The Importance of Knowing the Value of Your Private Company Shares as a Startup Employee

Shareholders Education

As a startup employee, you are an integral part of a company that is on the cutting edge of innovation and growth. You work tirelessly, building a product or service that could change the world. And in return, you receive not only a salary but also a promise of equity in the form of company shares. But how do you know the true value of those shares?


Enter EquityZen's Equity Value Calculator. This tool helps you own your future by arming you with accurate and expert-backed valuation information to help you make informed decisions about your equity. The calculator leverages proprietary data from 35K+ secondary transactions conducted on EquityZen’s marketplace along with industry-standard market and company research to estimate the current value of your shares. 


In the fast-paced world of startups, understanding the value of your private company shares is crucial. It not only affects your financial well-being but also empowers you to make informed decisions about your career, investments, and future planning. Here are some key reasons why knowing the value of your private company shares is important:

  • Financial Planning: Your company shares can represent a significant portion of your overall compensation. They can be a substantial source of wealth if the company becomes successful and goes public or gets acquired. Knowing the value of your shares allows you to estimate your net worth accurately, plan your financial goals, and make informed decisions about your spending, savings, and investments. It also helps you understand any potential tax implications, which can impact your overall financial picture.
  • Investment Diversification: Private company shares are typically illiquid until an exit event and can be risky, since they are not publicly traded and can be subject to restrictions on selling. Knowing the value of your shares helps you assess the risk-reward balance and make informed decisions. If your private shares make up a significant amount of your net worth, selling via a secondary transaction may be prudent given the risks of putting all your financial eggs in one basket.
  • Negotiating Power: Understanding the value of your shares gives you an upper hand when it comes to negotiating your compensation package. Armed with knowledge about the current valuation of the company, you can have more meaningful discussions about your salary, bonuses, and equity grants. This information allows you to advocate for fair and competitive compensation that aligns with your contributions to the company's success.
  • Exit Planning: As a startup employee, you should be prepared for the possibility of an exit event, such as an IPO or acquisition. Knowing the value of your shares allows you to plan for such events and make informed decisions about when and how to sell your shares.

For these reasons and more, understanding the value of your private company shares is not just about numbers on a spreadsheet. It is about empowering yourself with knowledge to make informed decisions about your financial well-being, career, and future planning. This knowledge gives you the confidence to negotiate fair compensation, plan for your financial goals, diversify your investments, and make strategic career choices. Take a hold of your future and check out EquityZen’s Equity Value Calculator to understand the true value of your shares.

Disclaimer: EquityZen has created this tool to assist shareholders in determining the potential value of their private company shares in the secondary market. The calculated current valuation takes many factors into account, including the (i) liquidation preference rank, (ii) liquidation preference amount and (iii)participation preference, if any, of each class of stock in order to determine how the proceeds of an acquisition would be distributed and the resulting impact on the share price. The results may vary with each use and over time.  The projections or other information generated by this tool regarding the likelihood of various investment outcomes are hypothetical in nature, do not reflect actual investment results and are not guarantees of future results. There is no guarantee EquityZen will be able to find, or will approve, a buyer at your desired price.

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