As remote work becomes firmly planted in our culture, more and more companies are looking beyond their own borders to hire remote workers. In fact, a recent study found between 2020 and 2021 there was a whopping sixfold increase in the number of firms that have expanded their international hiring. However, these companies are almost certainly discovering a new challenge: navigating the massive complexity that is associated with offering equity to international employees.
In my most recent role at a US-based software startup, I saw this firsthand. When a customer success role opened on my team, I was able to hire the best candidate, a UK-based individual, via Deel. The process was frictionless, took a matter of days and showed me for the first time that you could effectively productize international hiring and payroll processes.
However, once we extended an offer to this person, things started to get messy. Not only did I struggle with the internal processes – expensive lawyers and complicated paperwork – to get her the appropriate equity grant, but even when I did get the grant approved, we weren’t equipped to go the extra mile to help explain the value of that grant and the tax implications in the UK. It also wasn’t as lucrative as what she might have received if the company had had a UK subsidiary. As part of the People Operations team, not only was I disappointed that I couldn’t provide her with the same experience that our US employees received, but also that I didn’t have the tools at my disposal to explain the potential impact of a liquidity event for her, something that I view as an essential part of motivating any startup employee.
The challenges of global ESOP
Unfortunately, this experience wasn’t unique. Oftentimes, when an American company operates on a global scale, they are hesitant to perform a tax and legal analysis before granting equity unless there's a substantial number of team members in the same situation. The result? Only employees based in the US or in a country where the company has a local subsidiary receive equity packages that benefit from favorable tax treatment and sufficient explanation regarding equity. Everyone else gets a one-size-fits-all equity compensation that can have myriad problems, including failing to comply with local laws or having little or no value to the employee because of regulatory hurdles when it comes time to sell.
Witnessing this firsthand and understanding the scope of the problems associated with employee equity lit a spark inside me. I wanted to find a way to help both employers and employees make informed decisions when offering or accepting equity as part of a job package, regardless of the employee’s physical location or employment status. I wanted to help companies that are incorporated in the US avoid treating international employees as second class citizens when it comes to equity. And above all, I wanted to help companies unlock the true power of Employee Stock Ownership Plans (ESOP) to attract, motivate and retain a global, remote workforce, something that will be increasingly important as the competition for international talent heats up.
It was from this desire that the idea for Easop was born.
Announcing Easop’s seed round
Today, less than a year into our journey to make team ownership plans accessible to every private company in the world, I couldn’t be more excited to share that we have raised $2.5M in seed funding. The round was co-led by Partech Partners and boldstart ventures, with participation from Kima Ventures and eFounders partners Thibaud Elzière and Quentin Nickmans. Boldstart’s entrepreneur-first approach and Partech’s strong global focus made them the perfect match for us at this stage in our growth. We also had founders from Jellysmack, 360Learning, HuggingFace and Maze decide to come on board as investors after hearing our pitch because our mission resonated with them so much.
Alison Imbert, Principal at Partech, had this to say about Easop:
“The rapid shift to remote work is one of the most exciting developments of the last few years. We have seen the exponential growth of remote hiring contract and payroll management solutions like Deel and cap table management like Carta, but there was a white space for stock option management. We think Easop is perfectly positioned to help the millions of remote and hybrid companies to incentive their international employees with equity.”
"Every one of our companies is hiring employees remotely and we continue to see this trend accelerate,”
said boldstart Partner Shomik Ghosh.
"A huge pain point all of our founders have in common is granting equity to international employees, as the tax laws and legal docs required cross borders vary drastically. When we met Val and the rest of the team, we knew immediately that they were building a product that People teams needed, allowing for more efficient and cost-effective hiring globally."
We want Easop to be the ultimate tool in the battle for talent and we’re thrilled that our investors see the potential in our vision. We’ll be using this funding to further invest in product development so that more companies can unlock the power of equity to attract, motivate and retain talent. We’ll also be using it to build our team and expand into new markets.
We’re out of stealth!
Over the last several months, we’ve been piloting Easop with fast-growing startups like Maze, Payflow and Slite, who have been using the platform to compliantly offer nearly $5M in equity stock options to employees, contractors and advisors around the world.
“Easop has helped us go the extra mile for our employees when it comes to equity compensation without requiring additional resources on our end,” said Maze CEO Jonathan Widawski. “In fact, they save us time and money by making everything simple, up to date and available at our fingertips, without any surprise fees.”
I’m also happy to share that as of today, Easop is also officially out of stealth mode and helping US-based companies grant equity to employees in 50 countries and counting. New customers can take advantage of the following features and benefits:
- Go from offer letter to grant in minutes. Got a new hire in Brazil or the UK? Create a custom grant that’s compliant with local laws, send it to the board for validation, and the new employee will be granted equity almost instantly.
- Outsource all things compliance with confidence. There’s no way you can be the tax, legal and ESOP expert in every country. Our network of local expert partners ensures all things ESOP follow regional laws and tax rules, so you can incentivize your team in minutes.
- Take advantage of transparent and cost-efficient flat pricing. Get full control over your ESOP associated costs and say goodbye to unforeseen invoices to incentivise your team globally.
- Portals for team members, board members and accountants. Let any stakeholder involved get the exact set of information they need, right from the app. Help your employees understand the exact value of their equity, vesting schedule, tax implications and more.
How Easop integrates with your existing HR and finance stacks
When layered on top of an existing cap table management solution like Carta or Pulley – which remains the single source of truth – Easop helps company admins confidently navigate the regulatory challenges of granting equity incentives to team members located outside the US. We enrich the data provided by these platforms, making it more digestible and easier to understand, and allowing our customers to unleash equity's true potential as a talent attraction, motivation and retention tool. Easop also enhances on board members' experience so they can confidently approve equity grants and know exactly who is receiving the equity and the dilutive impact on the cap table.
Easop would sync automatically with HR information systems like Deel, Oyster and Remote in just a few clicks, sharing information about an employee’s country of residence, work relationship and start date so that withholdings and other tax information are accurate and up to date.
Companies who are interested in joining our beta can visit www.easop.com to request information and sign up for a demo.
While it’s still early days in our journey, my co-founders and I have already seen the potential for Easop to make team ownership plans a no-brainer and to help companies build highly motivated global teams. It truly feels like the future of work is here and I couldn’t be more excited for Easop to play a role in helping further bring it to life. While we are starting with US-based companies, our plan is to eventually make Easop available to every private company in the world. If you are interested in being a part of our mission, please check out the open roles on our team here .