Introducing Bolt’s Early Exercise and Loan Program

Bolt Team

Author

Maju Kuruvilla

CEO

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Introducing Bolt’s Early Exercise and Loan Program

At Bolt, we put our people first. It’s easy to say that, but another thing entirely to put our resources, time, and energy behind the principle. It’s even harder to stretch our thinking about what it means to value and champion our workforce: How do you break away from outdated conventions that dictate how companies work?

Thankfully, at Bolt we’re accustomed to bucking convention. We’ve done it with the four-day workweek, which has inspired a worldwide conversation about the structure of work. And today, we’re doing it again with equity compensation: Bolt announced a first-of-its-kind program that allows all of our employees to early-exercise their stock options and provides financial support for them to do it.

Ordinarily, these benefits are reserved for top executives at tech companies. But we want everyone at our company to have the same opportunity and access. 

The not-so-fine print: 

  • The early exercise program means that each Bolt employee has the ability to exercise the shares underlying their stock option grants before those options are scheduled to vest. An early exercise means starting the capital gains clock earlier—this means potentially limiting the tax impact of equity. 
  • We also created an employee loan program that can be used to cover the exercise price. That means employees won’t need to come up with the cash to take advantage of these benefits. Again, these are ordinary perks at the top of other tech companies, but we want them to be accessible to everyone on our team.
  • These programs are open to every Bolt employee in good standing, regardless of tenure. Any employee may take advantage of them at any point after their option grant has been approved by the Board.

Importantly, this program is optional, and the decision about whether to exercise equity or take a loan is personal. We believe there are enormous potential benefits for employees who exercise options, but we also know there is risk.

One question we’re getting a lot: Why haven’t other companies done this? It’s tough to answer. It could be because it’s very complicated to pull off. It could be because our industry is accustomed to a certain way of doing things. Whatever the reason that other companies haven’t created a similar program—that’s all the more reason for Bolt to do it.

At Bolt, our success is defined not just by our outputs and achievements, but also by the culture we’re creating. Programs like Early Exercise help level the playing field for employees and empower them to enjoy the same privileges, regardless of rank. We believe initiatives like this are the way of the future, and—as with our other Conscious Culture efforts—we hope that other companies feel emboldened to make changes like this for their teams. 

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