When Facebook and Twitter were private market darlings back in 2011, their shares were being actively traded on a site called SecondMarket. So promising was this back-channel way of selling start-up shares that SecondMarket itself raised money at a $200 million valuation.
That was then. The next group of Silicon Valley high fliers like Square and Airbnb shut the market down, establishing rules that prohibited early employees and investors from selling their equity except when specifically authorized by the company.
The change helps explain SecondMarket's sale on Thursday to Nasdaq Private Market, a unit of Nasdaq. The acquisition price was well below $100 million, said a person familiar with the deal who asked not to be named because terms weren't disclosed. A Nasdaq representative declined to comment on the price.