A cliff refers to the minimum period of time that must elapse before a grant of equity compensation begins to vest. Consider the example of a common vesting schedule: 4 years with a 1-year cliff. In that scenario, a startup employee who's been granted equity wouldn't vest until they had worked for 1 year (i.e., the 1-year cliff) at the startup. If the employee left the startup at any time prior to the cliff, there would be no vesting.
Explore the complexities of startup equity vesting, especially when an acquisition occurs. Understand the function and uses for accelerated vesting like single-trigger and double-trigger acceleration.