Help Me start to give it away

Matt

Administrator
Staff member
I spoke earlier today of abundance. I've also talked a lot about how I don't want to 'own' the content on the Forum, and that my big picture goal of Saverocity is to help people live their life better.

What I'd really like to do in order to back that sentiment up is to give away equity in the company. But right now I'm not really sure how to best do it, I turn to you, the gamers, to help me get it right. I'd like to give away equity to both the bloggers who write on Saverocity.com and also to the members of the forum. I see these as two distinct events and will focus on the forum for now.

Some thoughts:
  • I'd rather give away options than actual equity because I see it being easier to manage (don't want to worry about distributing small amounts of money each quarter to many people)
  • I'm wondering about vesting - how can we ensure that the people who get the options vest properly (both to be fair to them, but also to protect the company and not give away to the wrong people?)
  • If I allocate a finite amount of stock options, how do we then allocate them?
I'm thinking about the recent Jet.com promotion. Their terms had vesting occurring at a liquidity event. Therefore should we ever sell Saverocity the options would convert and holders would receive a payout. I'm not actively seeking an acquisition or IPO, but if something like this did ever happen in the distant future I really like the idea of the community benefitting from it.

So, over to you folks. If you can come up with a solution that is fair, and isn't gameable (such as 'one share per like...') then I'd be ready to action it. Initially I have allocated 10% of the entire company to this project. I'm allocating a separate amount to the bloggers. I think that this allows enough room to do something similar in the future, or to bring in investors if needed.
 

ElainePDX

Level 2 Member
Premium Supporter
I've already called your post a winner. What a fun and generous idea!

We are a most resourceful group and I am sure you'll get some thoughtful replies here. But here's another approach: Sometimes brainstorming in a group IRL can be more successful than our online version here. How about you make this a topic for the next DO and use the small group sessions there to toss ideas around?

  • If I allocate a finite amount of stock options, how do we then allocate them?
What about looking at a combo of longevity, constancy and usefulness? Is someone contributing in useful ways, over the long haul, and broadly throughout the forum, or is s/he more often seen popping into the latest gig's thread, with posts seeking rather than offering info?

I realize that some of us have busier lives than others, as well as more or less obligations; that participation and regular posting is not a requirement for membership and that trolling is not seen here as a negative. But membership is one thing and equity another. The expectations and rewards can be different for those who enjoy membership and those whose membership leads to equity.

I would expect that you have a sense already of the contributions many members offer. Perhaps you can look at the stats/metrics/posts for those folks and see if your gut is right. You could also have people self-nominate and/or nominate others, and then review that expanded list on the same criteria. This could become a big task - maybe form a task force to help with the review?

I'm neither a numbers person nor a finance one, so I'll leave the question on vesting to others more savvy and knowledgeable than me. I look forward to seeing the other ideas that will follow.

Thanks, Matt. It's not just your above post that's a winner - you're a winner too.
 

Sesq

Level 2 Member
Just play favorites if the time ever comes.

Its nice of you to follow live your values and continue to treat this as a shared venture. In some respects your biggest way to maintain faith if you ever cashed out would be to do it in away where the new owners won't need to immediately over-monetize it. That would probably mean you'd have to take less and find a "perfect" buyer. It seems like a lot of properties really degrade after a sale.

Not to be a cynic, but I think when you are ready to sell (or partially sell), this place will probably be crawling with trolls that giving back to the user base is the last thing you'd want to do. Just kidding, sort of.
 
If I were the owner of this blog and a venture capitalist, my line of thinking.
Angel investors(or blog creators/readers/posters) : They get shares based on a nominal price per share. Let's say $0.01
Round 1: If blog doubles in readership size/advertising revenue, create and sell more shares but sell them , say at $0.05
Round 2: Blog continues its growth, becomes as popular as Paris Hilton. Create and sell shares at $0.15
Round 3 : Saverocity is now well known, established as a brand name and has multiple revenue streams. Create and sell shares at $0.50
Round 4: Sell the company to ebates/FW owner and distribute the money to all shareholders.

I appreciate the thought, Matt. Nobody does this. My respect for you has gone up two-fold.
 

johnny cash

Level 2 Member
I've already called your post a winner. What a fun and generous idea!

We are a most resourceful group and I am sure you'll get some thoughtful replies here. But here's another approach: Sometimes brainstorming in a group IRL can be more successful than our online version here. How about you make this a topic for the next DO and use the small group sessions there to toss ideas around?



What about looking at a combo of longevity, constancy and usefulness? Is someone contributing in useful ways, over the long haul, and broadly throughout the forum, or is s/he more often seen popping into the latest gig's thread, with posts seeking rather than offering info?

I realize that some of us have busier lives than others, as well as more or less obligations; that participation and regular posting is not a requirement for membership and that trolling is not seen here as a negative. But membership is one thing and equity another. The expectations and rewards can be different for those who enjoy membership and those whose membership leads to equity.

I would expect that you have a sense already of the contributions many members offer. Perhaps you can look at the stats/metrics/posts for those folks and see if your gut is right. You could also have people self-nominate and/or nominate others, and then review that expanded list on the same criteria. This could become a big task - maybe form a task force to help with the review?

I'm neither a numbers person nor a finance one, so I'll leave the question on vesting to others more savvy and knowledgeable than me. I look forward to seeing the other ideas that will follow.

Thanks, Matt. It's not just your above post that's a winner - you're a winner too.
This is great! Something along these lines suggested by Elaine sounds fair. A formula taking into consideration join date, helpfulness, number of posts and likes.
 

Matt

Administrator
Staff member
This is great! Something along these lines suggested by Elaine sounds fair. A formula taking into consideration join date, helpfulness, number of posts and likes.
I think that these are certainly good metrics. However they are also a bit gameable and perhaps easy to achieve. Not that they shouldn't carry weight.

My utopia would be that we assign the most options to the people adding the most value, not just now, but going forward - so they have buy in and help build the place into something bigger and better than it is.
 

Mountain Trader

Level 2 Member
Matt-

I too admire your desire to share the rewards.

In my view, the members share the benefits of the newsgroup, and whatever you want to toss their way should go to the group, perhaps re-investing in the group or providing benefits to all somehow. Trying to allocate among a group of gamers will only, as they say, disturb the horses.
 

Daniel

#hackingtheplane(t)
What about looking at a combo of longevity, constancy and usefulness? Is someone contributing in useful ways, over the long haul, and broadly throughout the forum, or is s/he more often seen popping into the latest gig's thread, with posts seeking rather than offering info?
I would second that, since those are basically the metrics any company uses, albeit with the benefit that the hiring order is a bit less arbitrary/random than join order. Because of that, as y'all have suggested, there should probably be a human component to the upper 'tiers' or members. At the bottom you're going to have a lot of noise anyway and there's not much you can do.

It might be reasonable for Matt to (having looked at the general distributions of all these metrics), create some broad bands, and then if he's inclined, he could separate out individuals in the top 1/2 bands.

There is also the notion of having a 'cliff' to the options, which might be reasonable in the case of those with a more significant stake. At that point the criteria can be completely arbitrary, which would probably promote good content over the long term.

Just my 2 cents. This is a neat idea.
 

SJCRussell

Level 2 Member
This is unexpected (and maybe unnecessary as the success of the site to date suggests we get enough value out of Saverocity without an additional incentive).

Here are some thoughts on this:
  1. Sadly for most things like this 'free' is actually a problem, and I'd advocate you consider something that ties to a specific measurable contribution. The simplest one is using the 'Premium Supporter' (not an award on becoming one, but maybe on an annual basis) and then add a second level of 'awards' at your discretion where you use your own unpublished metrics so they can't be gamed. You could even have an application for award consideration so that no one gets missed out for your review.
  2. Options vs. stock is smart (for many reasons), but ensure they are non-transferable and have an expiry (you can always choose to renew them), and have a very nominal value per share, like $0.000001
  3. Vest on liquidity is also smart. Even with this there is no reason you cannot apply a dividend at any time, if you so wished.
  4. Of your 10% pool for members only schedule a fraction of that for distribution in the first years so you have some left for future years, where you can do stock splits to ensure you have a large enough number of units.
  5. Have fun with this - It's your baby!
 

thepaul500

Level 2 Member
I personally only see two ways for it to work:
1. It could be a benefical way of enticing more people to read the blogs under the umbrella as well...not always easy or feasabile to do a giveaway for a $500 gift card like some of the big ones...but giving away "500" options could likely generate a large amount of interest. Of course, the more you give away, the more you dillute the value, but something to consider to increase readership. Could do the same thing on the forum as well to keep engagement (1 entry per user/day over a 30 day period on a specific thread or something). Use this to your advantage!

2. That, and "paying" for guest posts or new bloggers this way. The potential of a cash payout in the future, as well as working under the "brand" to gain free readership, could be a powerful way of drawing more/better talent. It gives you a bargaining chip. Not only that, but it makes your company "employee" (contractor?) owned. Giving out equity generates loyalty towards the betterment of the whole or corporate synergies some MBA mumbo. In reality, sharing the ownership also allows for an eventual exit of you, the owner. Selling the business to the other bloggers, or to us, the forum members, could allow for the brand to live on if/when you decide to move on to something else.

I dont personally see it working well for just general forum members (myself included, wah!), though maybe there is something I'm missing. We get our "reward" in the form of free access to the blogs under your brand, free access to this site, and free discourse.

However, I think this is a seriously smart, forward looking move on your part. You are "creating" the value that is intrisically there already, and can then leverage that to grow your brand. Props.
 

MickiSue

Level 2 Member
Supporter
It's late, and I'm tired and fresh out of ideas. But the generosity of your idea is truly touching.

Whatever methodology you choose will, undoubtedly, be thought out and as fair as you can make it...because you've shown that that's how you do things.

Thank you for the good end to the day!
 
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