The Road to Carta
eShares is announcing a rebrand today. The company is now called Carta. I love this name. It’s tight, concise, two strong syllables, that feels good on the tongue. The etymology of Carta is paper and maps. Paper we replace, so a web service that evokes paper sounds right to me. And when I think of the mission of the company most broadly and concisely: we map asset ownership. It’s still early days, and the folks at Carta strongly subscribe to “Stay Hungry, Stay Humble,” that said, the company is growing well and should be proud of how far they’ve come. It’s such a privilege to partner with Henry Ward and the rest of the Carta team as they build towards their ambitious vision.
This rebrand leaves me feeling reflective. The road to this moment has required clarity of vision and significant execution discipline. It’s a long road, and the change to the name Carta is timely as the company’s product offerings expand to fill out the mission. When Carta first started, the key product innovation was issuing stock certificates digitally. So the name “eShares” was a clean expression of the value proposition, and a good vehicle for the first leg on this road. But now, our new name is the right vehicle for the next leg because the product offering has expanded significantly from the early days, for example:
- We now offer valuation services. Carta is the largest provider of 409a valuations on the market, and a 409a valuation comes free with a subscription to the Carta platform. For Seed and Series A stage companies, a Carta subscription with a 409a is less expensive than just a 409a from a competitive provider, which makes it a no-brainer economic decision to join up early on.
- You can now close financings on Carta. Carta raised $42MM in a Series C a couple months ago, and the financing closing process was managed entirely on the platform (as opposed to the status quo mishmash of email attachments, data rooms, scanned sig pages, PDF wire instructions, and Docusign requests).
- Carta is the system of record for ownership in assets, so it was natural to build a document library to organize all the transactional materials that document each financing and equity issuance.
- Compliance with security regulations is not trivial, and Carta’s ground-truth knowledge of all securities issuances put us in a great place to offer compliance solutions.
- As the density of companies on the platform increased, it was a natural next step to build out tools for investors to manage their entire portfolio on Carta. The first step was to see a full picture of a private equity portfolio in one dashboard, and the next phase will enable automated tracking of KPIs for each company in a portfolio.
- For companies that have achieved escape velocity and have demand for their equity that exceeds their balance sheets’ needs, Carta can help run an organized tender offers for companies powered by software.
- The most recent stop on this road: Carta now supports equity issuance and tracking for public companies. Public companies can manage their employee equity plans on the platform, and Carta is an SEC registered transfer agent.
As the product offering expanded to serve a greater number of parties and use cases, the “eShares” name felt a little too small and on-the-nose relative to the current breadth of the business. Carta is a great name for this next journey on the road.
The decision to rebrand to Carta has been in process for a good amount of time. I remember when the team decided to explore a new brand name, our VP of Product Josh Merrill led the Board in an exercise to find a new name. To be clear, the company found the name (not the Board), so this exercise was not to find a name exactly, but to help the Directors understand what’s in a name: who we are. We spent 120 minutes together on the subject, but only 5–10 of which were spent brainstorming/discussing names directly. The vast majority of the time was spend exploring: What are our values? What do we stand for?
I generally approach these types of exercises skeptically. I’m too left-brained (bordering on robotic), always looking for THE calculated answer, as opposed to exploring textured nuance. I walked away from the exercise a true believer: I felt I had a much better understanding of the mission and vision of the company once we were done, which was very clarifying. There were practical advantages too. For example, I felt like the management team’s product prioritization decisions were so much clearer to me. When you know who you are, it feels more obvious what to build next.
I’m very lucky to work with Henry Ward and the rest of the team at Carta. This new name brought me much closer to the company, and it’s a great name of the next phase of this business. Carta is building the system of record for ownership, in assets of all kinds. It’s an incredibly ambitious mission, and I’m grateful to have the opportunity to help where I can.