This post discusses when a California corporation must hold a shareholder vote.
It is based on an Avvo answer that I wrote recently. Please see Beside elections, are there corporate decisions that REQUIRE the vote of the shareholders?
California Shareholder Vote Requirements
A corporation must hold a shareholder vote to approve the following actions. Please note that this may not be a comprehensive list. Reference links are to the relevant California Corporations Code sections. (more…)
Future services seem like a great no-cost way to buy equity in a startup. In California, however, whether you legally can buy equity with future services depends on whether the startup is a corporation or a limited liability company (LLC).
Corporations Code Section 409(a)(1) specifies the types of “consideration” that can be paid for corporate shares. These include, for example, “money paid; labor done; [and] services actually rendered to the corporation or for its benefit or in its formation or reorganization”.
However, “neither promissory notes of the purchaser [subject to certain exceptions] nor future services shall constitute payment or part payment for shares of the corporation“. So a California corporation cannot grant shares in exchange for future services.
Every director shall have the absolute right at any reasonable time to inspect and copy all books, records and documents of every kind and to inspect the physical properties of the corporation of which such person is a director and also of its subsidiary corporations, domestic or foreign. Such inspection by a director may be made in person or by agent or attorney and the right of inspection includes the right to copy and make extracts. This section applies to a director of any foreign corporation having its principal executive office in this state or customarily holding meetings of its board in this state. (more…)
The founder of a closely-held corporate client, knowing that some employees soon would be shareholders, recently asked whether those employee-shareholders would have the right to find out how many shares he owns. Here is the information I provided.
Because the client is a California corporation, Corporations Code Section 1600(a) governs who gets to see the shareholder list. That Section states, in relevant part (emphasis added):
A shareholder or shareholders holding at least 5 percent in the aggregate of the outstanding voting shares of a corporation…shall have an absolute right to…inspect and copy the record of shareholders’ names and addresses and shareholdings during usual business hours upon five business days’ prior written demand upon the corporation….
A client told me that she wants to include Class F shares in the Certificate of Incorporation for her Delaware corporation. This post describes how we concluded that – for this client, at any rate – Class F shares were not a good idea.
Class F Shares – History
Class F shares were invented by the Founder Institute several years ago to protect founders largely against investors, especially VCs. (See If You Accept Venture Capital, You will Lose Control of Your Company.) Class F shares provide 2:1 board votes per founder versus normal board members, and 10:1 share votes as compared to normal common shares. (more…)
I recently learned that some people are confused by the terms “shareholder” and “stockholder” and wonder what the difference between them is. Short answer: There is no difference. Each refers to the owner of one or more shares of a corporation’s stock.
When referring to the law of one of those states, I use the term that appears in that state’s statutes. In general discussions, however, I tend to use the term “shareholder” because I am, and most of the corporations that I form and counsel are, located in CA.
For a more about this issue, please see Why does the Delaware code use the term “stockholder” while others use the term “shareholder”?
Dana H. Shultz, Attorney at Law +1 510 547-0545 dana [at] danashultz [dot] com
This blog does not provide legal advice and does not create an attorney-client relationship. If you need legal advice, please contact a lawyer directly.
The CEO of a client recently asked about the level of financial detail that must be disclosed to a (troublesome) shareholder. The client corporation was formed in Delaware but is located in California, so both states’ laws apply.
California Corporations Code Section 1601 says, in relevant part (emphasis added), that “[t]he accounting books and records of any domestic corporation, and of any foreign corporation keeping any such records in this state or having its principal executive office in this state, shall be open to inspection upon the written demand on the corporation of any shareholder . . . during usual business hours, for a purpose reasonably related to such holder’s interests as a shareholder . . . . Such inspection . . . may be made in person or by agent or attorney, and the right of inspection includes the right to copy and make extracts.”
Cumulative voting for corporate directors is a process by which each shareholder’s voting power is multiplied by the number of directors to be elected. The objective: By allocating all of their votes to one or a small number of directors, minority shareholders can ensure that their interests are represented on the board. (I.e., a majority shareholder will not automatically control all board seats.) (more…)