Ex-Tanium employees say they're receiving bids to buy their shares, but the company often grabs those shares itself

Ex-Tanium employees say they're receiving bids to buy their shares, but the company often grabs those shares itself

April 26, 2021
  • Former Tanium employees say they have been receiving messages from firms asking to buy their shares.
  • Four former employees said they received messages from Next Round Capital Partners, which did not respond to requests for comment.
  • Some employees don’t have shares to sell anyway, after Tanium exercised a clause to buy back their shares.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Former employees of the $9 billion cybersecurity firm Tanium are getting LinkedIn messages and emails from firms asking to buy their shares. 

Tanium, which is backed by investors like Salesforce Ventures, Fidelity and T. Rowe Price, has raised over $900 million, with a valuation of over $9 billion, it said. Tanium cofounder and CEO Orion Hindawi has gone back and forth on going public for years, although he told Insider last week that the company has hired a CFO to assess whether it’s ready for an IPO. 

Three former employees previously told Insider that they thought the company would never go public, and one even said one of the top reasons employees leave is that they don’t believe that Tanium will ever go public. 

Now it appears that some firms are using this opportunity to contact employees who might want to cash out their shares. In the past month, a firm called Next Round Capital Partners has reached out to former Tanium employees asking to buy their shares, four former Tanium employees told Insider. 

According to its website, Next Round Capital Partners is a private markets advisory firm. It was founded last September by Ken Smythe, formerly a managing director at Artist Capital. Insider reached out several times to the firm and its employees, but they did not respond. 

The firm made different offers to different employees, according to screenshots viewed by Insider. Some messages just asked if the former employees had shares to sell, saying the firm was seeking “a target size” of $2 million to $5 million worth of shares. At least one message offered $15 a share. 

A Tanium spokesperson called the outreach “fairly routine,” and said that “as with other late-stage private companies, it is very standard to see interest from the secondary market.” It declined to comment on employees leaving because they don’t believe that the company will go public.

Some former employees don’t have shares to sell anyway. At least twice last year, the company has exercised a clause that allows it to buy back employee shares, which irked former employees and left some without any shares at all.

A Tanium spokesperson told Insider at the time that the company works with an unnamed independent third party every three months to evaluate a “fair market value” for its shares and then decides whether or not to exercise the buyback clause.

Former employees also said that firms like SharesPost and Employee Capital Partners have previously reached out to offer to buy shares. SharesPost and Employee Capital Partners did not immediately respond to requests for comment but Equity Bee, a site that matches private stock sellers with buyers, said that some of its members wanted Tanium shares, too.

“Our Investor Community is composed of 8,000 investors. Each one of them marks and updates their Wish List to indicate what companies they are interested in investing in. Several investors included Tanium in their wish list,” a spokesperson said.

There are other signs of interest in Tanium employee stock as well. EquityZen, an online marketplace for trading pre-IPO employee shares from privately held companies, told Insider searches on its site for Tanium increased 44% in the past month. 

In January, Tanium announced that it had completed the sale of $150 million in common stock to the Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan Board. Last year, it announced that it raised $150 million in funding in October and a “strategic investment” from Salesforce Ventures in June. 

“There’s an opportunity, I think, for employees to hold onto the stock and, assuming that we execute well, they’re going to be able to do really really well,” Hindawi previously told Insider. “But we also have employees who want to buy a house or want to buy a car or want to send their kids to school and I want them to have that flexibility.”

Tanium is not the only startup where former employees have been flooded with reachouts to buy shares. In January, Insider reported that former employees of the fintech unicorn Plaid said that they’ve been receiving “sketchy” bids to buy their shares at $1,200 each.

Do you work at Tanium? Got a tip? Contact this reporter via email at [email protected], Signal at 646.376.6106, Telegram at @rosaliechan, or Twitter DM at @rosaliechan17. (PR pitches by email only, please.) Other types of secure messaging available upon request.

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