Press Clippings

Web Sites Help Those With Stock Options Learn
How to Use Them

The Boston Globe reviewed for the business section of the Sunday edition of July 23, 2000. The full text of the article, excerpted below, is available in the Globe's archive section.

With employees at everything from Internet start-ups to blue-chip firms wanting stock options these days - or at least on the days the market's going up - it was only a matter of time before Web sites emerged to target this audience.

Last month, a Brookline company launched, a comprehensive site promising to help the up to 10 million Americans with stock options figure out complicated tax questions and maximize their options.

In the few weeks since it became available publicly, the site has gotten more than a million hits, said Bruce Brumberg, chief executive of the company and owner of a legal and financial publishing company. And private tests of the site by option holders at more than 40 companies, including Staples, eToys, and Johnson & Johnson, have also been successful, he said.

"The response has been tremendous," said Brumberg, an attorney, who cofounded the site with Jesse Brill and Peter Van Ness. "We have deep original content, online tools, online record-keeping, and community features ... and it's free." This features the most inviting home page of the sites reviewed, with plenty on the menu. Want to know what it means when your stock options are "underwater"? You'll find the answer in the glossary of terms. Is it better to get nonqualified stock options or incentive stock options? The answer is in the "frequently asked questions." And if there's a question that isn't answered on the site, you can e-mail a specialist.

There are sections on the nuts-and-bolts of options, taxation, and vesting, as well as on the very human emotions of greed and envy and the implications of divorce for option holders.

And there are plenty of online tools here to help you calculate how much in taxes you'd pay if you exercised now; how many shares to exercise if you need a certain amount of cash; and whether you should sell, hold or look at other investments.

While some of the features are available for anyone visiting the site, some require registering for free membership. There are no ads on the site. Brumberg said the company is exploring such possible revenue sources as licensing of the technology and private labeling of the site with financial service firms.

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