3 Big Takeaways from Compalluminati 2024

March 27, 2024
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3 Big Takeaways from Compalluminati 2024

Compalluminati™ 2024 was an epic event full of insight, connection, and excitement about what’s to come in the world of compensation.

Key topics

We hosted our first ever big customer event last month, Compalluminati. A day and a half of presentations, panels, networking, and happy hours, co-hosted at two of our customers’ offices, Roblox in San Mateo and Stripe in South San Francisco.

I personally was blown away by the response — 120+ compensation leaders joined us, right in the middle of comp planning season, to talk about the future of market data.

Reflecting on dozens of conversations with comp leaders, I have three big takeaways from the event:

  1. 💰 Real-time data use cases are exploding (but still new)
  2. 🤔 Stock comp is undergoing an historic rethink
  3. 🤖 AI is coming for comp

Many comp teams want to try a survey alternative like Compa, but aren’t sure how they’d use it.

As my co-founder Joe says, it’s like when the world transitioned from radio to television: at first the show hosts would simply stand in front of the microphone reading the news with the camera pointed at them. The profundity of the medium change hadn’t set in yet.

My comp team using real-time data

It’s similar for real-time market data — the data is moving far faster than the policies, workflows, and communications built on top.

But some comp teams are figuring it out!

A few of the cool use cases we heard about:

  1. Pricing emerging jobs you can’t find in surveys, like AI research
  2. “Spearfishing” — pricing one-off/difficult jobs and locations
  3. Triangulating with survey data to update pay ranges
  4. Improving TA <> Comp operating model: exception handling, location strategy, sign-ons
  5. Bringing into C-Suite / Board / leadership discussions to describe current market trends (and get support for program changes)

🤔 Stock comp is undergoing an historic rethink

Ten years ago we all dreaded an ISS no-vote recommendation. The watchdogs seem less important these days — instead, the pressure is coming from Boards and job-seekers / employees.

Boards are questioning the 4-year-standard status quo because they’re hearing from their friends on other boards that they’re spending fewer shares and seeing great early results.

While I haven’t seen an explicit quantitative study on this lately, it seems like the average job-seeker / employee is discounting stock significantly. The 3rd and 4th years may be discounted all the way to zero. Layoffs and depressed valuations engender distrust.

Many comp teams are revisiting stock comp first principles:

  • Does stock comp really have to be long-term?
  • Is it really an incentive, or just at-risk?
  • Does it match the level of risk-taking we want?
  • Is it cheaper than cash / does GAAP/non-GAAP matter?
  • Does it really drive a culture of ownership?

🤖 AI is coming for comp

No one knows how or when exactly, but they know it’s coming.

That being said, I did not meet a single compensation team who is actually using AI for compensation analysis just yet. Several people have played with ChatGPT to explain how options work (good idea, but doesn’t count 🙂). Many cited well-placed privacy and ethics concerns.

And a small handful have projects planned for later this year to try something, but the details are fuzzy.

BUT — there was near-universal consensus that the combination of (a) how laborious it is to analyze compensation data and (b) how many dollars are at stake makes AI coming to comp feel inevitable.

The value of community

When I was a comp leader, my favorite event each year was convening with a small group of tech comp leaders, usually in Monterey, to learn and talk shop.

As I often say to our team — at the end of the day, everyone is trying to answer a singular question: what is happening in the market right now? At Compa, we are building compensation intelligence products, but these only answer a fraction of this question.

Community connection answers the rest of it.

That’s why we introduced Compalluminati.

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