Archive for the ‘Forms’ Category

Software Deals Using the Customer’s Form

Ever try to license software or provide SaaS to a Fortune 500 company or some other high profile company? Did they insist on working from “their paper”? You know enough not to simply hope for the best and sign whatever contract they put in front of you, but you also don’t want to delay further a months-long sales effort over the paperwork. What do you do?

The Customer’s Form Contract

You want the deal, so you tell them to send you the draft. BigCo sends you its contract. It’s a long, complex document that rivals the King James Bible. You send it to your lawyer, who spends an hour or two reviewing it. The lawyer comes back with a list of concerns that go something like this:

  • The intellectual property terms don’t apply to the deal you’re trying to close. You simply want to provide access to your SaaS platform, and the contract has your company assigning over all of its IP – effectively preventing you from offering a SaaS platform to your other customers.
  • The security terms are totally overbearing. You’ll only receive publicly available, anonymized information, but the contract has your company submitting to monthly penetration tests, annual SOC 2 Type 2 audits across all five principles, and background checks on all your employees by a third party of your customer’s choosing.
  • The renewal and termination provisions give your customer a right to terminate at any time, for any reason, with a pro-rata refund.

You then call your counterpart at BigCo and negotiate the renewal and termination provisions, while your lawyer rewrites the intellectual property and security terms. You’ve now spent your own relationship capital negotiating a key term, you’ve spent money on legal expenses, and the revisions haven’t even been sent to your customer’s attorney yet. Worse still, you’re beginning to wonder why they sent over a contract that requires this much hassle.

Here’s the problem: When they told you they wanted to work from their paper, you felt like you were in no position to negotiate. You spent a long time to get the deal to that point, and the economics were finally set. Your counterpart may have even said, “Our legal can be a pain. I don’t like having to deal with them, but it’s how we do things at BigCo.”

A Better Way Forward

Assuming you are even willing to work from their form, consider an alternative. Imagine instead that you told your counterpart at BigCo, “Certain legal items are really important to us. They are X, Y and Z. If we can work from a contract with those included, I’m confident the lawyers can hammer out the rest and we can quickly get this deal done.”

So what are X, Y, and Z? Here’s a sample of issues that are critical in many software deals:

  • Intellectual Property – Are you assigning your software (literally giving the code and full ownership to your customer), licensing it and reserving ownership rights to yourself, providing user access to a SaaS platform, or something else?
  • Data – If you’re providing a SaaS platform, who is responsible for the content of the data uploaded into it? Who owns it? What can (and can’t) you and your customer do with it?
  • Termination – Under what circumstances can your customer terminate the agreement?

Obviously that’s not an exhaustive list, and critical issues vary from deal to deal and company to company. Ideally, you already know your X, Y and Z.

When you communicate key legal concerns the moment you are willing to concede on using their paper, you send some important signals to BigCo:

  • You’re willing to work with them if they’re willing to work with you.
  • You know that the legal terms matter, and you know which issues are especially critical for your deal.
  • You want to learn quickly whether they will insist on dealbreaker terms.
  • You will expedite the process to get the deal done.

If your counterpart at BigCo also wants to get the deal done soon, your message will reach BigCo’s legal department. And if BigCo’s legal department takes cues from your counterpart, you’re much more likely to receive an agreement that actually applies to your deal. This saves everyone time and money in the long run.

But suppose your counterpart doesn’t want to close quickly or doesn’t relay your message, or suppose the legal team doesn’t take cues from your counterpart. Suppose the contract you receive from BigCo’s legal department isn’t any better. Are you really any worse off than if you had not tried this approach?

by Paul Temple | Permalink | No Comments


AlphaTakes – Series A Preferred Stock Term Sheet (part two)

In this second of a two part AlphaTakes video series, Matt Storms discusses the second half of the Series A Preferred Stock term sheet for an emerging technology company, using the Series A term sheet published by the National Venture Capital Association.

Here are the key takeaways from this video:

  1. The three most common alternatives to anti-dilution provisions:
    • Weighted average
    • Full ratchet
    • No anti-dilution provisions
  2. Several provisions are not typically heavily negotiated in Series A financings:
    • Pay to play requirements
    • Attorneys’ Fees
    • Registration rights
    • Participation rights
    • Drag-along rights
    • No shop requirements
  3. Keep an eye on the big picture

by AlphaTech | Permalink | No Comments


AlphaTakes – Series A Preferred Stock Term Sheet (part one)

In this first of a two part AlphaTakes video series, Matt Storms discusses the first half of the Series A Preferred Stock term sheet for an emerging technology company.  He provides a summary of some of the key terms of the Series A term sheet, using National Venture Capital Association (“NVCA”) model document.

Here are the key takeaways from this video:

  1. The NVCA documents are great resources for understanding the Series A financing, but are fairly investor friendly.
  2. Typical preferred stock dividend provisions alternatives include the following:
    • If and when paid to the common stock
    • Accruing and cumulative
    • If and when declared by the board
  3. Most common preferred stock liquidation preferences alternatives include the following:
    • Non-participating preferred
    • Participating preferred
    • Participating preferred with a cap
  4. Preferred stock typically includes special voting rights, such as designating one or more members to the company’s board of directors and veto rights over certain company actions.

by AlphaTech | Permalink | No Comments


AlphaTakes – Incorporation Process for an Emerging Technology Company

Understanding the incorporation process is important for emerging company founders. In this AlphaTakes video, Macy Stoneback describes the incorporation process for a typical emerging technology company. She explains some reasons why it is important to properly complete the incorporation formalities:

  • Help ensure limited liability protection
  • Avoid delays and expense at the time of financing or sale in fixing matters that were not properly addressed at the time of incorporation
  • Set founder expectations



by AlphaTech | Permalink | No Comments


AlphaTakes – Convertible Debt Financing Term Sheets

Convertible debt financings are a common type of bridge financing for emerging technology companies.  In this AlphaTakes video, Matt Storms discusses term sheets for convertible debt financings for an emerging technology company.  He provides a summary of the common key financial and procedural terms that are typically negotiated.

Here are the key takeaways from this video:

    (1)  The convertible debt term sheet for an emerging technology company should be relatively simple and short

    (2)  The key financial term in a convertible debt transaction is typically the size of the discount off the next round’s price or the warrant coverage amount

    (3)  The key procedural terms in a convertible debt transaction typically include the definition of a “Qualified Financing” and the ability to change the transaction documents with less than unanimous approval of the noteholders



by AlphaTech | Permalink | No Comments


Wisconsin Incorporation Documents

We figured it was about time at least one law firm did it: we are making available publicly sample Wisconsin incorporation documents for an emerging technology company startup:  The documents include Wisconsin Articles of Incorporation, Bylaws, Restricted Stock Agreement, initial consents, Invention Assignment Agreement, etc.

Like many of our clients, we have developed a way to use technology to increase efficiency while providing value.  We prepared the suite of sample incorporation documents by selecting from alternatives of a significant number of variables that are available for the automated systems that we have developed internally.  We programmed these variables into our incorporation documents to help us prepare the documents efficiently and accurately. We are making these documents available for informational and reference purposes.

In addition to automating incorporation documents, we have also automated bridge financing documents, employment and consulting documents, equity grant documents, and confidential disclosure agreements, among others.

Hopefully the sample documents will prove to be a good reference source for Wisconsin emerging company startups.

by Matt Storms | Permalink | 1 Comment


Electronic Minute Books 2.0

As a paralegal, I have done my fair share of preparing and updating corporate minute books.  Keeping an organized, complete minute book is necessary for establishing the legal record of actions properly documented, retrieving information, and quickly disclosing documents to investors for due diligence, among other reasons.  Despite the proliferation of electronic files, physical copies of minutes and consents are still typically kept in three-ring binders or those confounded hard red books.  Neither Wisconsin nor Delaware laws require that minutes be kept in original, hard copy. Read the rest of this entry »

by Macy Stoneback | Permalink | No Comments