Turning Options Into CashAt eBay, these two benefits have turned into huge cash generators. In 2002, for instance, the company had operating cash flow of $479.9 million. Operating cash flow is supposed to represent the money a company generates from its operations and is essentially calculated by removing noncash gains and charges from the company's net income. But more than $91 million of eBay's operating cash flow came from the tax benefit related to options. Meanwhile, eBay last year generated an impressive $341.2 million in free cash flow, which is operating cash flow minus capital expenditures. But if the tax benefit the company saw from options is combined with the cash it received from options sales -- $255.6 million -- the company saw more money from options-related benefits than it posted in free cash flow. Those trends continued in the first quarter of this year. Of the $190 million eBay generated in operating cash flow in the quarter, nearly 22% came from the tax benefit related to options. With the company seeing $208.4 million from the exercise of stock options, eBay's total options benefit in the quarter was 171% of the $146.1 million it posted in free cash flow.