Employee Stock Option Plans Explained

You hear the words “Stock Options” quite frequently, but not everyone knows what they are. It seems that everyone instinctively knows that it’s a good thing to receive stock options from their employer. What you might not know is exactly how stock options work and why most stock options expire worthless.

A couple of days ago, I announced a stock option program that is coming to Axosoft in the near future. With that announcement, I wanted to make sure every Axosoft team member knows what stock options are and how they can benefit from it.

So if you’ve ever wanted to know what stock options are and how they work, check out this video:

Employee Stock Options Explained Video on YouTube

Building a Flat Organization

As founder of Axosoft, one of my goals is to build the type of company that I would love to work at, even if I wasn’t the founder. From the start, I wanted to make sure we have rockstar managers running every department. And we did. For a few years, Axosoft was run by me and several managers, but as the company has continued to grow, I started questioning the value of management (and even me).

I started realizing that when managers fulfill their roles to the natural conclusion, all they would be doing is helping set direction, make calls on the big decisions and doing employee reviews. This is all really important stuff that needs to be done, but what I am increasingly unconvinced about is that managers don’t seem to have any special super magical skills to make them really good at these tasks. On average, managers are equally as smart as any other employee in the organization, but because of their roles, they feel obligated to make the tough calls themselves, sometimes going against the wisdom of their teams or in some cases not even consulting with their teams.

It seems to me that there is an opportunity for companies to eliminate the typical manager roles in favor of agile, self-organizing teams with a flat hierarchy. Of course, this is nothing new. This is how agile software development is done. Yet in most software companies, even those that practice agile development, you still find managers – not managers of products, but managers of people. Managers that have “direct reports.” Why? Because that’s the way it’s done.

Well, not at Axosoft. At least not for the past few years. We have been building a company with a flat hierarchy. One that is doing away with managers. Let me tell you, it’s not easy. There are a lot of challenges to address and there aren’t a lot of case studies that we can turn to for answers. Much of the information that exists on flat orgs is not useful. This is a lot of uncharted territory for us.

Yesterday, we had an all-hands meeting to discuss some of the challenges and questions that come up. I thought the following video might be helpful to others who might also be trying to build a flat company.

Enjoy:

Building a Flat Organization Video on YouTube

JIRA Dev Team Doesn’t Use JIRA?

Today, a colleague brought a new JIRA 6 sneak peak video to my attention. It’s rare for me to pay attention to what our competitors are doing, but in this case, JIRA 6 is supposedly focusing on addressing “User Experience” an area that is a huge strength of Axosoft’s OnTime product. Ever since our pricing change more than a year ago, OnTime has been accumulating customers at a rate that is 500% faster than before. Yeh, it’s been pretty insane! I suspect our massive increase in customers has come at the expense of our Australian friends.

The #1 reason customers choose OnTime is because of the user experience.

So in JIRA V6, Atlassian decided to make their user experience “Kickass” — so much so that they made a video about it. The video doesn’t show any kickass features, it just shows their team talking about how Kickass JIRA V6 is going to be. But one important part of the video that jumped out at me is that the JIRA dev team uses colored sticky notes on a wall to track their projects.

WHAT!?!?! Sticky cards on a wall?!?!

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Screenshot from the video

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Screenshot from the video

I thought this is craziness and extremely unproductive, so I wanted to offer the JIRA team an olive branch to both help their productivity and bring them into the 21st century:  Shoot me an email (hamids) and we’ll hook you guys up with a free OnTime Scrum OnDemand Account. You can manage everything: your project goals, releases, sprints, and even your defects, in one place with an absolutely (and do I dare say it) Kick Ass user experience. No more sticky notes guys! 😉

WTF? Our recruiter just fired us because our expectations are too high

For the past 10 years, Axosoft has never used a recruiting company to hire. We’ve always looked for and painstakingly found each individual hire we’ve made. But as we grow and the need to find good people becomes increasingly painful, we decided to bite the bullet and hired one of the top recruiting company’s in the valley to help accelerate our hiring efforts.

Today, we interviewed the first 2 candidates for the expansion of our “Office Management / Accounting” team (by the way, if you are interested, visit this page to apply). The candidates weren’t ideal and we decided to pass. That wasn’t the interesting part. We pass on candidates all the time, but when I contacted the recruiting company to let them know how the interviews went, I was given quite a beating. The recruiter had already spoken to both candidates and was shocked why I would ask a candidate to answer a math question (such as 10% of 25) or why I would make someone write an Excel spreadsheet formula on the whiteboard. She wasn’t shocked about the fact that these supposedly top-notch candidates got these problems wrong, she was shocked why I would ask such shocking questions! How dare I give interview candidates “tests” to see if they will be able to perform their job function.

Really? I’m not sure what this recruiter was expecting. Maybe they expected me to just hire whoever they send and pay them their recruiting fee. Silly me. I thought recruiters are suppose to save me time by finding quality candidates who meet our requirements.

Arrgh! Back to the proven methods that has given us an absolutely amazing team! It just requires a lot of patience. Damn you patience!