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What is valuation cap

 

Valuation Caps

A valuation cap is a term of a convertible note or a SAFE. It is also a great way to attract investors to any startup, providing them with an incentive to invest.

Starting a successful financing round for your business will expose you to a slew of new terms. It is essential that you grasp these terms and what they represent to secure finance on favorable terms for your company.

If you’re thinking about obtaining financing for your startup or firm, you’ve probably heard the term “convertible notes,” “SAFEs,” or “value cap” before. Here’s an explanation of what these phrases imply and how they relate to the financing process.

Relevant definitions

Convertible Note

A convertible note is a loan made to your startup or firm by an investor. It is essentially an investment vehicle that is frequently utilized by seed investors who want to delay setting a value for a business until a later round of funding or a milestone.

They are structured as loans with the goal of being converted to equity. At a certain milestone -generally the value of a later financing round- the existing loan balance is automatically converted to stock.

SAFE

A SAFE -simple agreement for future equity- is a financial contract that a business can utilize to acquire capital during its initial fundraising rounds. Some see the instrument as a more founder-friendly alternative to convertible notes.

A SAFE is designed as an investment contract between a startup and an investor that grants the investor the right to obtain ownership in the firm in the case of specified triggering events, such as further equity funding or the company’s sale.

What is a Valuation Cap?

The definitions mentioned above are useful because valuation caps depend on SAFE or convertible note holders to exist. A valuation cap provides SAFE or convertible note holders an opportunity to convert their investment into equity at the lower end of the valuation cap, or the price in subsequent funding rounds.

Simply put, a valuation cap assures that an investor’s investment to a startup or firm in the form of a SAFE or convertible note gets converted into stock at a predetermined maximum price. It is crucial to note that this maximum price is restricted — even if the value of a firm in succeeding rounds exceeds the amount stated in the valuation cap.

Let’s assume a firm engages into a SAFE or offers convertible notes to an investor with a $1 million valuation cap. If the company’s valuation reaches $2 million in the next fundraising round, the investor’s SAFE or convertible note will convert into equity at the valuation cap price of $1 million.

If there’s a $1 million valuation cap, and the next round the company it is decided that the company is worth $2 million dollars, and pay $1/share, your note will convert into equity as if the price had been $1 million.

So, in this case, if you divide $1 million by $2 million, you will get an effective price of $0.50/share. That means that you would get twice as many shares as the investors after the company’s valuation for the same price.

Benefits of Valuation Caps

Valuation caps incentivize people to invest early in potential businesses. As mentioned above, if the valuation cap, for example, is half the valuation of a startup or firm at the time of the next fundraising round, the investor will receive twice the amount of stock in return for their contribution.

A lower valuation cap, on the other hand, will offer an investor with a potentially larger equity share in the next fundraising round. A valuation cap also safeguards investors from excessively low equity conversion percentages in succeeding valuation rounds.

How to add a member to an LLC

Generally speaking, to add a new member to any LLC, you must first follow the operating agreement or the state law regarding LLCs. Though there are some additional things to take into consideration.

Most operating agreements lay out how to add a new partner on their operating agreement. However, if your LLC doesn’t have an operating agreement, you would need to follow your state’s laws concerning LLCs.

The process for how to add an LLC member involves amending the LLC’s operating agreement that brings in the new member. Current LLC members must then vote on the amendment for it to pass—and most states, as well as many LLC operating agreements, require unanimous approval. In this sense, aside from the partner’s name, you should also include their financial contribution, if any, and the new member’s share of interest in the company.

Review Your Operating Agreement

The operating agreement that governs your LLC should lay out the process of adding a new partner, including how the members vote on the issue. If it does include this information, following the process is important, as it shows the independence of your organization and its willingness to abide by its own rules. If your operating agreement does not include this process, it may be a good idea to have an attorney draft one for you. If you would rather do this yourself, many states have forms that can be tailored to the needs of your LLC.

The rule in most states is that when a new member is considered for addition, and no operating agreement exists on how to accomplish this, the agreement of all existing LLC members is needed. Any new member will automatically become a partner equal to the current members. However, adopting an operating agreement can change such rules, allowing new members to be let in by a majority vote, with their share being less than that of the more senior members.

Remember, an LLC is a distinct business entity that protects its owners from personal liability. Following formal procedures and keeping good records helps to maintain that protection and to avoid future disputes among the owners.

Decide the Specifics

After the process for bringing on a new partner is laid out, the exact details of the arrangement should be determined. In ownership structure, LLCs have almost limitless flexibility. For instance, one could own a percentage of a business that differed from his profit percentage. Ownership percentages should be discussed with current members of the LLC and the potential member to make sure that all are in agreement. Unless state default rules apply because there is no operating agreement, each member’s percentage of ownership need not correspond with the percentage of capital they invest in the company.

Once this is agreed upon, the new member’s capital contribution should be collected, then the interest the new partner will own in the company and how much this will cost should be decided. In an LLC, all members need to have a capital account representing their equity contribution to the company in the form of service, property, or money.

Vote on an Amendment to Add an Owner to the LLC

Once a decision has been reached regarding the percentage of the new member’s share, an amendment to bring the oncoming member into the LLC should be prepared for addition to the operating agreement. On this amendment, there should be listed the new partner’s name, percentage of stake in the company, capital contribution, and percentage of losses and profits she will be allocated. Once this is done, a vote should be held concerning the amendment in accordance with the process in the operating agreement.

In voting on a new partner, one should remember that other partners cannot be forced unilaterally to dilute their own shares by bringing on a new member — the agreement must be mutual, and the vote must follow the rules of your operating agreement. If there is no agreement, then the vote has to comply with your state’s LLC Act, which usually demands a unanimous consensus.

However, this vote is conducted, it should be documented in the LLC’s minutes or recorded in a resolution, and all members of the LLC (along with the newest one) should sign the amendment. This document should also state:

  • The voting rights,
  • managerial responsibilities,
  • and ownership percentage

of each member, and it should be kept in your place of business along with your other business documents.

Amend the Articles of Organization, If Necessary

When your LLC was formed, you were required to submit articles of organization to the state. When you add a new member, certain states will require you to submit a form amending your articles, while others do not. Such state requirements can be checked through the agency that handles business filings, which is usually the secretary of state.

One should also be aware of any deadlines if an amendment is necessary. Additionally, if your business management structure is being changed from a manager-managed LLC to a member-managed LLC or vice versa, you will need to amend the articles of organization, as well.

File Required Tax Forms

Although having a single-member LLC allows you to use your Social Security number for your federal tax identification number, you will be required to get a federal Employer Identification Number (EIN) when you change to a multimember LLC. You can get this by completing a free form on the IRS website, and it will act as your LLC’s tax number for both state and federal filing.

Generally, if your LLC’s structure or ownership changes, you will need to get a new EIN; however, if you are adding a new partner and already are a multimember LLC, you most likely will not need to change your EIN. If in the past, your LLC was classified for tax purposes as a partnership or sole proprietorship, additional forms will need to be filed with the IRS in order to elect corporate status. A tax accountant or lawyer can inform you of the best way to have your LLC taxed.

Check Your State’s LLC Act

If you lack an operating agreement, the state in which you set up your LLC has rules outlining the required steps for bringing in another member, as well as the documents that need to be submitted or amended by law.

Amend Your Operating Agreement

When bringing a new member into your LLC, numerous parts of the operating agreement will need updating. At the least, the sections covering the percentage of shares of each of the company’s members, the dispensation of losses and profits, the member’s capital contributions, and the voting capacity of all the members must be updated. Because an oncoming member will receive a stake of the corporation, the shares of current members’ distributions, losses, and profits will be changed, and any rules in the operating agreement related to the current members’ fiscal interests must be adjusted. 

Submit the Amendments to the Secretary of State

If amending the articles of your organization is deemed necessary, this amendment must be filed with the secretary of state or other state agency that deals with business filings. Because operating agreements do not need to be submitted to the state, the agreement can be amended without any filing being done, although there are some states that do allow you the ability to file your operating agreement. If you do choose this option, your amendment should be filed with it, too.

You should also check in with your secretary of state’s office to see if it is possible for the amendments to be filed online or if paper forms are required. Don’t forget to ask how much you must pay for the filing, although it is usually about $100.

Either the business filings agency in your state or your secretary of state will be able to tell you what the fees are and what they include. Should a certified copy of the filing not be included in the fee, then you also must pay for that in order to obtain a copy for your business records.

File the Entity Classification Election Form With the IRS, If Needed

Bringing a new partner to your LLC can result in the LLC’s classification being changed. If it does, an Entity Classification Election Form must be filed with the IRS. Unless a different election form is made using Form 8832, your LLC will be classified by the IRS in accordance with the default rule.

By default, multimember LLCs are regarded as partnerships for tax purposes, so if you want your LLC to be classified as a corporation, you must file Form 8832. Usually, as long as your LLC has two members prior to a new member being added, the income tax status of the LLC will not change by bringing on a new partner, and there will be no need to contact the IRS. 

Register the Name Change With Federal and State Authorities, If Needed

Sometimes when a new member is added, the company’s name is changed. For instance, let’s say you and a friend ran “Jim and John’s Jukebox, LLC.” Then, a mutual friend named Jake joined the business, and thus you wanted to change the name to “Triple J Jukebox, LLC.” To accomplish this, documents would need to be filed with both the IRS and the secretary of state.

The secretary of state will require the appropriate business name change form to be filled out along with a fee that could be up to $200. The IRS would require notice of the street address where your return was to be filed, with said notice being signed by all business partners involved.

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