May 17, 2019

EquityZen: The Pre-IPO Stock Market

EquityZen is an online platform that allows its users to invest in and sell pre-IPO stocks. I sat down with Co-Founder and Chief Revenue Officer Phil Haslett to learn more about the company, and to also learn a bit more about Haslett.

Phil Haslett EquityZen
EquityZen Co-Founder and Chief Revenue Officer Phil Haslett.

How did EquityZen come to be?

Back in 2012, our CEO Atish Davda was looking to finance an engagement ring for his girlfriend at the time (they’re happily married now) by selling shares in a private company he had consulted for and found out that it was really hard to do. After surveying the tech landscape, he realized that it was a common problem.

For those who don't know, what is EquityZen?

EquityZen is an online platform for secondary pre-IPO transactions. It allows folks that hold shares of Pre-IPO companies to sell their shares and allows investors to access late stage pre-IPO tech companies by investing in those shares from existing shareholders.

For example, if you wanted to invest in a company like Spotify while it was still private, you could invest in shares through EquityZen’s platform from a current or former employee and get in before the company went public.

How does it work?

When you sign up for EquityZen as an investor you can browse available offerings and reserve your investment in a slew of different companies online - we’ve worked with about 150 different companies so far. Everything is handled online and you can invest for as low as $10,000.

The process is similar for a shareholder, you can register online, provide some information about the shares you have for sale and then list them on the platform. EquityZen handles the whole transaction with the company and all of the buyers.

How big is the team?

The team is about 45 people right now and we’re looking to hire for about 11 different roles across engineering, product, sales, and operations.

5. Where does the company go from here?

We want to continue to be the first stop for pre-IPO secondary transactions. But we also believe long term that we could be the premier marketplace for any illiquid asset class.

6. Final thoughts

EquityZen is amazing. Come work here!

Rapid Fire Questions

Mock Up iPhone EquityZenWhat do you like to do in your free time?

Play golf and volleyball.

How do you handle stress?

I use Headspace or play golf and volleyball.  

How many cups of coffee do you drink in a day?


What’s one of your favorite places in the NYC area?

Four Freedoms Park on Roosevelt Island.

What do you consider one of your greatest accomplishments so far?

Starting EquityZen!

Is this where you saw yourself 10 years ago?

No. I had just come out of college and didn’t really know what was going to happen.

What’s your advice for recent college graduates?

Travel before you start work and make sure you really like your first boss.

Alexander Culafi is Editor and Producer at VentureFizz. He also edits and produces The VentureFizz Podcast. Follow him on Twitter: @culafia.