LinkedIn, Microsoft and “Stock-based Compensation”

I just had someone send me an article titled “REASON BEHIND THE MICROSOFT-LINKEDIN DEAL”. The premise behind that article is that stock-based compensation (the accounting term for this piece of the compensation pie) was a major driver behind LinkedIn’s decision to be acquired by Microsoft. LinkedIn did use stock-based compensation more heavily than many companies, but that alone would not be a good reason to desire an acquisition at a value significantly less than the 52 week high. Stock-based compensation includes virtually any type of pay where the individual gets ownership in the company at some discount to the value and it is eventually owned in full by them. In order for stock-based compensation to factor into the decision at all, there would need to be Continue reading

A Small Problem for Compensation Professionals

6a0134836082f8970c01bb090d7e4a970d-200wiThis is not the article I intended to post today. I had something else ready to go, but realized this was more important. I am sitting in my hotel room in San Diego, California getting ready to head over for the second day of the annual WorldatWork Total Rewards Conference. Total Rewards is a BIG category.  In three days it is not possible to dive into every type and flavor of “reward”. But one important family of compensation, equity, is almost completely missing from this year’s event.

Don’t get me wrong. There are some Continue reading

How Will The New Overtime Rules Affect You?

34899216_l (2)Is your mind already racing about how the new overtime regulations will affect your company? The media is buzzing about today’s release of the U.S. Department of Labor’s new rules regarding overtime pay.  The recent DOL publication highlights the following changes: Continue reading

A Chrome Panda Predicts Demise of Stock Options

6a0134836082f8970c01b7c8585e9e970b-200wiOn May 7, 2016, it was reported that a giant chrome panda predicted the imminent crippling of stock options in the Silicon Valley. Dropbox has been a star of the unicorn sector. But, in October of 2015 and again in April of 2016, their value was written down by major mutual funds, including Fidelity. With their unicorn value and subsequent write down, they have become a high tech “canary in the coal mine” for employee stock options.

Just last month Dropbox moved into new digs in San Francisco. In their lobby, they installed a giant chrome panda (their mascot) that is meant to welcome guests with an iconic Bay Area flair of irreverence. The bad news is Continue reading

Why is it SO DIFFICULT to Get Equity Amounts Right?

6a0134836082f8970c01bb08f49b59970d-200wiLet me start this by saying that there is little new in this post. If you have been a senior compensation professional during a market downturn, this should sound familiar. If you have not had this exciting and seldom pleasant experience, buckle up and let’s go!

The main selling point of equity compensation is that it provides unequaled compensatory upside through its extreme variability, while allowing a Continue reading

UPDATE ISS Equity Plan Scorecard EPSC 2.0

untitled3Have you ever played a card game with 5-year olds? Before you start, they explain the game in vague details and provide a list of rules that are customized to their needs. Then you begin playing, doing your best to remember the rules and keep the game moving and fun for everyone. STOP!

The game is no longer fun. The 5-year has just realized that one of their rules is not beneficial to them. Because they are a kid and generally pretty darned cute, you allow the change of how the rules apply to them without comment (yet you must continue following their original rules). It doesn’t take long for Continue reading

The Lorax Explains Equity Compensation

untitledAt the narrow end of an IPO spike

where the stock market slows

and the stock options lose value and the investors say no

and RSU vesting periods continue to grow…

is the street of the equity Lorax.

And deep in this narrow place, some entrepreneurs say,

if you look deep enough you can still see today,

where the bubble once stood

Just as long as it could

Before somebody lifted the funding away.

 

What was the Equity Lorax? Continue reading

“Employee-Friendly” Equity Compensation

6a0134836082f8970c01b7c82ab74a970b-200wiIn this sixth installment of my “Stock Options on the Precipice” series (other articles: 1, 2,3, 4, 5), I will cover some common concerns employees have about equity compensation. The term “employee-friendly” equity compensation has become popular over the past couple of years. What does this mean and do the people using the term actually understand the purposes and technical issues surrounding equity compensation? More importantly, is there equity compensation that isn’t employee-friendly? Lastly, what should you be doing about it?

Part of the inspiration for Continue reading

Equity Compensation: I Have the Cure You Seek!

6a0134836082f8970c01b8d1aeb429970c-200wiIs your equity program on the fritz? Are your stock options in the dump? Could your RSUs use a bit more pep? Are your stock appreciation rights feeling a bit more like wrongs? I have got the cure for what ails you!

Like the snake oil salesmen of yesteryear there is always someone pitching some unique feature or approach that will solve all of equity compensation’s potential problems without having any side effects. And, just like the people who purchased those sometimes poisonous and sometimes pointless solutions, the buyer had better beware!

Welcome to another installment in Continue reading

How to Determine Equity Grant Sizes (it’s probably not what you think)

6a0134836082f8970c01bb08c1f798970d-200wiDetermining grant sizes or values is Part 4 and the next challenge in my ongoing series, “Stock Options on the Precipice”. At some point, you will arrive at a place where you will need to determine award sizes. There have been times where this was less difficult than it is right now. And, there will never be a time where this is as formulaic and consistent as base pay amounts.

The first question is whether grants should be based on a percentage of the company, a given number of shares or options or a dollar value converted into a grant amount. Much of this depends on Continue reading