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Home Q&A Forum SAFE Note interest accrual?




Asked on Jul 13, 2023

SAFE Note interest accrual?

I am a business owner who recently completed a Series A round of funding. As part of this funding round, I issued SAFE Notes to my investors. I am now trying to understand the implications of these notes, specifically regarding interest accrual. I want to make sure I am compliant with all the terms of the SAFE Note agreement and understand the effects of interest accrual on my company's finances.

1 Attorney answer




Answered 338 days ago

Thaddeus W.

ContractsCounsel verified

Business Lawyer
Licensed in California, New York
Free Consultation

Thanks for the interesting question. There may be some conflation of issues here. A few points may help to clarify -- 1. A SAFE and a Note are different animals. Notes are debt instruments and, accordingly, usually have an interest component. SAFE's are not debt and so do not accrue interest. Convertible Notes and SAFE's are similar in that they both typically convert into preferred stock when the company **later** issues preferred stock. Also, Convertible Notes and SAFE's are often issued without regard to a company's then-current valuation. 2. You said your company issued SAFEs / Notes "as part of" a Series A funding. That's not legally impossible, of course, but it would be unusual, so it would be helpful to make sure we are using the same "glossary" of terms. Typically, the phrase "Series A funding" refers to a company's issuance of Series A Preferred Stock; such transactions involve putting a value on the company so that the Series A stock can be priced. Series A rounds often are preceded by the company issuing Convertible Notes or SAFE's without a valuation of the company (that is, the company and investors "kick the can down the road" to a later time when the company's operating history can justify a valuation). Then, when the Series A round occurs and shares of Series A are priced based on the company valuation, any pre-existing Convertible Notes and SAFE's convert into shares of Series A preferred stock at a conversion price that is equal to the price paid by the Series A purchasers, minus the discount that the Convertible Notes or SAFE's give to their holders. (NOTE: these days, often there is a round of preferred stock sold BEFORE Series A, called Series Seed. This is not required, but common. Sometimes SAFE's or Notes are issued between Series Seed and Series A, but, again, it would be the odd investor who purchased a SAFE or a Note in the same financing round in which preferred stock is sold.) 3. The implications of SAFE's and notes can be several. One of the biggest is their impact on the company's capitalization table ... that is, on the ownership interests of other shareholders, especially the founders. The terms of each Note or SAFE will determine their impact when they convert, especially if they have a "valuation cap" ... which is a provision by which an effective discount is given to the holder of the SAFE / Note. Valuation caps can result in more dilution to the founders and other pre-existing shareholders than they might expect, depending on the actual valuation of the company when these Convertible Notes and SAFE's do convert. 4. If you issued Convertible Notes or SAFE's as part of a Series A preferred stock round, the investors purchasing the Series A would have to have known about and approved of it. Their lawyers would have certainly raised eyebrows and asked questions. If these Convertible Notes / SAFE's were issued outside of the knowledge of the Series A investors, this would be expected to be problematic for the company, and possibly a breach of the Series A investment documents, or even a violation of certain securities laws. But, if all was approved by the investors, no problem. 5. Another implication worth noting is that since Convertible Notes are debt, they typically would be carried on (shown in) the company's balance sheet. Investors in Series A round always or nearly always have Information Rights to see the company's financial statements and be kept current on changes. Normally the company would have a contractual obligation to provide quarterly, if no monthly, financial reports and updates to Series A investors. These reports should include all information about SAFE's and Notes. 6. It should also be noted that Series A investment documents typically restrict the company from issuing many types of new securities without the approval of what these docs often call the "Requisite Holders." This is a defined term in the Series A investment docs (normally in the company amended and restated Charter), and is defined as the Series A holders that hold at least a stated number (e.g., a majority) of all of the Series A shares sold in the round. Note that these answers are not and should not be taken as legal advice for your particular situation. You should retain qualified legal counsel to have a formal lawyer-client relationship and your lawyer should review all relevant information. But, these concepts here are pretty fundamental. ~Thaddeus Wojcik, Wojcik Law Firm, PC

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