You are free to leave.
That was the message from Pinterest to its employees last week, during an all-hands meeting at the company’s San Francisco headquarters. But this wasn’t the sort of announcement that caused tears and frantic searches for cardboard boxes. Instead, it was followed by audible sighs of gratitude.
Fortune has learned that Pinterest told employees that if they have been with the company for at least two years and choose to move on (or who are terminated), they now can hold onto their vested stock options for another seven years (post-departure) without exercising them. By doing so, Pinterest has removed a massive tax liability that haunts the dream of many successful startup employees.
Here is how we described the broader situation last summer:
Pinterest, which recently raised new funding at an $11 billion valuation, is among those that has largely refused to cooperate (save for a tender offer back in October 2012). But, unlike many of its peers, Pinterest has spent time working on a creative way to solve the tax dilemma.
“The principle we’re operating under is one of fairness,” explains Pinterest co-founder Evan Sharp. “If you’ve made an important contribution to Pinterest, you should be able to keep that value. And that shouldn’t just be for people with enough cash to satisfy their tax liability.”
The big question now is if other Silicon Valley “unicorns” will follow Pinterest’s lead.
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