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As of today’s announcement that Ted Wang at Fenwick & West has collaborated with a group of bay area early stage VC’s and angel investors to create the Series Seed Documents we now have – at my count – four different standardized seed financing documents floating around the industry.
- TechStars Model Seed Funding Documents (by Cooley)
- Y Combinator Series AA Equity Financing Documents (by WSGR)
- Founders Institute Plain Preferred Term Sheet (by WSGR)
- Series Seed Financing Documents (by Fenwick & West)
Many smart and capable people have either worked on these various docs on signed on as supporters. However, until there is one standardized set of documents that everyone – especially the various law firms agree on – I don’t expect there to really be a standardized set of seed financing documents. I wrote about this in my post The Challenge of The Ideal First Round Term Sheet.
Rather than whine about it, after reading the PEHub article Marc Andreessen on “Series Seed Documents,” and Why VCs Should Start Using Them I’ve decided to try to get a handful of lawyers in a room and try to come out with one set of documents. This might be a futile effort, which will prove the point that it’s impossible to create one standard set of documents. But – I’m an optimist, so I’m going to plan for a good outcome.
I’ll proactively reaching out to the appropriate folks at Cooley, WSGR, and Fenwick & West to organize a one day session, with laptops, somewhere in the bay area. I’ll include a handful of early stage investors (both VCs and angels) in this effort. My goal will be to finish the day with a truly standardized set of seed documents that all of the firms agree to use. Then we’ll open source these and evangelize them across the startup world, at least in the US.
If you are an attorney at a major national or regional law firm that works with startup companies, please email me if you are interested in participating. If you are a VC or angel investor that supports this effort – same drill (email me). Let’s end this madness (which I’ve been dealing with for 16 years and an angel and VC investor) once and for all – the entrepreneurs who we work with deserve better from us.
Sim Simeonov, a partner at Polaris Venture Partners, sent me (along with a bunch of his closest friends) the following email this morning.
“Founders often ask about the dilution they are likely to experience through exit. There are rules of thumb but there is no good data about what happens to common stock (at least, I haven’t been able to find such data outside of S1 filings which are a very biased sample). So, I built a little survey to collect anonymous data from entrepreneurs. I’ll crunch the numbers and share the stats with everyone. I’d appreciate your help in spreading the word around so that we get enough data.”
Sim is doing a short survey to collect this info. Help him become statistically significant by taking the survey – it looks like it’ll take less than two minutes. He promises to post the results on his blog.
Ever since David Cohen started TechStars, I’ve encouraged him to “open source” everything. We regularly get approached by people all over the world to talk about the program. We do – we tell them everything about what we do, how we do it, and why we do it. We share our documents with them. We try to help and support them.
We regularly get asked for the documents we use for doing early stage financings. I personally believe these documents should be able to be done on a single piece of paper and sealed with a handshake (or more preferably, a fist bump), but I’m generally alone in that view. So, we’ve worked closely with Cooley Godward Kronish, LLP (and specifically Mike Platt, who has been my go to lawyer and a close friend since I moved to Boulder in 1995) to put together a set of “Model Seed Funding Documents” that anyone can use.
There are five primary documents in the set:
Of course, these are just example documents so all legal disclaimers about usage apply (e.g. “do with them what you want, but we take no responsibility for your actions.”) That said, I think these are a great starting point for anyone doing an early stage financing.