Bling bling

I used to work for an internet company. One year in December, everyone got this letter. All spelling, grammar and punctuation is as it was in the original:

25 DEC 1998 [The date had been added later with a rubber stamp]

Well it’s Christmas again.

This time we decided to splurge and get you all something you would like, a pen, a bottle of wine and some shares in [the company].

Yes that’s right we have decided to give all the staff some shares in this company, you have all worked hard and deserve to participate in the future wealth of this business. How it will work is yet to be full determined.

But it will be something like this:

– We will put up to 5% of the shares in a trust for the Staff when we go public next April.
– Those shares will stay in trust for 2 years until we list the company on the Stock Exchange.
– At the time you will be given your shares and can do as you wish with them.
– The amount you get will be based on your salary i.e. your salary/total salaries of the company.
– You will only be eligible if you are still employed at the time of the Stockexchange listing.
– There will be a lot more details provided in the future on the finer points.

Basically what it all means is, that if you work your butt off over the next few years you will end up quite wealthy. Now you may say how wealthy. Well for example someone who is on $30,000 p.a. at the time of the float could expect to own shares worth up to $200,000, if we all work hard.

You now have a real chance to participate in the potential of this company.

We look forward to the next few years, they will no doubt be exciting ones.

Merry Christmas and thank you for all your hard work.

[The names of the company directors. It was unsigned.]

The company never went public, it was never listed on the stock exchange. Most of the staff working there at the time the letter was written had left within a couple of years (I left three months later).

The bottle of wine exploded all over my bed. Coming back after the summer break, I discovered that the pen had leaked, resulting in all the other pens sticking to the bottom of my pen cup.

As exciting as it was to get a letter promising $200,000, I don’t think many people seriously expected to ever see that money.

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