Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Crowdfunding and Venture Capital - A Response

As Steve Bradford mentioned in his post on Monday (sharing his cool idea about mining crowdfunded offerings to find good firms in which to invest), our co-blogger Haskell Murray published a nice post last week on venture capital as a follow-on to capital raises done through crowdfunding.  He makes some super points there, and (although I was raised by an insurance brokerage executive, not a venture capitalist), my sense is that he's totally right that the type of crowdfunding matters for those firms seeking to follow crowdfunding with venture capital financing.  I also think that, of the types of crowdfunding he mentions, his assessment of venture capital market reactions makes a lot of sense.  Certainly, as securities crowdfunding emerges in the United States on a broader scale (which is anticipated by some to happen with the upcoming release of the final SEC rules under Title III of the JOBS Act), it makes sense to think more about what securities crowdfunding might look like and how it will fit into the cycle of small business finance.

Along those lines, what about debt crowdfunding as a precursor to venture capital funding?  Andrew Schwartz has written a bit about that.  Others also may have taken on this topic.  Professor Schwartz may be right that issuers will prefer to issue debt than equity--in part because it may prove to be less of an impediment to later equity financings.  But I don't necessarily have a warm feeling about that . . . .

And what about the crowdfunding of investment contracts (e.g., what I have previously called "unequity" in this article (and elsewhere, including in this further article) and perhaps even the newly popular SAFEs)?  There is no equity overhang with unequity and some other types of investment contract, but crowdfunded SAFEs, which are convertible paper, may be viewed negatively in later financing rounds--especially if the conversion rights are held by a wide group of investors.  While part of me is surprised that people are not taking the investment contract part of the potential securities crowdfunding market seriously (since folks were crowdfunding investment contracts before the JOBS Act came along--not knowing it was unlawful), the other part of me says that crowdfunded investment contracts would have a niche market at best.

So, thanks, Haskell, for the food for thought.  No doubt, more will be written about this issue as and if the market for crowdfunded securities develops.  Coming soon, says the SEC . . . .

C. Steven Bradford, Corporate Finance, Crowdfunding, Haskell Murray, Joan Heminway, Securities Regulation, Venture Capital | Permalink


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