SecondMarket continues to dominate secondary trading volume during 2014. The company has already traded almost four times more in 2014 than it had for all of the previous year. The 900 million dollars that SecondMarket has traded in secondary stock sales continues to rise as the year wears on.
This year’s secondary market transactions are expected to total over $17 billion, a number that is nearly 30 times greater than the secondary volume from a decade ago. It’s also double the volume of the 2011 peak – when a variety of internet companies (such as Facebook and LinkedIn) went public.
SecondMarket has carved out a niche in the trading world, facilitating the trades of private-company stock — mostly shares that are pre-initial public offering. Barry Silbert, founder and chairman of SecondMarket, says that he “wouldn’t be surprised if turnover among its private stocks was similar to turnover in some publicly-traded stocks.”
Many are attributing the Jumpstart Our Business Startups Act of 2012 as a reason for why the secondary market has been so active. The act helped raise the number of shareholders in a private company, increasing its threshold from 500 shareholders to 2,000. By also expanding investors ability to buy private company stock, the JOBS Act helped startups raise more money. However, companies started placing restrictions on secondary trading by placing a right to veto trades in the contracts.
This changes the landscape of the secondary market as private companies are hosting the secondary transactions – setting their own price and choosing those who can buy the stock. This limits the startup employees’ ability to cash in on shares while also shutting out retail investors. Since the secondary market doesn’t raise capital for startups, they can afford to be picky. These companies are choosing buyers who are respectable institutions, acting as a “stamp of approval” for the startup. They are also looking for shareholders who will offer valuable, unique advice to the company.
As a result, the most desirable technology companies are the hardest for the average Joe to access. The ones that are accepting anyone’s money are the companies that are young and desperate.