Brad Feld

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Term Sheet: Initial Public Offering Shares Purchase

Jul 28, 2005
Category Term Sheet

Jason and I are planning to finish strong with some serious stuff in our term sheet series, but we figured we’d put one more term in that has us sniggling whenever we see it (a “sniggle” is a combination “sneer-giggle” – sort of like how I reacted to Kidman / Ferrell in Bewitched last night). The last sniggle term is as follows:

Initial Public Offering Shares Purchase:  In the event that the Company shall consummate a Qualified IPO, the Company shall use its best efforts to cause the managing underwriter or underwriters of such IPO to offer to [investors] the right to purchase at least (5%) of any shares issued under a “friends and family” or “directed shares” program in connection with such Qualified IPO. Notwithstanding the foregoing, all action taken pursuant to this Section shall be made in accordance with all federal and state securities laws, including, without limitation, Rule 134 of the Securities Act of 1933, as amended, and all applicable rules and regulations promulgated by the National Association of Securities Dealers, Inc. and other such self-regulating organizations.”

We firmly put this in the “nice problem to have” category.  This term really blossomed in the late 1990’s when anything that was VC funded was positioned as a company that would shortly go public. However, most investment bankers will push back on this term if the IPO is going to be a success as they want to get stock into the hands institutional investors (e.g. “their clients”).  If the VCs get this push back, they are usually so giddy with joy that the company is going public that they don’t argue with the bankers.  Ironically, if the VC doesn’t get this push back (or even worse, get a call near the end of the IPO road show) where the bankers are asking the VC to buy shares in the offering, the VC usually panics (because it means it’s no longer a hot deal) and does whatever he can not to have to buy into the offering.

Sniggle.  Our recommendation – don’t worry about this one or spend lawyer time on it.