Liquid Incentive! More Startup Employees Sell Shares Through SecondMarket

CEOs tell employees: "We’re doing this for you."

Is it a second act for SecondMarket? That might be overstating the case, but the private market’s third-quarter report revealed that a growing portion of the sellers on its platform are current employees putting up shares in their own startups.

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“More and more companies are using SecondMarket as an incentive tool,” Aishwarya Iyer, public affairs manager for SecondMarket, told Betabeat. “We have CEOs who are telling their employees, ‘We’re doing this for you.'”

Seventy-six percent of the sellers in the private stock market were current employees, up from 60 percent in the second quarter, SecondMarket said in a release, and a dramatic reversal from previous years: former employees made up 90 percent of sellers in 2010 and 2011.

The continuing shift in the supply of shares wasn’t the only change evident in SecondMarket’s third quarter report: for the first time, the consumer web and social media category didn’t rank first or second in total dollar volume, accounting for a scant 1.2 percent of transactions. In part, that may be a residual effect of Facebook (META) departure initial public offering in the middle of the second quarter, but Ms. Iyer said the shift was also due to a more diverse mix of companies using SecondMarket to provide private liquidity.

What categories gained share? Consumer electronics dominated third-quarter trading, accounting for more than 75 percent dollar volume, with eCommerce responsible for another 19 percent.

Biotech and pharmaceutical companies may drive future sales. SecondMarket collects data on companies whose shares aren’t available on the platform to gauge interest—there was $77 million in demand for the biotech and pharma category last quarter, with consumer web second at $45 million and software third at $43 million.

Meanwhile, SecondMarket highlighted companies that are attracting increased interest: potential buyers “watching” Meraki, the cloud-based network infrastructure firm, quadrupled in the third quarter, and interest in Codecademy more than tripled.


Liquid Incentive! More Startup Employees Sell Shares Through SecondMarket