Startup vs. Giant: Tech Workers Weigh in on Company Size

With unemployment near a record low and tech workers in particularly high demand, this group has lots of options when it comes to choosing a job. One major consideration is company size: Should they work for a smaller startup or a tech titan?

When we think of the tech world, we often think of it as binary: composed of tiny incubators hoping their idea is the next big thing, on the one hand, and behemoth corporations with a city-sized campus on the other. But this excludes all the companies in between.

As hiring gets harder, especially in tech, we wanted to know whether employees prefer working for small, medium or large companies. So we surveyed 1,000 tech workers to learn what influences their inclinations.

Small companies are most common, but large companies employ the most people

When it comes to the sheer number of companies, the U.S. is a small-business nation: almost 98% of firms have fewer than 100 employees. Medium-sized firms (100 to 999 employees) make up about 2% of all U.S. companies, while large firms (1,000 or more employees) only comprise 0.2%.* 

But when we look at employment numbers, the distribution is different — large firms employ almost half the population (46%), followed by small firms (35%) and medium-sized firms (20%).

Here’s a look at the percentage of firms and employees by company size:

Tech workers prefer medium-sized companies to behemoths and small firms

Though medium-sized companies employ the fewest workers nationwide, this is the most popular company size among tech workers, preferred by 44%. This is followed by large companies (28%) and small companies (22%).

Personal priorities impact company selection 

To figure out why people have the preferences they do, we explored the job attributes and benefits tech workers associate with different sized companies. 

When asked what factors are most important to them in a role, tech workers say job stability; flexibility and work-life balance; and salary. But when we break this down by company size preference, we see different priorities emerge:

  • Those who want to work for a small company say it’s due to the flexibility and work-life balance they believe the company can offer.
  • Those with a preference for medium-sized companies say it’s because of job stability.
  • Those who prefer working for a large company say it’s due to the superior benefits and perks.

Now, let’s dig deeper into the details and look at companies that are doing things well.

Workers prefer large companies for benefits and perks

For tech workers who want to work at a large company, this preference is often based on a belief that these firms offer greater job benefits than small or medium-sized enterprises do.

The one exception? Having a big impact on the company. Those who prefer a small (35%) or medium-sized company (35%) believe their work will have a significant impact at these firms. In comparison, only 30% of those who want to work for a big company believe this.  

The most important factors for those who want to work at large companies are salary and benefits. Whether you work for a large or…

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