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Crowdfunding- The Good, The Bad & The (really) Ugly

By Shane Liddell is the CEO and chief Crowdfundologist at Smart Crowdfunding LLC,. Crowdfund Beat Guest post,

Part 3 –The (really) Ugly

Introduction

In Part 1 I covered all of the good things that we have seen as crowdfunding continuously gathers momentum across the world. The future looks bright indeed!

In Part 2 I wrote of changes within the industry, especially within rewards based crowdfunding – the competition which makes it so much harder for the small guys and the Indiegogo platform now giving preferential treatment to corporates, allowing them “…to pay for special placement on Indiegogo’s site, making them more discoverable than other campaigns”. I also explained that although campaign creators are often labelled as scammers when they fail to deliver on their promises, in many cases this is not true at all.

Here in Part 3, we delve into the dark world of extortion, blackmail and a whole host of other not so nice behavior. I’ll cover some real scams where the campaign creator’s intention from the very beginning was to steal people’s money, in some cases, with the crowdfunding platforms help too!

Part 3-The (REALLY) UGLY

Extortion and Blackmail

Ethan Hunt – Micro Phone

During our very early days of offering crowdfunding campaign marketing services, we were engaged by a Mr. Ethan Hunt who had just launched his Micro Phone campaign on the Indiegogo platform. Ethan and I shared a few phone calls as his campaign began to gather momentum and I specifically remember being on a call with him one day, while the money was rolling in, and each refresh of his campaign page showed more and more backers claiming the rewards on offer. Times were good and there was an element of excitement in his voice (and mine too). Who wouldn’t be excited to see such fantastic traction?

Around 4 weeks later, with almost $50,000 raised, Ethan reached out to me to say he’d been contacted by a guy named Michael Gabrill who claimed that he had some negative information about Ethan and that if he did not pay him $10,000 he would release this information to the public through various media channels. Ethan forwarded me the email communications so I could see for myself.

Low and behold, there it was in black and white.

My advice to Ethan at the time was to just ignore this guy, as I was sure that Gabrill was just a typical opportunist money grabber and was probably seeking attention too. Ethan wrote back to him, refusing to pay a single cent but what happened next surprised us both – Garbrill began contacting various media including Pando and even went so far as to create a webpage slandering Ethan and his Micro Phone project.

The story continued and in Ethan’s own words at the time:

“Did Michael Gabrill attempt to extort money from us? Yes, he did, this is fact he has admitted to doing it here and on one of the many webpages he has set up in an attempt to cover his actions and his motives, claiming it was a test to see if we would incriminate ourselves. Incriminate us for what? Running a successful and legitimate campaign? Or refusing to pay him money not to do what he has done, something he threaten(ed) to do if we did not pay him.

What did Michael Gabrill do exactly? Well, he approached me the day after our campaign reached 100% funding which means in laymans terms when our campaign had received enough contributions for our campaign to be successful and for us to receive payment of the funds at the end of the campaign.

It took more than 30 days to reach our goal and our campaign to be fully funded. During this time, Michael Gabrill sat back and waited until there was enough motivation for us as campaign owners to if he could build enough fear of loss by the thought of him getting our campaign closed down to pay him money for his silence.

Why if Michael Gabrill if he really believed the campaign was fraudulent did he not immediately report it? Simple up until the campaign is 100% there would be no motivation for campaign owners to pay him a penny. This was never about him believing there was an issue with the campaign it was about his motivation to gain financially from a successful campaign. Something, we are sure he has done many times before.

Why do we think he has done this before? He waited until we were 100% funded, he claimed he could shut us down, he claimed that we had no intention of delivering anything to contributors and were going to steal their money and he wanted his cut or he was going to have us arrested for fraud.

Michael Gabrill’s only motivation was money, he sent me a link to his first webpage and told me if we paid him it would not go up. That webpage included photos of myself, details Michael Gabrill had obtained from my eBay account (which could only have been accessed by an eBay employee) and he claimed I was a creep or in Australian terms a sex offender. When I refused to pay him and reported him, he had the webpage active in less than 10 minutes. Only an extortionist would have a pre built webpage ready to go to force his victims into paying him to remove it.

Is our campaign is legitimate? Yes it is, we have registered businesses in Hong Kong and Australia, neither Mike or I have ever been investigated for fraud and we have both been successfully running business in Australia, Hong Kong and China for more than 25 years.”

To end the story, Ethan initiated legal action and managed to have all the slandering webpages created by Gabrill removed and received a public apology from the man himself too. In turn, Indiegogo went on to ban Gabrill completely from their platform.

This turned into a very time consuming and costly endeavor for Ethan but unfortunately, there are many Gabrills lurking in the shadows and waiting to pounce.

 

Bob Rohner – RG Energy

Bob signed up with us a few months after Ethan but his story is a different one in that his crowdfunding campaign didn’t really do too well at all. We tried our best but the ‘crowd’ seemed to think that what Bob was attempting to do was nigh impossible.

However, during the third week of his campaign. Bob received an email from someone claiming to be the owner of RG Energy, a company based in Ohio. Bob’s business was registered in Iowa. They emailed Bob stating that because they were using their RG Energy’s company name, he would have to pay $10,000 (yes, coincidently the same amount as Ethan was asked for) in license or royalty fees. What??

After a little research, it turned out that this goon had registered a company by the same name in Ohio AFTER Bob had launched his crowdfunding campaign thinking he could get money out of him by playing this little game. This led Bob to get his legal team involved and the problem swiftly went away.

 

The Scammers – Very few real ones but they are out there!
Intentional scams are very rare. During my time in the industry I have seen no more than 3 or 4 which were clearly scams from the very beginning.
Many labelled as scams today are situations whereby the people involved set out with good intentions, only to find out that what they are attempting to do is either impossible or far costlier than they expected. Crowdfunding campaign first, homework afterwards rarely works.
Julien (Courteville) Buschor – Launching Multiple campaigns helped him steal almost $400,000

During July 2015, a campaign on the Indiegogo platform called Smart Tracker 2 (ST2) caught my attention for the simple reason that it had raised over $20,000 within the first 24 hours. Normally, campaigns that gain this kind of traction so quickly have done their homework and are fully prepared with social media assets before launch. In most cases, they have a substantial number of social media followers. However, when I looked at the Smart Tracker accounts I saw that they barely had any followers at all. In fact, at the time, their Facebook page showed only 149 ‘likes’ and their Twitter account a measly 19 followers. Maybe they’d done a fantastic job of building a targeted email database before launch, was a thought at the time. My suspicions were aroused though which lead me to delve a little deeper.

I returned to the ST2 campaign page and began to scroll through their backer list. As I scrolled down to the very first backer, and began searching through the list of names, low and behold, I began to see some of the same names appear as backer’s multiple times and eventually realized that 7 or more user accounts had contributed to the campaign many times over – a clear sign of self-funding taking place. This raised alarm bells and prompted further investigation.

What I discovered was a first for me. A look at the user account profile that created this this ST2 campaign showed that this was the 4th campaign launched since the beginning of the year by the very same person – Julien Scherer (whose real name turned out to be Julien Buschor) and now it was only July? Ding..ding..ding. The alarm bells grew louder!

Upon further investigation I discovered that Mr Buschor first launched a campaign called Last Crime in January 2015 raising over $7,000 and claiming:

“Last Crime was made with cutting edge technology that can easily analyze data, provide facial recognition, perform phone and email scanning and much more”

A month later yet another campaign had launched by the name of Innovative Swiss Teeth Whitening Machine raising over $ 60,000 and with a tagline of “Swiss White Teeth, the most advanced swiss teeth whitening light with color screen and USB interface

A few short weeks later the Smart Tracker campaign launched and managed to raise just over $18,000. And finally, the ST2 campaign as initially mentioned above.

The answer to the question – How had the Smart Tracker 2 campaign managed to raise over $20,000 so quickly? –  was now fairly obvious as it was clear that Mr Buschor had rolled funds from his other campaigns into this new one.

Armed with this information, we reached out to Mr Buschor using a private email address and began a lengthy exchange of emails over the following few days. Initially he was panicked and changed user names on the campaigns listed above and sometimes became aggressive in his defense, but he did begin to accept that we knew his game. We threatened to report his campaign to Indiegogo and eventually, he did confirm that he had self-funded the ST2 campaign and his defense was made with a claim of “I’ve done nothing wrong as it’s legal so Indiegogo won’t cancel our campaign”

Mr Buschor self-funded his ST2 campaign to the tune of over $20,000, using money collected from previous campaigns to create a sense of popularity in the eyes of the public. No doubt in my mind that we were seeing a real con man in action!

As my marketing agency, Smart Crowdfunding is listed as a ‘Partner’ on Indiegogo itself, I reached out directly to their Trust and Safety division armed with all of the evidence needed to show that Mr Buschor had been scamming the public. I was certain they would listen, or at least reach out to me for more details. Nope. I received a canned email response saying very little except that they would investigate the matter. Did I hear back from them after this? Nope.

Of even more concern was that the ST2 campaign continued and on July 12th was promoted through the Indiegogo newsletter to a huge database of millions of people. Funding continued to ramp up and eventually the campaign raised more than $300,000.

Was it really a scam you may ask? Absolutely! The comments page on the ST2 campaign tells the whole shameful story!

As for Mr Buschor, he was resident in Switzerland and made local news for all of the wrong reasons as seen HERE

 

BioRing- The Amazing Ring That Made $460,000 Disappear

Now, this one had scam written all over it from the very beginning. However, even some notable Crowdfunding Marketing agencies were taken for a ride in the process too.

During mid-January 2016, we (Smart Crowdfunding) received an email inquiry from a Daniel Johnson asking about our services. After a few back and forth emails with our team, this lead to a Skype call booked for the 20th January. For some reason, they had to reschedule and we rebooked a time for 9am on 27th January, this time with a James Lee.

The call went ahead as planned, and James told me all about BioRing and that they were going to launch a crowdfunding campaign to raise the funds to manufacture the product and get it out there into the market. I explained our campaign development and marketing process, and the need to build an audience prior to launching. James asked if we would work on a percentage only basis to which I replied “No” and then went on to explain that without any validation testing we do not know if his product is a good fit for crowdfunding. Upon concluding the call I did say that I would email through our fee structure and the call ended.

My thoughts at the time were that what they were trying to do was nearly impossible, so a few days later I emailed again stating that after careful consideration I could not help them as I felt their product was impossible to develop.

We did not hear from either Daniel or James again.

The BioRing campaign eventually launched in June 2016 and did rack up over $700,000 in funding.

Fortunately, at least some of the backers were refunded, as Indiegogo did not release any of the InDemand money to the campaign owners. The total amount ‘stolen’ is now showing at $424,664 as of today’s date.

Now, that’s a lot of money and has, in effect, added to a community of backers claiming to never back another Indiegogo campaign again as can be clearly seen on the comments section of the BioRing campaign page. There are many other campaigns with such negative comments.

These disgruntled backers have a right to be pissed and there are hundreds of thousands of them who have supported other campaigns that are disgusted with the treatment they receive from Indiegogo themselves.

You can read more about this scam in this excellent investigative article from Sara Morrison here

The ironic thing with BioRing is that the marketing agencies involved – Funded Today (FT), Herscu and Goldsilver (H&G) and Command Partners (CP) – were up in arms when they didn’t get paid after the campaign concluded, having raised over $700,000. It surprises me that none of them thought that this campaign was nothing but a scam from the very beginning, considering FT were taking a 25% cut of funds raised, H&G a 10% cut and I assume CP a minimum 10%….so, a minimum of 45% off the top! Add to this the 5% Indiegogo platform fee and payment processing fees of around 3.5% meaning that BioRing were giving away more than 50% of the backer’s money!

A screenshot of the BioRing campaign team captured prior to the campaign been flagged as fraudulent. Since then all associated team members removed themselves from the campaign, most likely out of embarrassment. 


SEC Makes Intrastate Crowdfunding A Little Easier

By Mark Roderick CrowdFunding Beat  Sr. contributing editor and crowdfunding attorney with Flaster/Greenberg PC.aaeaaqaaaaaaaaf7aaaajdm2zwu1ywjmlwe2zjgtndljns04mtu3ltzmnza4mde3m2y4ma

The SEC just adopted rules that should make intrastate Crowdfunding easier, at least if State legislatures do their part.

To understand how the new rules help and how they don’t, start with section 3(a)(11) of the Securities Act of 1933, which has been, until now, the basis for all intrastate Crowdfunding laws. While section 5 of the Securities Act generally provides that all sales of securities must be registered with the SEC, section 3(a)(11) provides for an exemption for:

Any security which is a part of an issue offered and sold only to persons resident within a single State or Territory, where the issuer of such security is a person resident and doing business within or, if a corporation, incorporated by and doing business within, such State or Territory.

In 1974 the SEC adopted Rule 147, implementing section 3(a)(11). That was long before the Internet, and as state legislatures have enthusiastically adopted intrastate Crowdfunding laws since the JOBS Act of 2012, some aspects of Rule 147 have proven problematic. The rules just adopted by the SEC fix some of the problems of Rule 147:

  • In its original form, Rule 147 required that offers could be made only to residents of the state in question. The revised Rule 147 says it’s okay as long as the issuer has a “reasonable belief” that offers are made only to residents.
  • In its original form, Rule 147 required issuers to satisfy a multi-part test to show they were “doing business” in the state. Under the revised Rule 147, an issuer will be treated as “doing business” if it satisfies any one of several alternative tests.
  • The revised Rule 147 provides safe harbors to ensure that the intrastate offering is not “integrated” with other offerings.
  • In its original form, Rule 147 provided that securities purchased in the intrastate offering could not be sold except in the state where they were purchased for nine months following the end of the offering. The revised Rule 147 provides, instead, that securities purchased in the intrastate offering may not be sold except in the state where they were purchased, for a period of six months (not six months from the end of the offering).

Those are all good changes. But the SEC didn’t stop there. In addition to changing Rule 147 for the better, the SEC has adopted a brand new Rule 147A. Rule 147A more or less begins where Rule 147 leaves off and adds the following helpful provisions:

  • Most significantly, offers under Rule 147A may be made to anyone. That means the issuer may use general soliciting and advertising – and the Internet in particular – to broadcast its offering to the whole world. Purchasers – the investors who buy the securities – must still be residents of the state, but offers may be made to anybody.
  • The issuer doesn’t have to be incorporated in the state, as long as it has its “principal place of business” there – defined as the state “in which the officers, partners or managers of the issuer primarily direct, control and coordinate the activities of the issuer.” Thus, a Delaware limited liability company could conduct an intrastate “offering in Indiana, as long as all the officers and managers live and work in Indiana.

Why did the SEC bother to create a whole new Rule 147A to add these provisions, rather than just adding them to Rule 147?

The answer is that Rule 147 is an implementation of section 3(a)(11) of the Securities Act, and if you look at section 3(a)(11) you’ll see that the additional provisions in Rule 147A – allowing offers to everybody, allowing a non-resident issuer – are prohibited by the statutory language. To add these provisions, the SEC had no choice but to create a new Rule 147A that is entirely independent of section 3(a)(11).

And there’s the rub. Many of the existing intrastate Crowdfunding laws require the issuer to comply with Rule 147 and section 3(a)(11). Texas, for example, says:

Securities offered in reliance on the exemption provided by this section [the Texas intrastate Crowdfunding rule] must also meet the requirements of the federal exemption for intrastate offerings in the Securities Act of 1933, §3(a)(11), 15 U.S.C. §77c(a)(11), and Securities and Exchange Commission Rule 147, 17 CFR §230.147.

This means that issuers in Texas will not be allowed to conduct an offering under the more liberal provisions of Rule 147A until the Texas State Securities Board changes that sentence to read:

Securities offered in reliance on the exemption provided by this section must also meet the requirements of the federal exemption for intrastate offerings in the Securities Act of 1933, §3(a)(11), 15 U.S.C. §77c(a)(11), and Securities and Exchange Commission Rule 147, 17 CFR §230.147, or, alternatively, the requirements of the federal exemption for intrastate offerings in Securities and Exchange Commission Rule 147A, 17 CFR §230.147A.

To those who have spent the last three years pushing intrastate Crowdfunding laws through state legislatures, it might look as if the boulder has rolled back down the hill. But there might also be a silver lining. Almost all the state rules were adopted before Title III became final, and almost all include very modest offering limits. Now that Title III is working as promised, Rule 147A might present an opportunity for legislatures not just to take advantage of the more liberal provisions, but also to raise offering limits and make other adjustments, seeking to make their state rules more competitive with the Federal Title III rules.

In the big picture, the SEC has once again proven itself a fan of Crowdfunding. And that’s good.

Questions? Let me know.

Mark Roderick is one of the leading Crowdfunding lawyers in the United States. He represents platforms, portals, issuers, and others throughout the industry. 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 Mark’s blog, or his twitter handle: @CrowdfundAttny. He can also be reached at 856.661.2265 or mark.roderick@flastergreenberg.com.

REPORT: Equity Crowdfunding – Risks and liabilities as the industry matures

 

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BY Ronald Kleverlaan Crowdfunding strategy, CrowdfundingHub, advisor European Commission, co-founder European Crowdfunding Network

Within the rapidly-expanding alternative finance industry, equity crowdfunding is emerging as a popular method of growth finance. Equity crowdfunding is a mechanism by which a broad group of investors can fund start-up companies and small businesses in return for equity.

In collaboration with UK insurance company AIG, the researchers of CrowdfundingHub worked together with leading European experts from SyndicateRoom, Seedrs, AIG, CrowdCube, Invesdor, Twintangibles and Legal Alternative to create a state-of-the-art overview of the Equity Crowdfunding industry.

Summary of report

Introduction: The rise and rise of equity crowdfunding

Overview of the growth of the equity crowdfunding industry globally and in Europa.

Chapter 1: Latest developments in equity crowdfunding

Secondary markets, business angels and equity crowdfunding, growth in deal sizes, serial crowdfunding and DIY crowdfunding campaigns.

Chapter 2: Striking the right regulatory balance

Investor protection versus access to finance for companies. Do regulations help or hinder the growth of the equity crowdfunding industry? What will be the impact of Brexit on the equity crowdfunding industry.

Chapter 3: Tackling investor protection

Direct shareholder versus nominee structure, due diligence and cross-border considerations

Chapter 4: Mind the gap: Risks and liabilities associated with crowdfunding platforms

Risks and liabilities associated with crowdfunding platforms, insurance as mechanism for sustainable growth of platforms and fraud risk case studies.

Download free report:

The full report can be downloaded here: Equity Crowdfunding – Considering potential risks and liabilities as the industry grows and matures.

Busted!  SEC Targets Reg A+ Marijuana Company, Med-X, in Administrative Proceeding.

By Samuel S. Guzik, CrowdFundBeat special guest editor,  Guzik & Associate

The Regulation A+ industry was buzzing this week – not with excitement, but with a healthy dose of trepidation.  One of the first, high (no pun intended) profile Regulation A+ offerings, launched in November 2015, after a seemingly successful “Testing the Waters” campaign, was for a company called Med-X, a startup formed to participate in the newly burgeoning marijuana industry – the so called “Green Rush.”

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But this month’s headline for Med-X was a bit more sanguine, enough to counteract even the most potent dosage of THC:  “REGULATION A EXEMPTION OF MED-X, INC. TEMPORARILY SUSPENDED.”  The story that followed was not the kind of publicity any company is looking for – especially when it is in the throes of raising money under Reg A+. Actually, it was not a story. Rather, it was an Administrative Order issued by the SEC on September 16, 2016, temporarily suspending the exemption of Med-X under Regulation A+.

Why? Well, it seems that this company failed to notice, or at least heed, the requirement that Reg A+ issuers file periodic informational reports as a condition of maintaining their status as Reg A+ issues. The basic requirement calls for a company, at the least, to file a semi-annual and annual report with the SEC following the “qualification” of the offering.  Seems that Med-X failed to file its annual report, which would include audited financial statements, when due back in the Spring of 2016.

Some have speculated that the SEC was targeting a disfavored industry – marijuana. I doubt it. The SEC  has approved the registered sale of other companies in this industry long before Regulation A+ was adopted.

Others have speculated that this action reflects an uneven hand towards Regulation A+ issuers. After all, this type of swift action is rare for fully reporting companies which are delinquent in their filings. One more time: I think not.

The Staff at the SEC has been remarkably supportive of the rollout of Regulation A+, as measured anecdotally in terms of the efficiency in which it has been processing the review of Regulation A+ offerings.

Rather, I think back to one of the more notable sound bytes I coined in a Webinar back in April 2015: “Regulation A+ is not your daughter’s Kickstarter campaign.”  Raising capital from outside investors is serious, heavily regulated business.  And as indicated by some of the early Regulation A+ participants, the level of sophistication of the management of some of these issuers has hardly met the bar required to file and prosecute a Regulation A+ offering.

Yes, Regulation A+ is a little more complex than the pipedream: filling out a form, waiting for SEC approval, and then crowdfunding your way to $50 million.  Apart from detailed disclosure rules, including audited financial statements, and the always difficult task of raising capital – especially for early stage companies – there is an ongoing SEC reporting requirement. Yes, the requirement is lighter than a fully reporting public company, to be sure, but enough to quickly overload an early stage company, with limited financial and human resources.

So if nothing else, this is one SEC enforcement action can be expected to inject a dose of reality into the Regulation A+ capital raising process.  As our President might say, “A Teachable Moment.”

samuel guzik

Samuel S. Guzik has more than 35 years of experience as a corporate and securities attorney and business advisor in private practice in New York and Los Angeles, including as an associate at Willkie Farr and Gallagher, a major New York based international law firm, a partner at the law firm of Ervin, Cohen and Jessup, in Los Angeles, and in the firm he founded in 1993, Guzik & Associates.

Mr. Guzik has represented public and privately held companies and entrepreneurs on a broad range of business and financing transactions, both public and private. Mr. Guzik has also successfully represented clients in federal securities litigation and SEC enforcement proceedings. Guzik has represented businesses in a diverse range of industries, including digital media, apparel, health care and numerous high technology based businesses.
Guzik is a recognized authority and thought leader on matters relating to the JOBS Act of 2012 and the ongoing SEC rulemaking, including Regulation D Rule 506 private placements, Regulation A+, and investment crowdfunding. He has been consulted by Congressional members, state legislators and the U.S. Small Business Administration Office of Advocacy on matters relating to the JOBS Act and state securities matters.

Guzik & Associates

1875 Century Park East, Suite 700

Los Angeles, CA 90067

Telephone: 310-914-8600

www.guziklaw.com

www.corporatesecuritieslawyerblog.com

@SamuelGuzik1

 

The New and Improved Regulation A

By Mark Roderick CrowdFunding Beat  Sr. contributing editor and crowdfunding attorney with Flaster/Greenberg PC.

“How long will it take?” That’s one of the two questions I’m asked most often about Regulation A.

The answer is that if everything goes smoothly, it should take about 20 – 24 weeks from the day an issuer decides to raise money using Regulation A until it begins selling securities. Every company is different, of course, and lots of things can delay the process, but 20 – 24 weeks is a good rule of thumb.

With this Regulation A Timeline, I hope to provide issuers and their advisors with a framework for conducting a Regulation A offering, with tasks and milestones. Three notes:

  • Don’t try to view this on your phone! There’s a lot to cover.
  • As you’ll see, there’s a lot to do in the first few weeks. The more thorough the attention given to the earliest tasks, the more smoothly the process will roll out.
  • By definition, this Timeline is from the perspective of the lawyer. Each member of the team – the accountant, the escrow agent, etc. – will have a separate timeline, all within the same 20 – 24 week framework.

What is the other question I’m asked most often about Regulation A? You guessed it. I’ll cover assembling the team and the cost of Regulation A in another post.

The JOBS Act created three flavors of Crowdfunding:

  • Title II Crowdfunding, which allows issuers to raise an unlimited amount of money from an unlimited number of investors using unlimited advertising – but is limited to accredited investors.
  • Title III Crowdfunding, which allows issuers to raise up to $1 million per year from anyone, including non-accredited investors.
  • Title IV Crowdfunding, which modified the old Regulation A and is sometimes referred to as Regulation A+.

Quick Summary of Regulation A

  • Raise up to $50 million per year for each issuer
  • Raise money from both accredited and non-accredited investors
  • Register with the SEC
  • Takes about five months, start to finish
  • No State-level registration
  • Shares freely tradeable from day one
  • Sales by existing shareholders
  • Regulation A shareholders not counted toward Exchange Act limits for full reporting
  • Mini-IPO, but with much lower cost

Two Tiers

Theoretically, there are two “tiers” under Regulation A:

Tier One Tier Two
Amount Per Year $20 million $50 million
Non-Accredited Allowed Yes Yes
Limits on Investment None For non-accrediteds, 10% of income or net worth, whichever is greater, per offering.
Audited Financials No Yes
Registration with SEC Yes Yes
Registration with State Yes No
Excluded from Exchange Act Limits Yes Yes
Shares Freely Tradeable Yes Yes
Post-Offering Reporting No Yes
Testing the Waters Yes Yes
Online Distribution Allowed Yes Yes
Bad Actor Limits Yes Yes

Because of the exemption from State registration, most companies will choose Tier Two.

Companies That Cannot Use Regulation A

Investment Companies Companies that own stock or other securities in other companies.
Foreign Companies Issuers must be organized and have their principal place of business in the U.S. or Canada.
Oil and Gas Companies Can’t sell fractional undivided interests in oil and gas rights, or a similar interest in other mineral rights.
Public Companies Can’t be a publicly-reporting company.
Companies Selling Asset-Backed Securities For example, interests in a pool of credit card debt.

Where Regulation A Makes the Most Sense

  • Pools of high-quality real estate assets, especially REITs
  • High quality assets in inefficient markets
  • Sexy companies (companies with high social-media followers or potential)

Additional Resources

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Markley S. Roderick concentrates his practice on the representation of entrepreneurs and their businesses. He represents companies across a wide range of industries, including technology, real estate, and healthcare.

“REG CF” An Analysis of the First 50 Crowdfunding Offerings

By Marc A. Leaf, Robert T. Esposito, and Abigail Luhn,

The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) is now accepting Form C filings from private companies seeking to sell securities through registered crowdfunding portals. We have been following the nascent crowdfunding space closely and will continue to monitor the adoption of crowdfunding as a new method of financing private companies.

In this alert, we will analyze offerings conducted through crowdfunding portals, offer tips for those thinking of entering the space, and provide a summary of the SEC’s final rules and forms for equity crowdfunding (“Regulation Crowdfunding”).

The Drinker Biddle Crowdfunding Report, an open data set providing information on the first 50 offerings conducted under the Regulation Crowdfunding exemption, is available for download. The report provides data on filing dates, issuers, type of security, investment amounts, funding portals and other information.

Analysis of the First 50 Offerings

In general. As of June 30, 2016, 50 companies have filed a Form C with the SEC to offer securities under the Regulation Crowdfunding exemption. Minimum target offering amounts range from $20,000 to $500,000 per offering, with a median of $55,000. All but one of these issuers, however, have disclosed that they will accept offers in excess of the target amount, including 27 issuers that say they will accept investments at or near the maximum permitted offering amount of $1,000,000.  In contrast, 18 of the first 50 issuers elected to cap their offering at just $100,000, with the remainder setting an offering cap of between $200,000 and $500,000.  In the aggregate, if this first wave of retail crowdfundings is successful, 50 small companies will raise an aggregate of $6 to $30 million in new capital to fund their businesses.

While announced offering durations range from 21 days to one year, the median period that issuers say they will keep their offerings open is just under six months, with about half electing an offering duration between 166 and 182 days.

Eighteen different jurisdictions of incorporation are represented among the first 50 issuers; however, nearly half of the initial filers (24) are Delaware entities. Early data shows that issuers tend to be early-stage startups, with a median issuer age of just 354 days. Nevertheless, nine of the issuers were more than five years old, and the oldest was incorporated in 2003.

Regulation Crowdfunding does not restrict the type of securities that may be offered under the new regime, and the first 50 issuers offer a broad array of securities to prospective investors. The two most commonly offered securities, which constitute three-fifths of the first 50 offerings, are common stock (16) and the so-called Simple Agreement for Future Equity or “SAFE” (14)—a financing instrument developed by startup accelerator Y Combinator that has been described as “convertible debt without the debt”[1].  Other securities being offered include debt securities (seven), preferred stock (six), LLC units (five), and convertible notes (two).

While a total of 12 funding portals have registered with FINRA to date, the early mover Wefunder portal hosts more than half (26) of the first 50 offerings. The StartEngine portal has secured eight offerings, with the remainder split among other portals, including SeedInvest, Next Seed, Flashfunders, and Venture.co.

Early Adopters.

Read More..

http://www.drinkerbiddle.com/insights/publications/2016/07/leading-the-crowd-first-50-crowdfunding-offerings?noredirect=trueDBR_stacked_logo_RESTRICTED_400x400

A Reflection of Online Money Lending

By Steve Cinelli , CrowdFund Beat Sr. Editor, @stevecinelli

Some many months back, in fact prior to their listings, I wrote a piece questioning the lofty valuations of the marketplace lending platforms (LC and ONDK) as they entered the public markets.  The basic thesis was recognizing the fundamental business these platforms engaged, i.e., money lending, and how others in the same space, albeit not as “technology positioned”, delivered the same product and/or service, and I thus intimated that the newbies should be valued with similar metrics to the incumbent financial institutions.

In observing the platforms’ performances over the last year, as well as evolving market conditions, my thinking has changed.  In fact, I have furthered my assessment of relative values, and am concluding that there are actually distinct shortcomings in the current technology-enabled model vis-à-vis the conventional banking institutions.

The basic premise in the P2P space was that credit card rates were way too high, so why not provide an alternative to reduce the cost. Behold, lower rate amortizing term loans. Sounds fine, but essentially, such a model is based on price, i.e., something the big guys have an advantage.   True, a great technology interface, rapid underwriting and credit decision making were part of the thrill, but in the end, the “product” was better priced credit than other lenders provided.  Maybe 70% of P2P clients were “refinancing” high interest rate card debt, so bang…. the proposition seemed supportable.

Well consider any market that competes on price. All participants ride the price levels downward, so where’s the differentiation? There will always be someone that beats you, whether it’s sustainable or not.  This is where brand and a broader offering come in.  Consider all the major credit card providers, whether Capital One, Chase, BofA, Wells, and others.  They have the ability to adjust price for consumer credit as they monetize the broader banking relationship in many other ways.  Think about it.  I posed the question to a couple of the execs at a P2P platform, anxiously awaiting the response to what happens if Capital One or Chase come out with a permanent 3% card to their best consumer borrowers.  Recall that the P2P players target the top 10-15% of FICO scores, so price is the driver for the credit-worthy consumer.

But look at what’s happening now. Because the P2P platforms have just-in-time funding, i.e., they intermediate the transaction, using investor capital to fund loans, and rather than using core (and insured) deposits, they are beholden to their “cost of funds” to drive the price of credit to their borrowing customers.  In recent months, such investor capital has dried up, concerned with performance (risk-adjusted returns), as losses and delinquencies have been moving north.  So to attract such capital, higher returns are being sought by investors, read a higher cost of funds to the platforms.  This of course results in a higher price of credit to the consumer, which all the platforms have raised borrower loan rates.   So much for the market positioning of better borrowing costs.

We can further review the business model, and unlike banks that may be able to monetize their customer relationships over many products and services, and during an extended life cycle, these platforms live and die by their immediate transaction volume.  Turn on the spigot and they can grow as we have seen.  But without new deals, growth stagnates.  There is limited if any recurrent income, and the life time value of a customer is limited.  Are there recurrent borrowers?  Certainly.  But to that point, might those that refinance their credit card debt go back out and run up those credit limits once again, increasing their overall credit risk for the next time round?

There have been discussions about the technology enabled, algorithmic underwriting that the platforms utilize, which should be a value proposition.  Machine learning, AI, looking at credit factors beyond just FICO scores.  A bit of history here.  Consumer loans are relatively small, and with bank margins very slim, such credit historically was limitedly profitable. Enter Bank of America in 1958 with the introduction of BankAmericard, the first all-purpose credit card, in an attempt to do consumer lending quicker, faster, cheaper and more profitably. With direct marketing followed by a broad licensing program, the use of “plastic” became part of the banking and credit nomenclature in a huge way.  MasterCard, an association of other banks, was developed as a competitor, and BofA and its licensees, evolved into VISA International.     Such “plastic” became the protocol of consumer credit, and, while the interest rates were and still are lofty, this was to offset the expected portfolio losses, as underwriting mechanically had issues. The banks were still earning an ongoing net spread.  To be cost effective, the process of underwriting a new card applicant has been credit scored since the 1960’s, with possibly in retrospect antiquated algorithms, but still the process was streamlined with scoring methodologies to expedite decision making and deployment.   How much human underwriting time can actually be spent on granting a card with a $500 credit limit, given the amount of profits that can be had?   Don’t you think Capital One and Chase apply technology and algorithmic underwriting to their current card business as a matter of efficiency?  And lastly, have you actually looked at the unit economics of a P2P loan, particularly the marketing cost of origination.  Banks can cross-sell; the platforms have one product directly originated.  I do acknowledge that some platforms have different types of loans now, but the fundamental model characteristics remain.

So the query is posed.   Where lies the sustainable value in these platforms?  The product is not unique, i.e., consumer loans. They compete largely on price, which in any market is a concern.  The model requires new relationships to grow, rather than monetizing a relationship many times over.  The ability to grow is further challenged in a “just-in-time” funding model, with such cost of funding subject to more volatility than the banking industry. As few hold a recurrent revenue portfolio, there doesn’t seem a tangible asset to place value, nor is there the ongoing net interest spreads to capture.   There is now a move towards balance sheet lending.  Hmm.  Seems like the banks have something with being a depository with a stable and well price funding pool.  That said, how and with what do the platforms fund their balance sheets with?  More equity?  A bit dilutive, eh?

Finally, is there real intellectual property contained therein, such as risk assessment and underwriting methods, that the larger card issuers and consumer lenders do not enjoy?   This of course begs the questions, are these sustainable models, and do they have strategic and economic value for an acquirer, as it appears that many have “for sale” signs up?  Maybe for someone outside the space looking to enter gingerly, but for a big player, what would they be buying?  What is the value add?

While this assessment is not meant to be a complete disparagement of P2P or online finance.  In fact, I am one of the biggest bulls on online lending and capital formation.  Money lending is actually the “world’s oldest profession”, even longer recognized than the business of carnal frivolity according to the Code of Hammurabi in 1800 BC.   Modern banking developed during the Renaissance periods with the brilliant European merchant banks, such as the Rothschilds, Warburgs, Medicis, Fuggers, and Barings, that transitioned from “merchant” activities to extending credit to other merchants, as the depth of their knowledge was unparalleled and they found the returns from money lending were more attractive than trading goods.   The predicate of their activities was knowledge and information: about their clients, the markets, the external conditions, and how to price their risk.   Theirs was keenly an information business.  And now, we live in an information world, where data and facts are readily available, in all quantities and qualities, able to be assembled and analyzed for risk and return assessment. Information technology is meant to be applied to finance and money lending.  It is only natural and commonsensical.  But what will the sustainable models look like:  that’s for another chapter.

 

 

4 Crowdfunding Tips for Women Entrepreneurs

By Rayanne Dany CrowdfundBeat Media Gust Post.

When joining the entrepreneurial journey as a woman, you must be well aware of the fact that how difficult it is to make your mark as an entrepreneur in the male-dominated world of business. It is also a fact that most male funders are notoriously slow in investing in women-led startups.

 

crowdfundingLuckily, women don’t have to stick to the traditional ways of finding the funds for their business. There is Crowdfunding for them, and it is getting popular every passing year.

Crowdfunding is a great way for women to pave their way into the business realm. There are two ways of going about it: rewards-based or through equity. For a reward based funding method, you send a product or any service of your company in exchange for the money.

For equity, you can simply ask your funders to buy stocks of your company. This way, they’ll have a fair share and the proper know-how.

Below are a few ways you can run a crowdfunding campaign successfully.

1. Social Networking Platforms
Build a strong network of followers. The majority of your crowdfunded money comes from the people who know you directly or through connections.  They are the ones who take a special interest in what you’re doing. You also need their help to help you make your campaign go viral.

Before you head out to a crowdfunding platform, you should already have a social media pages devoted to your cause. Gain a following by interacting with the people. Get a strong hold and backing. But don’t stop here.

Promote yourself and your cause through other, traditional means as well. Take the opportunity to connect with your community in public events.  You can also speak about causes which you are connected to, and like-minded people will rally to support you.

2. Do a Thorough Research
Make sure that you choose a platform that put your idea in front of the right target audience. It will help if the platform particularly targets your cause and generates good traffic. Carefully research the benefits and services they provide.

Do your homework well, and see what’s best for the business. Is it reward based, equity or security? Is it targeted towards other women?

You can also see what the other companies are doing on that platform. To get yourself familiar with the process, fund a small amount to a cause you are interested in. This will help you put yourself in your customer’s shoes.

3. Effective Communication
Be sure to communicate well with your audience. It can be in terms of sales tax or new developments. Keep your audience updated with all the current happenings in your startup or cause.

Make a convincing business plan because it will help you engage well with your customers. Keep in mind that all your efforts should effectively communicate your message with your audience. For instance, if you’re planning to offer True assignment help to school girls, your message needs to highlight this point.

You must keep in mind that you are not employing a traditional method where you pitch in your ideas to venture capitalists before speaking out in public. You are looking forward to grabbing the attention of a crowd that is a mix of both professionals and volunteers looking to put their money for the right cause.

4. Goals
Plan what goals you hope to achieve and how you would achieve them. Your efforts are determined by your passion. Properly plan how everything should be executed and how you hope to communicate. Make sure your audience understands your goals.

If you’re making a video, it should be short, clear and concise. If it’s more than three minutes, it might not make that much of an impact. If it is a message that takes no more than a minute for it to be conveyed but your video is taking more than 1 minute, you’re not doing it right.

Women mostly fund other women, so it’d help if your goal is to target the women audience too. Recognize the hole in the market and fill it.

 

By crowdfunding, you manage to evade through the prejudice held against women startup businesses. Being a woman, you can get offered special benefits, allowing you to bypass male funders.

You can directly reach out to friends, family, colleagues, and other like-minded people. All you need to have is a convincing power and the ability to sway other people to your cause.

 “When you’re trying to influence, persuade or convince people, nothing is more powerful than a good story,” says Donna Cravotta, CEO of Social Sage PR.

By Line: Rayanne Dany is a growth hacker currently working for a tech startup. When not working, he spends his time writing blogs on topics related to business growth, fundraising, etc.

“The Fix Crowdfunding Act”

BY Lauren LeibowitzPrincipal at 1st BridgeHouse Securities, LLC, Crowdfund Beat Sr. contributing editor,

The Evolving Crowdfunding Regulations: Now Presenting “The Fix Crowdfunding Act”

On April 5, 2012 the JOBS Act was passed. On October 30, 2015 Title III: Equity Crowdfunding final rules were passed which marked all 7 Titles of the JOBS Act were approved. Recently, the ‘‘Fix Crowdfunding  Act’’ was  introduced to Congress to improve Regulation Crowdfunding.  FINRA and SEC has taken an approach of letting the crowdfunding industry cultivate the business model and the regulators will oversee and implement regulations on an as needed basis. The integration of technology within the private capital markets is monumental since in the 21st century the internet is incorporated in every aspect of your daily life and business.

 9 Funding Portals have been FINRA approved as of May 16. A handful of previously interested business and FINRA member Broker Dealers announced they would not join the crowdfunding marketplace because the current crowdfunding regulations are not conducive to operate in but hope that the ‘Fix Crowdfundung Act’ will be passed in order for them to reconsider joining the crowdfunding marketplace.  Jeff Lynn, CEO and co-founder of Seedrs-a leading UK based investment crowdfunding platform, intended to expand its operations across the pond but believes the current crowdfunding regulations to be “not workable in its current form”, especially burdensome compared to FCA’s crowdfunding regulations that has made the United Kingdom a workable model of successful crowdfunding.  His full statement is below:

“Title III of the JOBS Act, which comes into force today, should have been one of the most important pieces of legislation to impact US fintech in recent years. But although Title III nominally makes it possible for non-accredited (regular) investors to invest in startup businesses and private firms in the US, the legislation’s considerable limitations and poor drafting means we believe it is simply not workable in its current form. Among other things, Title III:

  • Makes it likely that only lower-quality investment opportunities will use equity crowdfunding in the U.S. Title III places such significant burdens on companies seeking to raise capital—making crowdfunding far more expensive, time-consuming and difficult than raising money through other channels (such as institutional or private angel investors)—that businesses will only to turn to crowdfunding as a last resort after more efficient capital-raising methods have failed. The result will be that ordinary retail investors will have access only to those businesses that cannot raise capital elsewhere, which is an adverse selection phenomenon that has not occurred in Europe.
    • Gives insufficient protection given to investors. While Title III and the related regulations place significant focus on limiting the losses that may be experienced by investors, loss of capital is not the only risk in this asset class. Also important is that investors be protected in the case of a business’s success: a successful business can see its valuation increase 100-fold or more, but if the investment has not been properly structured or monitored, investors may receive nothing. Where restrictions interfere with crowdfunding platforms’ ability to provide those protections—which is precisely what Title III does—investors will be significantly worse off in the long run.
    • Reduces the likelihood of businesses succeeding raising capital. One of the key lessons from the growth of equity crowdfunding in Europe is that raising capital in this way is a dynamic process that requires the business to build momentum behind its campaign. Successful crowdfunding campaigns tend to require active outreach, ongoing and multi-modal engagement with prospective investors, and the participation of one or more “anchor” angel or institutional investors, all before the crowd investors start to commit capital in a meaningful way. Title III’s significant marketing restrictions mean that companies will be very limited in their ability to create momentum, which in turn will make it exceptionally difficult for their campaigns to succeed.

“What is particularly unfortunate in all this is that Europe, and the UK in particular, has shown how a regulatory system can facilitate a thriving equity crowdfunding environment, allowing the best companies to raise funds successfully and giving investors the protections they need. US lawmakers would have been well advised to look much more closely at the UK system when developing Title III.

“However, I am hopeful about the future of Title III, and under revised legislation (a version of which is already being considered by Congress), I would love for Seedrs to use it to facilitate investments in the US.

“In the interim, Seedrs will launch stateside under Title II of the JOBS Act, which is limited to accredited investors, and which will offer a specific demographic of investor access to many of the European businesses seeking capital on our platform. Whilst it means that entrepreneurs will only have access to a portion of the American crowd, the opportunity for those investors who are accredited is really exciting. We believe Europe has the fastest-growing ecosystem of early-stage businesses in the world, and the combination of reasonable valuations and fast growth that many companies see on this side of the pond should make them highly appealing investment opportunities for accredited American investors.”

WHAT IS PROPOSED IN THE “FIX CROWDFUNDING ACT”?

 

QUALIFICATION FOR CROWDFUNDING EXEMPTION
  1. Increase the Issuer offering limit to $5,000,000 from $1,000,000.
  2. Take the “Greater of Approach” rather than the “Lesser of Approach” regarding the Crowd’s annual investing limitations.

An investor will be limited to investing: (1) the greater of: $2,000 or 5 percent of the lesser GREATER of the investor’s annual income or net worth if either annual income or net worth is less than $100,000; or (2) 10 percent of the lesser GREATER of the investor’s annual income or net worth, not to exceed an amount sold of $100,000, if both annual income and net worth are $100,000 or more.

CLARIFICATION OF CERTAIN FUNDING PORTAL REQUIREMENTS AND EXCLUSIONS FOR REGULATION CROWDFUNDING.

EXCLUSION OF ISSUERS FROM FUNDING PORTALS

  1. CLARIFICATION OF CERTAIN EXCLUSION REQUIREMENTS FOR FUNDING PORTALS—Section 302 of the Jumpstart Our Business Startups Act

ADD (e) to “Under the rules issued pursuant to subsection (d), a funding portal shall have a reasonable basis for disqualifying an issuer from offering securities through such funding portal pursuant to section 4(a)(6) of the Securities Act of 1933 if the funding portal, through a background check of the issuer or other means, has found that such issuer, in connection with the offer, purchase, or sale of securities, has knowingly—

‘‘(1) made any untrue statement of a material fact or to omit to state a material fact necessary in order to make the statements made, in the light of the circumstances under which they were made, not misleading; or

‘‘(2) engaged in any act, practice, or course of business which operates or would operate as a fraud or deceit upon any person.’’.

  1. CLARIFICATION OF OTHER OBLIGATIONS TO REDUCE THE RISK OF FRAUD.

Securities Act Section 4A(a)(5) requires an intermediary to “take such measures to reduce the risk of fraud with respect to [transactions made in reliance on Section 4(a)(6)], as established by the Commission, by rule, including obtaining a background and securities enforcement regulatory history check on each officer, director, and person holding more than 20 percent of the outstanding equity of every issuer whose securities are offered by such person.”

Amend language to read as follows:

“(5) as a minimum to reduce the risk of fraud with respect to such transactions obtain a background and securities enforcement regulatory history check on each officer, director, and person holding more than 20 percent of the outstanding equity of every issuer whose securities are offered by such person;’’.

  1. CLARIFICATION OF LIABILITY OF FUNDING PORTALS FOR MATERIAL MISSTATEMENTS AND OMISSIONS

Securities Act Section 4A(c) provides that an issuer will be liable to a purchaser of its securities in a transaction exempted by Section 4(a)(6) if the issuer, in the offer or sale of the securities, makes an untrue statement of a material fact or omits to state a material fact required to be stated or necessary in order to make the statements, in light of the circumstances under which they were made, not misleading, provided that the purchaser did not know of the untruth or omission, and the issuer does not sustain the burden of proof that such issuer did not know, and in the exercise of reasonable care could not have known, of the untruth or omission. Section 4A(c)(3) defines, for purposes of the liability provisions of Section 4A, an issuer as including “any person who offers or sells the security in such offering.”

In describing the statutory liability provision in the Proposing Release, the Commission noted that it appears likely that intermediarieswould be considered issuers for purposes of the provision. Several commenters agreed that Section 4A(c) liability should apply to intermediaries noting that it “may serve as a meaningful backstop against fraud” and would create a “true financial incentive” for intermediaries to conduct checks on issuers and their key personnel.

However, a large number of other commenters disagreed that Section 4A(c) liability should apply to intermediaries. Some of these commenters stated their views that applying statutory liability to intermediaries would have a chilling effect on intermediaries’ willingness to facilitate crowdfunding offerings. Others cited the cost of being subject to this liability as overly burdensome on funding portals, to the extent that they may not be able to conduct business. Several commenters also explained that the nature of funding portals, as intended by Congress, is distinct from that of registered broker-dealers. According to these commenters, a funding portal’s role is not to offer and sell securities, but rather to provide a platform through which issuers may offer and sell securities. As such, these commenters asserted that it would not be appropriate to hold them liable for statements made by issuers.

Section 4A(c) of such Act (15 U.S.C. 77d–1(c)) is amended by adding the end the following:

‘‘(4) LIABILITY OF FUNDING PORTALS.—For purposes of this subsection, an intermediary shall not be considered an issuer unless, in connection  with the offer or sale of a security, it knowingly—  ‘‘(A) made any untrue statement of a material fact or omitted to state a material fact necessary in order to make the statements made, in the light of the circumstances under which they were made, not misleading; or ‘‘(B) engaged in any act, practice, or  course of business which operates or would operate as a fraud or deceit upon any person.’’.

EXEMPTION FROM REGISTRATION

  1. Amend Section 12(g)(6) of the Securities Exchange Act

Reader note- (The words in bold are new text)

(6 )Exclusion for persons holding certain securities.— The Commission shall, by rule, exempt, conditionally or unconditionally, securitiesSecurities acquired pursuant to an offering made under section 4(6)  of the Securities Act of 1933 [15 U.S.C. 77d(a)(6)] shall be exempt from the provisions of this subsection.

ALLOWING SINGLE-PURPOSE FUNDS.

  1. Amendment to Section 4A(f) of the Securities Act of 1933:

(f) APPLICABILITY.—Section 4(6) [8] shall not apply to transactions involving the offer or sale of securities by any issuer that—

(1) is not organized under and subject to the laws of a State or territory of the United States or the District of Columbia;

(2) is subject to the requirement to file reports pursuant to section 13 or section 15(d) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934;

(3 2 ) is an investment company, as defined in section 3 of the Investment Company Act of 1940, or is excluded from the definition of investment company by section 3(b) or  paragraphs (1) to (14) of section 3(c) of that Act; or

(4) the Commission, by rule or regulation, determines appropriate.

  1. AMENDMENT TO THE INVESTMENT COMPANY ACT OF 1940 :

Add to Definition of Investment Company (Investment Company Act of 1940 Section 3(c))

(c) Notwithstanding subsection (a), none of the following persons is an investment company within the meaning of this title:

ADD ‘‘(15) any issuer that holds, for the purpose of  making an offering pursuant to section 4(a)(6) of  the Securities Act of 1933 and the rules issued pursuant to such section, the securities of not more than one issuer eligible to offer securities pursuant to such section and such rules.’’.

  1. APPLICATION OF RULES.—Single-purpose funds that are excluded from the definition of investment company under paragraph (15) of section 3(c) of the Investment Company Act (15 U.S.C. 80a– 3(c))— (A) shall be allowed to sell and offer for sale securities under section 4(a)(6) of the Securities Act of 1933 (15 U.S.C. 77d(a)(6)) under the rules adopted on October 30, 2015, pursuant to title III of the JOBS Act (Public Law 112–106); and (B) shall be considered venture capital  funds for purposes of section 275.203(l)–1 of  title 17, Code of Federal Regulations.

SOLICITATION OF INTEREST

Section 4A of the Securities Act of 1933

  1. Add “(f) SOLICITATION OF INTEREST.—

(1) IN GENERAL.—At any time prior to the  filing of information with the Commission and the commencement of an offering made in reliance on section 4(a)(6), an issuer may solicit non-binding indications of interest from potential investors in a prospective offering using the same means and pursuant to the same regulations (other than the filing of information with the Commission) as if conducting an offering pursuant to such section if—

(A) no investor funds are accepted by such issuer; and

(B) any material change in the information provided to potential investors during the  actual offering pursuant to such section from  the information provided to potential investors  during such solicitation of interest are highlighted to potential investors in the information  filed with the Commission.

(2) STATUS.—Such solicitation of interest shall not be considered an offer or sale of securities under this Act or the Securities Exchange Act of  1934, regardless of whether or not the issuer actually conducts an offering pursuant to such section 4(a)(6).

GRACE PERIOD

Consistent with the effective date of the final rules on regulation crowdfunding adopted by the Securities and Exchange Commission on October 30, 2015, pursuant to title III of the JOBS Act (Public  Law 112–106), funding portals established under such Act shall make a good faith effort to comply with all such  rules. Notwithstanding such effective date, no enforcement action may be brought against a funding portal before May 16, 2021.

CONCLUSION

Regulation Crowdfunding is in its infancy stages. The crowdfunding industry, the SEC and FINRA will hopefully be able to work together to cultivate the crowdfunding marketplace to empower entrepreneurs while protecting the crowd. Crowdfunding today will continue to evolve as different funding models and Issuers use regulation Crowdfunding.

REPORT: Is Marketplace lending A temporary phenomenon?

Crowdfund Beat Data Center:

Deloitte Report

MPLs are online platforms that enable investors to lend to retail and commercial borrowers. Unlike banks, MPLs do not take deposits or lend themselves; as such they do not take any risk onto their balance sheets. They make money from fees and commissions received from borrowers and lenders.

The rise of Marketplace lending has urged many commentators to highlight the potential disruption that such new business models may bring to traditional banking. Our research presents a different opinion and instead concludes that MPLs do not currently have the competitive advantage needed to threaten this traditional banking model. However, while they may not fully disrupt the model, we do expect them to be a continued presence within the ever evolving banking landscape.

Deloitte Uk Fs Marketplace Lending by CrowdFunding Beat

 

 

We believe there is significant consumer benefit to be had by supporting the development of an innovative MPL sector. Banks should therefore view MPLs as complementary to the core model, rather than as core competitors, and explore opportunities to enhance their overall customer propositions through collaboration.

As explored in Deloitte’s Banking disrupted and Payments disrupted reports, and Deloitte’s The Future of Financial Services report, produced in collaboration with the World Economic Forum, a combination of new technology and regulation is eroding many of the core competitive advantages that banks have over new market entrants. These structural threats have arrived at a time when interest rates are at historic lows, and seem likely to remain ‘lower for longer’. Combined with an increase in regulatory capital requirements, these changes are making the goal of generating returns above the cost of (more) capital a continuing challenge.

Source:
http://www2.deloitte.com/uk/en/pages/financial-services/articles/marketplace-lending.html

SEC’s Guidance On Advertising By “REG CF Title III”Issuers

Mark Roderick

By  Shareholder, Flaster/Greenberg P.C. CrowdFund Beat ‘s  Sr.Guest Editor.

The SEC just provided guidance for Title III issuers in the form of Compliance and Disclosure Interpretations. You can read the CD&I’s themselves here.

Before Filing

Before filing Form C (the disclosure document used in Title III) and being listed on a Funding Portal, a Title III issuer may not take any action that would “condition the public mind or arouse public interest in the issuer or in its securities.” That means:

No Demo Days
No email blasts or social media posts about the offering
No meetings with possible investors

After Filing

Once a Title III issuer has filed Form C and been listed on a Funding Portal, any advertising that includes the “terms of the offering” is subject to the “tombstone” limits of Rule 204. The “terms of the offering” include the amount of securities offered, the nature of the securities, the price of the securities, and the closing date of the offering period.

Advertising that does not include the “terms of the offering” is not subject to Rule 204. Theoretically, for example, an issuer could attend a Demo Day after filing its Form C, as long as it didn’t mention (1) how much money it’s trying to raise, (2) what kind of securities it’s offering, (3) the price of the securities, or (4) the closing date of its offering.

Three caveats:

Have you ever been to a Demo Day? It’s hard to imagine someone wouldn’t ask “How much money are you trying to raise?” or that the company representative wouldn’t answer. Theoretically possible, yes, but in practice highly unlikely.

Even the statements “We’re selling stock” or “We’re issuing debt” are “terms of the offering” and therefore cross the line.

The regulations say “terms of the offering” include the items mentioned, but don’t say they arelimited to those items. If the CEO discloses the date the offering began, has she violated Rule 204?
Video

After filing, a Title III issuer can use video to advertise the “terms of the offering,” as long as the video otherwise complies with Rule 204.

Media Advertisements

After filing, if a Title III issuer is “directly or indirectly involved in the preparation” of a media article that mentions the “terms of the offering,” then the issuer is responsible if the article violates Rule 204.

EXAMPLE: You attend a Demo Day, and the organizer announces how much money you’re trying to raise. You violated Rule 204.

EXAMPLE: A reporter from your local paper calls. Eager for the free press, you tell her you’re raising $200,000 for a new microbrewery in town, which she repeats in her article. You violated Rule 204.

EXAMPLE: A reporter from your local paper calls. Eager for the free press, but very savvy legally, you tell her about your plans for the microbrewery but carefully avoid telling her how much money you’re raising or any other “terms of the offering.” She goes to the Funding Portal and finds out herself, and reports that you’re raising $200,000. You violated Rule 204.

To be safe, you just can’t be involved, directly or indirectly, with anyone from the press who doesn’t understand Title III and promise, cross her heart and hope to die, not to disclose any “terms of the offering.”

Advertisements on the Funding Portal

Advertising a Title III offering outside the Funding Portal is a minefield. But inside the Funding Portal is a completely different story. Inside the Funding Portal is where everything is supposed to happen in Title III. Focus your attention there, where the minefields are few and far between.

 

CrowdEngine First to Offer Regulation CF Crowdfunding Software

Crowdfund Beat News Wire, 

Washington, D.C. – May 16, 2016 – CrowdEngine to demo it’s Compliance Engine™ features for the new Regulation Crowdfunding rules today at the Capital Washington D.C. for Members of the House, Senators, and 300 other well respected guests.  CrowdEngine’s compliance automation solution and white-label crowdfunding software allows entrepreneurs to launch funding portals in a fraction of the time than building from scratch to achieve lower costs, and better investor experiences.

CrowdEngine+Lockup2“We are proud to be the first to offer a solution for funding portals to offer securities under the new Regulation Crowdfunding rules.   Our secure, cloud-based compliance automation platform is trusted by companies around the world,” says Jim Borzilleri, President, “We’re making equity investing 100% digital, seamless, and compliant.”

 

 

By leveraging our equity crowdfunding software, our customers can:

  • Online Income and Net Worth Verification – Complete and sign your income and net worth verification online with automatic calculation of investment limits based on your answers.
  • Automated Tracking and Tagging of Associate Persons and Promoters – Require Disclosure upon registration and limit or tag what associated parties and promoters post on the Funding Portal.
  • Automatic Tracking of Prior Regulation CF Investments – Prior investments on the Funding Portal are tracked automatically.
  • Educational Materials – Edit our templated help content and offer robust educational content and link to it throughout the investment process and requiring affirmative consent.
  • New Q & A Message Board – Prospective investors can ask questions for Issuers to answer directly and the answers will be posted publicly, with associated parties unable to ask a question at all.

In addition to the specific Regulation Crowdfunding features above, CrowdEngine also offers online escrow, online payment, online document signing and offers a smooth online investing experience in addition to investor dashboards with document management and earnings reports for post-sale management.

Organizations interested in learning how CrowdEngine and DocuSign work together may find more information at http://www.crowdengine.com/

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Contact:

Jim Borzilleri

CrowdEngine

+1 (888) 645-7018 X 111

press@crowdengine.com

About CrowdEngine – CrowdEngine is a compliance automation solution that enables entrepreneurs to launch their own funding portals and support all offering types in the United States including Regulation Crowdfunding, Reg. D (b) and (c), Reg. A+, and Intrastate rules. CrowdEngine turnkey, fully brandable solutions increase speed to market, reduce costs, increase security and compliance, and delight customers across nearly every industry – from financial services, technology, real estate, non-profit and others.