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Is it true that fundraising from venture capitalists dilutes founders’ stock, while fundraising from an IPO doesn’t?

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JASON LEMKIN

Of course not — but the big difference is an IPO usually doesn’t feel dilutive.

If a company sells $200m of its shares in an IPO at a $2 billon valuation, everyone’s shares are worth 10% “less”.

But once a company IPOs, our fixation on cap tables, for the most part, wanes.

Instead, we fixated on the stock price. All of us. We can’t help it. We obsess over it, in many cases.

And that stock price seems to almost come out of the ether for lay employees, and even at some level for management. $18 a share? $24 a share? Who determined it? Some bankers in New York? Who knows. It’s almost an abstract number now that determines what your stock is worth. Not the cap table.

All of a sudden, your shares are not only liquid, but their value trades every single day. That’s never happened before.

So dilution is real. But it’s also a state of mind. Because you can’t really predict the outcome of dilution until a liquidity event.

And once you IPO, you’ll just be looking at that share price. Except for the CFO, CEO and a few others … you won’t be looking at Shares Outstanding. Not really.

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Published on June 6, 2017
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