Cap tables are not just broken, they’re stuck on Excel spreadsheets and archaic paper systems.
Henry Ward, founder of eShares, an online record-keeping platform for privately held companies, says the solution is to do like public companies already do – go digital.
Cap tables, for those unfamiliar, are a record of all the shareholders in a company.
This is known as the cap table and it’s the way most shareholders figure out how much of the company they own.
“Say you give me $1000 for my startup and I give you 100 shares. We issue the paper document and then that gets recorded into Excel. But then something might’ve converted wrong or the paper gets lost somehow,” says Ward, the founder of eShares, a startup attempting to bring privately held companies into the 21st Century with a digital record-keeping platform for startup shareholders.
Angel investor Andy Palmer puts it bluntly in a post on cap tables for Koa Lab, “So here you are: because some inexperienced junior paralegal screwed up certificate administration, the employee who worked hard, did your job, sacrificed as required to make the company successful and produced results, now has to reach into their pocket and pay $15K+ for a bond that should have been completely unnecessary,” Palmer writes.
“At the end of each quarter, we have the fun job of nudging the busy management teams of our portfolio companies to provide a current cap table so we in turn can accurately report our ownership positions to our limited partners. The whole process feels like snail mail and is prone to error. Not to mention the process of collecting and storing stock certificates in a third party vault, even though no one except our funds could really offer these outmoded pieces of paper as evidence of a legally valid ownership position.”