Beginning today, September 23, the SEC’s ban on general solicitation is no longer in effect. Those raising funds for corporations can now publish equity offerings on websites for crowdfunding, as well as blog and tweet about them. The move comes in the wake of the Jumpstart Our Business Startups Act, which was passed last year.
That said, even with the lifting of the general solicitation ban, raising funds for companies will likely remain a difficult endeavor. Funds can only be raised from investors that are accredited, and now, the latter will have to show proof that they fulfill the wealth criteria for accreditation by having an income greater than $200K during the last two years or a net worth of $1M (the value one’s primary residence is not included.)
Would-be fundraisers will need to provide extensive disclosure of offerings not just to the Commission, but also to the public, and there will be tight restrictions and the risk of penalty of a yearlong fundraising ban for violations. Also, in order to avail of being able to engage in general solicitation, startups will have to file a Form D with the regulator at least 15 days prior to starting to solicit. An amended Form D will have to be turned in within 30 days after the termination of an offering.
Still, there are those in the crowdfunding industry that believe that allowing for general solicitation should open up opportunities not just for businesses and entrepreneurs, but also for over 8.7 million accredited investors. Some expected there to be an increase in parties registering as accredited investors.
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