An Open Letter to the Employee Stock Options My Company Gave Me

by Rebecca Pederson

Dear Stock Options,

Please do not take this the wrong way, but you terrify me.

When I took this tech company job two years ago, I had just graduated from college and moved to San Francisco on a whim. I had less than a hundred dollars in my bank account. I was living in my boyfriend’s parents’ basement that doubles as an antique Jewish bookstore, where I slept on a lumpy mattress between the washer/dryer and last year’s sukkah.

Before I met you, I didn’t know stocks existed for people like me. I thought they were only for red-faced Wall Street guys in dress shirts with rolled up sleeves, high on obscene amounts of wealth and cocaine. So when my HR department told me my new job came with an “executive compensation package” full of “non-transferable employee stock options” I could “accrue” more of over time, I said, “Neat!” and then promptly forgot the conversation because I had no idea what that meant.

But now I’m more of a grown-up, as you can see by the fact that I moved out of my boyfriend’s parents’ basement and have a dog. I think that, as a grown-up, it’s time I address the confusing nature of our relationship.

The thing is, I don’t understand you at all. You are like Monopoly money to me. In theory, I can use you to buy all the railroads, gleefully tax everyone into the poorhouse, and then laugh about it later with Thimble and Top Hat over cocktails in our high-rise on Park Place.

But the reality is, I went to UC Santa Cruz, where I majored in Modern Literary Studies with a concentration in Smoking Pot In The Woods. Economics courses were not a part of that curriculum.

I guess I’m just looking for some advice on how to handle “us.” I feel like we’d appreciate one another more if I could turn you from hypothetical money into real money I could spend on a plane ticket to New Zealand. You’d like that too, right?

So, humor me: What does it mean to “exercise” you? I just don’t know what I need to do to make you happy.

I think we need to open up our relationship and invite a financial advisor into bed.

Tied to you forever,

Rebecca Pederson is an editor at Yelp. Her Aunt Leslie loves her blog.

Support The Billfold

The Billfold continues to exist thanks to support from our readers. Help us continue to do our work by making a monthly pledge on Patreon or a one-time-only contribution through PayPal.