How to Issue Stock Options to Offshore Developers

Stock Option Trend for Tech Companies in Silicon Valley

In the Silicon Valley, compensation packages are far from just a salary. Stock options — once a generous enticement to lure in top-notch talent — are now a common component of a competitive offer to attract talented developers.

As a startup founder or a decision-maker in a tech company, if you are wondering, “Which bonus system should I choose? How do I implement it? How can I offer stock options to an employee who is a citizen of another country?” You’re not alone in this.

The practice of offering stock options can be quite complex, with numerous legal and financial intricacies to consider. To help navigate this landscape, I’ll discuss the nuances of different bonus systems, how to select the right one for your company, and the platforms that facilitate this process.

Moreover, I’ll share some of TurnKey’s first-hand experiences and cases on how the use of bonuses, particularly stock options, has significantly impacted team’s results. My aim is to provide a comprehensive understanding of this topic, enabling you to make informed decisions for your company.

So whether you’re a startup founder, an HR professional, or simply someone curious about the tech industry’s compensation trends, this article is for you. Get ready to gain a wealth of knowledge on stock options and bonuses in Silicon Valley!

Table of Contents

The Rise of Stock Options in Silicon Valley Tech Companies

Firstly, what are stock options? Simply put, a stock option is a benefit given to an employee, offering them the right to buy a certain number of shares in the company at a predetermined price. This price is often lower than the market price, making it a potentially lucrative opportunity for employees.

So, you may be asking, why stock options? What makes them such a popular choice amongst flourishing tech companies in the Silicon Valley? Well, the answer lies within the unique blend of benefits they offer both to the companies and their employees.

Stock Option Trend: Important Statistics

Stock Option Trend Important Statistics 1
  • The incentives service market size is predicted to reach $9.23 billion by 2028.
  • The average vesting period for stock options in Silicon Valley is 4 years.
  • Entry-level software engineers can earn $25,000 in stock options.
  • Average equity levels for post-series A startups in Silicon Valley are 5-10% for the CEO, 2-5% for the COO, 1-2% for the VP, 1% for the independent board member, 0.4–1.25% for the director, 0.5–1% for the lead engineer, 0.33–0.66% for the senior engineer, and 0.2–0.33% for the manager of the junior engineer.
  •  90% of tech companies in Silicon Valley offer stock options to employees.
  • 69% of employees think it’s important for their company to help them understand how their equity works.

The Appeal of Stock Options

Stock options are often seen as a win-win situation.

For startups and tech companies, especially those involved in cloud computing business or creating advanced micro devices, trying to attract top talent while operating on a tight budget, offering stock options can be a game-changer. It provides employees with a sense of ownership and aligns their interests with the company’s success.

For employees, stock options present a chance to share in the company’s potential future growth, serving as a powerful motivator that goes beyond the paycheck.

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Impact on Employee Performance

But what does this mean for the tech companies themselves? How does offering stock options, even in bearish market conditions, affect their team’s results? 

In many cases, it has proven to be a catalyst for enhancing productivity and fostering a sense of unity amongst employees. It’s like this – when employees own a part of the company, they are not just working for a paycheck, they are working for the overall success of the organization they partially own. This can lead to unprecedented levels of motivation, dedication, and ultimately, performance, which aligns with the ethos of Silicon Valley’s tech giants.

The Future of Bonus Programs

As we gaze into the future of bonus programs in the tech industry, especially given the changing landscape with entities like Meta Platforms, Apple Inc, and other tech behemoths, it’s quite clear that stock options are becoming the go-to form of compensation. They’re becoming a vital part of the overall bonus structure, particularly for tech startups in Silicon Valley. But why is this so?

Primarily, it boils down to the fact that stock options offer an excellent way for companies to attract, retain, and motivate top-tier talent. Tech startups, which often lack the necessary funds to compete with established companies in terms of salaries, can instead offer prospective employees the potential for substantial future earnings. By giving employees a stake in the company, startups can instill a greater sense of ownership and foster a more dedicated, loyal workforce.

But stock options are just the tip of the iceberg. The tech industry, keen on innovating compensation, is beginning to experiment with various other types of bonuses:

  • Profit Sharing: Some companies are starting to offer profit-sharing plans, where employees receive direct cuts of the company’s profits. This encourages employees to work harder for the firm’s success, as their compensation is directly tied to the company’s performance.
  • Signing Bonuses: These are often offered as a one-time incentive to attract top talent. They can be particularly effective in competitive job markets.
  • Performance Bonuses: These are tied to an employee’s performance and can be an effective way to incentivize high productivity and exceptional work.

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Platforms That Allow You to Implement a Bonus System for Your Tech Startup

When it comes to implementing a bonus system for your tech startup, there are several platforms out there that can make this process simpler and more streamlined. These platforms can help you establish an effective system that rewards employees, fosters a sense of belonging, and boosts productivity. But how do you choose among them? 

It’s important to consider what kind of bonus system you want to implement. Are you looking at rewarding individual effort or team performance? Do you want to offer stock options, or would you rather stick to cash bonuses? These are crucial questions that will help guide your choice. 

Note: Offering bonuses, including stock options, can be a complex process that involves legal and financial considerations. Always seek advice from an attorney or financial advisor before implementing a bonus system.

Bonus System for Your Tech Startup
  1. Easop: Fast and cost-efficient, Easop allows businesses to compliantly offer and manage equity incentives for employees, contractors, and advisors in 70+ countries. With their own network of 60+ law firms (Goodwin, Cooley, GQ Littler, etc.) they allow you to operate independently from local lawyers in every country.
  2. Pulley: Your go-to for managing and organizing financial assets. Pulley offers a comprehensive dashboard for overseeing investments, making it a breeze to keep track of financial portfolios and growth metrics. Ideal for companies aiming for financial clarity and growth.
  3. Bonusly: An awesome tool for peer-to-peer recognition. Employees can give each other small bonuses that add up over time. This is great for fostering a sense of camaraderie and mutual respect within your team.
  4. Carta: If you’re considering giving out stock options as bonuses, Carta could be the platform for you. It simplifies the management of equity plans and cap tables, making it easier to offer stocks as a form of bonus.
  5. 15Five: This platform allows you to integrate a bonus system with performance reviews. It’s particularly useful if you want to reward individual employee achievements.

Whatever platform you choose, remember that the goal of a bonus system is not just to reward, but more importantly, to inspire, motivate, and retain your team members. When done right, a bonus system can be a powerful tool to drive your startup to new heights.

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How to Choose the Right Bonus System for Your Tech Startup

Choosing the right bonus system for your tech startup can feel like navigating a labyrinth. With a myriad of options available, it’s essential to find the one that best complements your team’s needs and business goals. But where do you start? 

Here, we’ll delve into key considerations that can guide you in your quest for the ideal bonus system.

Understand Your Team's Motivators

The first step towards choosing the best bonus system is understanding what drives your team. Are they motivated by monetary rewards or do they value recognition and work-life balance more? Understanding these dynamics can help shape a bonus system that truly resonates with your team. Remember, a one-size-fits-all approach rarely works. Your bonus system should be as diverse and dynamic as your team itself.

Align Bonuses with Company Objectives

Your bonus system should not just be an afterthought; rather, it should align with your company’s objectives. If your startup is in its early stages, you might consider bonuses that incentivize long-term commitment, like stock options. But if your focus is on rapid growth, performance-based bonuses could be a better fit. Make sure your bonus system is a strategic tool that propels your company towards its goals.

Consider the Financial Implications

Before setting up any bonus system, it’s critical to consider its financial implications. Can your startup afford it? More importantly, is it sustainable in the long run? Remember, an unsustainable bonus system can do more harm than good. It can create expectations that, when unmet, can lead to dissatisfaction and decreased productivity. Run the numbers and consult with a financial advisor to ensure the bonus system is feasible.

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Be Transparent and Fair

Transparency and fairness are key in implementing any bonus system. Clearly communicate how the system works, what the criteria are, and how bonuses are calculated. This ensures everyone understands the system and sees it as fair. Lack of transparency can result in confusion and distrust, which can ultimately impact your team’s motivation and productivity. 

In conclusion, choosing the right bonus system for your tech startup is a delicate balance of understanding your team’s motivators, aligning the system with your company’s goals, considering financial feasibility, and maintaining transparency and fairness. With careful thought and planning, you can create a bonus system that truly rewards and motivates your team, driving your startup to new heights of success.


As we move forward into the future, one thing is clear: the successful tech companies of tomorrow will be those that can offer competitive, appealing, and innovative bonus programs today. These perks offer employees a stake in the company’s success and serve as a powerful tool to drive motivation and retain talent.


What does "equities for employees" mean?

"Equities for employees" refers to ownership shares in the company that are granted to employees as part of their compensation package. This can include stock options, restricted stock units (RSUs), or other forms of equity compensation. The intent is to align employees' interests with the company's success, as their financial reward is partially dependent on the company's stock performance.

How do I determine the amount of equity to give to my employees?

The amount of equity you should offer to employees can vary based on several factors including their role, seniority, and the stage of your company. A common practice is to offer a percentage that aligns with the employee's impact on the company's growth and success. Startups often provide between 0.1% to 2% for early key employees, with smaller percentages as the company grows and matures.

What is considered a good equity percentage to offer to employees?

A "good" equity percentage is highly context-dependent. For startups, equity typically ranges from 0.1% for lower-level employees to 1% or more for senior executives or early employees. In established companies, equity grants are usually smaller but may come with lower risk. It's important to balance generosity with maintaining enough equity to incentivize future hires and investors.

April 30, 2024

TurnKey Staffing provides information for general guidance only and does not offer legal, tax, or accounting advice. We encourage you to consult with professional advisors before making any decision or taking any action that may affect your business or legal rights.

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