Our portfolio company eShares changed their name to Carta this week.


For a bunch of reasons, but mainly because the opportunity has gotten a lot bigger than “shares”.

As founder/CEO Henry Ward points out in this post, the opportunity is to build the ownership graph:

If you drill far enough into the ownership graph, through the pensions and real-estate trusts and all the shared ownership vehicles, you eventually get to a person. You reach their retirement plan or savings account or option grant or even a simple title representing their ownership interest. That is how our society works. The leaf nodes of the ownership graph must be individual people.

This ownership graph is large and hard to quantify. We don’t know how many corporations, properties, investment vehicles, and partnerships exist in the world. But we do know if you mapped the entire graph your leaf nodes would eventually represent every person in the world. There are 7 billion people in the world. That is a lot of leaf nodes. Who knew the cap table market could be so big?

If you and/or your company uses eShares (now Carta) to track your ownership table, you likely understand this. Using Carta is transformative for all parties. And that is why it is growing as fast right now as any software company I have ever been involved with. And the TAM, it turns out, is massive.

A lot of our best investments at USV have gone this way. We invest early, when we like the product and the founder, and then over time the opportunity reveals itself to everyone (including the founder) to be a lot bigger than anyone thought. “Sharing what you had for lunch?”, “an API for text messages?”, “a search engine for jobs?”, “a Bitcoin wallet in the cloud?” and now we can add “cap table software?” to that list.

#entrepreneurship#VC & Technology

Comments (Archived):

  1. LIAD

    leaf nodes.such an elegant analogy whilst also subtly highlighting the TAM.bravo henry.

  2. awaldstein

    let this articulate reframing set the scene for the day.seems just right.big congrats to all involved.

  3. Joe Lazarus

    Such a great service. Looking forward to where they take it next. I always wondered how many people mistakenly went to and entered their login / password.

  4. Chad folk

    As Henry says. For security and confusion reasons, not coming up and getting the was what helped set them on the new path. Sounds like is doing what they intend to do but with. a protocol route and for the crypto and digital asset market. Interesting to find out why Henry didn’t acquire the company as if the size of market is that big, why not own the brand through and though, even with a name change ? Acquisitions are hard, Name changes are almost harder and riskier but as they have shown in the past they have a team that executes well and diversifiying to address a bigger market. I still like the eshares name and wish them luck with the newer but harder to remember carta. Will assume they will be having to do some type of blockchain solution to really scale to the individual node strategy and position for the future.

  5. jason wright

    when you forget about (or lose sight of) the people part of the process you know the tail is now wagging the dog, and that’s the ‘hindmost’ of arrangements, and not what all of this is meant to be about imo.Carta as another leaf in your investment port…folio.

  6. JaredMermey

    “A lot of our best investments at USV have gone this way. We invest early, when we like the product and the founder, and then over time the opportunity reveals itself to everyone (including the founder) to be a lot bigger than anyone thought.”Does the TAM/SAM of the original scope have to be of a certain size to be appealing? If so, roughly how big? Do you think of other applications/opportunities or ancillary revenue streams prior to investing? If so, do you share them with the founders prior to investment and is investment contingent on expanding beyond original scope?

  7. JamesHRH

    Last paragraph is dynamite. Such a testament to HI over AI in early stage investing.I loved eShares from the moment you first posted about it. Henry’s the bomb and their Series A slide deck is an all timer.The new name is a shocker, but not in a good way. I would have held onto eShares until the next phase was clearer, FWIW.You should have polled us before the change 😉

  8. pointsnfigures

    We use it at, and I encourage portfolio companies to use it. I tried to get other organizations to use it but they haven’t yet.

    1. Saul_Lieberman

      Why don’t they use it?

      1. Pointsandfigures

        honestly don’t know. I have a use for this besides cap table management. Coming soon.

  9. PhilipSugar

    I think this is GREAT! I would love to see this out to public companies. I am going to pick on one person, just because he is in the news but it is an example.Do you think the people that own the pension and mutual fund shares would approve of Jeff Immelt’s practice of using not one but two corporate jets (one empty) and his $211mm retirement package?I don’t begrudge Bill Gates, Jeff Bezos, Mark Zuckerberg, Larry Ellison, etc one dime of their money. They built something from nothing. The amount of value they added was tremendous.Sorry to keep picking on him, but take the reigns of a 100+ year old company? I realize that you want to pay the top person a ton so that the rest will work like hell to aspire to that position.Give them generational wealth. But that has gotten out of control. If I was one of the people who lost their job because as he told me outsourcing to other countries is good, I’d be mighty pissed.

    1. LE

      Part of the reason you pay the top person a ton is because other companies are paying the top person a ton and you have to keep up with the [Reginald] Jones’s [1]For that matter have you seen what University Presidents make? Same story. Same with large non-profits. This all has to do with the government rule change which made disclosure of pay something companies had to do. So that becomes the social proof that drives things in the upward direction.Immelt having two jets is a non issue to me if the company makes money. A company that large can afford to leak water and still win the race. We all know that. And if they don’t make money not wasting it (relative to the massive size) won’t have literally any impact. A company that size (or Apple or Google whatever) pisses away all sorts of money in so many ways why pick on a backup jet there is lots of fat to cut.[1] GE prior to Jack Welsh, Wharton grad.

      1. PhilipSugar

        Nope.Let’s say I pay somebody all in loaded costs $100k.I mean great people for press work, building jet engines, making train engines.$100mm is one thousand people years.Think about that one THOUSAND.Let’s put that in perspective. Half of that retirement package could build one of the great pyramids with manual labor.

  10. Richard Carlow

    Did you really not see this as bigger than shares from the outset? Not suggesting you knew exactly where it was going but would be surprised if you did not see the possibilites for larger markets.

  11. Chad Folk

    Would like to voice the story with For clients of eSharesInc, you got a message recently how they could not acquire and one main reason for changing to the new name was partially for security and confusion reasoning. 2 years ago we discussed with the cofounders of eSharesinc about the acquisition of our, an operating entity that powers 22,000 premium URL with cap table and value management. The new direction Henry is putting them on Is already what, a proud member of CONTRIB, does and focused on with ownership management of assets. We could not accept the offer of $150,000 for when the entity was well worth over $500,000 so no deal could be done when they approached us to purchase the URL, 2 years ago. Henry and team changing the name was a must to really grow but they are changing right into where we are today using blockchain for stakeholdership management. While esharesinc is well finance and valued in the 9 digits and with a ton of companies using a much needed service, we are tiny and commend them for finally changing the name and moving off our common law rights we established many years ago and can now truly grow and expand our eShares protocol for digital assets.

    1. Matt A. Myers


  12. Robert Metcalf

    Are we able to build this tree in two directions? Can I, as a leaf, define my relationship to all of the twigs I own? Or is it all top-down from the company to the owners?Would be super helpful from an estate planning standpoint to have the assets of each individual defined electronically like this, for keeping all of our relative affairs in order!

  13. Geoff Smith

    “The leaf nodes of the ownership graph must be individual people.”When you combine AI with bitcoin in the future this may no longer be true.There will be nothing to stop a non-human entity from being the leaf nodeand owning assets in its own right.

  14. Camille Tyan

    Great post, congrats to the team.Do you know or use specific software to keep track and manage all personal assets (private stocks, public bonds/stock, real estate, crypto, cash, etc.)? Kind of a reverse eShares/Carta showing an individual’s ownership perspective rather than the company’s perspective.

  15. Pointsandfigures… Long link to an academic paper on ICOs. If we think about the democratization of capital markets and layer in ICOs, Carta’s shift might be really interesting. If I am an investor and buy into an ICO in a company, I could sell my “coin” to someone else. Carta would be able to keep track of that and if they used a blockchain to do it then it might be really interesting because they could unbundle 3rd party equity clearing and get away from T+1-3 and into real time clearing of equity. That makes capital more efficient.