Crowdfunding And the JOBS ACT l Securities Lawyer 101
On April 5, 2012, President Obama signed the Jumpstart Our Business Startups Act (the “JOBS Act”), into law. The JOBS Act is comprised of a number of smaller bills that reduce the regulatory burdens confronting emerging companies in private and public financings. The JOBS Act creates sweeping changes to the Securities Act of 1933, as amended (Securities Act), the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, as amended (Exchange Act), and other laws and regulations.
The legal and compliance costs related to the JOBS Act will likely impact all issuers who conduct securities offerings including those who conduct go public using direct public offerings or IPO’s and those who pursue reverse mergers with public shell companies.
The JOBS Act reduces the regulatory burdens for emerging companies raising capital in private placement offerings, particularly Rule 506 of Regulation D (“Rule 506”) of the Securities Act of 1933, as amended (the “Securities Act”).
To offer and sell securities in the United States, an issuer must comply with the registration requirements of the Securities Act, or must offer and sell the securities pursuant to an exemption from registration. As presently in effect, Rule 506 does not limit the amount of capital an issuer can raise, the number of accredited investors who may purchase, or the number of shares that an issuer may offer or sell. The primary limitation of Rule 506 is that the offering must be private. An issuer cannot use general solicitation or advertising (such as publishing an advertisement in a newspaper or on TV, or announcement on a website or at a public seminar) to market the securities offered and must have a pre-existing relationship to any investor solicited. Further, any person who is involved in the selling efforts must be registered as a broker-dealer pursuant to Section 15(a)(1) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, as amended (“Exchange Act”).
Rule 506 Amendments
The JOBS Act dramatically modifies Rule 506 including that it:
● requires the Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”) to amend Rule 506 within 90 days after enactment of the JOBS Act to remove the prohibition against general solicitation and general advertising in 506 offerings provided that all purchasers are “accredited investors”;
● requires the SEC to amend Rule 506 to require issuers relying on Rule 506 to take reasonable steps to verify that purchasers in 506 offerings are accredited investors using standards to be established by the SEC;
● amends Section 4 of the Securities Act to provide that offers and sales that are exempt from registration under Rule 506, “shall not be deemed public offerings” under the federal securities laws as a result of general solicitation or general advertising; and
● amends Section 4 of the Securities Act to provide that certain persons providing services in connection with offerings sold in compliance with Rule 506, shall not be required to be registered as broker-dealers pursuant to the Exchange Act.
Upon amendment of Rule 506, issuers will be permitted to engage in general solicitations, general advertisements or similar related activities, whether online, in person, by television or through any other means. Additionally, upon amendment of Rule 506, publicly traded companies may find that it is less cumbersome and more beneficial to conduct a Rule 506 offering than to file a registration statement with the SEC and work through the SEC review and comment process.
The crowdfunding exemption requires the SEC to implement rules by early-January 2013. Title III of the JOBS Act authorizes “crowdfunding,” permitting issuers to raise equity capital from both accredited and non-accredited investors without registration with the SEC. Crowdfunding is intended to allow issuers to solicit small investments directly from the general public through a “crowdfunding intermediary,” a broker or a funding portal registered with the SEC and any applicable self-regulatory organization.
The JOBS Act provides for the following with respect to crowdfunding offerings:
● the aggregate amount of securities sold within any 12-month period may not exceed $1 million;
● the aggregate amount of securities sold to any individual within a 12 month period may not exceed the greater of $2,000 or 5% of the annual income or net worth of such investor if either the annual income or the net worth of such investor is less than $100,000, and 10% of the annual income or net worth of such investor not to exceed a maximum aggregate amount sold of $100,000, if either the annual income or net worth of the investor is equal to or more than $100,000;
● sales must be made through a registered broker-dealer and securities intermediaries must provide disclosures to investors and the SEC and comply with other regulations to be adopted by the SEC; and
● companies must provide investors and the SEC with certain information about the company including financial statements, its officers, directors and shareholders, risks related to the offering and certain other information determined by rules adopted by the SEC based upon the proposed amount of capital to be raised.
Companies who go public direct or undertake underwritten or direct public offerings should be aware that the SEC has not implemented the new rules concerning Rule 506 and as such, the existing rules apply including the prohibition against general solicitation and advertising.
For more information about the JOBS Act please visit our blog post at:
For further information about this securities law blog post, please contact Brenda Hamilton, Securities Attorney at 101 Plaza Real S, Suite 202 N, Boca Raton, Florida, (561) 416-8956, by email at [email protected] or visit www.securitieslawyer101.com. This securities law blog post is provided as a general informational service to clients and friends of Hamilton & Associates Law Group and should not be construed as, and does not constitute, legal advice on any specific matter, nor does this message create an attorney-client relationship. Please note that the prior results discussed herein do not guarantee similar outcomes.
Hamilton & Associates | Securities Lawyers
Brenda Hamilton, Securities Attorney
101 Plaza Real South, Suite 202 North
Boca Raton, Florida 33432
Telephone: (561) 416-8956
Facsimile: (561) 416-2855