The SEC Confirms the Limited Scope and Nature of Utility Tokens

By Marine Bouaziz and Daniel DeWolf

On April 3, 2019, Finhub, the SEC’s Strategic Hub for Innovation and Financial Technology, released the “Framework for ‘Investment Contract’ analysis of digital assets” (the “Framework”) providing principles for analyzing whether a digital asset[1] constitutes an investment contract, and thus a security. The same day, the SEC’s Division of Corporation Finance (the “Division”) published its first No-Action Letter on digital tokens. The No-Action Letter applies the Framework to a digital asset created by Turnkey Jet, Inc. (“Turnkey Jet”), a company that provides interstate air charter services.

10 Shortcuts Entrepreneurs Should Not Take When Starting a Company

By Robert Giachetti and Mark Higgins

Congratulations - you have done it!  You had an idea, you built a product, you figured out how you want to go to market, and you created a company.  With that tedious process complete, you are ready to find your first customer, iron the bugs out of your product, and start making money.

How to Distribute Equity in Your Start-Up

By Patrick Elahmadie

One of the most difficult decisions entrepreneurs face when planning the growth of their start-up is determining how to distribute equity among the founders, the current (and/or future) management team and other employees and consultants. There is no one-size-fits-all model for determining to whom to give equity and how much to give them: this process requires an in-depth look at a number of factors pertaining to the company, generally, and the recipient of the equity, specifically. 

CAUTION: Director Veto Rights in Financing Documents May Constitute “Disproportionate Voting”

By Lewis Geffen and Soobin Kim

Section 141(d) of the Delaware General Corporations Law (DGCL) allows the certificate of incorporation (COI) of a Delaware corporation to confer upon one or more directors voting powers greater than or less than those of other directors, thus resulting in “disproportionate voting” rights amongst the Directors.  When VC funds, their portfolio companies and VC lawyers read or think about DGCL 141(d) and this disproportionate voting, they usually, and narrowly, have in mind only the question of whether certain directors may have more than or less than one vote per Director on matters voted on by the Board, or a committee of the Board. 

How To Get Started: Dividing Equity, Getting Incorporated and Other Details When Beginning Your Business!

By Dinesh Melwani and Will Perkins

Posted on Medium (Nov. 8, 2018)

Just about every emerging business/start-up lawyer could write a book (and many have!) on the topics of equity division, incorporation and the innumerable ‘other details’ founders need to keep in mind when starting a business! We think you can only properly address these issues with any specificity in a face-to-face or phone-to-phone conversation and, with that in mind, this writing focuses instead on some high level concepts and discussion points to cover with fellow founders in advance of your first sit-down with corporate legal counsel — a meeting we strongly recommend (and which, dare I say, many firms (big and small) will offer at no charge)!

LLCs and Convertible Debt – Too Good to be True?

By Scott Pinarchick and Will Bussiere

Founders choosing a structure for their business are often drawn to the limited liability company, or LLC, for its overall flexibility in both taxation and governance matters. And founders seeking access to early capital, not to mention seed investors themselves, are often drawn to the convertible note as a simple, less expensive means to raise funds. But LLCs and convertible debt don’t always mix.

Digital Tokens: Rethinking the Term “Cryptocurrency”

By Daniel DeWolf, Rachel Gholston, and Marine Bouaziz

What are the similarities between a one dollar bill, a share of a company, and a pre-paid gift card? The answer is……..not so much! The same is true of the similarities between virtual currencies, security tokens, and utility tokens; in truth, not so much. Yet, if you follow the world of digital tokens in the media and popular press, you would think that virtual currencies, security tokens, and utility tokens are all very similar because they are often concurrently and interchangeably discussed under the topic of “cryptocurrency.”

Issues in Chinese Foreign Direct Investment in U.S. Early Stage Biotechnology Companies

By Flora Brookfield

There has been a marked increase in the amount of money being invested by Chinese investors into U.S. early stage biotechnology companies since 2017, spurred on by direct encouragement from Beijing through its Made in China 2025 industrial policy, which specifically targets biotech as a strategic industry eligible for greater government backing.  In the first half of 2018, Chinese venture capital funds and high net worth family offices invested $5.1 billion in US biotech companies, exceeding the $4 billion invested by Chinese investors in all of 2017.

Founder’s Stock – a Legal Fiction

By Michael Bill

In common usage, a founder is an individual who creates or helps create a company, but in legal terms, there is no such thing as a “founder” or “founder’s stock,” only early participants in a company’s organization and ownership of its initial equity capital. Why is this so? Because, for all practical purposes (from a startup’s point of view), there are two types of stock – common stock and preferred stock – and “founders” are just the initial holders of the company’s common stock, usually before any financing, in-licensing, or contribution of assets.

Liability Considerations for Delaware Public Benefit Corporations

By Christina Bailey and Will Perkins

A public benefit corporation (PBC) is a statutorily designated type of corporation in Delaware that melds two concepts that are often seen as opposites: maximizing profit and providing public benefit. This choice of entity presents a compromise for those companies who are committed to operating in a responsible and sustainable manner, while acting as a for-profit entity.

The Form is Always Wrong

By Daniel DeWolf and Samuel Effron

Mintz attorneys are often asked as to why we don’t simply provide “forms” on our website that can be downloaded and used.  After all, a number of law firms let you download term sheets and other forms such as SAFEs. Our simple answer is: THE FORM IS ALWAYS WRONG! Legal forms are merely starting points and most forms are typically only half an inch deep. A successful enterprise truly needs so much more depth than what is provided in a basic form.

What to Do Now if You Want to Sell Your Company

By Jeremy Glaser

A typical sale transaction can take six to eight months to complete from the time the decision to sell is made. Consequently, it is important that any business owner seeking to sell his or her business in the near term take immediate steps.  The following are some key questions every potential seller should ask to assess their readiness and some key steps they should take to make sure they are ready for a sale.

New Beneficial Owner Threshold Eases VC Fundraising

By Talia Primor, Rachel Gholston, and Dan DeWolf

Small venture capital funds and special purpose vehicles, which otherwise qualify as “venture capital funds,” can now raise money from up to 250 beneficial owners and remain within the 3(c)(1) exemption of the Investment Company Act of 1940 (the “Investment Company Act”).

How to Leverage Privacy as a Key Competitive Advantage

By Brian Lam and Cynthia Larose

“Privacy by design” – while not a new concept – is certainly enjoying a new spot in the sunshine thanks to the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (“GDPR”) (93 days and counting…) and its codification of “privacy by design and default” in Article 25.

Privacy can also be a key differentiator and a competitive advantage.  Read on for some points that can help drive your data privacy/data management program.