Warrants are very flexible agreements and can be customized for a particular situation. This post provides an overview of private company warrants.
Warrants to purchase stock in private companies enable the holder of the warrant to buy shares of stock in the company at a specified price for a certain period of time. Warrants are issued by private companies to investors, lenders, vendors and partners as part of a transaction or as an incentive to enter into a transaction or a financing.
Warrants are very flexible agreements and can be customized for a particular situation. This post provides an overview of private company warrants.
Imagine being an early employee of a startup and being granted stock options as part of your compensation package. A few years later the company goes public and your stock options are worth several million dollars. This is a story that has been repeated many times the start-up world.
Stock options provide a way for officers, directors, employees and consultants to share in the upside in the equity value of a company. Companies issue stock options to attract and retain talent, and to reward these people with upside in the company’s value. Investors in start-ups recognize the value of stock option plans, and make sure the company will have a suitable stock option plan in place to attract and retain top-level talent.
This post provides an overview of stock option plans.
Drag-along rights enable a group of stockholders (such as a majority of the preferred stockholders) to force a sale of the company. These rights are called “drag along” because the stockholder group exercising the right are in effect dragging the other stockholders along in the transaction.
Why do preferred stock investors in start-up companies (such as venture capital firms) want these rights? To ensure that if the preferred stockholders want to sell the company, they can.
Drag-along rights are a bit complex, and this post will try to demystify them.
In the prior post “Preferred Stock Financings: Rights of First Refusal” we discussed the right that the company and stockholders have to acquire the shares of stock being offered for sale by an existing stockholder.
A related right is the Co-Sale right, also known as “tag-along” right or “take me along” right. A Co-Sale applies when an existing preferred stockholder in a privately-held company has received an offer from a potential buyer (known as a “third party”) to buy its stock. The Co-sale right enables existing stockholders to sell their stock alongside the selling stockholder in this transaction.
Let’s explore the mechanics of a Co-Sale right.
Have you heard the term “ROFR” (pronounced “Roafer”)? This term is well known by professional investors.
ROFR means Right of First Refusal. We will do a deep dive on ROFRs in this post.
This post is a continuation of the post “Preferred Stock Financings: Registration Rights Part 1.”
In the prior post, we discussed the registration process, which enables the company and/or existing stockholders to sell shares to the public on a stock exchange, such as the New York Stock Exchange (“NYSE”) or NASDAQ. We discussed S-1 registration statements and S-3 registration statements, which are the primary ways for the company to sell stock to the public.
In this post, we explore “demand” registration rights and “piggyback” registration rights, which are rights held by the preferred stockholders in order to be able to register their shares so they can be sold in the public markets.
There are two key events that occur for an investor in a private company: The purchase of the stock and the exit (an “exit” is the sale or exchange of the stock for cash or publicly traded stock). The primary exits are when a company is sold and the investor receives cash for its stock, and when the investor sells their shares into the public market as part of a registered offering, such as an IPO.
“Registration rights” are the rights that preferred stock investors obtain to allow them to sell their stock in a registered offering.
There’s a lot to discuss here, so buckle up and let’s get going.
I am pleased to be moderating a panel at the Carmo Middle Market Private Equity Web Conference on February 9-10, 2021. I will be moderating the panel "Consumer & Business Services: A Conversation on Value. The link to the conference is here: https://www.carmocompanies.com/middle-market-private-equity-web-meeting
Here’s a scenario inspired by real events that I have experienced: a startup telecom company was all the rage and the company’s Series A preferred stock financing was heavily oversubscribed. As a result, the deal was “take it or leave it” for investors and the Series A preferred stockholders invested without obtaining many of the normal provisions protecting their investment. The company raised significantly more money than they needed at that stage. With all this cash burning a hole in the company’s pocket, the company decided to buy some land and build itself a new headquarters building. The company also gave management huge raises and bonuses and lavishly spent on marketing (sponsoring a race car and hiring a celebrity spokesperson), office décor, company retreats and parties. Not surprisingly, the company blew through all of its cash very rapidly, with little progress to show for it. The company then tried to raise another round of financing but couldn’t agree with investors on valuation (the investors wanted a very low valuation) and the company went out of business.
Moral of the story: If the investors in the financing described above had obtained protective provisions, this financial debacle may not have occurred.
This blog post is about protective provisions.
Boards of directors for early-stage companies are very important and serve a number of critical functions. The board hires the company’s CEO and other senior management (and sometimes fires them), and decides other major events for the company, such as whether and when to raise additional capital, enter into important contracts, sell the company, go public or to wind the company down. In addition, the board often has committees, including an audit committee (to review the financials of the company) and a compensation committee (to establish officer compensation) that meet separately from the board.
Members of the board of directors are elected by the stockholders, and represent the stockholders’ interests. In preferred stock financings, the lead investor will usually obtain the right to appoint a director to the board. If the lead investor doesn’t obtain a board appointment right, then the investor may obtain the right to be a “board observer.” Board observer rights are sometimes granted in addition to board appointment rights.
This blog discusses an investor’s rights to appoint a member of the board and/or a board observer.
In a convertible preferred stock financing, one of the most heavily negotiated terms is the liquidation preference.
A liquidation preference is a priority payment right given to preferred stockholders when a company has a “liquidation” event – which means a sale of the company or the bankruptcy/winding down of the company. In the event of a liquidation, the liquidation preference determines how the liquidation proceeds are prioritized and paid to the preferred stockholders and the common stockholders. These payments are called a “liquidation waterfall.”
Liquidation preferences can be pretty complex, so let’s break this down into components.
A “dividend” is the payment of "excess cash" by a company to its shareholders (it’s a bit more complicated than that, but we’ll get to that later). If the company pays dividends, the stockholders will receive the dividends based on their ownership in the company.
For privately-held companies, especially early-stage companies, dividends are generally not paid as these companies generally don’t have excess cash, and even if they did, they would use any excess cash to grow the company’s business. But even though dividends are generally not paid by privately-held companies, it is important to understand how dividends work because preferred stock investors may negotiate dividend provisions that could result in substantial sums of money being paid to the preferred stockholders in certain situations.
When private companies hold financing rounds with venture capital and other professional investors, these investors acquire convertible preferred stock from the company. The “convertible” or “conversion” feature of the preferred stock is fundamental to many of the rights, privileges and preferences granted to the preferred stock investors.
So what is the convertible feature of convertible preferred stock? Read on.
Anti-dilution provisions protect existing stockholders from value dilution and/or ownership dilution. They are powerful investor protections and they come in different flavors.
In a prior post, we discussed Rights of First Offer (also known as Pre-Emptive Rights) which offer protection against ownership dilution.
This post will explore anti-dilution protections that protect against value dilution.
A “right of first offer,” also known as a “pre-emptive right,” provides an investor in a company with the right to participate in future financing rounds so that the investor can maintain its ownership percentage in the company. Rights of first offers are referred to in shorthand as ROFOs.
There are many elements to ROFOs. Let’s break them down.
This is second part of the post on dilution. The first post discussed ownership dilution, also known as equity dilution. The first post can be found here: http://www.allenlatta.com/allens-blog/dilution-part-one-understanding-ownership-dilution
As discussed in part one, I view dilution as having two components: ownership (equity) dilution and value dilution. These concepts are related. Let’s now explore value dilution.
The word “dilution” is used often private equity, particularly in venture capital financings. One can hear venture capitalists and founders say they don’t want to be diluted. But what are they talking about when they say this? That’s the topic of this post.
I view dilution as having two components: ownership dilution and value dilution. These concepts are related. In this post, we’ll take a look at ownership dilution. We’ll look at value dilution in a later post.
What can you learn from reviewing over a thousand private equity fund presentations (also known as “pitch decks”)? Among other things, you learn what works in a fund presentation and what doesn’t. This post contains my thoughts on what an emerging manager should include in a fund presentation.
A fund secondary transaction occurs when an existing investor in a private equity fund sells its interest to a third party in a private transaction.
While this may sound pretty straight-forward, fund secondaries are fairly complex. One complexity relates to the fact that an investment in a private equity fund is "illiquid." It is called illiquid because it isn’t very easy for an investor in a private equity fund to sell its fund interest.
There are several reasons why interests in private equity funds are illiquid. First, unlike publicly-traded stocks which can be bought and sold very easily on public markets like the New York Stock Exchange and NASDAQ, there is no public market where one can buy or sell interests in private equity funds. Second, for stocks to be able to be sold on public markets like the New York Stock Exchange and NASDAQ, by law they must first be registered with the US Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”). Interests in private equity funds are not registered with the SEC, and so there are legal (statutory) restrictions on the sale or transfer of these fund interests. Third, investors in private equity funds sign contracts (known as “limited partnership agreements” or “LPAs”) which contain restrictions on the sale or transfer of the fund interests.
In my prior post, “LP Corner: Understanding the “Equity” of Private Equity” we explored the “Equity” in Private Equity. In this post we explore the “Private” in Private Equity. These posts are complements to my initial post “LP Corner: What is Private Equity?”. The hope is that these posts will provide the reader with a good overview of what “Private Equity” means.
So what does the “Private” in Private Equity mean? In essence, it means that the companies that PE funds (buyout, venture capital and growth equity funds) invest in and/or acquire are privately-held companies. To understand this, first we'll explore what public companies are, and then we'll take a deeper dive into what private companies are, and we'll finish with a discussion of the types of companies that buyout funds acquire..
LP Corner: Understanding the “Equity” of Private Equity (or, An Introduction to Common Stock and Preferred Stock)
Private equity, generally speaking, is an equity (stock) investment in a privately-held company. My blog post “LP Corner: What is Private Equity?” provides an overview of how the term “private equity” is used. This post is going to explore the “equity” component of “Private Equity.” This post is a complement to my posts "LP Corner: What is Private Equity" and "LP Corner: The "Private" in Private Equity".
Let’s start with a basic definition of equity: Equity is the most basic form of ownership in a company. Since virtually all private equity-backed companies in the United States are corporations, we are going to focus on equity in a corporation.
To all readers: I hope you and your families are healthy and safe. My thoughts are with all who are impacted by this deadly virus.
I’ve been around for a while, and have experienced several market dislocations in my career. I had just started my career as a corporate finance attorney when the “Black Monday” stock market crash of October 19, 1987 occurred. I was a telecommunications investment banker when the dot-com crash occurred in March 2000. I was a private equity fund-of-funds manager when the Global Financial Crisis (“GFC”) hit in 2008. Because of these experiences, I have some thoughts for limited partners (“LPs”) during this crisis.
A concept that is important for understanding company financings is that of “pre-money” and “post-money” valuation. Pre-money valuation is the value of a company immediately prior to a financing round. Post-Money Valuation is the value of the company immediately after the financing round. The difference is usually the amount of money raised in the round.
Let’s explore this deeper.
In April 2005, my article “An LP’s 10 Tips for Emerging Managers” appeared in the Venture Capital Journal. This article offered advice to new managers on how to successfully raise a private equity fund. With the advantage of many(!) additional years of experience evaluating emerging managers, I thought I should update that advice. Below are some tips for emerging managers seeking to raise money from potential private equity fund investors (also known as “Limited Partners” or “LPs”).
1. Have Sufficient Resources for a Lengthy Fundraise.
Raising a fund takes lots of determination, time and money. Some people rush into raising a fund without considering whether they have the resources to successfully raise a fund. Raising a first-time fund can take a long time, in some cases 18 to 24 months (or more), and can cost over $1 million, which the partners of the emerging manager must pay out of their pockets until the fund has its initial closing, at which time fundraising expenses (excluding placement agent fees, see below) are reimbursed by the fund. The partners must have sufficient resources to finance the costs of fundraising as well as the costs of opening and maintaining an office (with staff). In addition, each partner of the emerging manager must have enough resources to finance that partner’s personal household expenses during the fundraising. Having the resources to fundraise for an extended period of time is critical to the success of raising a fund.
My firm Campton Private Equity Advisors today hosted a webinar "Private Equity Investing 101: An Overview for New Investors" which provided an overview of investing in Private Equity. Topics covered in the webinar included:
Click the button below to go to a reply of the webinar on YouTube:
If the button doesn't work, here's a link to the webinar on YouTube at: https://youtu.be/zsFgajgoE2E
The presentation is available for download below:
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