Are we really worth 3.5 million?

A news (I use this term loosely) article recently came across TechCrunch about a Google engineer being offered $3.5 million in restricted stock to not leave for Facebook.  Now, I was alway taught to not undervalue myself, and I completely agree with that line of thought.  However, 3.5 million is ridiculous.  How many startups could you fund with that kind of money?  How many lives could be saved through research, aid, or vaccines?   How much good could be done with $3.5 million?

I understand that this may just be a rumor (it is TechCrunch after all), but it brings up a good point.  As programmers we’ve been taught that our skills are irreplaceable, but I don’t believe that.  Yes we have a hard job, and being good at what we do is even harder, but we’re not worth $3.5 million.  $100,000 for a good programmer, sure.  $500,000 for a “rock star”, maybe. But never $3.5 million.

Google is afraid of losing talent, but this seems like a knee-jerk reaction.  There will always be brilliant engineers who want to work for Google, so I say let him/her go.  Put that $3.5 million to use somewhere it can make a difference, not in the pocket of someone who likely already has a ton of cash.  Besides, if this person is leaving for Facebook, they are probably burnt out or looking for a new challenge anyways.  It happens, and no amount of money will change the fact that they are probably going to leave after their contract is up anyways.