Crowdfunding gets traction in D.C.

New crowdfunding moves from the White House and Congress are positive signals.

In May, I wrote here about efforts I’ve been involved with advocating a “crowdfunding exemption.” As part of the American Jobs Act introduced by President Obama last night, the White House announced that it will work with the SEC on implementing something along these lines. Here’s how the White House Office of Science and Technology explains it on their website:

As part of the President’s Startup America initiative, the Administration will work to unlock this capital through smart regulatory changes that are consistent with investor protection. This means reducing the disproportionately high costs that smaller companies face when going public, as well as raising the cap on “mini” public offerings (Regulation A) from $5 million to $50 million. It also means responsibly allowing startups to raise money through “crowdfunding” – gathering many small-dollar investments that add up to as much as $1 million. Right now, entrepreneurs like these bakers and these gadget-makers are already using crowdfunding platforms to raise hundreds of thousands of dollars in pure donations – imagine the possibilities if these small-dollar donors became investors with a stake in the venture.

Hear, hear! In a conference call with the press immediately after Obama’s address, U.S. Chief Technology Officer Aneesh Chopra and Office of Science and Technology Policy Deputy Director Tom Kalil explained that they advocate an exemption, or at least a streamlined and less-expensive registration process, for public securities offerings of $1 million or less, with individual investment capped at $10K. They also said that they believe the SEC has the authority to make this regulatory change, no legislation required.

Elsewhere in DC, the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform has just scheduled a hearing entitled “Crowdfunding: Connecting Investors and Job Creators” for next Thursday, Sept. 15. It isn’t on their public calendar yet, but letters were sent on Wednesday to the people testifying. Among them (and my source on this) is Sherwood “Woodie” Neiss, whose Startup Exemption campaign has led the way on this issue.

Careful readers might note that Obama is a Democrat, while the chair of Oversight, Darrell Issa, is a Republican who is known to have no love for Obama. But hey, uniting diverse interests to a common cause is what crowdfunding is all about!

Of course, I’m thrilled about all of this. I would now bet that crowdfunded investing will become legal here in some form, hopefully fairly soon — and that when it does, we’ll see a surge of grassroots entrepreneurship, innovation, local investing, and economic vitality.

For more, read my blog at crowdfundinglaw.com.

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  • Joan MacMillen

    I like it – could be huge for the crowdfunding world. I had the pleasure of contributing to a RocketHub.com project a few months ago (http://www.rockethub.com/projects/363-help-build-1-of-our-cabinas-for-our-panamanian-adventure) – I got a great reward but a part of the upside could have inspired me to give more.

  • http://mauimakers.com Jerry Isdale

    Crowdfunding is a good way to get both local and wide area funding for a project. Another approach is the emerging Local Stock Exchange. Venture capital and most Angel investors are looking to get the highest return on their investment by flipping the budding enterprise, taking it public or selling out to big company. This is probably NOT in the best interest of the greater community or company’s product/ideals in many cases. Local Stock Exchanges offer a chance for small companies to find local people interested in ownership shares. These people will (hopefully) have a deeper interest in seeing the company success and bring more growth/income to the local area (as opposed to being sold and moved or sold and dissolved as happens so often).

    Look into local exchanges. They area starting to pop up in more places. There are lots of legal hurdles for these too. Perhaps “Startup America” will help smooth the path

  • Harrison

    To me Crowdfunding takes the place of the old “Meet and Greet” In the old days (early 2000′s) If a person wanted to raise money they had to set up their project and then meet up with another person, in hopes that that person will give them some money/ cash advance their idea. Well tides have changed. These days you have crowdfunding sites that all provide you with the tools you need to start and fullfill your project goals. The only thing left now is to decide which site is the right one to launch your campaign?