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A redemption right is another feature of preferred stock. It lets investors require the company to repurchase their shares after a specified period of time. In essence, it’s a “put” right – that is, the investors may elect to put their shares back to the company. As a practical matter, however, redemption rights are rarely exercised and, according to Fenwick & West’s recent VC survey, only 20 percent of the Bay area deals during the first quarter of included such rights.
Redemption rights are principally designed to protect investors from a situation where, after a period of time, their portfolio company is just moving “sideways” and, accordingly, is not an attractive acquisition target or IPO candidate. Investors are thus given the opportunity to exit their investment by exercising their redemption rights – which is particularly important because venture capital funds have limited lives (typically 10 years).