Understanding Major Investor Rights

For venture capital-backed startups, navigating the complex landscape of investor rights is crucial, particularly when larger investors are demanding that they get special rights - called “major investor rights.” These rights not only protect the investors’ interests but also shape the relationship between startups and their financial backers.

We strongly recommend that founders work with experienced law firms when they are raising VC rounds. And as CPAs serving startups, we are often called on to produce reports that major investors ask for, and we can attest that the number of investors you give these privileges to matters, as it can become a lot of work for a founder if they aren’t careful! 

What Are Major Investor Rights?

Major investor rights refer to the contractual privileges and protections granted to investors, particularly those who provide significant funding to a company by hitting ownership thresholds or taking over specific percentages of particular funding rounds. These rights are typically negotiated and outlined in the terms of investment agreements. Understanding these rights is essential for both protecting investors and ensuring a healthy partnership between startups and their backers.

Key Major Investor Rights

Information Rights: Investors often require regular updates on the company’s financial health, operations, and strategy. This transparency helps investors monitor their investment and provide valuable guidance to startups.

Pro-rata Rights: Pro-Rata Rights allow investors to maintain their ownership percentage by buying additional shares in future funding rounds. This is crucial for investors looking to avoid dilution of their stake in the company. Learn more about pro-rata rights by watching our video:

Information Rights: Information rights grant investors the right to receive regular updates about the company’s status, financial health, and operational progress. The premise is straightforward: investors are entitled to periodic insights into the company’s performance, which in turn, facilitates a transparent and trusting investment relationship. Check out our post on what information VCs want after an investment.

Inspection Rights: Inspection rights, on the other hand, allow investors to examine a company’s books, facilities, and engage with personnel periodically. While information rights focus on data sharing and communication, inspection rights entail a more hands-on approach to understanding the company’s operations and governance.

Board Representation: Major investors may seek the right to appoint one or more directors to the company’s board, allowing them to influence key decisions and strategic direction.

Understanding and negotiating these rights is a balancing act for startups. Again, as we’ve already mentioned, make sure you are working with a lawyer who really knows startup corporate finance. Here are some actionable strategies:

Understand How Much Capital Matters: Not every check should deserve major investor rights. Make sure if you are granting these rights that they are for high dollar investors. 

Prioritize and Negotiate: Recognize which investor rights are standard and which can be negotiated. Prioritize the rights that align with your startup’s long-term vision and operational flexibility.

Legal Expertise: Engage with legal advisors who specialize in venture capital and startup financing. They can help navigate the complex landscape of investor rights and ensure that your agreements protect your interests.

Transparency and Communication: Maintain open lines of communication with your investors. Regular updates and transparency can build trust and make negotiations around investor rights more straightforward.

Plan for the Future: Consider how the rights granted to early investors might affect future funding rounds or exits. Striking the right balance between attracting investment and retaining control and flexibility is key.


Major investor rights are a critical aspect of the venture capital ecosystem. By understanding these rights and effectively managing their implications, startups can build strong, productive relationships with their investors. Remember, the goal is to ensure both the startup’s growth and the investors’ protection, fostering a mutually beneficial partnership for the long haul. Engaging with experienced advisors and legal experts can provide startups with the guidance needed to navigate this complex area successfully.