A quarterly survey by law firm Fenwick & West, which tracks deal terms of startup clients, showed a sharp rise in those with senior liquidation preferences for later stage funding rounds in the third quarter, the time when WeWork's IPO plan unraveled.

For a graphic on Interactive graphic on liquidation preference clauses in deals, click here

Safeguards include a higher minimum price on shares in an IPO, "ratchets" that give investors more shares if the shares are priced below what they paid, guarantees of a certain return on investments, and rights to block the IPO.

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