Back in 1999, I joined a wireless internet startup in San Francisco called Neomar. I left about seven months later after we released our WAP gateway and browser for the Motient service and the company decided to pivot from consumer to B2B, which was what all the VC’s were clamoring for as the dot-com crash loomed on the horizon. Thanks to six month vesting, I was able to exercise some of my stock options.
Actually, I didn’t really want to pay for the stock (if I was really high on the stock, I would have stayed), but it was only $200 and I felt it would be rude to decline. Still, I would have preferred to spend the $200 on a Dreamcast (which I bought, anyway), or alternatively it would have been really nice to sell the stock back at their latest valuation (I forget, might have been a few thousand).
I wouldn’t have missed out. Neomar was eventually acquired by Good Technologies, but in a sneaky way: they acquired the assets and hired the employees and left us with shares of a shell of a company.
Certainly I feel screwed over by Good (apparently the name does not denote any moral quality of the company), and whoever made that deal on the Neomar side, but pre-IPO stock options are speculative and remember that when someone tries to persuade you they’re an adequate substitute for salary and benefits.
So when the CEO of Neomar assured us early on “Don’t worry, I’ll take care of you,” I didn’t take it seriously, and in the end he was not the CEO when the company shut down. But it’s annoying. Don’t make promises you can’t keep.