Secondary Markets

SecondMarket CEO Announces Layoffs: ‘I Admit It, I Screwed Up’

Mr. Silbert. (Photo:

SecondMarket was having a pretty good week. On Tuesday came a flurry of articles about the startup’s crowdfunding-flavored partnership with Angellist, and just yesterday, CEO Barry Silbert announced that Tennessee’s First Advantage Bank was using the service to go private while remaining open to investors. He called the move “validation of our model.”

Today, according to a post on SecondMarket’s blog, several employees got the ax as part of “org changes.” Read More

buyers and sellers

3D Interest: Shapeways Tops Fast-Risers in SecondMarket Fourth Quarter Report

SM rising 4q

Shapeways attracted lots of eyeballs in the fourth quarter of last year, and not just for stunts like this. According to a report from SecondMarket, the 3D printing marketplace gained interest on SecondMarket’s private stock market at the fastest clip, as the number of investors following the company grew more than five-fold in the last three months of 2012. Read More

buyers and sellers

Liquid Incentive! More Startup Employees Sell Shares Through SecondMarket

second market sellers

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.

“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. Read More

Secondary Markets

SEC’s Yearlong Secondary Markets Investigation Reportedly Yields Charges Against SharesPost and Felix Investments [UPDATED]

Frank Mazzola

It looks like the Securities and Exchange Commission’s yearlong investigation into trading private shares on the secondary market may finally be coming to a close.

Yesterday afternoon, Bloomberg first reported that the SEC is preparing to bring civil charges against Felix Investments, a Wall Street broker-dealer perhaps best-known for its twin funds Facie Libre 1 and Facie Libre II–meaning face book in Latin. “The firm is expected to be accused of violating securities laws related to soliciting investors,” DealBook wrote in a follow-up, adding that Felix “aggressively accumulated” and actively promoted shares of companies like Facebook and Twitter, going as far as to cold-call Facebook employees to try to get them to sell.

The SEC is also reportedly “nearing a settlement” with SharesPost, an online platform for selling private shares.  “Regulators had expressed concern that SharesPost was not registered as a broker-dealer when it began facilitating trades in private company shares in 2009,” noted DealBook.  SecondMarket, a SharesPost competitor which registered as a broker-dealer early in its history, however, “is not the subject of an SEC inquiry,” spokesman Mark Murphy told Betabeat. Read More

Secondary Markets

The Future of SecondMarket In a World Without Private Facebook Shares


In SecondMarket’s 2011 year-end report, Facebook beat out Twitter, Foursquare, Gilt Groupe, Hulu, Spotify, and more as the trading platform’s number one most-watched company. Facebook has 14,973 “watchers,” almost double the next-closest, Twitter at 7,854. More tellingly, according to public statements from CEO Barry Silbert, 30 percent of SecondMarket’s revenue came from trading private shares of Facebook stock, which will soon become a province of the public markets.

But to hear Mr. Silbert tell it, he’s coping with the loss just fine. After all, it’s not like they didn’t know this was coming. As Crain’s reports, on Wednesday, Mr. Silbert told the audience at an Xconomy forum on New York’s venture capital scene, “We’re completely prepared to fill the hole,” adding, “We’re hiring, and we have a lot of capital.” Read More

the startup rundown

Startup News: Startup Crawl and CES

makerbot industries

STARTUP CRAWL. Hosted by out-of-towner Zaarly, Adaptly, Spotify, Unigo and Vayner Media are on the agenda. “It’s like a bar crawl, but with startup offices instead of bars.  Each startup will host our group of developers, designers, entrepreneurs and other startups in their office for 45 minutes or so until we move on to the next stop.” Tomorrow starting at 5:45 p.m.

WINNING. Skillshare is giving away a year’s TED Live membership ($995)! “You get… Virtual seats at both TED and TED Global conferences. Year-round online community access. TED Books yearlong subscription & a new Kindle Fire,” says Skillshare. “This is the warmup for all the stuff coming out over the next couple of months,” said CEO Mike Karnjanaprakorn, a 2012 TED fellow.

VEGAS BABY. New York is headed to CES, and Makerbot, at least, is going to be alllll over it. “MakerBot Industries, creator of the Thing-O-Matic 3D printer and will be there showing off something extra awesome, and we’d love for you to stop by our booth and check it out!” MakerBot CEO Bre Pettis is scheduling interviews now for the full-court press; the 3D printing startup is also hosting a party on Jan. 11. Read More

Venture Capitalism

FirstMark Capital Quietly Announces $225 M. Oversubscribed Early Stage Fund

Mr. Lenihan (via

Guess nobody polled FirstMark Capital for that recent survey about pessimism around the venture capital market for 2012. While their peers report dwindling faith in their ability to raise funds to invest, FirstMark reported yesterday that it had closed an oversubscribed $225 million early-stage fund.

Perhaps that’s why the New York-based venture capital firm opted for a subtle announcement: a blog post that, by the looks of it, has only been picked up by the New York Post and the Dow Jones Wire. Read More

Secondary Markets

SecondMarket’s Still Doing Robust Bankrupcty Business


SecondMarket is most popularly known as a private company equity exchange and indeed, the startup’s fastest-growing business consists of private company stock sales. That would be the Facebook and Twitter and other pre-IPO share shuffling that happens before a company goes public. And of course, a lot of demand is in tech (although PIMCO has traded on SecondMarket before, as has SecondMarket).

But a report out this month reminds us that one of SecondMarket’s most important and perhaps unexpected services involves transactions related to bankruptcy. SecondMarket compiles data about bankruptcy asset transactions and calculated that bankruptcy claims slowed in October.

The company doesn’t say how much revenue comes from bankruptcy claims, but it says the bulk of its revenue comes from fixed income securities such as debt instruments and asset-backed securities. Bloomberg reported that SecondMarket did $400 million in private company shares in 2010 and is on track to do $1 billion. Read More