Way back when, my husband was presented with this choice, though there was an addition of a third choice - 1/2 stock options and 1/2 RSUs. We mistakenly thought the redemption price on the stock options was the price when he started working, not the current price. At the time, the face value of the stock options and RSUs were the same, using this false redemption price. We ended up doing 1/2 and 1/2 and regretting it! He works for a tech giant and the choice is very clear for us - RSUs all the way.

Are the terms of all RSU's and options generally the same across companies?

If not, how can we make a decision without more details such as duration of options, moneyness, dividend on the stock, vesting schedules, etc?

I would be willing to bet not - definitely agree more information is needed for a more clear cut choice. How long until FIRE (if applicable) being a big one, in addition to the financial details.

**This is a case where the vast majority of time, RSUs are the right choice - Just like it's almost always a good idea to put money into your 401k.** Sometimes, though, the terms of the 401k are so awful that it makes more sense to not max out the 401k and stick with mostly taxable accounts.

the potential upside IMO outweighs the risk.

In the same way putting $1,000 on red 17 on the roulette wheel is worth the risk? Potential upside outweigh the risk right? Guess we just have different opinions in which gambles are worth it.

Without knowing details, you can't draw a direct gambling comparison. Plus, the house always wins at a casino, which is not really equivalent to the stock market.

In an incredibly hypothetical example: Say the value of the RSUs would be $1,000, and the stock option choice has the following outcomes:

1% chance of making $1,000,000

99% chance of not making anything (essentially losing $1,000)

Is it a gamble? Yes. Is it a gamble you should take? According to the math, yes. The expected value is $1,000,000 * 0.01 + $0 * 0.99 = $10,000 vs. $1,000 for the RSUs

This is obviously an incredibly simplified and hypothetical example. Plus, you would never know in real life the actual outcomes and probabilities. You could guestimate probabilities based on outcomes from other, similar companies, but we all know past success does not equate to future gains. Thus, yes, still a gamble, 100%, but unlike roulette, the expected value is not going to be inherently biased against you.

In some cases, the actual probabilities might be more like

25% chance of making $2000

25% chance of making $1000

25% chance of making $500

25% chance of not making anything

Where the expected value would be $875 vs. the $1000 RSUs -- this is worse than roulette, by the way.