The Story Behind My Investment In eShares

For most of the second half of 2014, I tried to find early-stage companies doing interesting things with smart contracts. I was lucky to find one (still very early), and I’ll write about that more later in the year. Then, another thought occurred to me — this is what eShares could do. So, I searched AngelList, saw a mutual friend invested, asked for an intro, and emailed back and forth with Henry until he agreed to meet.

It took about 4-6 weeks to meet. When I walked in, he said they closed their round with a larger investor (which is why he was so quiet) but had a bit of room left for a few individuals. I waved my hand. He laughed.

For anyone who has had to deal with startup stock certificates, shares, and dispersing (or receiving) funds upon a triggering event, there’s a lot of complicated, messy, and oftentimes confusing rules and procedures. In the abstract, I’m sure we all understand the pain. While many people want this stuff on the block chain (vis a vis smart contracts), it may take time for the technologies to mature to the point where a company like eShares verifies the certificates and transactions, not entirely peer-verified. eShares has that chance to win the ledger business.

Months after investing, I was talking to Henry offline about stock certificates, and tweeted this out. That tweet, surprisingly, turned into a firestorm, ended up in a great blog post by Henry on Medium (over 50k views), Fred Wilson wrote about it, and TechCrunch covered the issue thereafter. That has the makings of a real problem startups (founders, employees, investors) face collectively, and eShares may just be the right idea at the right time to help solve it.

Haystack is written by Semil Shah, and is published under a Creative Commons BY-NC-SA license. Copyright © 2018 Semil Shah.

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