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Investing in Secondaries: A Guide for Private Market Investors

Investing in Secondaries: A Guide for Private Market Investors

In recent years, the private market has expanded beyond traditional primary investments to embrace secondary offerings. Once considered a niche avenue, secondary investments have gained traction, offering unique prospects and diversification to investors seeking exposure to private equity. In this blog, we’ll delve into the realm of secondary investing, exploring its nuances, appeal, associated risks, and steps to navigate this evolving market.

What is Secondary Investing?

Secondary investing involves the acquisition of securities from existing investors of privately-owned companies. These opportunities typically arise when shareholders or employees seek liquidity for their shares before an IPO or acquisition event. Rigorous due diligence is conducted before finalizing these transactions, helping to provide a structured and informed investment approach.

Typically, secondary investments hold certain criteria and Microventures generally looks for opportunities that meet the following criteria:

  • Speculated exit within 1-5 years
  • A defensible business model
  • Global market traction
  • Strong user adoption
  • Well-funded companies

Primary vs. Secondary Investments

Primary investments originate from the issuer, usually when companies issue securities during fundraising rounds. On the other hand, secondary investments involve existing shareholders selling their shares. The primary market typically caters to early-stage companies seeking initial funding, while secondary markets are often associated with late-stage companies, offering varied risk profiles for investors.

Factors Driving Secondary Market Growth

The landscape of private markets has evolved significantly in recent years. Increasingly, as startups prolong their private status[1], existing shareholders seek alternative avenues for liquidity, helping to spur the growth of secondary transactions. This shift has contributed to higher private company valuations and an extended maturation period before considering public offerings.

Appeal of Secondaries for Investors

Secondary investments may present an opportunity for investors aiming to diversify their portfolios into alternative asset classes. These opportunities, often more mature than primary investments, might yield shorter investment periods and faster ROI, catering to investors seeking varied risk-reward profiles.

Risks of Secondary Investments

While secondary investments offer unique prospects, they also hold many risks. Investments in privately held companies are speculative and can carry substantial risks due to inconsistent cash flows, uncertain investment prospects, and potential conflicts of interest. Such investments are typically suitable only for individuals with high-risk tolerance and liquidity flexibility, as there’s no guarantee of returns or established secondary markets for subsequent sales.

Unlocking Opportunities for Individual Investors

Traditionally confined to institutional investors, private market investments are now increasingly accessible to individual accredited investors. The secondary market, in particular, may offer several advantages:

Access to Pre-IPO Investments: Provides access to early-stage startups before their public debut.

Diversification: Enables investors to diversify across a spectrum of private assets, helping to mitigate risk exposure.

Potential for Discounted Prices: Secondary shares often come with discounts compared to their original pricing during the primary offering.

Navigating the Secondary Market: Key Considerations

Platform Research: Research and choose a reputable platform or intermediary for conducting secondary transactions. You may want to look for a platform with a track record of transparent operations, regulatory compliance, and a history of successful transactions.

Market Trends: Stay informed about current market trends in the private equity and secondary market space. Understand how broader economic factors and industry-specific trends might impact the performance of secondary investments.

Risk Tolerance: Assess your risk tolerance as secondary investments, like all private market investments, come with inherent risks. Consider your ability to withstand potential losses and the illiquidity of these investments.

Final Thoughts

The secondary market for private investments presents a gateway for individual investors to partake in the realm of private assets, offering diversification, access to pre-IPO opportunities, and the potential for discounted pricing. However, caution, meticulous research, and a thorough understanding of the associated risks can be paramount before delving into these investment avenues.

Are you looking to invest in secondaries? Sign up for a MicroVentures account to start investing!


[1] https://www.nasdaq.com/articles/as-companies-stay-private-longer-advisors-need-access-to-private-markets#:~:text=The%20reality%20is%20that%20many,High%20Net%20Worth%2C%20accredited%20investors.


The information presented here is for general informational purposes only and is not intended to be, nor should it be construed or used as, comprehensive offering documentation for any security, investment, tax or legal advice, a recommendation, or an offer to sell, or a solicitation of an offer to buy, an interest, directly or indirectly, in any company. Investing in both early-stage and later-stage companies carries a high degree of risk. A loss of an investor’s entire investment is possible, and no profit may be realized. Investors should be aware that these types of investments are illiquid and should anticipate holding until an exit occurs.