Toptal, a service that connects companies with freelance software engineers, is a Silicon Valley success story. Founded in 2010, it soon attracted funding from well-known investors including Andreessen Horowitz and hired scores of employees who were promised stock if things went well and the company raised more money.

And things did go well. So well, in fact, that Toptal has grown at least 30% annually for years—hitting almost $200 million in revenue last year—while breaking even or making a profit, depending on the year. But Toptal has not raised any more money since its seed round in 2012. It hasn’t needed to. As a result, even though it looks like a typical venture capital funded company, all of Toptal’s stock is in the hands of one person, co-founder and CEO Taso Du Val. Even Du Val’s co-founder and colleague for eight years, Breanden Beneschott, has no shares.

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The story of how Toptal employees and investors have so far ended up without any equity is a cautionary tale.

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