When I left Rubrik in 2020 to start building something in the data security space, I wanted to extend my personal runway. Buying a house and an engagement ring was in my near future. The vast majority of my wealth was in Rubrik equity, and I wanted to tap it... I knew there was some market for it. Since the Series C, I’d had people contact me on LinkedIn/email/text about buying some shares.
But the market was murky, and these questions came up:
1. Is this even legal?
2. Can I actually sell shares in a private company?
3. What is a fair price?
4. Who can I trust?
Navigating the Maze
It turned out that yes, secondary trading was legal but there were some restrictions… namely, once I found a buyer, we had to tell the company and go through a 30-day process of back-and-forth signing documents involving sums of money this Eastern European immigrant hadn’t seen before. I had to get a written opinion from a lawyer and wire a transfer fee.
Back in 2020, there was a company called SharesPost that was everyone’s first go-to in exploring a sale. They had a brand name and I knew co-workers had done trades with them. But they didn’t have the highest bids, so I made a game of talking to as many people as I could.
Private markets brokers, funds, and individuals – some who wanted information that I couldn’t reveal. Over a few months, I kept in touch with 20-30 people to be able to gauge the market for what a good price would be. Luckily I didn’t have a full time job, because this was a time sink. A group of us shareholders even had a Facebook group to track prices!
Executing a Trade
In early 2021, I ended up doing a trade with a broker. It was nerve-wracking: agreements with the broker, the buyer, the company, a lawyer, and a waiting game… it wasn’t clear where in the process we were at any point in time. At the end, funds were wired, and I paid my broker (6%!).
Birth of an Idea
After this experience, I was inspired to solve my own problem. Why not build a simple bulletin board where buyers, sellers, and brokers can post their orders and connect to execute trades?
Diving deeper and talking to 100 people in this space – funds, brokers, founders, employees, lawyers – it seemed there was a much bigger opportunity here. Nearly $120B trades on the secondary market for private companies every year.
My side project turned serious when I met my now co-founder Adam. He was hanging out doing qigong in Australia when we first talked and in 2022, I convinced him to come back to San Francisco and build. Things hadn’t changed much since his days at SharesPost where he was doing institutional trading a couple years before, and that smelled like opportunity.
Augment in a Nutshell
Fast-forward to today – Augment is now publicly available. We’ve raised funds from Neo and other fantastic partners to propel our vision forward.
Augment is more than just “another platform”. It’s an operating system for the private markets. It tackles the problems I and so many others have: how do I know what my shares are worth, and how can I sell them?
With Augment, you can track the value of your shares, view a global order book, communicate directly with counterparties, and execute your trade all on platform.
Whether you’re a shareholder, secondary fund, VC fund, or broker – we invite you to join us on our journey as we aim to standardize secondary transactions and bring order books online, much like Wall Street’s digital transformation in the 1990’s.
It’s time to revolutionize private markets, and bring transparency and credibility to every transaction.