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Ask HN: Where to sell my startup shares?

Hi HN, I am working at at startup. I now want to cash out part of the shares I own from this startup, which represents interesting money.

I found different platforms like: - https://equityzen.com - https://sharespost.com - and https://forgeglobal.com

Any experience or advice in using those platforms or others? There's very few information on how to sell startup shares.


25 pointsthesellre posted 4 months ago17 Comments
chrdlu said 4 months ago:

If you're not looking to sell everything, the ESO Fund also offers cash advances against shares. Each of these firms have different structures. EquityZen and Sharespost typically require a full transfer with company approval while Forge Global has been known to do forward contracts.

The general process for a full transfer is as follows:

Find a buyer Agree on a Stock Transfer Agreement with the buyer Notify the company about the sale The company has 1-3 months to exercise their Right of First Refusal (the company has the chance to purchase the shares first) (note: some companies don't allow transfers at all) If the company allows the transfer to occur, then you can finally close the deal.

This process takes up to 3-6 months depending on how easy it is to find a buyer, negotiate terms, get the company approval, etc.

A forward contract or a deal with ESO can close extremely quickly, usually within a few weeks or even days!

Disclaimer: I work at the ESO Fund

codingdave said 4 months ago:

Have you asked whomever is in charge of the stock program within your company? They will know exactly what can be done, and when, and how. And if there are people internally wanting to buy, they probably even know who it is. (And if nobody internally wants to buy, you should be asking why not.)

thesellre said 4 months ago:

Yes it was asked already. What we know: 1- Yes we can sell 2- Secondary market is the way to go

charlesdm said 4 months ago:

Whether or not you'll be able to sell shares (and at what price) depends a lot on which company it is. A random startup won't yield you much, a unicorn will do better -- depending on the valuation.

I looked into buying pre IPO Spotify shares through both Equityzen and Sharespost before, and Equityzen seemed (to me) to be the most structured.

FlopV said 4 months ago:

A good friend of mine is a broker dealer. He finds buyers/sellers of private companies and structures the deal.

If you're interested you can reach out to me and I can put you in touch.

edoceo said 4 months ago:

I think you'd also look at Preferred vs Common shares, may be restricted from selling?

These classes of shares can affect what you're allowed to do and can affect price.

toomuchtodo said 4 months ago:

There are companies that will "loan" you the money based on your share values, and you pay back that loan when a liquidity event occurs.

bobosha said 4 months ago:

anyones you can recommend?

toomuchtodo said 4 months ago:

Others have made solid recommendations in this thread.

smoyer said 4 months ago:

I've never had success selling shares of private companies as an individual. (I still have shares if you're interested)

Good luck

thesellre said 4 months ago:

How successful were those companies where you still own share?

mmili said 4 months ago:

I have a close friend that works at Forge Global if you'd like me to get you in contact

naveen99 said 4 months ago:

all 3 of them have sales people who'll be happy to answer your questions. i have only bought, but that depends on people like you selling.

thesellre said 4 months ago:

So you bought via one of those platforms?

naveen99 said 4 months ago:


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jakegold said 4 months ago:

In the secondary market, securities are sold by and transferred from one investor or speculator to another. It is therefore important that the secondary market be highly liquid (originally, the only way to create this liquidity was for investors and speculators to meet at a fixed place regularly; this is how stock exchanges originated, see History of the Stock Exchange). As a general rule, the greater the number of investors that participate in a given marketplace, and the greater the centralization of that marketplace, the more liquid the market.

Fundamentally, secondary markets mesh the investor's preference for liquidity (i.e., the investor's desire not to tie up his or her money for a long period of time, in case the investor needs it to deal with unforeseen circumstances) with the capital user's preference to be able to use the capital for an extended period of time.[2]

Accurate share price allocates scarce capital more efficiently when new projects are financed through a new primary market offering, but accuracy may also matter in the secondary market because: 1) price accuracy can reduce the agency costs of management, and make hostile takeover a less risky proposition and thus move capital into the hands of better managers; and 2) accurate share price aids the efficient allocation of debt finance whether debt offerings or institutional borrowing.