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. ┬áSo 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…]