The biggest difference between Gust, Shareworks Startup Edition and Carta is that Gust is really geared towards the earliest of stages. They’re definitely trying to move past that but the equity management side of things hasn’t caught up yet.
If you’re just starting out with an idea and you’re not sure how to incorporate your company, do the basic accounting, or create a basic cap table, then Gust can be a great place to start.
They’ll incorporate your company for you, create the legal agreements, and get you going pretty quickly.
The tools aren’t very advanced, but they do give you a pretty complete suite of them at a relatively cheap price.
But once you’ve issued some options, are dealing with vesting schedules, and have preferred shares on your cap table, you’ll likely hit the limits of what their equity management platform can handle and will need to either move to excel or a more robust solution.
Shareworks Startup Edition vs Carta
One of the major differences between Carta and startup edition is scalability and focus.
Startup edition is a Shareworks by Morgan Stanley product and as such is part of a network of over 800 employees. The depth of our network spans deeply across VC’s, lawyers, and both private and public companies.
But the biggest point that makes us unique to Carta is, rather than attempt to build a product that seeks to serve the needs of every company from early-stage to public, we offer 2 specialized platforms: one for early to mid-stage private companies (Shareworks Startup Edition) and one for mature/public companies (Shareworks).
Our solution does one thing and one thing only: equity management for private companies. In contrast, our Shareworks platform is built specifically for mature and public companies.
That means we can seamlessly take you from early-stage all the way to IPO in a way that is focused on your current needs and without massive bloat.
Bloat is Your Enemy
Unless you are preparing for an IPO or have complex multi-national option plans, you do not want to deal with the bloat of an enterprise solution that is focused on winning public companies.
So far our strategy seems to be working extremely well for our customers. Startup edition is the largest equity management platform for early to mid-stage private companies.
And our late-stage platform (Shareworks) is by far the largest public and pre-IPO platform on the market. We are fortunate to be able to count companies such as Alphabet, Dropbox, Stripe, and Uber as customers.
So a quick “rule of thumb” question to help you out…
Are you using other enterprise accounting software like ERP offerings from Netsuite or SAP?
If you are not, then startup edition is probably going to fit your needs much, much better because Carta and Shareworks are going to be extremely bloated for you. And if (when?) you find yourself preparing for an IPO and need more complexity, you’ll have a seamless transition over to the #1 mature/public platform on the market, Shareworks.
If you are actually at the level of needing heavy enterprise software, then Shareworks will provide that functionality in a much more focused way.
It has yet to be seen how Carta’s one-solution-fits-all experiment will play out and their shift to focus on the public market is still relatively recent. So far, Shareworks is still the platform of choice.
In fact, between Carta and Shareworks, every company that has gone public on a major exchange so far in 2018 (as of the time of this writing) has done so on our Shareworks platform.
We hope that was helpful.
If you are not sure what you need, please feel free to reach out to us for a demo and we’ll walk you through any specific questions you might have.
This question was originally answered on Quora