Quickly, Congress passed the JOBS Act this year with a provision allowing companies to solicit investments from “unsophisticated” investors. Previously, solicitations could only be made to high net worth investors. The provisions were to become effective on January 1, 2013 pending rules to be written by the SEC.
The SEC has not written the rules yet and probably won’t by January 1. (I don’t know if that is a permanent link.) This delays everyone and everything related to crowdfunding. DISCLOSURE – I plan both selling crowdfunded investments and providing consulting to businesses wanting crowdfunding. I believe it will help boost the economy.
PROS: Small businesses requiring up to $1,000,000 in capital will have a new source for funds. Owners can cash out of companies without having to sell their entire interest. Ordinary investors can find new revenue streams and investment opportunities.
CONS: There will probably be a lot of con-men involved in crowdfunding. Most business ventures fail and ordinary investors may not be able to handle the failure and loss of investment. Congress will probably overturn the law once some crying Grandma appears on 60 Minutes with a sob story about losing her life savings.
Obviously, I’m in support of the law. I signed a petition here in support of it. I live in a depressed area that could use a capital infusion. I’m sure there are plenty of local businesses that would get a boost from crowdfunding. There are also plenty of local investors looking for a better rate of return than CDs and Money Market accounts. There will be plenty of hucksters (see .com bust and real estate bust). More importantly, there are plenty of good businesses and good business ideas that will benefit from this law.