with a successful exit. But of course, from an inside view I'm very hopeful based on their roadmap (Thanks for sharing those links Austin!), plus their eagerness to let me work on some of my moonshot ideas. At the same time, I'm very happy working on VR at Facebook, find it very exciting, and enjoy the job security and growth opportunities. Ultimately I've thought about 2-3 very clear paths for me to join, depending on comp/timing/trial-period, but I'd rather discuss those privately with the founders.
mqp

Marshall Polaris 15 days ago

@FRCassarino If you are a talented programmer working on VR at Facebook, why on earth would you be even slightly terrified about working for a startup that might vanish in a year? Don't you think you can just walk into twenty other similar quality jobs one week later (or even your old job again?) I'm not being glib, it sounds like a minor inconvenience at worst.
FRCassarino

FRCassarino 15 days ago

@mqp I'd like to think so (FB specifically just froze almost all hiring, but I that should hopefully not last long), but you never know. Terrified was too hyperbolic a term. A lot of it is just that I'm happy with my current team and role. One other factor though: - Currently at the London office, but planning to transfer to the NYC office on an L1B visa in the coming months if I stay. That would not be an option if I were to boomerang back (H1B is unlikely, etc).
Austin

Austin is betting YES at 29% 16 days ago

Austin

Austin is betting YES at 29% 16 days ago

Since you asked about our roadmap: we don't have this in a super-easy-to-parse manner atm (working on making this more public!), but here's all the things we're currently working on, as well as things we're dreaming about: https://manifoldmarkets.notion.site/8eb7613a7a2d498db06a6b3bb027bb44?v=b9299ceec5634bf1b7639867d75ffe10 https://manifoldmarkets.notion.site/Proposals-739051f84623494fbd77ed0e7dea3eb3
agrippa

agrippa bought M$10 of NO16 days ago

Re: "A fully decentralized non-custodial prediction market platform on Solana", we are building this with funding from an FTX regrant (tentatively named Precog). In the near future (post-May) we want to start meaningfully decentralizing the project and fund contributions outside the founding team.
FRCassarino

FRCassarino 16 days ago

@agrippa Saw this in one of your markets - I'm eager to see it materialize.
Austin

Austin is betting YES at 28% 16 days ago

@agrippa yeah, Precog is pretty cool! Tentatively, if Manifold were to do a crypto thing we'd probably manage the wallets though. Wallets impose too much friction otherwise. And by custodial I'm open to the option of "Firebase is our source of truth, which we write to a blockchain from time to time". My guess is this is basically what Coinbase and FTX do.
agrippa

agrippa is betting NO at 29% 15 days ago

@Austin What would be the value of using crypto but managing the wallets? Just the benefit of letting other people make apps that don't manage the wallets, but share the markets?
Austin

Austin is betting YES at 29% 15 days ago

@agrippa The same value that Coinbase and FTX provide over Metamask - much better user experience, while still being able to withdraw your crypto at the end of the day. This is also what polymarket does right? Less sure about this, I haven't used Polymarket myself.
mqp

Marshall Polaris 15 days ago

@Austin No, Polymarket operates using a managed wallet associated with your email address. Extremely strongly suggest to you that you spend some time using Polymarket and seeing what you think of the UX. I also suggest joining the Discord to get a sense for how people behave when there is serious money at stake. I updated a lot about prediction markets based on my experience trying Polymarket.
agrippa

agrippa is betting NO at 28% 15 days ago

Pretty sure Polymarket supports both managed and unmanaged wallet. Managed wallet sounds mighty custodial to me.
agrippa

agrippa is betting NO at 28% 15 days ago

(And custodial real-money prediction market sounds like something I would not do or propose doing). Interested to know more about how it works at Polymarket, and what risks this exposes them to.
mqp

Marshall Polaris 15 days ago

@agrippa When I used Polymarket, it used https://magic.link/ for this stuff.
Undox

Undox is betting NO at 30% 16 days ago

I appreciated the liquidity, was a nice surprise to not need to do another M$5 bet on a new market!
JamesGrugett

James Grugett bought M$5 of YES16 days ago

Sweet, this is the best kind of job application! Good luck, I hope you join us!
Austin

Austin bought M$20 of YES16 days ago

... "Hit enter" got the best of me. It's bad because the probability doesn't reflect people coming in and placing their bets. Looking forward to chatting today! Betting up this market just because you actually took the time to set up a prediction market~
FRCassarino

FRCassarino 16 days ago

@Austin Hey! I added liquidity in the hope that it would incentivize people to bet more; they just need to beat my very arbitrary initial probability. As far as I can see the liquidity is not immediately visible anywhere though. Looking forward to chatting.
Austin

Austin is betting YES at 30% 16 days ago

@FRCassarino Yeah - sorry, to be clear, you absolutely were correct in wanting to promote your market by adding liquidity, and I'm saying that we should do a better job of explaining the tradeoffs. Notably, adding liquidity is not a purely good thing for buying information, because it can make it too hard for bettors to move the market... Nothing is ever the user's fault, it's always the UI/system's fault!
FRCassarino

FRCassarino 16 days ago

@Austin I'm particularly excited about the "buying information" side of prediction markets. Is there a mechanism to promote your own market that gets around that trade-off? One way would be to add a M$ prize-pool to a question that doesn't affect the market price, but that gets distributed to bettors in proportion to their earnings in the market. That was the idea I was playing around with a few months ago. You could make it a real $USD prize-pool rather than $M, as there's no gambling involved.
FRCassarino

FRCassarino 16 days ago

Ex: User A and B each earn 50 M$ on a market (they are the only winners). But the market has a 200USD prize-pool, so they each take 100USD home.
Austin

Austin is betting YES at 30% 16 days ago

@FRCassarino oh, I really like this idea! I'm not sure how close this gets to the line of online gambling if we allow anyone to use USD for this purpose. But yeah allowing anyone to create and subsidize their own tournaments on Manifold would be really really awesome!
FRCassarino

FRCassarino 16 days ago

@Austin If we forget for a second that you can buy M$, it's very clear it's not gambling. Bettors can't ever bet their own money, there's only upside. It's analogous to any game with a prize-pool. It gets murkier with paid M$, I'm not familiar enough with gambling regulation to know if that'd apply.
Austin

Austin 16 days ago

I'm super curious why there's so much liquidity in this market -- in some sense it's kind of bad, because it means