The 2014 Securities and Exchange Commission Government-Business Forum on Small Business Capital Formation ensued on November 20, 2014 at the SEC headquarters in Washington, D.C.
In usual form, since the signing of the Jumpstart Our Business Startups Act (JOBS Act), the crowd (attorney’s, issuers, intermediaries, regulators, investors, service providers and) scurry to wait with baited breathe to hear the status of the pending rules for Titles III (Crowdfunding) and Title IV (Regulation A+). Remaining true to form the Commission did not provide any dates on when the final rules will go live for either.
The Forum is known to advance some recommendations in the past that has influenced the health of the capital markets; though it seems like no movement has been made on the recommendations that came from the 2013 Forum, specifically focusing on Title III, as I was a panelist presenting on for the “Panel Discussion: Crystal Ball: Now that you raised money, what’s next for the company and the markets?” Waiting patiently over the webcast or in person we were sure that the Thirty-Third forum would not disappoint.
What resonated from each Commissioner and more specifically from Commissioner Gallagher in his introduction was hope that day’s discussion would “embrace the full scope of the public and the private markets in small business securities which encompasses a fully robust capital market ecosystem for small businesses which requires both.”
Further, he continued –“There is a need for continued innovation in secondary trading in the private marketplace. If additional guidance from the SEC—for example, with respect to a private resale exemption—would help the market to develop further, we should move forward on that now.”
3 Key Points from the Commissioner’s Opening Remarks
While Wall Street continues to be a little apprehensive about adopting social media into their day-to-day operations, money manager Bill Gross who describes himself as a philosophical nomad disguised in Western clothing, a wondering drifter, masquerading in a suit near a California beach in his latest investment report released on November 3, 2014. Gross proves his prowess by taking to social media site Twitter to announce to the world his next big opportunity and outpacing some of compatriots in the world of social information to gain an advantage.
Following the announcement, Gross said on Twitter, through Janus’ official account, that he was “honored” to be managing the new account for Soros.
Bill Gross will manage $500 million for George Soros’ at Janus Capital
Social information is slowing influencing Wall Street investment decisions as we witness events that continue to move markets since the signing of the Jumpstart Our Business Startups Act (JOBS Act), and the ‘go-live’ of Title II, general solicitation and advertising that went live on September 23, 2013.
Reed Hastings, CEO of Netflix was the first that took to the social media site Facebook highlighting the opportunity embedded social information for investors. Hasting’s actions highlighted the uncertainty surrounding that the application of Regulation of Fair Disclosure to social media. The Regulation stated that information must be published in a manner “reasonably designed to provide broad, non exclusionary distribution of the information to the public.” And Hastings believed that the 245,386 subscribers to his Facebook page were sufficiently broad under the current guidelines.
Proving that capital markets are democratizing, Hastings’ Facebook post led to the SEC decision to accept the use of social media as a way for companies to communicate material, non-public information both recognized and reinforced the importance of social media as a source of information on Wall Street ad Main Street.
As reported by Bloomberg’s Mary Childs and Katherine Burton, “Janus is seeking to raise its profile and rebuild a brand damaged by missteps and departures of money managers. The firm, which had $174 billion under management as of Sept. 30, attracted more than $1 billion of estimated net subscriptions to two bond mutual funds in October after the Sept. 26 hiring of 70-year-old Gross, who co-founded Pacific Investment Management Co. in 1971.”
Despite the slow adoption to social networks by Wall Street these are clear signs that a ‘change in sea’ is underway and Gross’ perch over the California shores is giving him a clear view on how to navigate online and off.
With the national election scheduled in two weeks, Congressman Patrick McHenry finds the time to continue advocating for small business and emerging growth companies in the changing markets under the JOBS Act for Title II, Title II and Title IV at Dara Albright’s New York Event held on October 21, 2014. Ultimately, Congressman McHenry’s delivered a keynote address that focussed on capital formation issues and offering a way forward.
In the keynote address, McHenry discusses: 1). the state of play in Washington; 2) outlines the three Titles of the JOBS Act that he is passionate about; 3) provides three leg stool for Regulation A+; 4) offers an explanation about why are we working through the question of Capital Formation?; 5) provides key take away; 6) Q&A:
State of Play: Gridlock in Washington, based on the work product witnessed or not witnessed by the American people. The JOBS Act is the most significant re-write of securities law in the last 80 years. There is greatest hope for capital formation and economic sustainability is built into Title III – Regulation Crowdfunding so long as Investor Protection and Capital Formation remain at the forefront of a developing robust marketplace.
Title II (Regulation D, Rule 506(c) and Rule 144A: Lifting the Ban on General Solicitation, which was a straight forward piece of legislation that went live on September 23, 2013. Working well while in it’s infancy.
Title III (Securities Based Crowdfuding): The ambition of Title III was to update outmoded securities law and merge technology with finance. Currently, the law remains deeply flawed and the rule has been pending for a substantially long time (over 700 days). What should have been structured at the Commissioner level has turned into a top priority at the SEC. Now Congress needs to fix the problem, and the SEC must work with Congress because things like cost structure does not work as laid out in the final proposed rules. To mention a few flaws that do not work: a). audited financial statements for offering $500K or greater; b). issuance capital raise limits up to $1 million; and c). prohibition on testing the water.
Title IV (Regulation A+) – The biggest opportunity presented by the SEC’s proposal is the preemption of state blue sky law. Regulation A, lifts the capital raise limits from $5 million to $50 million; in addition, a qualified purchaser can invest up to 10 percent of the net worth in an Reg. A offering. What is needed is a well written set of laws and rules for Regulation A. This is now become a top priority for McHenry! “We must get the rules right so that is not a dead letter upon arrival but rather it can be a lively opportunity.”
Further, by implementing Title IV, this will allow for us to fix the question of securities based crowdfunding, more specifically equity crowdfunding because of great opportunities afforded the main street entrepreneur, retail investor, and risk takers. “In order to get this right, there are 3 legs to the stool of this alliance”, says McHenry.
3 Legs to the stool of this alliance:
Congress and SEC getting this question of regulation of law correct and done.
Galvanize the democratization of finance: significant amount cultural shift in the marketplace must take place and we the people must be drivers of the shift; alongside helping to create useable public policy in Washington.
Open structure data on the market: we must have the best information on the markets and best market structure that can follow as a result of open structure data. This most importantly can help to move Congress and SEC in the right direction.
Why are we working through the question of Capital Formation? Entrepreneurs may not be connected to the right side of the tracks to get financing for their companies. Delivering the entrepreneur to the marketplace and connecting them to the world of capital so that we can all live better tomorrow and have real vibrant economic growth!
Take Away: Communicate and Build Relationships. Make sure that we have connection with policymakers in Washington. The SEC has an open door policy — go to Washington and introduce yourself. Go to Capital Hill and get to know your U.S. Representative. If you don’t have relationships, go an introduce yourself, to your State Ccongressman and Senator. Inform them about sound public policy. Build these relationships!
Congressman Patrick McHenry takes the final question: Kim Wales, crowdfunding industry pioneer and founder of Wales Capital and CrowdBureau ask Congressman McHenry the last question: “You talk about lobbying our Senators and Congressman, but there is a lobbying group called NASSA that is an influential body as it relates to small securities offerings across all of the states. How do we balance the discussion with that organization and their influence on all of the states in terms of pushing this bill forward (Title IV – Regulation A+)?”
What a great way to start the New Year with Industry Pioneer, Kim Wales, headquartered in New York, NY speaking with Sinclair Noe on the Financial Review Show for “Money Radio.” Kim discusses the JOBS Act, Title II and Title III timelines, Innovation, Trends and Opportunities in the burgeoning new marketplace.
On, Thursday, September 26, 2013, the National Minority Angel Network (NMAN), in conjunction with Microsoft will host an event on the JOBS Act and Capital Formation with an expert Panel of Speakers, http://www.nmanetwork.com/nyc-meet-our-panelist/, David Wield, former Vice Chair NASDAQ/Co-Author JOBS ACT/ Chair & CEO Weild & Company, Kim Wales, Entrepreneur/Visionary/Crowdfunding Expert/ CEO. Wales Capital, Doug Ellenoff, Esq. – Strategy/Transactions/Corp. Financing/Member, Ellenoff Grossman & Schole, LLP, Daryl Bryant – Successful Serial Entrepreneur/CEO, StartupValley and Hudson Horizons, Ryan Feit – Entrepreneur/Investor/CEO & Co-Founder, SeedInvest, and Mike Norman, CEO & President, WeFunder.
Small business capital is vital to our economy. With the passage of the JOBS Act for Crowdfunding, a whole new era of capital is available to small business owners of every industry and sector. Under the revisions of the Securities Act of 1933, Crowdfunding allows business owners and entrepreneurs to access the public market to fund their business from several thousand dollars up to one million dollars. But not all forms of Crowdfunding are currently legal, most businesses use pledge or donation based models to raise capital which is legal. However, if you choose to sell securities (stock or units) or raise debt then you need to know the law for Title III funding. Title III funding will increase the amount of funding and number of investors from the current amount. Title III funding can become one of the most important sources of financing in the 21st Century for minority and woman entrepreneurs who together only represent above 1% and 4% respectively of all Angel based investments in the US. This session will provide you with an understanding of all three forms of funding, how to prepare for raising capital, meet some of the leading authorities in Crowdfunding, and businesses who successfully raised capital from Crowdfunding portals.
The SEC adopts Title II 506(c) – general solicitation and advertising of the JOBS Act, which removes the uncertainty about the forward progress from Chairwoman Mary Jo White. As for her priorities at the agency, White said during her March confirmation hearing that her top priority would be to finish rulemaking mandates under the Dodd-Frank and JOBS Act “in as timely and smart a way as possible.”
“Given the explicit language f the JOBS Act as week as the statutory deadline which passed last July, the Commission should act without further delay,” White said before today’s vote on Title II for general solicitation and advertising. “This does not mean, however, that the Commission should not take steps to pursue additional investor safeguards if and where such measures become needed.