ASK A FINANCIAL ADVISOR? About Company “Vesting”

A YOUNG PHYSICIAN INQUIRES ABOUT NON-PUBLIC COMPANY SHARES AND VESTING?

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QUESTION: I am a physician and work for a startup healthcare IT company with shares in a non-public company that vests over time. What does that mean, and will the shares only be worth something if we go public or are acquired?

Shelly from Boston, MA

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ANSWER: In most cases, startups dangle equity compensation over employees like a just-out-of-reach cupcake in front of a treadmill. Vesting means some condition needs to be met before you fully own your shares, whether it’s staying at the company for a period of time, reaching a target valuation, or both.

Once your shares have fully vested, you’d think you can finally cash in. But that’s not always the case. It’s a hassle to sell private company shares because there are far fewer buyers compared to selling shares in a publicly traded company. 

If you want to sell your stake before the company goes public, you can ask the execs at your company to buy back your shares. If they say no—and they might, because once they let one employee sell, it’s hard to turn down others—you need another buyer, like an outside investor.

There are eBay-like marketplaces for selling private company shares, but it’s not like posting a picture of your old iPod and offering free shipping. You can only sell to accredited investors (aka hedge funds and other rich folks), and your company needs to authorize the sale. 

It’s way easier to sell your shares if and when your company goes public or is acquired by another company.

Thanks for the query.

Citation: https://www.r2library.com/Resource/Title/0826102549

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ASSESSMENT: Your thoughts are appreciated.

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THANK YOU

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One Response

  1. Ana Miller,
    Many thanks for the “like.”
    MEP

    Like

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