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I'm not familiar with Google's employee stock plan, but since -- I presume -- most employees are shareholders, don't they already have a say at the board level?

I'm a Google employee. The stock I receive as a part of my compensation is GOOG which is non-voting. GOOGL is voting stock. There are some details here: https://investorplace.com/2019/02/goog-google-stock-split/

google is actually a 3-class stock: class B has 10 votes and is not available publicly (owned by larry, sergey, eric), class A has one vote and trades as GOOGL, class C is nonvoting and trades as GOOG. Employees only get grants of GOOG and thus have no votes

Oh wow. TIL! I (and the rest of HN, and even S&P[1]) was screaming bloody murder about Snapchat IPOing and only releasing non-voting shares. I didn't know Google worked the same way!

[1] https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=14904946

I thought for Snap, any investor can only buy non-voting share? For Google, you (or I during the open window) can buy GOOGL and have voting share?

Disc: Googler.

Ah, sorry, misread it -- that is different from Snapchat, although still similar in that only a sliver of voting shares are publicly traded.

Well, if you were employed before/during the 2014 split, you do have a mix of GOOG/GOOGL. Not that it ever made a difference in practical terms.

unless you had a very weird vesting schedule, your GOOGL long since vested (mine finished in '17)

Yeah, but did you sell them all?

An important distinction is that companies like Google and Facebook have dual class structures for shares: The founders still hold all the power in any shareholder vote.

Case in point, 68% of Facebook shareholders voted to remove Mark Zuckerberg, but since Zuckerberg's shares are a lot more powerful, it's completely irrelevant: https://finance.yahoo.com/news/why-68-percent-of-facebook-in...

Dual class shares seem like a perversion of what the stock market and stocks were initially intended to do. If you can’t vote on important decisions made by the company, do you actually own the company, or is a stock just a fancy piece of paper to gamble on? (I call it gambling because any return is based purely on stock price; there are no dividends paid out for FB and GOOG).

It's designed to provide employees an incentive to go above and beyond in their particular area of employment by providing future financial incentives, without having a say in the overall direction of the company.

Or put another way, it's a possible bonus if you and others like you do well.

That intention is still a perversion of the actual intention of stocks and the stocks market, though. If you wanted to tie bonuses to share price, you can just do that instead of issuing these fake stocks. Plenty of people get paid with bonuses tied to share price or EPS.

It's a tax thing. It's apparently cheaper to give someone $100k of stock versus $100k of cash.

It is, but not for tax reasons: giving employees stock is cheaper because it is the shareholders who pay for it, while cash comes from actual company account. Stock that is awarded to employees as stock-based compensation is typically new-issuance stock that's added to the total number of outstanding shares, thereby depressing the share price. Thus, the company doesn't have to pay anything, it is the shareholders who suffer dilution (albeit a very minor one).

you don't have to work there and you don't have to buy their stock. end of story. hell, you don't even have to use their products...

They're in the Nasdaq and S&P 500. Even if you don't own them they do have systemic impact on the rest of the market, given that lots of money tracks those indices and they're used as a measure of economic health.

Not investing in banks didn't make people safe from the financial crisis.

This is hardly a legitimate measure of power compared to actually having a worker with a seat at the table.

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