Some hot startups in Silicon Valley, including some “unicorns” worth $1bn or more, have a problem: they are not sure who owns them. As fast-talking founders pitch to deep-pocketed investors, junior staff back at the co-working space maintain simple spreadsheets with investors’ names and the number and type of shares they hold. They often get things wrong. This may lead to disputes when a company lists, is acquired—or goes bust.
Enter “equity managers”, which offer to help keep track of stakes. Carta, a seven-year-old pioneer of the industry, hosts data for 11,000 companies. Ledgy, a Swiss rival founded in 2017, caters to around 300. In Britain Capdesk’s 400-odd clients include Nutmeg, a hit fintech startup.