Scusi, execs get how many millions?!?

Better Have My Money: learning 'bout stocks so we all become rich

Hey friends!

Welcome to the latest edition of Better Have My Money, the newsletter for clueless stocks newbies. I'm sending this out Tuesday morning cause I'm heading on BuzzFeed News' morning show AM to DM at 10.30am ET today to talk about stocks and investing and other things I am obviously not an expert in and yet I blab about here weekly anyway, so watch it live here or say nice things using #AM2DM! I got a manicure cause I'm a hands talker, plz make that $15 worth it. 

Better Have My Money is a gif-filled rundown of the things I've learned that week from my own tiny brand new stock portfolio (from how to buy a share, to investing in weed stocks, to losing a bunch of money in weed stocks) and the things I'm still learning. 

This week, cause I'm super new at what it means to be a shareholder and also a massive nerd, I was genuinely thrilled to get an email inviting me to the upcoming iRobot (IRBT) annual shareholders meeting.

Like a wedding, but minus the alcohol and plus graphs!

I'm not going to actually go (it's in Boston, perhaps for a Better Have My Money research trip I'll head to another one eventually, lol) but damnnnnn digging through the documents emailed to me by iRobot about the company was.... eye-opening.

And by eye-opening I mean depressing af about Wall St and capitalism and big business.

I haven't talked much about iRobot but you are probably familiar with their products, particularly their most famous one:

(Roombas, not devil dog outfits).

iRobot makes robot vacuum cleaners, and my logic for buying 10 shares in my first week of investing was:

  1. the stock price had just dropped dramatically from $80ish to early 60s 

  2. the future is definitely robot vacuum cleaners and not women having to push a damn vacuum cleaner 

  3. this article titled "Could iRobot Corporation Be a Millionaire-Maker Stock?

At first this lil stock had been my secret weapon, jumping up 13% in like two weeks and making me feel super smug about ~investing~ and reading to become a millionaire. But you can see in this week's stocks check in, those robot vacuum cleaners are sucking me dry right now (not helped by Amazon announcing it would be moving into home robots).

So while perusing the 184-page document about iRobot, I was interested that one of the topics up for debate was compensation and executive pay. Oh hello!!! I feel like salary and pay information is always kept a bit vague in most industries, and it makes it harder for others to negotiate, so I'm thrilled that public companies have to publicly list how much the boss earns.

Confusing term of the week: "proxy statement" — a letter sent by a company announcing all the things it wants shareholders to vote on at the annual meeting, and any relevant info about them.

I immediately started searching the word "compensation" in the document, and found the graph I wanted, listing how much the co-founder and CEO of iRobot, Colin Angle, earned as a base salary. $700,000 last year, $750,000 this year! In comparison, the president of the United States normally earns $400k and a Supreme Court justice is on $260k. There are less than 1,000 employees at iRobot.

I openly laughed out loud reading those numbers, because I thought it was such an insane figure. Except HAHA jokes on me, that wasn't even close to being his total compensation package. Not... even close at all.Once all the cash bonuses and stock options and extra bits and pieces were added in: "Mr. Angle’s annual total compensation for 2017 was $5,961,343."

Yes, that is $5.9 million.

The company is currently asking shareholders to vote on a new executive pay package that from what I can tell (and honestly this document appears to be written in Latin) is trying to focus executive compensation more around giving money when they meet goals for achieving long-term growth, but also it just seems like more money for the top people. Also just a reminder that top executives live in a much different America than the rest of us.As part of the Wall St reforms after the 2008 financial crisis, Barack Obama insisted that companies had to disclose the ratio of CEO-to-worker income, to show how much damn money executives take home compared to workers. At iRobot, the median employee earns $134,822. Compared to Angle's $5.9 million, it's a ratio of 44:1. And that is... considered to be very worker friendly it seems????? Wth???? A recent survey of CEO-to-workers in public businesses(aka companies on the stock market) showed that for each dollar an average worker gets, the boss gets $140. 

In other news, I am in the wrong industry. *quits jobs to become robotics CEO*

Sigh, and with that, a look at my weed shares, a reminder to us all that marijuana is a depressant:

Hot-or-maybe-not tip from a reader

Jana: "I have been thinking of buying shares of Match (the company that owns Match, OK Cupid and Tinder) because people always want to find love ...  My worry about Match is .... what if someone comes out with a better app? (I guess they could just acquire it) OR... what if they have data breach? I think the second could really hit stocks hard."

(Readers often email with their stock ideas and since most of you seem as clueless as me, I figure we may as well share the knowledge or ideas around. Have you got a stock tip? Either one you've bought or one you're thinking about? Plz don't commit insider trading, I will not go to prison for you. Email me: — yes, I got a fancy new email address!)

This week, in honor of George H Bush in his book socks at his wife's funeral, I suggest donating some coins to the Barbara Bush Family Literacy org, which focuses on teaching adults to read. 


  • From (Net)Work B*tch, Lily Herman's great monthly newsletter about networking for women: "Amber Jamieson launched an incredible newsletter called Better Have My Money, which makes learning about stocks and shares and ~*~economics~*~ fun and accessible. I already subscribed and you all should too so we can become rich AF." — bless you Lily, I don't understand economics but thrilled I am making my cluelessness fun for others.

  • From Julia Haslanger: "I appreciate how transparent @ambiej is in her (excellent) newsletter today: "This is the first time I've put a referral link in, not sure how I feel about it yet, thoughts welcome." Pairs nicely with @JaneEliz's piece on what makes trustworthy stories" — to continue the transparency, so far I've had two people use my Robinhood referral code, which gives us both a free stock. So you do get a whole stock! There's 98% chance it'll be a stock worth under $10 (I got a Sprint one currently worth $5.88 and a Groupon one worth $4.70) and a small chance we'll get Apple or another major stock.

  • From Susannah Luthi‏: "thank you for your amazing newsletter. i'm recruiting you some new cult followers" — in great news, this cult involves no ritual murdering!

  • My mum: "Ambie, Excellent this week – good new info and funny stuff" — Thanks mum! I only put this shamelessly in here so I could say happy birthday for yesterday mama!

Better Have My Money is now on Twitter. Follow me at @bhavemymoney, or tweet nice things about us and tag us. Forward this onto your mates and get them to subscribe.

And if you needed any proof that Snapchat (SNAP) is not cool — look, teens still use it, but does anyone else? — plz look at what I witnessed yesterday outside the New York stock exchange: