Tag Archives: Crowdfunding with investments

INTEGRATION OF REGULATION A+ OFFERINGS WITH OTHER OFFERINGS

Yesterday I spoke about Regulation A+ on a panel at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C. One topic was whether offerings under Regulation A+ would be “integrated” with other offerings, including offerings under Title II.

The word “integration” describes a legal concept in U.S. securities laws, where two offerings that the issuer intends to keep separate are treated as one offering instead. For example, I raise $1 million in an offering under Rule 506(b), where I admit 19 non-accredited investors. Needing more money, I start another offering under Rule 506(b) a month later – and for the same project – and admit 23 more non-accredited investors. Wrong! The SEC says those two offerings are “integrated” and now I’ve exceeded the limit of 35 non-accredited investors.growth captial summit

Today, entrepreneurs can raise money under Title II Crowdfunding only from accredited investors. Under Regulation A+ they’ll be able to raise money from non-accredited investors as well, vastly expanding the potential investor base. Unlike a Title II offering, however, where accredited investors can invest an unlimited amount, an investor in a Regulation A+ offering, accredited or non-accredited, will be limited to investing 10% of his or her income or net worth.

The question naturally arises, why not do a Regulation A+ offering for non-accredited investors while at the same time doing a Title II offering for accredited investors, thus maximizing the amount raised from everyone?

The answer, unfortunately, is integration. The two offerings would be treated as one, and they would both fail as a result.

But along with that bad news, the integration rules under the proposed-but-not-adopted Regulation A+ regulations offer good news as well:

  • A Regulation A+ offering will not be integrated with an offering that came first. Thus, I can raise money in a Title II offering, accepting an unlimited amount from accredited investors, and the day after that offering ends conduct a Regulation A+ offering for non-accredited investors.
  • A Regulation A+ offering will not be integrated with an offering to foreign investors under Regulation S. The two can happen simultaneously.
  • A Regulation A+ offering will not be integrated with an offering that begins more than six months after the Regulation A+ offering ends.
  • A Regulation A+ offering will not be integrated with a Title III offering, even if they happen at the same time.

Another takeaway from the conference is that the SEC plans to finalize the proposed regulations under Regulation A+ by the end of the year (this year). Issuers and portals, get ready.

Questions? Contact Mark Roderick at Flaster/Greenberg PC.

CFGE CROWDFUND BANKING AND LENDING SUMMIT IN SAN FRANCISCO

Roderick CFGE

Since Labor Day, I’ve spoken at half a dozen events: for entrepreneurs, for intellectual property lawyers, for finance professionals, for digital marketing groups. This week I’ll be speaking at one of the premier Crowdfunding events in country, the CFGE Crowdfund Banking and Lending Summit on the 16th and 17th in San Francisco.

The conference features some of the leaders in the industry, including:

  • Richard Swart, Director of Research for Innovation in Entrepreneur and Social Finance, Colman Fung Institute for Engineering Leadership at UC Berkeley.
  • Ron Suber, the President of Prosper.
  • Jason Fritton, the Founder and CEO of Patch of Land.
  • Tom Lockard, the Vice President for Real Estate Investment and Institutional Sales of Fundrise.
  • Nikul Patel, the Chief Lending Officer of LendingTree.
  • Jesse Clem, the Co-Founder of LOQUIDITY, LLC.
  • Joy Schoffler, the CEO of Leverage PR.

Whether you’re new to Crowdfunding or an industry veteran, I’d strongly suggest you attend. I’m always amazed how much more there is to learn.

To register, click here. Make sure to use my promo code and receive a 25% discount! Promo code: Roderick

And while you’re there, please stop by and say hello. Crowdfunding and skiing – those are my two favorite topics.

INVESTOR VERIFICATION: QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS FROM THE SEC

The SEC recently issued four questions and answers dealing with investor verification.

Question #1

If a purchaser’s annual income is not reported in U.S. dollars, what exchange rate should an issuer use to determine whether the purchaser’s income meets the income test for qualifying as an accredited investor?

Answer: The issuer may use either the exchange rate that is in effect on the last day of the year for which income is being determined or the average exchange rate for that year.

Question #2

Can assets in an account or property held jointly with another person who is not the purchaser’s spouse be included in determining whether the purchaser satisfies the net worth test in Rule 501(a)(5)?

Answer: Yes, assets in an account or property held jointly with a person who is not the purchaser’s spouse may be included in the calculation for the net worth test, but only to the extent of his or her percentage ownership of the account or property. [July 3, 2014]

Question #3

Rule 506(c)(2)(ii)(A) sets forth a non-exclusive method of verifying that a purchaser is an accredited investor by, among other things, reviewing any Internal Revenue Service form that reports the purchaser’s income for the “two most recent years.” If such an Internal Revenue Service form is not yet available for the recently completed year (e.g., 2013), can the issuer still rely on this verification method by reviewing the Internal Revenue Service forms for the two prior years that are available (e.g., 2012 and 2011)?

Answer: No, the verification safe harbor provided in Rule 506(c)(2)(ii)(A) would not be available under these circumstances. We believe, however, that an issuer could reasonably conclude that a purchaser is an accredited investor and satisfy the verification requirement of Rule 506(c) under the principles-based verification method by:

  • Reviewing the Internal Revenue Service forms that report income for the two years preceding the recently completed year; and
  • Obtaining written representations from the purchaser that (i) an Internal Revenue Service form that reports the purchaser’s income for the recently completed year is not available, (ii) specify the amount of income the purchaser received for the recently completed year and that such amount reached the level needed to qualify as an accredited investor, and (iii) the purchaser has a reasonable expectation of reaching the requisite income level for the current year.

Where the issuer has reason to question the purchaser’s claim to be an accredited investor after reviewing these documents, it must take additional verification measures in order to establish that it has taken reasonable steps to verify that the purchaser is an accredited investor. For example, if, based on this review, the purchaser’s income for the most recently completed year barely exceeded the threshold required, the foregoing procedures might not constitute sufficient verification and more diligence might be necessary.

Question #4

A purchaser is not a U.S. taxpayer and therefore cannot provide an Internal Revenue Service form that reports income. Can an issuer review comparable tax forms from a foreign jurisdiction in order to rely on the verification method provided in Rule 506(c)(2)(ii)(A)?

Answer: No, the verification safe harbor provided in Rule 506(c)(2)(ii)(A) would not be available under these circumstances. In adopting this safe harbor, the Commission noted that there are “numerous penalties for falsely reporting information” in Internal Revenue Service forms. See Securities Act Release No. 33-9415 (July 10, 2013). Although the safe harbor is not available for tax forms from foreign jurisdictions, we believe that an issuer could reasonably conclude that a purchaser is an accredited investor and satisfy the verification requirement of Rule 506(c) under the principles-based verification method by reviewing filed tax forms that report income where the foreign jurisdiction imposes comparable penalties for falsely reported information.

Where the issuer has reason to question the reliability of the information about the purchaser’s income after reviewing these documents, it must take additional verification measures in order to establish that it has taken reasonable steps to verify that the purchaser is an accredited investor.

The Takeaway

The lesson is that issuers and portals should not try to verify investors on their own. Leave that to a third party service like Crowdentials or VerifyInvestor – they keep track of these rules so you won’t have to.

Questions? Contact Mark Roderick

LEGAL FOCUS ON CROWDFUNDING

Lawyer Monthly magazine has been following Crowdfunding developments, along with the
business community and media. The attached interview highlights a couple of hot button points, including the benefits and common legal implications of Crowdfunding. Click here to read more.

legal focus on crowdfunding

Questions? Contact Mark Roderick.

BEWARE OF FRAUD IN THE CROWDFUNDING MARKET

John Mattera offered a great deal to his investors. Through special-purpose investment vehicles, investors could buy shares in well-known companies like Facebook and Groupon, which were then privately-owned. When the companies went public, investors would reap millions.

Mattera raised more than $13 million from more than 140 investors, some of whom invested their life savings.

The only problem was that Mattera didn’t use the money to buy shares in Facebook or Groupon. Instead, he used the money for the normal trappings of ill-gotten wealth, including a waterfront home in Fort Lauderdale, two Rolls-Royces, and a Lamborghini, according to the government.

Mattera was caught and sentenced to 11 years in prison. But his investors aren’t getting their money back.

Bernie Madoff, John Mattera. . . .there is no shortage of people trying to steal your money through investment scams. Why are thieves attracted to the securities industry? As “Slick Willie” Sutton said when asked why he robbed banks, “Because that’s where the money is.”

It doesn’t matter if you’re smart, sophisticated, and have seen it all. Mattera’s investors thought they had seen it all, too.

Be careful out there.

Questions? Contact Mark Roderick at Flaster/Greenberg PC.

JOBS Act Crowdfunding – The Latest News & Information

I have been asked by the Pennsylvania Bar Institute (PBI) to lead a Crowdfunding breakout session at their annual Business Lawyers’ Institute in Philadelphia on November 13th.

I will discuss the latest news and information on JOBS Act Crowdfunding, including: Proposed Title III Crowdfunding Rroegulations; Rule 506 of Regulation D issued by the Securities & Exchange Commission (SEC); new requirements for establishing that investors are accredited; SEC regulations; mechanics of a Crowdfunded offering; proposed changes to Form D; and the exclusion of “bad actors.”

For additional information on this event, or to register, click here.

I hope to see you there! If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me directly.

MARK RODERICK

Crowdfunding – A Monumental Change in Securities Law

I have been asked by the New Jersey Institute of Continuing Legal Education to present a webinar on the recent change of Crowdfunding rules. The program will take place on Wednesday, October 9, 2013 and has been approved for CLE credits.  For additional information on the webinar, or to register, click here.

More info: Crowdfunding – A Monumental Change in Securities Law

Now, for the first time, small companies and entrepreneurs will be able to raise money directly from the public using newspaper advertisements, Facebook pages, and other means of “general solicitation,” without going through brokers or other middlemen.

My presentation, entitled “A Monumental Change in Securities Law: Crowdfunding is Now Open for Business,” will discuss the basic changes to the law, including: Rule 506 of Regulation D issued by the Securities & Exchange Commission (SEC); new requirements for establishing that investors are accredited; SEC regulations; mechanics of a Crowdfunded offering; proposed changes to Form D; and the exclusion of “bad actors.”

I concentrate my practice on the representation of entrepreneurs and their businesses. I represent companies across a wide range of industries, including technology, real estate, and healthcare. I am also spearheading my firm’s Crowdfunding Practice.

Check back frequently for information on Crowdfunding, including news, updates and links to important information pertaining to the JOBS Act and how Crowdfunding may affect your business.

Feel free to contact me directly with any questions.

A Legal Structure for Crowdfunding

It’s official:  Crowdfunding is now in effect and thousands of companies are about to start raising money under the new SEC regulations. If each company offers different deal terms for investors, it’s going to be that much more difficult for investors to make apples-to-apples investment decisions.

Meanwhile, some in the investment community are still concerned that a company raising money through Crowdfunding will be hobbled in raising more money afterward, e.g., from angel groups or venture capital funds.

The sooner the market adopts a standard investment structure, the better for all.

Here is a legal structure that would standardize the Crowdfunding market, satisfy SEC regulations, and ensure that the Crowdfunding round of financing does not preclude later rounds:

  • New Entity:  Form a new entity for the Crowdfunding investors. We’ll call this entity InvestCo, and we’ll call the operating company itself MyCo. InvestCo will be one owner of MyCo, no matter how many investors buy stock in InvestCo.
  • Structure of InvestCo:  InvestCo will be either a limited liability company or a C corporation, based on tax and state-law considerations. InvestCo will be controlled by the same individuals who control MyCo.
  • Percentage Ownership:  Each investor will own a pro rata share of InvestCo based on his or her investment. InvestCo, in turn, will own a percentage of MyCo stipulated by MyCo in the offering materials, based on the amount of money raised and the value of MyCo. Here is a post with suggestions on establishing this ownership percentage.
  • Voting Rights of Investors:  Investors will not be entitled to vote in InvestCo, and InvestCo will not be entitled to vote in MyCo. That is, the investors in a Crowdfunded offering will have no voting rights, except the right to appoint one member to the Board of Directors of MyCo.
  • Preference on Sale or Liquidation:  If MyCo is sold or liquidated, InvestCo will be entitled to receive a return of its investment before any distributions are made to the other owners of MyCo as they exist today. If MyCo raises more money in the future, the rights of InvestCo could be subordinated to the rights of the new investors.
  • Dividend Right:  InvestCo’s stock in MyCo will bear a dividend rate of 5%.
  • Tag-Along Rights: If the founder of MyCo sells some of his or her stock, InvestCo will have the right to participate in the sale.
  • Anti-Dilution Rights:  InvestCo will be entitled to “weighted average” anti-dilution protection.
  • Right to Information:  Investors will have the right to basic information from MyCo, such as annual financial statements. Of course, state law may give them (and any other owners) the right to additional information.

This structure should be acceptable to all of the constituents of the Crowdfunding market:  the entrepreneurs who started MyCo; the broad investing public that will make Crowdfunding a success; the angel groups that help so many startups succeed and currently anchor the early-stage market; and the venture capital funds that provide additional funds for companies that need and deserve them.

Questions? Contact Mark Roderick at Flaster/Greenberg PC.

Crowdfunding Real Estate

Many people associate Crowdfunding with investments in exciting new technology companies that promise to transform the world and make millions for their owners. But Crowdfunding is just as Skyscraper Buildings Made From Dollar Banknotesrelevant to investing in real estate, whether vacant lots, apartment buildings, or multi-billion dollar redevelopment projects. Although the world of real estate investing has historically been separate from the world of business investing, Crowdfunding is likely to revolutionize capital formation (fundraising) in both worlds.

Pending the release of SEC regulations that will authorize “true” JOBS Act Crowdfunding, portals focused on real estate have already sprung to life using the legal model approved by the SEC in two no-action letters earlier this year. RealtyMogul, for example, allows accredited investors who have signed up with the site to view a variety of real estate investment opportunities, from single-family rehab projects to a 240-unit apartment complex. The size and complexity of real estate projects listed on RealtyMogul and other portals are certain to grow as the Crowdfunding market matures, probably dramatically.

Real estate might even lend itself to Crowdfunding in ways that other industries do not. Because all real estate is local, it is easy to imagine a portal that specializes in Philadelphia real estate, for example, or in commercial Philadelphia real estate, or in commercial real estate in Center City, Philadelphia. That kind of focus, repeated in other cities and regions, might give investors exactly what they are looking for and thereby provide a reliable source of capital for developers.

It is just as easy to imagine a portal focused on shopping malls, or on high-end residential projects, no matter where they are located.

Real estate might seem less sexy than hi-tech, but it is a source of enormous wealth in this country and an important contributor to the national economy. And because real estate requires capital – oceans of capital – Crowdfunding is certain to play an important role.

Questions? Contact Mark Roderick at Flaster/Greenberg PC.

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