SecondMarket, a site that allows you to trade stock in private companies like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Zynga and Tesla, announced today that it received $15 million in funding. The New York and Bay Area-based company allows people to sell startup stock as if the company has gone public. “We have monitored this market closely, and SecondMarket has clearly emerged as the industry expert,” said Mark Heesen, President of the National Venture Capital Association (NVCA). “We believe that SecondMarket has the right model to help fill the gap that exists in the capital formation process as a result of the systemic issues that have arisen in the public markets over the past decade.”

The funding, from Li Ka Shing Foundation and Dunearn, a subsidiary of Singapore-based Temasek Holdings, is expected to help SecondMarket push into Asia.

In 2009, more than $100 million in private company securities was traded through SecondMarket, and $13 million was traded last month, 36 percent of that in Facebook stock. Sources put Facebook stock traded via SecondMarket at $36-$40 a share. SecondMarket recently expanded its Bay Area presence, moving from offices in Menlo Park to a larger space in Palo Alto.

One of the potential challenges of companies like SecondMarket is that the sale of pre-IPO stocks can bring a company to over 500 shareholders, in which case the SEC generally requires the company to report like a public company. In November 2008, Facebook was exempted from this requirement.

By Mark Alvarez