How is it that so many people associated with startups reap the financial benefits, yet others just as close get no financial upside This is a source of frustration among many people in the startup sphere. Imagine if you’re in Silicon Valley right now with no equity in a tech startup, but associated with several people getting six figure “bonuses” because they somehow wound up with some stock in one.
The free parties (or not free) and swag and great stories and boat rides in the bay are nice. Sometimes you’ll even score an iPad or Apple TV, but it’s not the same as being one of the insiders.
Often as startups grow and maneuver their way through the jungle of success or failure, they have a lot of help from those around them.
Often many these people don’t have any equity or upside from their advise or moral support or money lending, or even the spare couch they let you sleep on when you were in their town.
If the startup actually makes it to an IPO, there is actually something you can do.
It’s called the “Greenshoe”. You have to be very careful about this, you can’t imply or promise anything in advance, and it only works when the company goes public, but the Greenshoe is an amazing award for those involved that don’t have equity.
The Greenshoe is an over-allotment of stock options, up to 15% of the total offering at time of IPO. You can offer these options to virtually anyone, friends, family, people who helped your company. Since they’re options, acquirers only exercise if the stock goes up, and have no downside risk or capital outlay.
Upon the IPO event, the option owner can gain the upside if the stock goes up over the initial offering price and essentially collect that difference.
I’ve used it a few times when I was lucky enough to be able to offer it to friends and family. Strangely enough, some people have declined, because they’re not sure it’s legal; they’ve never heard of it. Others have bought themselves a new Lexus with it.
Here’s more info on wikipedia:
The Greenshoe should provide motivation for all of us in the startup world to try to continuously build our company steadily, continuously and profitably and to know that you can make many peoples lives a little bit better by sharing the wealth. The rewards are pretty amazing.
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