Startups will look to invest in more revenue-generating roles such as sales, business development, and marketing and public relations (PR) in 2023 as companies refocus on the path to profitability, said a report on Tuesday.

As companies focus on the path to profitability and positive cash flow this year, the top three functions that companies prioritize hiring for in 2023 across markets are engineering, business development (BD) and sales, and marketing and PR, according to the Southeast Asia Startup Talent Report 2023 launched by Glints and Monk’s Hill Ventures (MHV).

Additionally, while salaries continue to increase, the report said that the growth rate will be much lower than in previous years, from upwards of 30 percent to 10 percent-20 percent per annum.

The report also found the tech talent crunch persists in Southeast Asia, with tech roles remaining high in demand, earning on average 38 percent more than non-tech roles.

Meanwhile, cash still prevails over equity in the region. While 86 percent of companies surveyed offer employee stock ownership plan (ESOP), on average, ESOP is only made available to one-third of their talent.

According to the report, median chief executive officer base salary grew 2.4 times for those that raised $0-5 million rounds compared to 2021 as companies raise larger rounds.

More chief executive officers are taking greater equity dilution, likely due to current headwinds.

A 5 percent drop in equity was seen for CEOs in the $5-10 million funding stage compared to 2021.

The report also found that engineering remains the most sought-after tech function, with the vice presdient of engineering making upwards of $235,200 annually.

Specialized skills such as product and data are also highly attractive to employers.

After engineering, talent in product and data is the highest-paid, according to the report.

The report also noted that product managers saw the biggest salary increase, making 27 percent more than in 2021.

It also found that hybrid work is becoming the status quo, with 45 percent of startups offering hybrid work and 12 percent offering remote work options to employees across markets.

According to the report, Singapore remains the most expensive market to hire tech talent, with engineers paid 3 times higher than in Indonesia and Vietnam.

Product managers are also paid 3 times higher in Singapore than in Indonesia and Vietnam.

“Attracting and building high-performance teams remain top of mind for founders and their teams – particularly in a climate where founders and their teams have to do more with less while achieving positive unit economics,” said Oswald Yeo, Cofounder and Chief Executive Officer of Glints.

According to him, there is still much more to do to provide the tools for employers and talent in startups to make informed decisions about their talent strategy.

“This report is hopefully one step forward in supporting the community as we believe the strongest founders, talent, and companies will emerge from Southeast Asia in this era of
sustainable growth,” he added.

Peng T. Ong, Co-Founder and Managing Partner of MHV, said there has been no better time to build high-performing teams in Southeast Asia.

Despite headwinds, he said the region is poised for growth with tech innovations taking center stage and investments flowing in to back this stream of sustainable growth.

“There is a lot of ground to cover for startups to attract and retain top talent in the current climate,

“I am confident that the report will be a crucial catalyst in helping founders make informed decisions about navigating hiring strategy,” he added.

The reports analyzed over 10,000 data points for tech startup roles in Singapore, Indonesia, and Vietnam from Glints’ and MHV’s databases. It received more than 150 C-suites and founder data points.

The report also conducted a talent survey with over 500 tech and non-tech talent working in startups and 2023 hiring sentiment survey with 58 startups in Singapore, Indonesia, and Vietnam.

In-depth interviews were conducted with over 40 founders, venture capitals, and operators, mainly from Singapore, Indonesia, and Vietnam.

Founders in Thailand, Malaysia, and the Philippines also contributed additional perspectives.

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