Managing cap tables and equity in high-growth companies can be a complicated (and sometimes messy) affair, a fact that founders and employees often discover too late. That has sparked a wave of companies building software to help, and today a European leader in that package is announcing some funding to fuel its own growth. Ledgya Zurich startup that builds cap table management software specifically for businesses and their employees in multiple countries has raised $22 million, a Series B that will use it for recruiting, further product development and to attract more users.
Ledgy’s platform today includes tools for finance, HR, legal, and VC teams, as well as employees themselves, and is used both to provide a snapshot of the state of a company’s equity at any given time, as well as to helping employees and businesses manage what they can choose to do over time. The company has about 2,000 companies as customers today, compared to 1,500 a year ago, and revenues have doubled, CEO and co-founder Yoko Spirig said in an interview.
It is noteworthy that its emergence coincides with an interesting moment for European technology. We’re starting to see a lot more European startups choosing to stay in Europe to get funding and scale rather than transplant to the US, as they’d expected in the past, and with that the issuance of stock prices for those companies. employees only grow. Ledgy counts some of the larger startups in the European ecosystem among its clients, including Peak, Getir, Kry, Monese, Selina Finance, Gorillas, Choco, Alan, Pennylane and Scalapay.
Ledgy himself has some impressive names on his own dressing table. This round is led by New Enterprise Associates (NEA), which also includes Sequoia Capital, Speedinvest, btov, Visionaries Club and unnamed angels. Sequoia (as part of its much bigger move to Europe) led Ledgy’s $10 million Series A a year ago, and with this latest round, NEA partner Jonathan Golden joins Sequoia’s Luciana Lixandru in the board. It has raised $33.5 million so far.
Ledgy’s sweet spot is working with companies that have employees in different jurisdictions, and building a product for them that acts as both a financial and HR tool.
While a number of companies such as Carta, and more recently AngelList and Pulley (valued at $6.8 billion, $4 billion, and up to $300 million for the younger Pulley, respectively) continue to make waves in the U.S. market, Ledgy has seen an opportunity to work out scenarios where companies want to offer equity to international workers and need to. thereby balancing the differences in regulation and culture.
“We started in fragmented Europe, which was a curse and a blessing,” Sprig said. “It forced us to serve customers with international teams.”
Ledgy stumbled upon this almost by accident, Spirig said.
She and her co-founders (CTO Timo Horstschaefer and CPO Ben Brandt) were working on another Zurich startup, in the field of security – “a signal version of Slack” was Spirig’s catchy description of it. They were chatting with another co-founder who showed them how he managed equity and his cap table: it was all on a spreadsheet.
“It was a huge Excel file,” she recalled, “and each share was a single line.”
Mastering that “was a complete nightmare,” she continued, but that wasn’t the only problem. Not only the startup’s team was located outside of Switzerland, but “that” team didn’t really understand what equity meant.”
Surprisingly, there was no off-the-shelf product on the market to address that triangular scenario: equity management, with employee tools that can be used in multiple countries.
“The way we approach this is different because people used to work with paper, then Excel, and then with software like Shareworks,” Spirig said. “But in Europe, people didn’t understand the value of equity, so we wanted to make sure the employee experience was part of that. It’s a switch from a financial-only product to a non-people-oriented product.”
That founder and his company are still customers of Ledgy, Spirig said.
Today, the company has a strong focus on primary equity and provides tools to companies and their employees to understand and manage it. This includes integrations with a third party, Semper, to manage secondary transactions; Pave and Figures to benchmark compensation; and about 40 popular HR platforms used by businesses to manage other types of compensation and benefits. That also opens the door to functionality and features that Ledgy could choose to build itself (or secure through acquisitions) in the future.
The fact that the company also covers employee services itself is something it hopes will also help sustain its business as companies like Carta continue to expand their branches. (Indeed, Carta acquired a British competitor, Capdesk, earlier this year, who also built wealth management for European companies, so we’ll have to keep an eye on this space. As Spirig noted when I mentioned Capdesk to her, it has a presence in Europe, yes, but it doesn’t take up the challenge of managing its clients’ assets in multiple international jurisdictions at once.)
“Through my lens as an investor at NEA, combined with my previous experience at category-defining companies such as Airbnb, Dropbox and Hubspot, I have seen the pivotal role ownership plays in building sustainable businesses,” Golden said in a statement at NEA. “The equity management challenge is especially acute in Europe, with different legal structures for equities in each country. Ledgy has created a smart and powerful equity software platform and built an incredible, best-in-class team to back it up. Yoko, Ben and Timo understand the challenges businesses face as they scale, and we are excited to partner with the Ledgy team as they continue to reinvent how businesses think about equity and ownership.”