Among Twitter Inc's highest-paid executives, Christopher Fry's name stands out. The senior vice- president of engineering raked in $10.3m (€7.6m) last year, just behind Twitter chief executive Dick Costolo's $11.5m, according to Twitter's IPO documents.
Fry's earnings put him ahead of executives such as chief technology officer Adam Messinger, chief financial officer Mike Gupta and chief operating officer Ali Rowghani.
Welcome to Silicon Valley, where a shortage of top engineering talent amid an explosion of venture capital-backed start-ups is inflating paychecks.
"The number of A-players in Silicon Valley hasn't grown," said Iain Grant, a recruiter at Riviera Partners, which specialises in placing engineers at venture-capital backed start-ups. "But the demand for them has gone through the roof."
Stories abound about the lengths to which employers will go to attract engineering talent.
One start-up offered a coveted engineer a year's lease on a Tesla sedan, which costs in the neighbourhood of $1,000 a month, said venture capitalist Venky Ganesan.
At Hotel Tonight, which offers a mobile app for last-minute hotel bookings, CEO Sam Shank described staging the office to appear extra lively for a prospective hire. He roped in two employees for a game of ping-pong and positioned another group right by the bar.
It worked: the recruit signed on and built a key piece of the company's software.
In Fry's case, his compensation came mostly in the form of stock awards, valued last year at $10.1m, according to Twitter's IPO documents. He drew a salary of $145,513 and a bonus of $100,000.
He also drew a salary of $270,833 and a bonus of $140,344. But Facebook that year posted revenue of $3.71bn, 10 times more than Twitter's $317m.
Grant said more than three-quarters of candidates who took VP of engineering roles at his client companies over the last two years drew total cash compensation in excess of $250,000. Many also received equity grants totalling 1pc to 2pc of the company, the recruiter added.
The hot demand for engineers is driven in part by a growing number of start-ups, venture capitalists say. Some 242 Bay Area companies received early-stage funding – known as a seed round – in the first half of this year, according to consultancy CB Insights. That is more than the number for all of 2010.
Another factor is the increasing complexity of technology. Many in Silicon Valley like to discuss the lore of the "10x" engineer, who is a person so talented that he or she does the work of 10 merely competent engineers.
Fry, who joined Twitter earlier this year, fits the bill. The messaging service poached him from software giant Salesforce.com Inc, where Fry had worked in various positions since 2005, rising from engineering manager in the Web Services team to senior VP of development.
Fry joined Salesforce when it was also a six-year-old company with big ambitions of taking on the software establishment.
Fry whipped them into shape, helping to build them into one of the hottest enterprise-software providers in the industry today.
Twitter has had its share of technical problems, such as the notorious "fail whale" that regularly appeared on screens during outages.
"All it takes is a couple of bad incidents where Twitter is down, or there's a security breach. That could be the end of the company," said Chuck Ganapathi, an entrepreneur who previously worked with Fry at Salesforce, where he was senior vice-president for products.
"You need somebody of this calibre to run it."
Neither Twitter nor Fry responded to requests for comment. (Reuters)