The US Securities Exchange Act of 1934, section 12(g), generally limits a privately held company to fewer than 500 shareholders. The assumption has been that companies with 500 investors are quasi-public anyway, and for disclosure and other reasons should be forced to go public when the shareholder number approaches this limit.
In the “good old days,” angels invested in seed-stage startups and teed up promising companies for subsequent venture capital financing. If the company was successful, this quickly led to an IPO – a very happy ending for the entrepreneur, the angels, and the venture capitalists. My, my…how the world has changed.
Due diligence should always be a two-way street. A while back, I published an article on “Startup Due Diligence Is Not a Mysterious Black Art,” describing what investors do to validate your startup before they invest. Here is the inverse, sometimes called reverse due diligence, describing what you should do to validate your investor before signing up for an equity
Listen my children and you shall hear Of IPO dreams once held so dear Our forefathers’ jackpot, guaranteed to arrive Hardly a founder now alive Can remember that famous yesteryear
So begins, of course, one of the most famous poems of the entire startup canon. And, a bit misty-eyed, this old war veteran can actually remember the glory days: Venture