Equity Management

Carta vs. Pulley: How to Choose the Best Cap Table Management Solution for Your Startup

Have you ever wondered how some startups manage to easily overcome the challenges of equity management while others struggle to keep their cap tables in order?

As a startup, every decision can make or break your future. Hence, you need to choose the right tools to manage your cap table.

In this guide to choosing between Carta vs. Pulley for cap table management, you will have a clearer picture of which solution will help you maintain an accurate and efficient cap table.

What is Cap Table Management?

Cap table management involves tracking a company's ownership structure by detailing the allocation and distribution of equity among stakeholders.

This process includes maintaining records of share ownership, issuance dates, and any changes over time.

To appreciate the impact of well-managed cap tables, let's examine their benefits for startups.

Why is Cap Table Management Important for Startups?

A startup’s cap table starts taking shape when founders secure initial funding from external investors.

As the company grows, the cap table becomes more complex, incorporating various stakeholders such as additional investors, employees, and advisors with equity grants.

Here are the benefits of maintaining an accurate and organized cap table:

Motivating and Retaining Employees

Attracting and retaining top talent is important for your startup’s growth and innovation.

A transparent and organized cap table facilitates the management of employee stock ownership plans (ESOPs), motivating employees with equity-based incentives. This, in turn, enhances their commitment to the company’s success.

Attracting Investors

Investors examine a startup's cap table before deciding to invest. A well-managed cap shows that your startup is competent and professional, thereby instilling confidence in potential investors.

On the other hand, a disorganized cap table can raise concerns about transparency and governance, possibly deterring investment.

Ensuring Equity Alignment

All team members need to have a shared vision and commitment in the early stages of a startup.

A well-maintained cap table ensures that employees and investors align with the company’s long-term goals, thereby leading to a collaborative work environment.

Simplifying Decision-Making

Startups will need to make complex financial decisions as they grow. Effective cap table management helps startups make informed decisions since it provides clarity on equity ownership.

Cap table management software can simulate future scenarios, like future funding rounds, liquidation preferences, dilution impacts, and payout waterfalls, helping stakeholders understand the implications of key business moves.

What is Carta?

Carta is a comprehensive cap table management platform that simplifies equity management for companies, investors, and employees.

It provides tools for managing equity plans, cap tables, valuations, and more, making the process of managing equity hassle-free while promoting efficiency and transparency.


Digital Cap Table Feature

This feature allows you to track, manage, and update equity distribution among stakeholders. You can also use it to issue new shares, adjust ownership percentages, and optimize equity for fundraising rounds.

Growth-Share Valuation Option

You can request a growth share valuation from in-house experts, delivered in 3 to 5 days. Depending on your membership tier, a certain number of valuations are included in your plan, thereby helping startups that need this service save costs.

Scenario Modeling Tools

Carta provides comprehensive reports on potential financing rounds and exit events for your company. These include liquidation charts, stakeholder proceeds, waterfall tiers, and dilution modeling.

SPV Formation and Administration Tool

Carta can streamline the administration process for companies that want to create a subsidiary to mitigate financial risk. Their tools allow you to deploy your special purpose vehicle (SPV) within 48 hours.

Enterprise Management Incentives (EMIs) Share Plan

Carta has customizable template documents that facilitate the process of granting equity to employees. It can also generate region-specific compliance documents.


Alt: carta pricing

You need to reach out to Carta’s sales team to learn about the platform’s pricing plans. The platform has a free plan for companies that have up to 25 employees and have raised less than $1 million in capital.


  • Carta has comprehensive features that cover all aspects of cap table management and equity administration.
  • It has a strong reputation and trust within the startup community.
  • It features high-quality, compliant 409A valuations.
  • The platform offers excellent customer support and educational resources.
  • Its scalable pricing accommodates startups at various stages of growth.


  • Its pricing can become steep as the startup scales and requires more advanced features.
  • Some users may find the initial setup complex due to the depth of features available.
  • There are additional costs for specific services, such as valuations, which can add up for growing startups.

What is Pulley?

Pulley is a cap table management platform that helps startups issue fundraising documents (such as SAFEs), model their fundraising rounds, and collect wire transfers.


Digital Cap Table

This feature gives you real-time insights into your company’s ownership. You can customize the dashboard with different views, thereby allowing employees and investors to access the information relevant to them.

Fundraising Modeling Tool

This gives you a clear understanding of your equity by allowing you to accurately model complex funding rounds.

As a result, you can visualize ownership and share distribution among founders, employees, current investors, and future investors.

Quick 409A Valuation

Carta helps you obtain a 409A valuation in five days or less. This is a significant advantage for startups that need frequent valuations.

Employee Equity Management

Carta allows you to easily manage employee equity: send out offer letters, calculate accurate equity values, and allow employees to exercise options electronically via ACH.

Dedicated Account Manager

You can onboard within 7 to 10 days with the help of an account manager, supported by AI to streamline the process of uploading and organizing your documents.


Alt: pulley pricing

Pulley provides a free tier for companies with fewer than 25 stakeholders. Paid plans start at $1,200 per year.


  • The platform is designed to be accessible even to those without extensive financial backgrounds. This makes it easy to navigate and use.
  • Pulley’s scenario modeling capabilities help startups make strategic decisions.
  • The guided onboarding process ensures that startups can transition to Pulley with minimal difficulty.
  • It helps startups (that want to present data to different stakeholders) generate detailed, tailored reports.
  • It has clear and flexible pricing plans that are suitable for startups at different stages of growth.


  • As a newer player in the market, Pulley may not have the same level of recognition or trust as more established competitors.
  • While powerful, some advanced features may only be available in higher-priced plans, which could be a limitation for very early-stage startups.
  • Compared to more established platforms, Pulley might have fewer integrations with other business tools and services.

Carta vs. Pulley: Comparison of Features Between Carta and Pulley

When you’re deciding between Carta and Pulley for cap table management, it’s important to compare their features head-to-head. Although they both offer valuable solutions, understanding their differences can help you choose the one that best fits your startup’s needs.

Ease of Use

Carta is a user-friendly interface that’s intuitive for both founders and employees. The platform offers a clean dashboard with straightforward navigation, making it easy to manage equity and compliance without extensive training.

The onboarding process is streamlined, and the platform provides guided steps to help new users get started.

Pulley also emphasizes ease of use, offering a modern interface designed to simplify complex cap table management tasks. Its user experience is tailored for startups, with features like drag-and-drop capabilities and clear visualizations of equity distribution.

Pulley's onboarding process is similarly straightforward, with a focus on reducing the learning curve.

Feature Set

Carta is known for its comprehensive suite of features, including automated cap table management, 409A valuations, scenario modeling, and compliance tracking.

The platform supports end-to-end equity management, from issuing options and managing vesting schedules to handling liquidity events.

Also, Carta integrates with various HR and accounting systems, thereby making it efficient.

Pulley offers a robust set of features that cater specifically to startup needs. Its features include detailed scenario modeling, which allows startups to forecast dilution and plan for future fundraising rounds.

Pulley also offers customizable reports, providing insights tailored to specific stakeholder needs. Like Carta, Pulley supports integration with other essential tools, though its focus is more on flexibility and customization.


Carta is designed to grow with your startup. It can handle the increasing complexity that comes with scaling, like managing multiple funding rounds, employee stock option plans (ESOPs), and compliance as the company grows.

Carta’s infrastructure supports enterprises at different stages, from early-stage startups to large, public companies.

Pulley also scales effectively, with features that cater to growing teams and more complex cap tables. It offers scalable pricing plans and advanced features that become available as your needs change.

Pulley's ability to handle large amounts of data and complex scenarios makes it suitable for startups planning rapid growth.


Carta integrates seamlessly with several third-party applications, including major HR systems like Gusto and Rippling, and accounting software such as QuickBooks and Xero. These integrations help streamline workflows by automating data transfer and reducing the risk of errors.

Pulley also supports integrations with various HR and accounting tools, though its strength lies in its flexibility.

The platform supports custom integrations, thereby allowing startups to connect with niche tools or proprietary systems. This flexibility can be beneficial for startups that have unique workflows or specific integration needs.

Customer Support

Carta offers robust customer support, including 24/7 assistance for urgent issues. Their support team is known for its responsiveness and expertise, providing valuable guidance through live chat, email, and phone. Carta also offers a comprehensive knowledge base and training resources.

Pulley provides excellent customer support, with a focus on personalized service. Users often praise Pulley’s support team for their hands-on approach and quick response times.

Support channels include live chat, email, and scheduled consultations. Pulley also offers tutorials to help users navigate the platform.

Security and Compliance

Carta takes security seriously. The platform uses industry-standard encryption and regular security audits to protect sensitive data. It also ensures compliance with relevant regulations, like GDPR and SOC 2, providing peace of mind for startups handling sensitive financial information.

Pulley also prioritizes security, with robust measures in place to safeguard data. The platform adheres to industry best practices, including encryption and regular security reviews.

The platform is committed to compliance with key standards and regulations, ensuring that startups can trust their data is protected.

The table below provides a clear, side-by-side comparison of Carta and Pulley. It will help you to quickly identify the differences and choose the best cap table management solution for your needs:




Ease of Use

  • User-friendly interface with a clean dashboard and straightforward navigation.
  • Streamlined onboarding process with guided steps.
  • Modern interface designed to simplify complex tasks.
  • Features drag-and-drop capabilities and clear visualizations.
  • Straightforward onboarding process.

Feature Set

  • Comprehensive suite of features including automated cap table management, 409A valuations, scenario modeling, and compliance tracking.
  • Integrates with HR and accounting systems.
  • Robust features for startup needs, such as detailed scenario modeling and customizable reports.
  • Supports integration with essential tools, with a focus on flexibility and customization.


  • Designed to grow with startups, handling increasing complexity with features for multiple funding rounds, ESOPs, and compliance.
  • Suitable for early-stage startups to large public companies.
  • Scales effectively with features for growing teams and complex cap tables.
  • Offers scalable pricing plans and advanced features for evolving needs.
  • Handles large amounts of data and complex scenarios.


  • Seamlessly integrates with HR systems and accounting software.
  • Automates data transfer to streamline workflows.
  • Supports integrations with various HR and accounting tools, with strong flexibility for custom integrations.
  • Suitable for startups with unique workflows or specific integration needs.

Customer Support

  • Robust support including 24/7 assistance, a responsive and expert support team.
  • Multiple channels including live chat, email, and phone.
  • Comprehensive knowledge base and training resources.
  • Excellent personalized support with quick response times.
  • Support via live chat, email, and scheduled consultations.
  • Extensive documentation and tutorials available.

Security and Compliance

  • Uses industry-standard encryption, and regular security audits.
  • Ensures compliance with GDPR and SOC 2 regulations.
  • Robust security measures including encryption and regular security reviews.
  • Complies with key standards and regulations to protect sensitive data.

Cap Table Management Tips for Startups

Here are some cap table management tips that can help your startup avoid common pitfalls associated with managing cap tables:

Understand Option Pricing

When founders issue equity in a company, they often grant options. Setting a fair price for these options is a key challenge, especially for private companies.

According to the US Internal Revenue Code (IRC), incentive stock options (ISOs) must have a strike price equal to or above the fair market value of the common stock. Setting the price too low can lead to tax penalties for employees, extra costs for the company, and complications during acquisitions or IPOs.

On the other hand, setting the price too high can prevent employees from realizing potential value.

To ensure proper option pricing, private companies should consider obtaining annual 409A valuations from reputable providers. These valuations determine the fair market value of the common stock, helping set appropriate strike prices and maintaining accurate cap table values.

Understand the Regulations

To maintain accuracy and verifiability of information on your capitalization table, it's important to adhere to various regulations such as:


Consult a legal advisor to determine which regulations apply to your situation.

Know How to Analyze the Effect of a Financing Round

When a company raises new financing, it issues equity-based awards like preferred stock or convertible debt. These awards come with various terms governing liquidation preferences, participation rights, and more.

Understanding these terms will give you insights into the company's ownership structure. Modeling different scenarios will also help you assess potential dilution and ensure you don't give up more value than planned.

Consult with a Professional

Although online templates and pre-built spreadsheets can be used for cap table management, they cannot replace professional expertise.

While these resources provide a good starting point, you need to understand every aspect of contracts like option plans or shareholder agreements. As your startup grows, you may come across complex legal issues when you least expect them.

Seeking advice from professionals, like the experts at Levy, right from the outset can prevent costly mistakes and ensure that your cap table is accurate.

Wrapping Up

The cap table management platform you choose will directly impact your ability to manage equity, attract investors, and ensure compliance. Hence, you need to choose the right cap table management solution.

Both Carta and Pulley offer robust features designed to meet the needs of growing startups, but the best choice depends on your specific requirements and plans.

If you’re looking for a well-established, all-in-one solution with several features, you can go for Carta. Its extensive integrations and comprehensive support services make it a reliable option for scaling businesses.

However, if you prefer ease of use, flexibility, and cost-efficiency (especially in the early stages), Pulley is your best choice. Its intuitive design and powerful modeling tools can help you manage your cap table effectively without any hassle.


What is the difference between Carta and Pulley?

Carta offers equity advisory services that provide year-round evaluations to help your company secure small business tax breaks. These services offer personalized 1:1 tax sessions for your employees to maximize their equity benefits.

On the other hand, Pulley does not offer equity advisory services, thereby increasing the operational burden on your company.

What does Carta do?

Carta develops software that helps companies in managing their capitalization tables. These tables show the ownership percentages, equity dilution, and the value of equity for each investment round by founders, investors, and other stakeholders.

What is the purpose of a cap table?

A cap table, or capitalization table, is a spreadsheet that shows the ownership structure of a startup. This table is essential for due diligence as it shows how each stakeholder will be affected by a fundraising event.

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