Options on early stage companies

I enjoy following Chris. He has included a Black and Scholes calculator in his original posting.

Options on early stage companies

August 18th, 2009

“I believe that what I’m about to say is accepted by venture capitalists as fact, even trivially obvious fact, yet very few entrepreneurs I meet seem to understand it.

An option on a share of stock of an early stage company is (for all practical purposes) equal in value to a share in that early stage company. Not less, as most entrepreneurs seem to believe (and god forbid you think “the VCs have the option to put in more money” is economically advantageous to you).

Here’s why. Black and Scholes (and Merton) won a Nobel prize for inventing the Black-Scholes model, which was the first model that somewhat accurately modeled options pricing. Using this model, and making a few reasonable assumptions (the option is “near the money,” the maturity is sufficiently far away), the key driver of an option’s value is volatility (in fact, if you listen to option traders talk, they actually talk about prices in “vols”). In public markets, options are usually priced at some fraction of the share price. This is because public stocks under normal circumstances have volatilities around, say, 20% (at least they used to 10 years ago when I was programming options pricing algorithms). …”

Continued at Options on early stage companies — cdixon.org – chris dixon’s blog.


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