One thing that used to bug me, working at larger companies, was how hiring was always predicated on an antagonistic relationship. From the employer's perspective, they want to get the employee as cheaply as possible. The employee, obviously, wants to get paid as much as possible. So you've got two entities whose goals are at odds, and you end up in a fairly intense, high-stakes negotiation that has an impact throughout not just that person's employment, but the arc of the rest of their career.
It's a weird way to start a long-term relationship with a company. "Could I have done better?" "Did I get a bad deal?" Why should these be questions? At the last job I had before starting up my own startup in 2009, I got to a point where I was leading the design team, and I started interviewing for other designers. I found that the folks I was *interviewing* were asking for salaries that were sometimes double what I was making. It led me to interview elsewhere & then ask for a *significant* raise. Even though they ended up giving me that raise, it didn't erase the idea that they weren't looking out for me - they would be perfectly happy for me to be radically underpaid.
That's not what I want out of an employer-employee relationship. Not as an employee, and not as an employer.
And yes, this means that I'm not going to be getting employees "as cheaply as possible". But it means that they will know that I am doing my best to look out for their interests. That we will do our very best to ensure that people are compensated as fairly as possible, and that we're in this together. It's not "us" against "you". We will succeed or fail together, and I want to make sure that while we're in the process of fighting for success, you never, ever think, "Gee - I should have negotiated harder."
To that end, we're totally open about how much money we have in the bank, and exactly what that means. We'll put our cards on the table, and nothing's hidden. You know what's going on, why it's going on, what it means to us, and why we're making the decisions we're making. We can talk all day long about whether we're making the right calls or not - that's the kind of relationship we want to foster - but there shouldn't be any point where you wonder what might have been if only you had negotiated harder.
We're building a team. That process starts from the beginning.