Dan Birken


Introducing Friendly Options

01 Jul 2016

Friendly Options is an open source website which is designed to help you ask the right questions and give you assistance in understanding and evaluating stock option grants. Here is a report from a sample stock option grant.

Stock options are complicated. First and foremost they are a bet on the future, which will always be an unknown. But often times the uncertainty is made worse when companies do not give all the information necessary for a prospective employee to fully understand what their stock option grant could be worth.

The situation reminds me a little bit of car shopping. Whether I am thinking of buying a Ford Mustand, Dodge Truck or Honda Civic, I can look into the window and see one of these:

I don’t have to have a conversation with the salesperson where they spin the fuel efficieny in whatever way they think will be most enticing. The MPG figures are standard and are displayed in the same way regardless of what car I’m looking at.

So too should there be a standard way to compare stock option grants from different companies. Though perhaps the key aspect of stock options is unknown, how they will do in the future, much is known: We know how many shares we are getting and their exercise price. We know how many total shares the company has (though often times the company wont tell you right upfront). We know when our stock options expire and what that might mean for the pitfalls of exercising them in the future.

Enter Friendly Options. Input the information from your stock option grant (or better yet, let your potential employer do it and send you a link), and you’ll get the information broken down in ways you can understand. If nothing else, it will help give you the courage to ask all the questions you need to evaluate a stock option grant.

The goal for Friendly Options is that no matter what company you are getting an offer from, you can input the stock option grant information and get an impartial and detailed explanation of what that offer means. It should be just as useful if you are an expert on stock option plans or you don’t know anything.

This initial version probably does not meet these goals, but hopefully it is a good start. Please open an issue if something is broken or confusing and I can make it better. If you are really in a really helpful mood then feel free to open a pull request.

Technical Notes

Friendly Options is completely client side and no information you type in will be sent to any server. If you create a report you can share the link with anybody and they will be able to view the same report. Obviously the link itself will contain whatever information you enter, but it wont be sent to the Friendly Options server.

You can access it via the website or clone the repo and run it on your local machine.