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Putting the JOBS Act to work
Last month, the Securities and Exchange Commission finally published the rules for “Title III” of the 2012 Jumpstart Our Business Startups Act, or JOBS Act. Beginning sometime early next year, privately owned start-up companies will be permitted to raise up to $1 million annually by selling shares directly to small investors through a process called “equity crowdfunding.”
At the same time, we investors — previously locked out of this pre-IPO market — will be permitted to invest, in ascending order:
$2,000 annually, spread across as many crowdfunding investments as we like.
Or 5% of the lesser of our annual income or our net worth, if that works out to more than $2,000.
Folks who both earn more than $100,000 annually and have $100,000 or more in net worth may invest 10% of the lesser of annual income or net worth.
The SEC plans to begin registering “funding portals” — the JOBS Act equivalent of the online brokers where you can buy and sell publicly listed stocks — on January 29, 2016. And a few months later, probably as early as next summer, the floodgates will open on equity crowdfunding.
How will it work?
From an investor’s point of view, the first step in equity crowdfunding will probably consist of logging onto a funding portal and buying shares in a start-up. According to KoreConX, a new company that is itself aiming to facilitate the process of equity crowdfunding, the biggest portal names today are Offerboard, CircleUp, SeedInvest, Agfunder, MicroVentures, Seedrs, and Folio.