Equity Incentive Plans (aka, Stock Option Plans) are a standard feature in nearly every start-up. Although the basic concept (granting an equity interest to an employee or other service provider) is simple enough, there are a few administrative and legal technicalities that need to be respected. Below is a list of five common mistakes that start-ups make when administering their Equity Incentive Plans.
By Ashna Pai
Proxies are common in the world of shareholder voting. But, can directors also vote by proxy at board meetings under Delaware corporate law? No, they cannot. Following relevant Delaware case law, directors are prohibited from voting by proxy at board meetings.
Protecting your company’s intellectual property rights is essential during all stages of your company’s growth. One of the first steps you can take to protect your company’s intellectual property rights is to have all advisors, consultants, contractors and employees of your company enter into Proprietary Information and Inventions Assignment Agreements (“PIIAs”), also known as Confidential Information and Inventions Assignment Agreements.
This webinar provides an overview of the act including who it applies to, the types of data covered, and the new rights granted by the act such as data access, deletion, and portability. Actionable, business-focused advice is provided regarding preparing data inventories and process flows to support these new rights, as well as business model considerations in light of the act’s guidance on data monetization and the sanctions and remedies that companies may face.
Many employers maintain policies limiting their employees’ expectation of privacy in the workplace, including policies that eliminate any expectation of privacy when using company-issued electronic devices. While employers may think that having such a policy would protect them from invasion of privacy claims under the Fourth Amendment or state law, a recent federal court decision may cause employers to think otherwise. This post examines this decision and provides best practices for avoiding issues with employees’ privacy interests.
The Federal Trade Commission (“FTC”) has handed down its largest civil penalty ever for violations of the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (“COPPA”). Musical.ly, now known as TikTok after a 2018 merger, agreed to a fine of $5.7 million for its violations. The settlement was significant not only because of its record amount, but also because it includes a specific agreement on how the website will operate going forward.
The California Consumer Privacy Act takes effect on January 1, 2020, but amendments are expected. In an article recently published by Bloomberg Law, Mintz attorneys Joshua Briones, Esteban Morales and Matthew Novian discuss the April 9 hearing on SB-561, a bill that would expand the private right of action and remove compliance opportunities for businesses, and explain why the bill should be closely watched.
By Brian Lam
Privacy and data security is a serious concern for many startups. They understand that end users, consumers, partners, and investors are now concerned like never before about how data is collected, used, stored and transferred. A bad data event quickly turns into a bad news story, can turn off users, discourage investors, and bring regulatory scrutiny and enforcement.
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 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.
By Ben Stone
As societies and markets increasingly insist that corporations generate positive social impact alongside profit, investors have taken notice. The global impact investing market alone, for instance, doubled from $114 billion in 2017 to $228 billion in 2018, and will almost certainly continue to accelerate.
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.
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.
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.
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)!
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.
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.”
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.
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.
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.
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.