The Pitfalls of Moonlighting in a Day Job for Startup Founders

This post first appeared in Southern Alpha on November 2, 2016.

Many, if not most, founders have difficulty being able to afford to work full-time for their startup right from the start. But working in a day job while moonlighting at your venture presents some particularly dicey legal issues that can cause issues down the line.

In particular, moonlighting for your startup presents a significant threat to your startup’s intellectual property, especially if you’re currently working at a technology company. Many employers, especially technology companies and other IP-intensive businesses, require all employees to sign invention assignment agreements, which are often very broad and give your employer rights to any IP you create that relates to the business of your employer or any reasonably anticipated business of your employer. This is the case even if the IP was created on your own time and without the use of your employer’s facilities. [Read more…]

Thoughts on the Final Crowdfunding Regulations

In October, the SEC finally completed its implementing regulations to Title III of the JOBS Act, more commonly known as the “crowdfunding” exemption. The 600-page release can be found here. I’m not going to bother summarizing these regulations, as so many others have done a very good job doing of that already.  So, as I previously did with the proposed regulations, I’ll instead offer some of my thoughts on and reactions to the final rules: [Read more…]

Why You Can’t Really Include Non-accredited Investors in Rule 506 Offerings

One common misconception I encounter among startups is the idea that companies raising capital can include non-accredited investors in Rule 506[1] offerings. While it is technically true that a Rule 506 offering may include up to 35 non-accredited investors, what is often missed is that it is not really practical to do so. [Read more…]

Frequently Asked Questions about Regulation A+

Back in March, I wrote about proposed revisions to Regulation A, commonly known as “Regulation A+”, which were designed to implement Section 401 of the Jumpstart Our Business Startups Act (JOBS Act). Since then, the SEC issued its final rule, which went into effect earlier in the month. Back in March, I had two main thoughts regarding the proposed rule. First, by proposing that Regulation A+ offerings preempt state registration requirements, the SEC had proposed a securities exemption that may actually prove useful and had a chance to be used in the real world (as opposed to the old Regulation A, which was rarely used). While this aspect of the proposed rule would be attractive to companies raising capital, it would also be controversial with state regulators and investor advocates, so I was concerned that in the final rule preemption of state laws would be rolled back. Second, I was concerned that companies that used Regulation A+ would likely be subject to ongoing Securities Exchange Act reporting (as a fully public company would be), which would reduce the attractiveness of the exemption. [Read more…]

Should Founders Subject Themselves to a Vesting Schedule?

When advising startup clients, I frequently recommend that they subject the shares issued to their founders (as well as those issued to any equity-compensated employees and contractors) to a vesting schedule. This conversation often leads the founders to look at me as if I had just asked them to grow a second head. It’s not hard to see why they would be somewhat confused as to why I recommend this course of action. As a technical matter, usually (but not always) my client is the startup itself and not the founders personally. And while I am always very clear about this with my clients, as I must be as an attorney, my clients’ founders often see me as their adviser, at least on some instinctual level. In addition, at the early stages of a startup, before any significant investors are involved, the founders have complete control over the company.  So they often ask why would they do something like subjecting their own shares to a vesting schedule that appears to be contrary to their own interests and why I would recommend that they take such an action. After all, they can only lose by subjecting their shares to a vesting schedule, right? [Read more…]