From Sole Ownership to Shared Ownership

Discover why our founder wanted to give every Pliancy employee the opportunity for shared ownership.

Marcus Olson

Founder & CEO

In 2022, Pliancy rolled out equity option grants for all full-time employees. Offering equity stock options for an established, bootstrapped company required months of coordination across our leadership, finance, people, and business operations teams.

Why did we commit hundreds of hours to this endeavor? Because we believe we’re building something remarkable, and we want to give everyone the chance to feel a sense ownership in what we’re creating together.

Offering employees equity in Pliancy has been a goal of mine for years. Once we hit six or seven employees, we weren’t just another boutique firm of IT consultants. Our trajectory shifted toward something much bigger and more capable.

I knew one day I wanted every team member to be able to share in that success—the way I hadn’t at previous companies.

Before founding Pliancy, I was an early hire at a startup. I was the only employee in tech ops and administration, building and managing critical systems, but equity was never on the table. It wasn’t just that I was not offered equity; I was never educated on what equity was, why it mattered, and what it could mean for me.

When the company was acquired, the founders were happy (of course), yet there was no material impact on my life. It wasn’t until many years later that I truly understood equity and its potential.

After leaving that startup, I moved out to California. I happened to be sitting in my buddy’s bar on an unremarkable afternoon when, suddenly, a crowd of people flooded in, whooping, hollering, obviously excited about something big. It turned out that YouTube’s office was across the street. The year was 2006, and they’d just been acquired by Google.

All these people were celebrating because they’d taken a chance on building something revolutionary; thanks to their equity, it had paid off.

The energy in that room was unlike anything I’d seen before. At the surface, there was pure excitement. But beneath that was triumph, relief, satisfaction, unity… the feeling of a long exhale after years of commitment. I decided if I was ever in the position to offer employees that opportunity, I would do it.

Now that we’ve (finally) made equity a reality, my goals, the company’s goals, and our employees’ goals feel more aligned than ever.

We all have skin in the game, and we’re going after bold, ambitious things. I’m grateful to have everyone along for the ride.

This is part I in a series of short essays on employee equity at Pliancy: why we choose to offer it, how equity reflects our efforts, what it means to employees, and how to make equity a reality.

Part II

In Pursuit of Shared Success

Part III

The Promise & Potential of Employee Equity

Part IV

Making Equity a Reality: A Brief Primer

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