Shareholder Stories

Hear from three shareholders who sold on EquityZen.

Alex, 43
  • Worked at a tech company that IPOed in 1999, and held shares through the tech crash
  • Joined an enterprise software startup, sold shares on EquityZen
Mike, 31
  • Former Wall Streeter
  • Worked at a B2B company for 5 years, sold shares on EquityZen
Chuck, 35
  • Moved to Southern California about 4 years ago
  • Former iOS developer for consumer-facing retail company, sold shares on EquityZen
  • Worked at a tech company that IPOed in 1999, and held shares through the tech crash
  • Joined an enterprise software startup, sold shares on EquityZen
A few years (typically 3-4) after a startup starts, employees realize their options are worth a lot. People start getting antsy about realizing gains.

Why sell your shares?

I started wanting to sell in 2014 to buy a second house. I actually referred my friends at the company to EquityZen – they had even bigger issues than I did (tax related). Most people are selling because of tax reasons or because they want to diversify.

I didn't have a lot of cash 5 years after leaving a well-paying hedge fund job, but had a lot of equity. I wanted to change my financial make-up.

I wasn't concerned about the value of the shares; I needed money to pay for house improvements and I just wanted to have some extra money around. The opportunity to sell was available so I took advantage of it.

How was your experience with EquityZen?

I went with a bigger company first, but waited several months for a bid. Then, I was looking for anywhere I could sell. A friend referred me to a hedge fund. It sounded all legit, but they offered me all kinds of weird stuff (a lot of structuring, profit-sharing). At first, I was worried because I hadn’t heard of EquityZen before. But they moved fast; within a month, EquityZen had buyers lined up for me.

EquityZen does a really good job and the experience is seamless. The first time, there was a lot of legal documentation involved, but the process was still smooth. It was pretty risk-free as far as the transaction was concerned.

After I left the company, I had some vested options. I explored some possibilities to cash out some of the equity. I saw articles that mentioned EquityZen, emailed them, and started a dialogue; it was easier than I thought. My friends told me the process at other places was painful.

How did your company feel about your transaction with EquityZen?

They were very helpful, and they even guided the process for their forms. For ex-employees, they don't have any issues. The company has been around for 7.5 years so they have several ex-employees out there. They're trying to avoid random stuff going on. To sell your equity to someone, you need to transfer the shares - you have to go to the company, who has them on their books. The company has to do all this paperwork. It's hard to fake it - there isn't a lot of room to do anything strange.

The company was okay with it. We went through all the paperwork, and there was no push back at all.

Would you use EquityZen again?

I was surprised that people don't know how to value their equity. You can't just look at what the stock is trading at, like with a public company. I probably will look to do additional transactions at the right price, but based on demand. I’m not itching to sell more, but at a good price, I would definitely consider it.

I’m still in touch with former colleagues; the general feeling seems to be that there isn't much demand right now for the shares. No one is freaking out, but they would like to have some liquidity.

Specific customer experiences are not representative of all customer experiences and are no guarantee of future returns or success.

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