投資條件書,必爭之地是? What should you fight for in your term sheet?

Photo credit: Michail Kirkov via Flickr

Photo credit: Michail Kirkov via Flickr

[English version below]

談條件,確切時機和敏捷思考是重要的。身為創業家對於投資條件書內容必須要有一定的基礎理解,與投資人接觸時才不會一直發生「額,我不知道,讓我回去再問問我們律師」當下無法裁決的窘況。整體來說,投資條件書主要由 2 個要素組成:控制(control)與經濟(economics),其中投資人又更重視控制。到底在幾張充滿著術語的條文大海裡,如何省時間找到最關鍵影響團隊權益的條款呢?根據投資人們分享過去實戰經驗,針對進行種子輪、A輪募資階段的新創團隊們,建立重點概念如下:

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1. 投資條件書是有約束力的嗎?

「投資條件書從來不具法律約束力,但是一個開啓(新創團隊與投資人之間)對話的好方式、立論基礎。 (Term Sheets is never legal binding - but it’s good  way to start a conversation.)」43 Ventures 合夥人 Felix Lam 表示,就算簽定之後,後續仍要進行盡職調查,若投資人發現與最先前新創團隊提供的說法不一,最後談不成,還是可以毀約。

「基本上投資條件書是沒有約束力的,即使簽了都沒有。但是要看有沒有額外約定。」現任第九屆立法委員 Wayne Chiang (蔣萬安) 、具美國矽谷及台灣科技新創法律諮詢顧問經驗的他特別提點。「並不是簽了投資條件書,就一定可以拿到錢。在矽谷,很多團隊簽了投資條件書,做了盡職調查,但到最後一刻沒有完成這筆交易。這是很常見的情況。」而具有約束力的約定主要有三種:

  • 獨家性 (Exclusivity) - 與該投資人簽約之後,特定期間不能到處尋找其他買家(shop around)取得更多投資條件書、或談更多條件。
  • 機密性 (Confidentiality) - 投資人不希望該提供的投資條件書內容,會泄露給其他投資人。
  • 法律相關支出費用 (Legal Fees) - 當投資人已委任律師進行盡職調查,期間發現有問題(例如公司財務)而需中止該投資案,則會需要由公司負擔法律相關費用。
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2. 增資後每一股值多少錢?-期權池的討價還價(Option Pool Shuffle)

「一定要創造最小的認股選擇權池,這樣才能提高有效的公司估值。」Wayne Chiang 說,新進場的投資人在給估值時,如果要求預留一定比例的期權池,用來吸引或留住公司人才,公司要小心計算,因為這反而會影響到增資前價值(pre-money valuation)。「你要展示一份明確的團隊人才招募計畫,說明未來會聘請多少人、什麼樣的專才、每一個人會給予多少股權。」以證明目前有足夠認股選擇權並支撐到未來多少個月份、甚至下一輪募資,因此不需要這麼大的認股選擇權池。

「你必須將你的每一張股票都視為非常、非常具有價值。謹慎小心地分配出去。(You should treat your stock very very valuable. Give your amount very carefully.)」Felix Lam 認為,一般員工極少給超過1%股權,或者公司可以採逐步給足的方式。

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3. 優先清償權(Liquidation Preference)要怎麼設計才合理?

從創投的角度來看,融資最重要的是估值、估值、還是估值。除此之外,就是優先清償權,意指當公司未來出場、被併購或解散時,投資人可以相較其他普通股東先拿回報酬的機制。什麼樣的機制是合乎市場常識的呢? Wayne Chiang 談起他參與過的跨國投資案,提到矽谷一般標準是 1 倍 (意指投資人保證至少能拿回最初投資額度的一倍),經濟情況好的時候可以談到 1.5 至 2 倍,甚至中國大陸有人談到 3 倍。 Felix Lam 則明確表示:「對於超過 2 倍至 3 倍的優先清償權,永遠說不。 ( Never go beyond 2x or 3x.)」。而除了投資人可以拿回的金額倍數,優先清償權有另一部份是關於「能否參與公司剩餘資產的分配」,或者在公司清算事件中(例如收購、併購、資產出售、解散等)要賦予投資人什麼樣的權利。這裡有三種較為常見的優先清償權模式:

  • 不參與分配優先清償權 - 投資人可以選擇在普通股東參與公司資產分配前,先全數拿回他們最初投資的額度,或者投資人可以將手上股票全數轉換成普通股。這個情況對公司比較有利。
  • 參與分配優先清償權 或 雙重分配權 - 這與非參與優先股相似,但是投資人可以同時拿回全數的投資額度以及普通股數,繼續與普通股東一起分配。通常這被視為是兩面均沾(double-dip),對投資人比較有利。
  • 附上限參與分配優先清償權 -  行使機制與參與分配清償權相似,投資人可以同時拿回最初投資額度以及普通股數,但是在總額度有設定上限。這被視為在投資人及公司之間妥協的做法。

整體而言,Felix Lam 認為,參與條款 (participating terms) 不只保障投資人權益,也是協助團隊跟投資人能更好地共事。

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4. 募資金額小,條件不好沒關係? A 輪階段(series A)不得輕忽

「A輪是最重要最關鍵的投資階段。」 Wayne Chiang 提醒,不要以為一開始募資金額小就輕忽,這個時候立定的條件,其實也同時為未來募資設定了標準門檻。之後每一次新進來的投資人,最低條件門檻就是比照 A 輪。如果 A 輪談得不好,後續募資階段都很難把這樣的條件談回來。


更多續集,請繼續鎖定觀看:
快狠準談條件,必掌握的特別條款?
想知道新創團隊在國際募資成功的經驗甘苦談?


關於 新創大補帖:投資條件書 (Crash Course:Term Sheets) 

早期科技新創團隊的生死存亡關鍵之一-資金!如何撰寫一份完整詳盡的財務計畫和募資策略,成為了重要課題。TSS 和 Spring Drive 於 2016 年 11 月 11 日至 13 日期間,共同邀請國際投資人們、以及財會法務專家、募資成功創業家等共 10 餘位黃金講師陣容,進行密集課程訓練,讓創業家們綜觀了解投資整體流程、投資人類型,並能依照不同團隊組織結構、成長現況及募資需求,進行投資條件書(term sheets)的演練。

本系列文出自 新創大補帖:投資條件書 (Crash Course:Term Sheets) 活動期間之節錄筆記,也敬請期待日後更多課程紀錄分享。歡迎追蹤 TSS 粉絲團 和 推特官方帳號 (或文章標籤 #CCTermSheets)


Photo credit: Michail Kirkov via Flickr

Photo credit: Michail Kirkov via Flickr

When you’re at the table with investors, good timing and thinking quickly on your feet are critical skills in negotiating your terms. Having a basic understanding of the contents of a term sheet will prevent a situation where you need to say something like, “Um, I don’t know, but I’ll get back to you after talking with my lawyer.” Generally speaking, term sheets can be broken down into 2 elements: control and economics, with investors particularly focused on control. When you are looking through pages and pages of legal jargon, how can you save time by identifying the key terms that will impact your team the most? According to investors, here are a few of the most important concepts to grasp, especially early-stage startups pursuing seed financing or A rounds:  

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1. Are term sheets legally binding?

“Term sheets are never legally binding, but they’re a good way to start a conversation,” says Felix Lam of 43 Ventures. Even when a term sheet is signed, the startup still has to undergo due diligence. If the investors discovers large discrepancies in their finding from earlier discussions with the startup, they have the option to back out of the deal.

“Basically, term sheets are not legally binding, even if signed. However, an exception to this is if additional conditions are stipulated,” says Wayne Chiang, a Taiwanese legislator with business legal experience in the Silicon Valley and Taiwan. “Just because you sign a term sheet, it doesn’t necessarily mean that you can walk away with the money. In Silicon Valley, there are a lot of teams that have signed term sheets, gone through due diligence, but in the end don’t complete the deal. This is a very common scenario.” There are, however, three components to the term sheet that are legally enforceable:

  • Exclusivity - after signing with investors, you are prohibited from shopping around for more term sheets or negotiating with others for a specified time period.
  • Confidentiality - investors do not want the content of a term sheet to be disclosed to other investors.
  • Legal Fees - if an investor requires a lawyer to investigate the company and finds a problem (e.g. company finances) serious enough to stop the investment deal, the relevant legal fees will need to be paid by the company.
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2. How much is each share in the post-money valuation? The Option Pool Shuffle.

“You should try to minimize the option pool. By decreasing the size of the option pool, you in effect boost the valuation of the company,” says Wayne Chiang. If the new investors ask to reserve a certain percentage of the option pool to attract or keep company talent, you need to be very careful because it will affect the pre-money valuation. “You have to show a specific hiring plan demonstrating how many people you are going to hire, what kind of talent you seek, and how the options will be distributed.” This is done to show that you have enough in your option pool to last for X months, or even until the next funding round; therefore, avoiding the need for a larger option pool.  

“You should regard your stock as very, very valuable. Give out your share very carefully,” says Felix Lam. In his estimation the average employee is rarely given over 1% in equity, or the company can also consider giving out equity gradually over time rather than all at once.

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3. How reasonable are the liquidation preferences on your term sheet?

From a venture capitalist’s perspective, the most important thing is valuation, valuation, and valuation. Next in importance are the liquidation preferences, the mechanism by which investors can reclaim their money from the common shareholders when the company successfully exits, gets acquired, or dissolves. In his past experience with international investment deals, Wayne Chiang says that the industry standard is 1X (meaning the investor is guaranteed a return of at at least 1X their initial investment). Additionally, he mentioned this can grow to 1.5X ~ 2X when the overall economy is strong. However, Felix Lam cautioned, “Never go beyond 2X or 3X.”

Besides what multiple an investor gets back on the initial investment, another set of liquidation preferences focuses more on “participating terms,” or what kind of rights are given to the investor, during a liquidation event (e.g. acquisition, merger, sale, dissolution, etc.).

There are 3 commonly seen types of participating terms when discussing liquidation preferences:

  • Straight (or non-participating) preferred - Investors have the choice of receiving their full investment back before anything goes to common shareholders. Or, investors can opt to convert their shares into common shares. This tends to be favorable to the company.
  • Participating (or double-dip) preferred - This is similar to the straight preferred terms mentioned above, but the investors gets both the full initial investment back and shares of common stock hence it is commonly referred to as “double-dip preferred.” This clearly favors the investors.
  • Capped (or partially) participating preferred - This functions like the participating preferred terms, where investors get both the full initial investment back and shares of common stock, but there is a capped amount on the total return. As a result, this is considered to be more of a compromise between investors and a company.

Generally, Felix Lam finds that participating terms not only protect investors, but also help teams work with investors together better.

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4. Your Series A round matters a lot! Don’t underestimate its importance.

“Series A is the most important investment stage,” says Wayne Chiang. He cautions that teams should not overlook the terms in their Series A just because the amount of money is small. The terms established at this point will serve as a basis for all future negotiations in your fundraising. Later on when new investors come on board, their minimum requirements will be the same as set in the Series A term sheet. If you don’t establish good terms for yourself in the Series A negotiations, you’ll find it much more difficult to regain an upper hand in subsequent funding rounds.


Stay tuned for more in this series:
What special terms should you look out for in your term sheet?
How did other companies complete their cross-boundary investment?


The content for this article has been primarily taken from Crash Course: Term Sheets, an intensive workshop co-hosted by TSS and Spring Drive. Get the upcoming articles in this series by following the TSS fanpage, TSS Twitter account and Twitter hashtag #CCTermSheets. The content of this article including all direct quotations were originally in Chinese. All translations for the English version have been provided by TSS.