Stock Options in Germany

Disclaimer: This is not legal advice. It might be inaccurate. Always ask a lawyer.

I was talking to a corporate lawyer recently and asked him why they say stock options are complicated in Germany?

For those of you who don’t know, a stock option is about giving early start-up employees the “option” to buy company stocks at a cheaper price with the hope if there is a liquidity event, they can sell those stocks for higher and make money. There are some nuances to this, but it is not the scope of this post. You got the basic idea.

His response as to why they are complicated was that it is because they are taxable at the point of vesting regardless of exercise, and they are taxed as income tax as they are tied to employment. This means the employee is taxable for options they didn’t exercise, at the rate of a salary they didn’t get. There are other problems such as they can’t be non voting, which would make companies think a lot before giving them.

There are different complex solutions to mitigate this, but it seems hard to avoid. No wonder there are trials to change the law on this on an EU level.

All this made me question whether options is the right thing. Even if the laws are fixed I wonder if they will be culturally accepted in the European market, and how long it will take before they become mainstream.


One interesting feature of Berlin is the never ending construction. As much as I like it as it signals progress, I am sometimes annoyed by all the detours and annoyances they create on the side walk. But it is still a good thing.

Extended tweets

Someone said my blog posts are extended tweets. While that’s not totally true I will buy this argument. Maybe after all we didn’t need twitter. Or that if twitter is microblogging this is the real thing.

Fair Trade Games

A friend listened to blood sweat and pixels after I also listened to it. We were discussing the book and he said there should be a rating for how humane was the game development process. Something like the fair trade label, but for people who work on games.

I like the idea. And by the way, if you read my previous post about the book, I am happy to tell you the second half has failure stories.

Product Monday: Managing AWS Budget

Corey Quinn wrote a twitter thread on good practices for controlling AWS spending. Many of those practices I have experienced myself over the past year and I like how the post summarizes them. Adding to Corey’s post, another aspect for controlling the AWS bill is more organizational than technical, and in this post I will mention three of the aspects I experienced over the past year that highly influence your AWS spending.


Making teams accountable for their AWS budget is crucial to ensure a managed budget without overspending. This is mainly achieved through the budget planning process and ensuring that unit leads are accountable for the cloud budget as much as they are accountable for other costs such as headcount and team events.

All models are wrong, but we also know that some are useful. Teams should understand and factor the drivers of their cost, their growth contributions, and the plans they have that would contribute to increasing/decreasing the spending. This needs a lot of education, but it is essential to achieve cost efficiency.


Accountability is hard to achieve without proper tooling that enables visibility on spending. That’s why over the past year we built tools that report to teams their weekly spending, and to unit heads their unit’s spending. This would also be ideal if it is tied to the budget and can offer some level of forecasting and early enough alerts or anomaly detection.


The first two points were about enabling teams to take action, this point is rather about what you enforce if you have a central platform team. Some of the control measures would be things like downscaling test deployments after work hours, creating quotas for logging, or enabling Spot instances for Kubernetes clusters if possible. This is more about applying Corey’s ideas at scale.

I hope this was helpful.

Google Translate

We were promised flying cars, all we got was Google translate asking us to select text by finger.

I never understood the decision making process behind Google translate mobile app. If I want to translate text from am image, I have to select which text I want to translate. This is fine, but the selection process itself is weird and makes the app experience poorer.

First, I have to select each word. This doesn’t make sense. There can be some magnets that allow me to select a whole portion of the document, or better the app should auto-recognize different paragraphs and ask me to just select a specific paragraph to translate.

Second, formatting. If I choose to translate the whole page, or multiple paragraphs, I completely lose the formatting and the document gets translated as one big bulk of text. This makes it harder to interpret the output.

The translation quality from German is great, but the experience to get to the translation is bad. I hope they fix it.

Random Thought

Not much on my mind that I can share. It is interesting how this blog is my narrative of what I want to tell the public about my thoughts. It is biased by the image I project about myself intentionally or unintentionally. You should also consider this while you are reading it.

Netflix Recommendations

I think all the talk in the industry about how good Netflix’s recommendations is exaggerating. I have a Netflix account and barely using it.

I spend a lot of time trying to decide what to watch, and every time I search for something I don’t find it. The German catalog is poor. The recommendations lack necessary elements such as reviews and popularity to help me decide. And I don’t like their strong push for their original content, I am mostly interested in blockbuster stuff and they bury it behind their produced content.

As usual with the way I think, I question their incentive. I think they are incentivized to not have great recommendations. It is like Gym memberships. There is a level of consumption after which you become an expensive member, while others are paying for you by their lack of consumption. And it is the same with their own content vs licensed content, probably theirs is cheaper. But recommendations can’t be very bad or you would churn. So there is a sweet range of consumption below it you drop from the service and above it you make them lose money. And they design their product to keep you in that range.

Hiring Season

It seems to be the peak of the hiring season. Every one is back from holidays and the budgets are approved. I am getting contacted more than average by recruiters these days.

One annoying phenomenon is recruiters who refuse to mention the company they are hiring for before having a call. To me this is one of the dumbest things even though I understand the incentive of not wanting candidates to bypass the recruiter. It is still a big turn off.

If I am hiring a third party recruiter I won’t let them do that. They have to excite the candidate about my company and not send some generic info that can fit on any company.

Another interesting phenomenon is London. I think half of the world’s recruiters are based in London. Even those hiring for Berlin are based in London. Why?

A friend asked me how do you reject without closing the door? Here is the typical response I use (I don’t copy paste, and it gets adapted, this is just an idea)

Hi X,

Thank you for your message. I am not looking to change jobs at the moment. If anything changes I will let you know.

I wish you all the best finding the right candidate.

Best regards,


The first paragraph politely rejects without closing the door. The second one is to show sympathy. I try to put myself in the recruiters shoes, it must be daunting to keep getting rejections from candidates and companies so I am trying to be nice.