Before the JOBS Act came along, listing a security on a public website would itselfhave been treated as an act of “solicitation.” That’s the odd thing: Title III portals aren’t allowed to “solicit,” yet in the traditional sense of the term that’s the most important thing Congress created them to do.
The fact is that Congress was ambivalent when it created Title III portals. They are allowed to list offerings of securities, but are not allowed to do other things often associated with the sale of securities, including holding investor funds or offering investment advice. They are regulated by the SEC and FINRA, but with a light touch compared with other regulated entities. They are privately-owned, but are required to provide educational materials to investors, police issuers, provide an online communication platform, and ensure that investors don’t exceed their investment limits – in short, they are required to assume a quasi-governmental role.
Title III portals are a new animal, part fish, part bird. Which makes it that much more difficult to decide what “solicit” means when they do it.
Based on the statute, the SEC regulations, the legislative background of the JOBS Act, and the history and overall context of the U.S. securities laws, I think a Title III portal engages in prohibited “solicitation” anytime it tries to steer an investor to a particular security. If it’s not trying to steer an investor to a particular security, then it’s probably okay.
I’ve included some practical guidelines in the chart below. Although there are plenty of gaps, I hope this helps.
Click the following for a print ready version of the complete chart: Rules for Title III Portals
Mark also maintains a widely-read Crowdfunding blog at crowdfundattny.com. In addition to Flaster/ Greenberg’s Crowdfunding Practice, Mark is also a member of the firm’s Mergers and Acquisitions, Business and Corporate, and Taxation Practice Groups. He represents entrepreneurs and their businesses across a wide range of industries, including technology, real estate and healthcare. Mark holds a Master’s degree in mathematics as well as a J.D. from the University of Virginia. You can reach Mark at 856.661.2265 or mark.roderick@ flastergreenberg.com.
For more information on Crowdfunding, including news, updates and links to important information pertaining to the JOBS Act and how Crowdfunding may affect your business, : @CrowdfundAttny.
For more information on Crowdfunding, including news, updates and links to important information pertaining to the JOBS Act and how Crowdfunding may affect your business, follow my blog or twitter handle: @CrowdfundAttny