About 6 months ago, I started a role at a mid-stage tech startup. As part of my compensation, I got around $50,000 of options, a pretty typical amount for my role, experience, and the size and stage of the company.

Since then, my life circumstances and priorities changed (nothing dramatic), and I realized I'd rather have cash than options.

Is this a fair request for me to make, what's the right way to ask for this, and what's the right amount to ask for? Because of the vesting schedule and risk, my first instinct was to ask for a $12,500 raise beginning at my one-year mark and a $12,500 bonus on the same day, figuring it's similar in structure and average payout to the options.

  • Stock option is not equivalent to cash. $50,000 today could be worth 50M or 50 next year, depending on the status of the company. – scaaahu Apr 17 '18 at 6:51
  • I skipped over that math; I actually estimated a 1/10 chance of a significant liquidity event and a 10x expected gain. – Anonymous 847231 Apr 17 '18 at 15:16

You can ask, but I think your chances are not too good.

When a startup gives you options, then they consider two cases: Either the startup fails, then the options are worthless and don't cost them anything. Or the startup succeeds, then the company has lots of money and paying out the option doesn't hurt. Your suggestion will cost them money at a time when money is tight, which is something they really want to avoid.

  • Further, an option doesn't cost the employer anything in terms of current cash flow, while a raise and bonus both do (and more than the actual amount you receive, thanks to taxes, etc). Hence the popularity in the world of cash-strapped startups. – dwizum Apr 17 '18 at 13:06
  • This is only half true; options still show up on the P&L. – Anonymous 847231 Apr 17 '18 at 15:14
  • I understand what you're saying, especially for early-stage startups, but the amount I'd ask for is less than 10% of my salary. It'd be a problem if everyone did it, but for one out of 100 employees, it's noise. – Anonymous 847231 Apr 17 '18 at 15:20

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