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Essay: The SAFE, the KISS, and the Note: A Survey of Startup Seed Financing Contracts

By John F. Coyle & Joseph M. Green

Available here.

Excerpt: “This Essay aspires to bring light to the darkness. Drawing upon original lawyer survey data collected in the spring and summer of 2018, it offers a snapshot of the current landscape for startup seed financing contracts. This snapshot will be of interest to legal scholars and practitioners for several reasons. First, it constitutes the first systematic attempt to document the spread of an important contractual innovation—the deferred equity agreement—throughout the United States and Canada. Second, it shows that the traditional dichotomy between “West Coast” and “East Coast” venture financing deal terms is rapidly being replaced by a new dichotomy between startup lawyering “aficionados,” who devote the majority of their practice to representing startup companies and their investors, and “dabblers,” who spend only a small portion of their time working in the startup space.”