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My entrepreneurial summons came with an abrupt qualification: "You need to start this Friday.""W-what?" I stammered in reply. "Are you serious?" Peter Thiel smiled and nodded. Evidently my reaction amused him. "No, no. Look, it's already Sunday," I responded, shaking my head. "That would only be four days notice-I can't possibly quit my job with Andersen that quickly! We're in the middle of a project." The chief executive officer of Confinity, Inc., didn't find that argument exceptionally compelling. "We expect to close our next round of financing at the end of this week, so the strike price of the options will go up. Now, let's see..." he paused, his hawkish nose pointing upward as the computer housed under his short, sandy hair rattled off a series of calculations. "Given your stock options, if you wait two weeks then it's going to cost you another $8,000." I shivered as we continued our walk next to the bay. The gusts of wind whipping under the Golden Gate Bridge from the Pacific sliced through my light jacket. San Francisco sees plenty of gray skies and blustery weather year round, and this Decem-ber afternoon was no exception. The chill distracted me as I tried to follow Peter's rapid train of thought-something many found difficult to do under the best of conditions. "Eight thousand dollars?" I had no idea how he had calcu-lated the figure. In fact, I had no idea how stock options even worked. I was a babe to such startup matters. The only thing I knew for sure was that startup stock options made people rich. Very rich. Northern California on the eve of the millennium was the geographic epicenter of the dot-com boom. Young people in their early twenties, including many of my Stanford classmates, fled their old economy jobs in droves to cast their lots with Internet companies. Leaving behind stodgy, seniority-based firms they turned to small companies that let them make important deci-sions and bring their dogs to work while they earned IPO riches. Or so I'd heard. Eight thousand dollars certainly didn't mean much to these people, but it did to me. I worked for the oldest of the old econ-omy firms, the buttoned-down Arthur Andersen, which at the time was still viewed as one of the world's most trusted and respectable professional services companies. The partners running the firm called it a privilege for people my age to have the opportunity to start out at such a venerable institution, and in return they paid stingy salaries to match. Peter made sure I would not mistake Confinity for another Andersen. He was offering me stock options and an increase in salary even though he wasn't sure exactly which position I'd fill. It didn't matter, he assured me, since Confinity had just launched its software product and needed talented people as quickly as possible. The product let people exchange money for shared expenses such as dinner bills and utilities, a novel idea that seemed poised to catch on despite its silly name-PayPal. "Yes, an extra $8,000," Peter chirped, refocusing my atten-tion. "Now, let's see, you could always ask Andersen if they're willing to pay you the $8,000 to stay another two weeks," he added, smiling. He had me and he knew it.