Saturday, June 04, 2011

The Anatomy of Post Tech Bubble Stock Options

Live and learn people. My experience with stock options and employee stock purchase programs within tech companies has not been good. Let me recount to you the tale of my most recent experience. I won't mention the companies name as web crawlers will bring it to their attention that I wrote about them but those of you who know me know which company I'm speaking of.

Over the years of working for said company I had been granted countless stock options, 10's of 1000's actually. Throughout the course of said employment those stock options took on many strange forms with a 6 to 1 trade in, a revaluation program and several others - all which I can assure you were of no benefit to the actual employee. As a few examples I had about 10,000 options which were about to vest @ $1.00 per share and they were re-valued down to 1,500 valued at $3.50 per share. I know I'm not a math genius but it's pretty easy to see that I was screwed. The vesting date was also changed - extended outward. The reasoning is that the company was going to go public soon and in order to keep the company value the number of outstanding shares had to be decreased. (4 years later the company still had not gone public) Shortly thereafter I was granted another large set of options @ $3.50 per share with a new four year vesting program. Bend over baby.....they are driving.

In order to raise money for G-D knows what as I cannot remember they announced an employee stock purchase program. These were for "common" stocks at you could purchase through payroll contributions @ $2.58 per share. For those of you not comfortable with stock terms, common stock is the lowliest; aka for the little guys, not the C level execs, or the board of director level people.

Shortly before the company went public in 2010 they sent a letter to all common stock shareholders that they were doing a reverse stock split of 1 to 18. Yes, I said reverse....and 1 to 18, not 18 to 1. I had 656 shares from the employee purchase, thank goodness I didn't buy anymore, and I magically ended up with 44 shares. The company went public at an IPO price of $14 per share. The stock fell in the first second to $12.75 - an indicator that it IPO'd at too high of a price. That was in April 2010 - today the stock is worth $5.01. A sad showing.

The reason for this blog post? My broker decided to sell my whopping 44 shares on May 31st at $5.01. I suppose he figured it was a losing proposition. To tell you the truth - in May of 2010 when I walked in the SMB offices with my actual stock certificates I was proud to deposit them. I was still hopeful that it was a great company with a great product and management would pull their heads out of their ass and make some money. That's embarrassing to write frankly.... So for that $1,693.00 I paid for 656 shares I ended up with 44 shares sold at a value of $195.95. The only up side of this is that I can take a loss on my 2011 taxes....and thank goodness I never actually purchased any of the stock options!

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