Series B Startup unwilling to disclose total shares


6

I have an offer from a series B startup that includes number of shares but no mention of value of each share or total shares (so I can compute a percentage). I asked and they were unwilling to disclose the total number of shares the company is divided into -- making the number offered an entirely meaningless number.

I understand this would be a huge red flag if the startup were series A or earlier. However, this is a 100+ employee series B funded startup. Is it normal to not be told the value of your stock options at this point?

Job Offer Stock Options

asked Mar 14 '13 at 09:17
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David Cowden
133 points
  • it is normal, run like hell – Itai Sagi 9 years ago

3 Answers


4

For perspective, consider a job offer where you'll be paid 100,000 per year, but you aren't allowed to know which currency it'll be in. GBP is pretty good, but ZWD not so much.

It would be great to know why they feel the need to keep this secret and without a really good reason, I'd consider this a red flag. You have to assume that the shares are worthless and consider the offer without them.

answered Mar 15 '13 at 00:07
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Steve Jones
3,239 points
  • The offer was solid minus the stock options. Since I didn't have any competing offers, I didn't have much bargaining power. I talked with the CFO who was unwilling to disclose the information and basically told me the shares mean we value you enough to give you some part of the company, but we are unwilling to tell you how much. It was annoying, but I'm a new grad with no competing offers. I like the company, the product, and the people I'd interacted with a lot. I will definitely keep this advice in mind as my career grows though. Took the offer. – David Cowden 9 years ago
  • Good for you. The shares are probably worthless now, which is why they were so weird about it, but one day might be worth something. In the meantime, you have a good job at a company you like. All the best. – Steve Jones 9 years ago
  • Oh, yeah they're common stock anyway so they are valued at about 1/10th of the preferred stock. They *are* worthless until the company would go public or get acquired. I wonder if people thought I was talking about preferred stock.. I think the fact that they are common shares changes the dynamics a bit. – David Cowden 9 years ago

3

The stock grant is a taxable event, I'd say its rather surprising that you're asked to make a commitment without giving you the opportunity to evaluate how much it is going to cost you.

Unless the stocks are worthless, of course.

answered Mar 14 '13 at 13:19
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Littleadv
5,090 points

3

This is a big red flag.

  1. They don't think you're important enough to take your concerns seriously
  2. They don't share company information and are more likely than usual to hide things from you in the future
  3. Other employees likely didn't get this information either, and perhaps aren't sophisticated enough to care; great candidates may be likely to join this team under these circumstances
  4. The option size may be so small they're embarrassed to share with you.

This seems so unreasonable that if you were to really push them I think they'd give you the information. You shouldn't have to really push them, though.

That said, you could try asking them for a ballpark percentage. In any case, it's likely your percentage will be significantly diluted over new rounds of financing.

answered Mar 15 '13 at 08:57
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Dsilver829
31 points

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