Managing your startup’s cap table can be a complex task, especially as you bring on investors, issue new shares, and navigate equity compensation plans. Cap table management software can dramatically simplify this process. Here, we compare three of the top contenders in the market: Carta, Pulley, and Astrella.

We strongly recommend that our clients begin using cap table management software as early as possible after incorporating. We just about insist on it.

Beyond simply reflecting your company’s ownership, these solutions make it easy to share your cap table with investors, issue options, transfer shares, model future investment rounds, and more.

Across the board, you’ll pay much less for cap table management software than you’d pay a lawyer to maintain your cap table in Excel or Google Sheets. And it’s far more likely to be accurate than if you do it yourself. For startups, this is critical software.

There are a lot of options available for cap table management. To help you narrow down the field, we’ve looked at three of the leading solutions: Carta, Pulley, and Astrella. We’ll start with Carta, which has been the market leader for several years now.

Carta

Pros:

  • Comprehensive Features: Carta offers a wide range of features, including cap table management, 409A valuations, equity plan administration, and investor relations.
  • User-Friendly Interface: The platform is intuitive and easy to navigate, making it accessible for both founders and investors.
  • Industry Standard: Carta is widely used and trusted in the startup community, which can enhance credibility with investors. The investors you are talking with are almost certainly already using Carta.
  • Automated Compliance: The software helps ensure compliance with regulatory requirements, reducing administrative burden.

Cons:

  • Pricing: Carta’s pricing can be high, particularly for early-stage startups with a large number of stakeholders. (This can be a challenge after crowdfunding.) Carta does offer a free tier that, last we checked, extended to companies with fewer than 25 stakeholders and less than $1,000,000 raised. Advanced features like round modeling are excellent, but require a paid subscription. 409A valuation are included in some paid plans, otherwise they cost extra.
  • Complexity for Small Companies: The extensive feature set may be overwhelming for very small startups that don’t need all the advanced capabilities.

Pulley

Pros:

  • Startup-Friendly: Pulley is designed with startups in mind, offering a range of features that cater to early-stage companies.
  • Ease of Use: The platform is praised for its simple, user-friendly design, making cap table management straightforward.
  • Educational Resources: Pulley provides a wealth of educational resources to help founders understand equity management and cap table dynamics.

Cons:

  • Feature Limitations: While sufficient for early-stage startups, Pulley’s feature set may be less comprehensive than larger competitors like Carta.
  • Menu Navigation: The menu structure can be confusing, requiring users to start over if they navigate away from certain screens.
  • Growing Pains: As a relatively newer player in the market, Pulley may still be developing some features and capabilities.

Astrella

Pros:

  • Innovative Technology: Astrella leverages artificial intelligence and blockchain technology to automate administrative tasks and ensure data accuracy.
  • Comprehensive Features: The platform includes tools for cap table management, 409A valuations, equity plan administration, and compliance tracking.
  • Competitive Pricing: Astrella offers competitive pricing and even promises to halve your current Carta invoice.
  • User Experience: Astrella boasts an intuitive and modern user interface, making it easy for users to navigate and manage their equity data.
  • Support for Global Companies: Astrella offers support for companies with global operations, including multi-currency and multi-jurisdictional features.

Cons:

  • Limited Presence: While Astrella has a global presence, it is not as widely recognized or used as Carta, which means extra work for investors and employees used to working on the Carta platform.
  • Complexity: For very small startups or those with straightforward cap table needs, Astrella’s comprehensive features might be more than necessary.

Summary

Each of these cap table management software options has its own strengths and weaknesses. If it’s between maintaining your cap table on a spreadsheet and using software, you can’t go wrong with any of these solutions or the many others out there—Ledgy, Cake, Deel, and so many more.

That said, unless you’re really drawn to one of the other platforms, we recommend going with Carta.

Carta is the industry standard platform. It’s well known by investors, lawyers, accountants, and many other service providers. It has a robust set of tools. And Carta’s pricing, while not cheap, is reasonable for what you get.

Whatever platform you choose, Stansbury Weaver can help ensure it’s set up correctly and that your corporate documents and stock awards are accurate and up-to-date. (If they’re not, we can help you fix that too.) Contact us today to get expert legal support for your cap table management needs.