By Tyler Hollenbeck and Cisco Palao-Ricketts

Although there a number of web resources regarding the distinctions between “incentive stock options” (ISOs), which can only be granted to employees, and “non-statutory options” (NSOs)[1], which can be granted to employees, directors and consultants, these resources are often heavy with tax jargon that is difficult to understand.  To help entrepreneurs focus on what should be most important to them, we have put together the below quick reference guide[2].

I.  TAX CONSEQUENCES – TO THE INDIVIDUAL

A.  NSOs

  • At date


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One of the more important tax decisions founders of early-stage companies will face is whether or not to make an election under Section 83(b) of the Internal Revenue Code for stock awards or other acquisitions of shares subject to vesting. By making this decision promptly upon acquiring the shares, founders can avoid missing the 83(b) filing deadline and protect themselves from significant tax consequences down the line. Below, we have set out six of the most commonly asked questions by our clients:

1) What is a Section 83(b) election?

Section 83(b) of the Internal Revenue Code allows founders, employees and other service providers to accelerate the time for determining taxable income on restricted stock awards or purchases subject to vesting. A Section 83(b) election is made by sending a letter (a sample form can be found here) to the Internal Revenue Service requesting to be taxed on the date the restricted stock was granted or purchased rather than on the scheduled vesting dates.

Founders that decide to make an 83(b) election need to do so promptly to ensure that they do not miss the 83(b) filing deadline. An 83(b) election must be filed with the IRS within 30 days after the grant or purchase date of the restricted stock. The last possible day for filing is calculated by counting every day (including weekends and holidays) starting with the day after the grant date.
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Deciding on the name for your to-be-formed company can be a stressful process given the seemingly endless number of possibilities and the limited legal requirements. Whether you have brainstormed a robust list of potential names and are having difficulty taking the final plunge, or are just now starting your search for the perfect name, we believe the practical considerations and legal overview below may be helpful to both new and experienced entrepreneurs alike when it comes to navigating the name selection process.

What is a corporate name?

The commonly used term “corporate name” is a bit of a misnomer, as certain state naming requirements apply to non-corporate entities as well. As most entrepreneurs are likely aware, entities must adopt an official name at formation that complies with certain state-specific legal requirements.  While the requirements for legal names tend to vary in minor ways state-by-state, there are two basic requirements that will need to be considered regardless of the entity’s state of incorporation:

  1. A corporate name must always include an expressly authorized “suffix” (often referred to as an “entity designator” or “entity indicator”) indicating the company’s entity type and limited liability status; and
  2. The proposed corporate name must be distinguishable from those of existing entities in such state of incorporation.

Though the focus of this article is on corporations and limited liability companies (which are by far the two most prominent entity structures used for aspiring venture-backed startups), it is important to keep in mind that certain name-related legal requirements can apply to other entity types as well.
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On May 11, President Barack Obama today signed the Defend Trade Secrets Act (DTSA) into law.  The law is effective immediately.  The DTSA provides a federal claim for misappropriation of trade secrets. Until now, trade secrets have been protected only at the state level, with most states (other than New York and Massachusetts) adopting their own version of the Uniform Trade Secrets Act (UTSA).

You can read more about the details of the new law here in an overview by our colleagues Victoria Lee, Rajiv Dharnidharka and Katherine Cheung
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The 2015 Annual Halo Report has been released by The Angel Resource Institute at Willamette University (ARI) and PitchBook.  The Halo Report analyzes angel group investment activity and trends in the United States.  Here are a couple interesting FY 2015 highlights:

  • The median seed-stage valuation for 2015 deals hit an all-time high of $4.6M (up from 53% from 2014);
  • The median and mean round sizes in deals with only angel investors climbed to $850K and $1.164M, respectively (both up materially from 2014);
  • The median and mean round sizes in


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Just a reminder to those who have Delaware corporations, your annual report and franchise tax payment are both due by March 1. At this point, you have likely already received from Delaware your notification of annual report and franchise tax due, which is sent to a corporation’s registered agent in December or January of each year. Delaware requires these reports to be filed electronically.

As you will notice, there are two methods that you can use to calculate the amount of Delaware franchise tax due for your corporation (
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The Q3 2015 Halo Report has been released by The Angel Resource Institute at Willamette University (ARI) and PitchBook.  The Halo Report analyzes angel group investment activity and trends in the United States.  Here are a couple interesting Q3 2015 highlights:

  • The median seed-stage valuation has hit an all-time high of $4M (up from $3M in 2014);
  • The median round size in deals with only angel investors was $725K and the median round size in deals when angels co-invest with non-angels was $1.71M (both up materially from Q3 2014);


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From our colleagues Kelly Friedman, Tamara Hunter and Jim Halpert

This fall, more than a year after Canada’s anti-spam legislation (CASL) came into force, it is abundantly clear that the regulator, the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission, is taking its new responsibilities very seriously.

In the latest developments, the CRTC recently issued an Enforcement Advisory and further Guidance on Implied Consent.

The CRTC’s message is loud and clear – it will impose penalties, regardless of good intentions.

Find out more about CASL and the key messages for business in
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From our colleague Michael McKee

The EU has adopted a new regulation, which will introduce a new legal framework for electronic signatures, seals, time stamps and electronic documents.

These rules aim at creating a uniform regime across EU for the mutual recognition of electronic identification between member states. This new regulatory framework (910/2014/EU) was published in the Official Journal of the EU on 28 August 2014 under the name “Regulation on electronic identification and trust services for electronic transactions in the internal market” (commonly referred as “e-IDAS” Regulation).

It will
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PitchBook just released its analysis of Q2 2015 venture capital activity by region, focusing on the six of the most active U.S. regions: the Bay Area; Boston; Los Angeles; the Midwest; New York; and the Pacific Northwest.  Below is also a quick summary of the Q2 2015 highlights by region:

Bay Area:

  • The median pre-money valuation for Q2 2015 was $63.5m (up from $29m for Q4 2014).
  • The most active sector (by both deal count and capital invested), by a wide margin, was


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