"Founders of start-ups and the venture capitalists who finance them have two ways to get their money out of the company: sell it to another company or sell shares to the public.
The market for initial public offerings has dried up and companies are not being very acquisitive these days. In the first three months of 2009, only 56 companies were sold, half the number of a year ago, and none went public.
What if they had another option? SecondMarket, which operates markets for trading illiquid assets online, is creating a marketplace for trading shares of private companies. It puts investors together with shareholders and collects a fee, which will be 2 percent from each side for the private company market."