Julia Evans

Talking about stock options = awesome

I wrote Do the math on your stock options a few days ago, on how I misunderstood how stock options worked when I took my current job. Then I went back to work, with a lot of new questions about how stock options work at my job specifically! This was on Monday.

I had a lot of questions, so I started by asking a few questions in a Slack channel for asking executives questions. I got a super useful answer right away! It turns out that equity is an extremely popular topic so the discussion got split off into a new channel called #equity. IT’S AWESOME GUYS. It’s been like.. 2 days, and people have asked a ton of questions and had a lot of discussions and learned a lot. A quarter of the company joined the channel immediately.

It turns out that talking about confusing equity / compensation issues in public channels at work is awesome. It means everyone can benefit from the discussion, and everyone realizes that nobody else fully understands what’s going on. People with more experience can share what they know, and people with less experience can ask all their questions!

so far it’s been like a day and I’ve learned

  • that Pinterest maybe isn’t actually removing the 90-day exercise limit right away, and why it’s complicated
  • that nobody is totally sure how US stock options work in Canada (or internationally, generally)
  • what the company’s liquidation preferences for investors look like
  • that the company may or may not offer early exercise and uh.. actually I haven’t learned this. But now I know that other people also don’t know! I’ll probably find out soon.
  • how/whether other companies let their employees sell stock while private (people talked about what they’ve heard or seen elsewhere)
  • that some companies use other equity compensation structures (like tandem SARs) that are not so expensive for employees.

6 people have messaged me to say how much they appreciate the open discussion of the topic. The lawyers / founders / finance people / people who actually know the real answers seem pretty willing to answer questions so far.

I was originally worried that asking questions that amount to “what can I do with my stock options if I quit?” would somehow be a bad idea or perceived badly. But mostly everyone seems really delighted to talk about it. It’s great.

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