Category Archives: Taxes

The Value of a Low Valuation

Business Insider analyzed a leaked email between Evan Spiegel (CEO of Snapchat) and Mitch Lasky, a Board member of Snapchat (Partner at Benchmark Capital). The email was leaked as part of the Sony hack, because the CEO of Sony, Michael Lynton, is also on the Board of Snapchat. Snapchat lost a lot of sensitive emails in the Sony breach because of that connection.

One interesting topic for that Board discussion was Snapchat’s Section 409A valuation. The IRS requires paying taxes as restricted stock vests (or up front if you so-elect) based on the fair market value of the stock. Or, if options, based on the intrinsic + time-value of the options. So maintaining a low common stock valuation becomes a crucial exercise if you want to actually be able to issue any meaningful number of shares to your employees.

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