Why talent-acquisition startup Guide switched from Pulley to ‘industry standard’ Carta

Troy Sultan
CEO and co-founder, Guide
Year founded


Funding raised

$8 million seed round led by First Round Capital and Spero Ventures, March 2022

Carta products used

Cap table management, Carta Total Comp, 409A valuations

Guide began as a custom-built interview tool for co-founder Troy Sultan’s earlier startup. He was competing for talent against major tech companies and believed a superlative candidate experience would give his company an advantage. 

But, as he developed his proprietary tool, he and his co-founder realized it was more aligned with their passion and values than their original company. They wanted to bring radical transparency to the interview process. With a renewed mission, Sultan got serious about building Guide to transform talent acquisition. 

Sultan knew he needed the software and tools to seamlessly manage his cap table, produce valuations reports, and hire the right team. He tried several other providers but found only “quasi-solutions” that didn’t meet his standards, before finding what he needed in Carta. 

We didn’t have a lot of trust in (Pulley’s) advice or compliance. I just viewed Carta as having more expertise.

Troy Sultan
CEO, Guide

Now Guide uses Carta for its streamlined ecosystem of solutions, all backed by expert support. Cap table management simplifies fundraising across investors and legal teams. Clear 409A valuation processes give Guide’s founders peace of mind. And as Guide adds headcount, Total Compensation helps create trust with candidates and staff.

Connected solutions for the long term

“We wanted to invest in the software solutions that would be with us along the way,” says Sultan, “so we got away from the quasi-solutions. We were ready to raise a fair amount of capital and grow our team to triple the size. We wanted the right systems with robust features and aggressive roadmaps from leaders in the space. That was really the story that brought us to Carta.”

Before Carta, Guide was using a disconnected set of tools. It managed its cap table with Pulley and its investor updates with Cabal. Every time Guide made an update, it was time-consuming and costly. The company had to sync information across platforms and pay lawyers to audit multiple records.  

“We were about to do our seed fundraise, which was a large round. Pulley was getting the job done, but it wasn’t a strategic advantage . . . We didn’t have a lot of trust in its advice or compliance. I just viewed Carta as having more expertise.

“We saw the cap table and the auxiliary functionality—tax, compliance, the total comp—all coming around the Carta ecosystem, and we felt Carta has this network effect that we wanted to buy into.”

Trustworthy 409A valuations

Guide’s experience with its 409A valuations was similar. For its first valuation, Guide used what Sultan calls “a random firm” through a referral. He was new to the process and expected education and support for something so vital to Guide’s future. 

“We get this boilerplate interview,” he said, referring to his valuations experience with the previous provider. “We get some vague understandings and, sort of, like, insinuations that we might want to reconsider our answers. They kept asking, ‘Are you sure? Are you sure that’s your answer?’ and it all just felt a little sketchy and ambiguous.”

When he received a report for approval weeks later, he didn’t feel confident that his valuation was accurate or compliant. He likened the process to going to the dentist—necessary, but annoying and uncomfortable. 

“We do our valuations with Carta today, and it’s a complete non-issue,” he said. “It’s like clicking a couple buttons, our data is saved from the previous year, I go through a quick form, I update anything, and I submit it. It’s a done deal that [board] consents get sent, our lawyers get the information, and the system shows it’s updated. You can see where it’s at the whole time.”

Offering transparency with Total Comp

Carta lets Guide act with integrity with its employees, too. Visibility can be a challenge in talent acquisition, but Carta Total Compensation provides Guide with reliable salary and equity benchmarks. High-quality data helps standardize initial negotiations and supports later conversations during performance reviews or promotions. 

Transparency is at the core of Guide’s market offers, so Sultan can readily identify the value in standardizing compensation data from a broad range of private companies. 

“In talent acquisition, there can be a glaring gap in thought leadership. Not every company uses the same leveling. Some early startups don’t use leveling at all,” he explains. 

“And when you evolve and mature into using leveling, you’re probably using a different approach than your neighbor. If you’re hiring at what you call a Level 4, but a candidate was a Level 6 at their last company, they could feel like it’s a demotion even if they are the same level in practice. 

“There are real consequences to non-standardized practices. Human Resources needs this thought leadership. We need opinionated software. We need an industry standard.” 

We wanted the right systems with robust features and aggressive roadmaps from leaders in the space. That was really the story that brought us to Carta.

Troy Sultan

By using Carta Total Compensation, Guide has a better internal workflow for making offers. It also inspired Sultan to innovate in a way that could change candidate expectations during the talent acquisition process. 

After Guide screens candidates, Sultan shares data from Carta upfront. This lets candidates know what to expect from an offer before investing in the rest of the interview process. 

“We’ve used Carta data alongside our own products to make our interview process aggressively transparent. And that’s been really amazing. It really changed the way we think about things and it started with the cap table and Carta Total Comp.”

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