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How the SEC Listened to the Crowd for Crowdfunding Rules

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[Originally published on PBS MediaShift]

Last month, the Securities and Exchange Commission published its long-awaited proposed rules for the most radical part of the JOBS Act of 2012. These rules set the terms for what’s called Regulation Crowdfunding, under which the general public will be allowed to invest limited amounts in small, unregistered securities. Regulation Crowdfunding represents one of the most momentous changes in U.S. federal securities laws since the Securities Act of 1933, which first established our legal framework for selling investments.

What’s remarkable is the way that the SEC wrote these rules. How much they draw from the crowd and how they’re framed represent another big change in how the SEC is open to working and that has implications for the future of the crowdfunding movement.

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Online Platforms Give the First Public Look at Private Equity

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[Originally published on PBS MediaShift]

A major change in federal securities regulations takes effect this week, and many people are wondering how it will turn out. It’s now legal — with the proper filings and for the first time in over 80 years — for businesses to publicly advertise for investors. Proponents hope that this change will spur entrepreneurship, job creation and innovation nationwide, particularly in areas outside of the typical startup hotspot cities. Detractors fear that the regs will provide a new mechanism for fraudsters to scam retirees and others out of their wealth. Either way, the system known as “private equity” won’t always be so private anymore — and as of Monday morning, several online platforms discussed below are giving the public its first look at the formerly secret world of startup investing.

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Your Guide to DIY Crowdfunding Tools (to Avoid Kickstarter Fees)

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[Originally published on PBS MediaShift]

Kickstarter pioneered a set of rules and an uncluttered visual grammar that has become the familiar frame for online fundraising, and many other such crowdfunding portals have since copied or adapted their formula — even sites that started earlier. Now, an explosion of cheap and easy new tools and services makes crowdfunding more democratic than ever, by empowering fundraisers to bypass portals like Kickstarter and IndieGoGo entirely.

Some of these tools enable people to create standalone campaigns on their own websites, where they don’t have to give up the 5 percent-or-so commission that commercial portals typically charge, and they also retain full control over the user experience and their relationship with the funders. In other words, the crowdfunding page will have your branding and domain, not the portal’s, and a portal won’t track and bug your funders for their own promotional purposes.

Other new tools and services empower people to “be their own Kickstarter” and create a multi-user portal of their own, where they can host other people’s crowdfunding campaigns and collect the commissions themselves, or choose not to. They can launch these crowdfunding portals from their own dedicated domain, or else as funding pages integrated within an already-existing web presence.

Read more at PBS MediaShift