Tag Archives: Silicon Valley


The Reason Offer Letters Don’t Include a Strike Price

A common frustration we often hear with offer letters from startups is the absence of an exercise price for the options being granted. Many people interpret this missing information as an intention by the potential employer to obfuscate. This is not the case. Only a board of directors — not the management team — can technically grant options and set their exercise prices, which is why your offer letter should say that your future employer will recommend your proposed offer  at the next board meeting. Boards typically only grant options when they meet, which for private companies can be anywhere from once a month to once a quarter depending on the company’s maturity. A 409A Is Needed to Set Fair […]

Introducing the Wealthfront Single-Stock Diversification Service

When LinkedIn went public in 2011, the company had about 1,500 employees. Traditional private wealth managers were ubiquitous on campus in their efforts to sign-up the 50 to 100 early employees and executives who met their firms’ multi-million dollar minimums. Unfortunately, that was of little help to the 1,400 other employees at the company looking for support. At Wealthfront, we believe everyone deserves sophisticated financial advice. Today, we’re launching the service I wish the entire LinkedIn team could have had access to back in 2011. Introducing the Wealthfront Single-Stock Diversification Service. This service will help solve a critical problem for many that work at public technology companies: How to best diversify concentrated holdings in your company’s stock. Such holdings are […]

The Automated Investment Service for Everyone

Wealthfront is the world’s largest and fastest-growing automated investment service (AIS). With more than $800 million in client assets under management, Wealthfront offers the most tax-efficient and low-cost index fund-based solution for long-term investors on the market. Having grown more than 700% since the start of 2013, Wealthfront now provides service to clients across all 50 states and Washington, D.C., with client accounts ranging in size from $5,000 to over $10,000,000. Wealthfront is on the leading edge of a much larger trend, one catalyzed by a new generation of younger investors. There are 90 million people in the millennial generation with an aggregate net worth of more than $2 Trillion. They have grown up with software and lived through two […]

Improving Tax Results for Your Stock Option or Restricted Stock Grant, Part 3

Wrapping It All Up: Tax Strategies In this third and final part to our series on the taxation of stock options and restricted stock units (RSUs), we’ll outline some strategies you can use to achieve better tax consequences. While the list below is definitely not comprehensive, it does cover some impactful strategies. Remember that — based on the various types of taxes described in Part 1 of this series — through good tax planning, you may be able to achieve a 19.6% improvement in your federal taxation rate. This improvement represents the difference between the federal ordinary income tax at 39.6% and the long-term capital gains rate at 20%. Early-Stage ISO Exercise and Hold While this may seem like it […]

Improving Tax Results for Your Stock Option or Restricted Stock Grant, Part 2

Applying the Tax Law to Common Employee Stock Situations In the first part of this three-part series, we discussed the four main taxes relevant to individuals. Now we’ll apply that knowledge to show what taxes would be incurred in five common situations faced by employees who work for venture-capital-backed companies. 1: Angel Investment or Founder Stock For many start-up companies, the first money in comes from angel investors or the founders themselves in exchange for preferred and common stock, respectively. In exchange for cash, investors (perhaps through a limited partnership) and founders receive shares of stock. The capital gains holding clock starts with the purchase of these shares, and it stops upon disposition of the stock. The shareholder realizes a […]

The Post-IPO Dilemma: Hedging Your Stock

If your company recently went public and your stock price has gone up significantly then you’re probably wondering how you can hedge your position. Unfortunately there’s nothing you can do while you’re still in the 180-day lock-up period. Most lockup agreements have extremely detailed restrictions included, designed to prevent almost any form of market participation with a security.  It’s too long to reproduce anything but a sample here, but it typically begins like this: In consideration of the Underwriters’ agreement to purchase and make the Public Offering of the Securities, and for other good and valuable consideration receipt of which is hereby acknowledged, the undersigned hereby agrees that, without the prior written consent of each of [names of managing underwriters], […]

WhatsApp: What an Acquisition Means for Employees

The announcement that Facebook is buying WhatsApp for $19 billion generated a lot of interest. The most popular question we received is what does the acquisition mean for the employees financially. IPOs tend to get all the headlines, but in many cases technology companies are acquired. This post will walk through the economics of an acquisition and how it affects all the parties involved. The Terms of the Deal From what I have read, Facebook will acquire WhatsApp for $4 billion in cash and approximately $12 billion worth of Facebook shares. In addition Facebook will grant $3 billion in RSUs to founders and employees that will vest over the next four years. I do not have any special insight into […]

The 14 Crucial Questions About Stock Options

Ask These 12 Questions About Your Options

In April 2012 I wrote a blog post titled The 12 Crucial Questions About Stock Options. It was meant to be a comprehensive list of option-related questions you need to ask when you receive an offer to join a private company. Based on the outstanding feedback I received from our readers on this and subsequent posts about options, I’m now expanding the original post a bit. I’ve done just a little updating and posed two new questions – hence the slight title change: The 14 Crucial Questions About Stock Options. Next time someone offers you 100,000 options to join their company, don’t get too excited. Over my 30-year career in Silicon Valley, I’ve watched many employees fall into the trap […]

100 Career Launching Technology Companies

If there is one thing we have learned from Wealthfront’s clients and our own experience in Silicon Valley, it is that picking the right place to work is the key to success. Getting equity in a mid-size, high-growth company is one of the best ways to launch your technology career and perhaps generate some wealth in the process. So today, we are proud to announce Wealthfront’s list of 100 Career Launching Technology Companies, an integral part of our first eBook. Compiled through a survey of top venture capitalists, all meet our criteria of being mid-size high-growth companies. We believe these are the companies that will generate the greatest career opportunities and the most significant potential for equity wealth in the […]

5 Tips For Silicon Valley’s Crazy Real Estate Market

Kay previously led communications at Square and LinkedIn. She is an investor in Square, Circle and Wealthfront. She writes a blog, HomeCrunch, about building a house in Palo Alto.  A version of this post appeared originally on her blog. For our other posts that shed light on local real estate, see You Need Equity In Silicon Valley, Sizing Up Your Home As An Investment, and Are Rental Properties Good Investments? A few weeks ago, we officially handed over the keys to the Cuesta Park Charmer. We are very happy that we found a nice new family to love the home and the process went relatively smoothly. Being a seller in this market is a joyride compared with the angst suffered on […]