We just recently invested in a team of co-founders who had actually willingly made their own vesting longer than 4 years. Four-year vesting is the market requirement. Why would somebody willingly make it longer for themselves?
Their response: “Nowadays, with companies taking seven to 10 years to reach exit, it would make good sense for founders to be on a comparable schedule.”
This matters due to the fact that the four-year co-founder vesting schedule regularly harms startup creators’ interests. In some cases it damages their startup irreparably.
A growing number of founders are starting to recognize this. I talked with quite a few about this over the last 2 years. Mostly, the “longer-than-four-years-vesting” creators share a comparable story in addition to logic. Generally they are repeat, experienced founders. Often scarred by a co-founder separation in their prior start-up, they are determined to set things up smarter in their next company.
Importantly, this group of creators assumes they are going to be the ones actually developing the company. They created the business. They are the business. Nobody is forcing them out. I think founders who currently believe this about their own startup will find this post most useful.
Provided the huge ramifications of co-founder vesting schedules, all startup creators ought to consider co-founder vesting lengths more carefully and after that pick what makes sense for them. You make this decision around the time of incorporation but feel the impacts over the lifetime of your company.
4-year vesting schedules are anachronistic
As far back as the 1980s, the basic start-up vesting schedule was four or five years, with 5 being more common on the East Coast. Nobody seems to keep in mind a time it was anything various. The closest I have actually gotten to a sensible answer on why it’s 4 years today stretches back to a pre-401(k) era, from prior to Reagan’s tax reforms in the ’80s. Prior to then, tax rules incentivized huge company pension to have vesting durations of a minimum of 5 years.
Startups didn’t offer traditional pension. Instead, startups provided workers stock, vesting over four years instead of five as a competitive move. That is all moot today. It has no relevance for startup creators in 2020.
More relevantly, time from establishing to exit has actually gone from four years in 1999 to eight years in 2020. Creator vesting stays stuck at four. This threatens.
Hedging against the crash of ineptitude
Article curated by RJ Shara from Source. RJ Shara is a Bay Area Radio Host (Radio Jockey) who talks about the startup ecosystem – entrepreneurs, investments, policies and more on her show The Silicon Dreams. The show streams on Radio Zindagi 1170AM on Mondays from 3.30 PM to 4 PM.