By ROBB MANDELBAUM
When the Jobs Act became law in April, supporters proclaimed a new era for small businesses seeking to raise money.
The “game changer,” as President Obama put it in the Rose Garden as he signed the bill, was a provision to let small companies “crowdfund” — that is, sell stock and other securities over the Internet directly to the public. “For the first time,” the president said, “ordinary Americans will be able to go online and invest in entrepreneurs that they believe in.”
But it now seems that dawn will break late on this new age of democratic investing. The Securities and Exchange Commission appears certain to miss its end-of-year deadline for issuing regulations to put the provision into effect. And with the departure of the S.E.C. chairwoman, Mary L. Schapiro, and three of her top deputies — including two who manage the offices writing the regulations — some in the nascent equity crowdfunding industry worry that it could be 2014 before their line of business becomes legal.
The delay has frustrated many crowdfunding backers. The 270 days that Congress gave the S.E.C. to write the rules “is not a suggested timeline; it is a Congressional mandate,” said Kim Wales, an organizer at Crowdfund Intermediary Regulatory Advocates, a lobbying group formed in April to represent the new industry, in an e-mailed statement. “The S.E.C. answers to Congress, not the other way around.”
Originally published in the New York Times on December 27, 2012