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Year in Review — A Letter from the CEO

EquityZen2017 recapyear in reviewAtish DavdaCEO
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Atish Davda   February 01, 2018

The year that was 2017 will go down in the history books of EquityZen. Within the course of twelve months, we raised our Series B from Draper, grew headcount, surpassed our performance goals, and continued innovating around our platform to best serve our users. In honor of a tremendous year, our CEO, Atish Davda, offers the following thoughts on what we’ve accomplished and where we’re headed next.

2018 is off to a strong start for us and our clients, joining together in helping EquityZen bring private markets to the public. As 2017 turns into a memory, I want to take this moment to share moments of excitement and learning for the EquityZen team.

Last year was a wonderfully wild ride at EquityZen. While Q1 kicked off what looked poised to be a normal year for IPO volume (save for the 11th-hour AppDynamics acquisition), the rest of 2017 was a letdown for the US IPO market. Yet, bankers and deal lawyers remained busy, as did capital market technologists like the EquityZen team. We processed IPOs for platform companies that managed to reach escape velocity and delivered shares for earlier exits whose lockups expired. In spite of this, in 2017 we managed to nearly quadruple our transaction volume year-over-year - that's nearly four times amount of pre-IPO investment access and liquidity delivered.



While our eyes, minds, and hearts are set on building an even greater 2018, I want to share a few moments to reflect on the past year.

Let’s Get Down to Brass Tacks

A year in review cannot begin without first admiring what our team has accomplished:

  • We conducted a private placement transaction every hour the office was open from July to December
  • We more than tripled our revenue relative to 2016
  • We finished off 2017 with record transaction volume, growing nearly 4x from the previous year
  • Our team grew by almost 50% compared to the start of the year

We set challenging goals for ourselves, which makes it all the more exciting to watch our team meet and surpass our own expectations. We nearly doubled our user base last year. We strengthened the core technology that powers our transaction platform. The fruits of our labor as a data provider, industry expert, and thought-leader can be seen across the media, with coverage in major outlets such as CNBC, TechCrunch, Reuters, and many more. Most importantly, we’ve watched our EquityZen family grow while still maintaining the hard-working, engaging, sassy, and fun culture that has served as the driving force for our efforts. You can read about what drives the EquityZen team on EquityZen's Values, a page that embodies what we're all about.

Nothing Else Happened Last Year, Right? 

I would be remiss if I didn’t at least touch upon the whirlwind of news outside of (and sometimes within) our office walls. At this time last year, the words “cryptocurrency” and “blockchain” would barely register to most of us. Now, they have become a seemingly commonplace aspect of our global discourse. Though the recent rise of cryptocurrencies has increased competition for media attention and investors’ mindshare, they have opened up adjacent opportunities for EquityZen; we have served as liquidity partners for prominent firms in the cryptocurrency space. Additionally, heightened regulatory scrutiny on ICOs is welcome news as it will likely translate to greater investor protection, to which we pay close attention.

We continue to keep an eye on the public equities and private market sentiment (see EZMSI). Until the end of 2015, venture-backed companies were chasing growth at any cost. Since late-stage investors (and many public investors) began demanding positive unit economics, some companies have shuttered while others have thrived. The latter group is presumably more attractive, given they likely boast stronger fundamentals today than they did two years earlier. Though the view ahead looks rosier fundamentally, as I mentioned at the top, 2017 turned out to be a disappointing year for IPOs. Read a bit more about today’s typical IPO profile and our IPO outlook for 2018.

What’s on the Horizon 

Last year was terrific, but make no mistake: we’re just getting started. 2018 will be the first full year devoted to identifying a scalable process of new product development where everyone in the firm is actively working on major growth initiatives. We are continuing to expand our research efforts, delivering sector level coverage and thought pieces, such as our Cybersecurity and AI reports, which have appeared on this very blog. Our revenue, transaction volume, and acquisition goals have been recalibrated to keep us hungry and motivated. Last, but not least, we expect to continue hiring and expanding our team all the while emboldening the culture that drives us forward. As one of my newest colleagues put it, “we’re an ambitious yet humble” bunch and I could not agree more.

The work and feedback put in by many incredible people—the staff, our advisors, and our clients—have helped make EquityZen the premiere platform it is today. And it is with that input and with that effort that we will continue to make EquityZen the premier platform for many tomorrows to come.

Thank you for your ongoing support,
Atish

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Thank You From EquityZen

EquityZenThanksgiving

Ketan Bhalla   November 23, 2017

As we celebrate the Thanksgiving holiday in the United States, we wanted to continue our annual EquityZen tradition and reflect on a few things that we are thankful for this year.  Thanksgiving snuck up on a lot of us this year and it's hard to believe that 2017 is quickly coming to a close.  

Our partnership with Draper Associates

In July, we announced the closing of a new financing round led by Draper Associates.  We are proud to have the entire Draper team help us spread the EquityZen gospel of bringing private markets to the public.  One of our core beliefs is that all private market participants should have access to liquidity, and having the support of one of the pioneers of the modern venture capital industry is something we are extremely excited about. 


IPOs and acquisitions

After a somewhat quiet 2016, the EquityZen platform experienced a few exits, supporting our long-held thesis that the pre-IPO asset class is a valuable tool that should be included in investor portfolios.  Our clients experienced liquidity events in a few companies, including Nutanix, AppDynamics, Veracode, Cloudera, Redfin, and Tintri.  While the public performance of some these companies were better than others, it was exciting to see our thesis play out – we even created a case study to better illustrate how EquityZen was able to allow qualified investors to participate in Redfin’s IPO.

Our clients and our team

None of this would be possible without the support of our clients and our team.  We doubled our team size in 2017, all while keeping an intense focus on providing the best possible service for our clients – shareholders, investors, and companies alike.  We are proud to say that we have now closed over 2,850 investments in over 80 companies and support a platform that serves over 15,000 qualified investors from more than 40 countries.  Our clients are at the forefront of what we do everyday, and we are thankful for some of the stories that they have shared about their experience with us.  

From the entire team at EquityZen, thank you for being part of our community.  Happy Thanksgiving!
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Happy Thanksgiving from EquityZen

EquityZenCompany

Ketan Bhalla   November 24, 2016

Keeping with EquityZen tradition, we'd like to take a few moments to reflect on the past year and share a few things we are thankful for as we celebrate the Thanksgiving holiday here in the United States.  EquityZen hit some major milestones in 2016, including completing over 1,000 transactions in over 50 companies.  We believe it was a transformative year for the company and the private markets as a whole. 

Further development of the private markets

Awareness about the investment opportunity in private markets got a well deserved boost in 2016, which we are thankful for.  There were numerous articles in the press about pre-IPO investing, many of which we were actually featured in, which gave increased credence to the market as a whole.  A major tax break for startup founders, employees, and investors was also made permanent, which we believe is a positive sign for an evolving market.  Though it was painful, the public market downturn at the beginning of the year actually gave many investors and shareholders an opportunity to look at their public equity portfolios and consider rebalancing some of their risk into private companies, which was a catalyst for investors wanting to learn more about the asset class.  Finally, the fact that a private investment platform got featured in Forbes as part of the inaugural "Fintech 50" lent even more credibility to the market.

The EquityZen team

Our team has worked tirelessly this year to improve our investment platform and spread the EquityZen gospel.  We overhauled many aspects of our platform, dubbing 2016 the year of "EquityZen 2.0", and have greatly improved the experience for investors, shareholders, and companies alike.  We've taken great strides to make buying and selling private shares simpler and more transparent, and in recognition of this we were featured in two case studies this year from HelloSign and Asana (two awesome products that we have integrated to make transactions simpler and faster).  We also pounded the pavement to raise awareness about private markets, presenting at industry conferences such as Finovate.  All of this was truly a team effort and we are proud of the hard work and dedication of our team.

Our clients

We are grateful to all of the many, many clients that we interacted with this year.  The feedback, both good and bad, has been invaluable as we continue to work towards our goal of modernizing and developing our private investment platform.  Ultimately all of the effort and hard work we put in is meant to serve you, so we hope we have been able to exceed your expectations.  We hope the process was seamless, quick, and informative.  

On behalf of the entire team at EquityZen, we wish you and your loved ones a Happy Thanksgiving. 
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