Friday, January 23, 2009

Google rewrites options

I don't really know what to make of this article from the FT. Bottom line is that Eric Schmidt, the CEO, has announced that they will reset the strike of the options since the price of the stock has gone down tremendously.

The new option plan will let employees whose stock options are “underwater”, or carry an exercise price higher than the current share price, exchange them for new options at existing prices. The arrangement, prompted by a 59 per cent plunge in the Google share price from its peak in late 2007, was intended to give workers “more incentives to remain at Google” and contribute to its success, the company said.

Option repricing proved controversial in the technology bust, when it was seen on Wall Street as a way to protect workers at a time when other shareholders were suffering. Responding in an interview on Thursday, Mr Schmidt said: “Would you prefer we had the Wall Street firm’s bonus model? That doesn’t seem a very good model to me.”

He added: “Part of the compensation here is stock – it’s how it happens in tech, it has to have some value in the long term.”

On second thought my reaction is to be thoroughly disgusted by these comments. I don't have the option to get MY strikes rewritten when my options go underwater, those are the rules of the game for everyone else. The stock went down 60% and the shareholders are feeling it, but management is saying that its compensation needs to remain whole? So shareholders need to fill the hole. This is a clear case of management against shareholders and management saying "suck it".

The part about more incentives to remain at Google is just utter and complete bullshit. With the recession, everyone is holding on to their jobs for dear life. This is not about "employee retention" this is about "executive compensation". Mr Eric wants his money.

Perhaps the more disturbing part for me is the smug "would you prefer we had the WS firm bonus model? this doesn't seem a very good model to me", just outrageous. "Some people are being anally raped by elephants, would you want that? I don't think it is a very good idea". This just adds insult to injury.

In fact he shouldn't be so smug about Wall Street, this kind of shareholder abuse is exactly what gets corporate america its bad rep. This is nothing more than highway robbery and shareholder hold up. Dump that sucker.


Juha Lindfors said...

For a nice dose of outrage, I just read bits and pieces of Mr. Thain's record at Merrill.


Barry Kelly said...

LOL! Spoken like a true wealthy capitalist! Damn those scurvy workers, it's my money that should be making money!

Google really does not pay very well, FWIW; about how easy the good engineers at Google could find jobs elsewhere today, I cannot comment, but every time I read about an engineer with Google associations in the past few months, it's been an ex-Googler working elsewhere, usually on a startup.

pcleddy said...

wow, things you get outrageous about: left wing dictators and dough boy sellouts. never outrage over the bailout and right wing dictators like pinochet and franco and his minions, eg the king

very telling

but i do agree: if you dont want cheating, dont hire a creepy looking dough boy to begin w/

wow, and are you outraged over the news that merrill took all the money and gave out bonuses a month early? probably not. this was in the contract

what contract? there IS no contract

please, so much to be angry at, yet...

if people see an advantage to google stock in the future, and estimate that the powers that be are not about to destroy the entire global financial system, again, they'll take the risk

lol, an appeal to the "way things are". this is the model that soros laughs at, and i agree

when will people learn that this is no agreement that is not subject to change?

Marcf said...

You know I met Thain once? when RHT moved from Nasdaq to NYSE. Enough outrage for today.

Barry, bien vu, touche! Someone called me the other day and said "inflation is socially fair because it takes away from capital to give to the debtor", I immediately reacted... Also i didn't know Goog paid peanuts.

PCleddy: outrage at my outrage... who said I was pro-franco? You are right, I am missing a lot of opportunities to be outraged and merrill paying out bonuses certainly tops this in comparison. I was just reacting to the news, not pretending to be exhaustive :)

Roy Russo said...

@pcleddy: You can believe all the PBS specials you want, but as a child of Chilean immigrants that witnessed Allende's reign... if I could pin a medal on Pinochet, I would. Allende deserved far worse than he got, and thanks to Pinochet for stopping another Cuba. ;-)

As for this bizarre move... its stealing from Peter to pay Paul. Both, the shareholders and employees assumed risk with Google. Both then, should absorb the downside - not one absorb at the expense of the other.

pcleddy said...

@russo DO TELL! i am DYING to know how pinochet is up on allende. any books cover this perspective that you know about? or tell a story of two, keeping in mind what pinochet did of course relatively

sidenote: i met a guy who claimed his father did in allende, on some level, maybe directly. it's a small world after all

ps pass the cheeseburger, please

Anonymous said...

Besides the low pay, Google also offers low-end medical insurance, to make it a less attractive place for people with families (they want Googlers who are willing to put in lots of hours). The "pay" comes in the reputation boost of being able to say you once worked at Google, plus the options.

A simpler plan would be instead of options, just buy back shares and pay partly in shares.

Anonymous said...

Read this before bombing

Generally, all Googlers with options are eligible to participate (Eric Schmidt, Sergey Brin, and Larry Page do not hold options)

Roy Russo said...

@pcleddy: Books? I don't need a book to tell me that the only good communist is a dead communist. You and I can read the same history books about Chilean history and draw different conclusions, obviously.

I believe Allende was killed during the siege of the presidential palace by suicide. Not sure what hand your friend had in that. Maybe he was CIA? ;-)

Stan Silvert said...

Google got it right on this one.

I was once in a company that re-priced my options. In that case, I got a lower strike price in return for an agreement to lower the number of shares. I assume that's what happened here as well, so it's not as bad for shareholders as it might seem because there is potentially less dilution.

A buddy of mine just left Google. He said it was simply a matter of having too much money thrown at him. He couldn't refuse the offer.

I'm still getting offers and inquiries from time to time, even one from Google. The job market isn't that bad in our sector and Google does need to keep their talent.


Marcf said...

Roy: you are chilean? I always thought you were cuban... go figure.

Stan: glad to hear there is still a lot of demand in the sector. Less shares and less dilution is indeed a way to cut the apple in two. Good to hear from you.

Roy Russo said...


I think the PC term, is "Euro-Latino-American". ;-)

Marcf said...

Kind of like me, we are all mutts. One day you will have to tell me what Allende did to your family to trigger such a visceral reaction!

pcleddy said...

just saw the new che movie, part i

roy, i thought a lot about you during the film. and LMAO!