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Can a wealthy investor invest his money in any company before it goes public / IPO? I am referring to a recent Goldman Sachs and Facebook deal worth $450 Million at a valuation of $50 Billion dollars.

  1. I want to know what is the procedure and how are these valuations made prior to the company going public?

  2. Is is possible that an investor could raise capital from investment banks, private equity, or commercial banks to re-invest in a pre-IPO deal at some valuation? Knowing that angel investors don't provide so much money, can they play their role here with a normal investor?

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Don't think so. I'm asking about pre-IPO. –  minya Dec 26 '13 at 15:59
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sorry - you're right. If it's privately held, you must make a private deal for equity/shares with the target company. Unless I'm missing something? It's quite common for early employees to get stock in the company along with whatever else as compensation –  im so confused Dec 26 '13 at 16:03
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3 Answers

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Yes, an investment can be made in a company before IPO. The valuation process is similar as that done for arriving at IPO or for a normal listed company. The difference may be the premium perceived for the idea in question. This would differ from one investor to other.

For example, whether Facebook will be able to grow at the rate and generate enough revenues and win against competition is all a mathematical model based on projections. There are quite a few times the projection would go wrong, and quite a few times it would go correct.

An individual investor cannot generally borrow from banks to invest into a company (listed or otherwise) (or for any other purpose) if he does not have any collateral that can be kept as security by the bank. An individual can get a loan only if he has sufficient collateral. The exceptions being small personal loans depending on one's credit history.

The Private Equity placement arm of banks or firms in the business of private equity invest in start-up and most of the time make an educated guess based on their experience. More than half of their investments into start-ups end up as wiped out. An occasional one or two companies are ones that they make a windfall gain on.

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Thanks Chris... –  Himanshu Prasad Oct 3 '11 at 17:23
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Yes, it is common for investors to make equity investments in technology companies pre-IPO. There are technology incubators like Y Combinator that exist to make "angel" investments, which are early-stage equity investments in private technology companies (these investments are sometimes in notes that are convertible to equity, but are very similar to a stock investment). Wealthy individuals can also make angel investments (e.g. Peter Thiel made a $500K investment in Facebook in 2004 for 10.2% of the company). Additionally, venture capital firms exist to make equity investments in private companies. In the US, you need to be an Accredited Investor to make private equity investments (income greater than $200K or net worth greater than $1 million), but you probably need a lot more money than the minimum and connections to get in on these deals in reality.

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IPO is "Initial Public Offering". Just so you know.

  1. The valuations are done based on the company business model, intellectual property, products, market shares, revenues and profits, assets, and future projections. You know, the usual stuff.

  2. Yes, it is. And very frequently done. In fact, I can't think of any company that is now publicly traded, that didn't start this way. The first investor, the one who founds the company, is the first one who invests in it after raising the capital (even if it is from his own bank account to pay the fees for filing the incorporation papers).

What is the difference between "normal" investor and "angel"? What do you refer to as "angel"? How is it abnormal to you? Any investor can play a role, depending on the stake he/she has in the company. If the stake is large enough - the role will be significant. If the stake is the majority - the investor will in fact be able major decisions regarding the company. How he bought the stocks, whether through a closed offering, initial investment or on a stock exchange - doesn't matter at all.

You may have heard of the term "angels" with regards to high-tech start up companies. These are private investors (not funds) that invest their own money in start ups at very early stages. They're called "angels" because they invest at stages at which it is very hard for entrepreneurs to raise money: there's no product, no real business, usually it is a stage of just an idea or a patent with maybe initial prototype and some preliminary business analysis. These people gamble, in a sense, and each investment is very small (relatively to their wealth) - tens of thousands of dollars, sometimes a hundred or two thousands, and they make a lot of these. Some may fail and they lose the money, but those that succeed - bring very high returns. Imagine investing 10K for 5% stake at Google 15 years ago.

Those people are as investors as anyone else, and yes, depending on their stake in the company, they can influence its decisions.

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