Jumpstart Our Business Startups Act

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The Jumpstart Our Business Startups Act or JOBS Act, is a law intended to encourage funding of United States small businesses by easing various securities regulations. It passed with bipartisan support, and was signed into law by President Barack Obama on April 5, 2012. The term "The JOBS Act" is also sometimes used informally to refer to just Titles II and III of the legislation[1] which are the two most important pieces to much of the crowdfunding and startup community. Title II went into effect on September 23, 2013.[2] Title III is still pending.

Legislative history[edit]

In November 2011, the House passed several bills aimed at economic revitalization,[3] including Small Company Capital Formation (H.R. 1070),[4] Entrepreneur Access to Capital (H.R. 2930),[5] and Access to Capital for Job Creators (H.R. 2940).[6] The Entrepreneur Access to Capital Act was introduced by Patrick McHenry (R-NC) and revised in collaboration with Carolyn Maloney (D-NY). Informed by the Crowdfunding exemption movement and endorsed by the White House,[7] it was the first U.S. bill designed to create a regulatory exemption for crowdfunded securities and thereby democratize the obtaining of investments.[8]

The passage of H.R. 2930 inspired the introduction of two Senate bills similarly focused on a new crowdfunding exemption: the Democratizing Access to Capital Act (S.1791, Scott Brown, R-MA),[9] and the CROWDFUND (Capital Raising Online While Deterring Fraud and Unethical Non-Disclosure) Act (S.1970, Jeff Merkley, D-OR).[10] All three crowdfunding proposals were referred to the Senate Banking Committee, which took no action on them until March 2012.

In December 2011, Rep. Stephen Lee Fincher (R-TN) introduced into the House the Reopening American Capital Markets to Emerging Growth Companies Act (H.R. 3606),[11] to relieve companies with annual revenue of less than $1 billion from some Sarbanes-Oxley Act compliance requirements. The bill was referred to the House Financial Services Committee.

On March 1, 2012, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor introduced and placed on the House legislative calendar a new version of H.R.3606, renamed Jumpstart Our Business Startups (The JOBS Act).[12] The revised bill included the original H.R. 3606; the already-passed H.R. 1070, H.R. 2930, H.R. 2940; and two other bills that were still before the House: Private Company Flexibility and Growth (H.R. 2167), and Capital Expansion (H.R. 4088). AngelList co-founder Naval Ravikant, who spent six months lobbying for JOBS Act reforms,[13] recalls:

It ended up being a giant dog's breakfast of different bills combined together, and then some genius, probably some congressional staffer, said "How are we gonna get this thing to pass? Oh-- let's say it has something to do with jobs. Jumpstarting Our Business Startups! JOBS, JOBS!" And then, what congressperson can vote against something called the JOBS Act? It was a miracle." [14]

After some debate and revision, the new JOBS Act passed the House on March 8.[15] On March 13, the same day that the Act was placed on the Senate legislative calendar, Sen. Jeff Merkley introduced a revised version of his CROWDFUND bill, S.2190, cosponsored by Michael Bennet (D-CO), Scott Brown (R-MA), and Mary Landrieu (D-LA). The new bill was based on S.1970 but incorporated elements from S.1791,[16] upping the investment caps. It also expanded the liability section to explicitly authorize investors to sue issuers for the amount invested or for damages.[17] On March 19, during the JOBS Act's debate in the Senate, Merkley, Bennet, and Brown amended the legislation by swapping out the language from H.R.2930 and substituting in S.2190.[18]

The resulting revision passed the Senate on March 22, and after some debate passed the House on March 27.[15] The JOBS Act was signed into law at a ceremony in the White House Rose Garden on April 5, 2012.[19]

Provisions of the bill[edit]

The legislation, among many other things, extends the amount of time that certain new public companies have to begin compliance with certain requirements, including certain requirements that originated with the Sarbanes–Oxley Act, from two years to five years.[20][21]

The primary provisions of the House bill as amended would:

The first six sections, or "Titles," of the JOBS Act are named after the original bills that each was based on, and the last section, Title VII, tells the SEC to conduct outreach regarding the new legislation to SMEs and businesses owned by women, veterans, and minorities. Title III of the Act, the crowdfunding provision, has been called one of the most momentous securities exemptions enacted since the original Securities Act of 1933.[27]

Titles[edit]

The titles of the bill are:

TITLE I - REOPENING AMERICAN CAPITAL MARKETS TO EMERGING GROWTH COMPANIES

TITLE II - ACCESS TO CAPITAL FOR JOB CREATORS

TITLE III - CROWDFUNDING

TITLE IV - SMALL COMPANY CAPITAL FORMATION

TITLE V - PRIVATE COMPANY FLEXIBILITY AND GROWTH

TITLE VI - CAPITAL EXPANSION

TITLE VII - OUTREACH ON CHANGES TO THE LAW

Reception[edit]

Support[edit]

The JOBS Act had bipartisan support in Congress.[28][29] It was supported by many in the technology and startup communities, including Google,[30] Steve Case (founder of AOL), Mitch Kapor (founder of Lotus), Jim Newton (founder of TechShop), and many other investors and entrepreneurs. It is also supported by the National Venture Capital Association, which described the bill as modernizing regulations that were put in place almost 100 years before, by among other things facilitating use of online services to make investments in small companies. The "crowdfunding" provisions, which allow companies to sell securities through open platforms, were often likened to the Kickstarter online model for funding artists and designers.[31][32]

The JOBS Act is also a welcome development for nonprofit organizations which operate crowd funding platforms for microfinance loans, such as Kiva and Zidisha. These organizations have not obtained licenses as securities brokers due to high legal compliance costs. Kiva, an organization that allows individual web users to support microloans managed by intermediaries in developing countries, complies with SEC regulations by making it impossible for lenders to earn a positive financial return.[33] Zidisha, which operates an eBay-style platform that allows individual web users to transact directly with computer-literate borrowers in developing countries, does allow lenders to earn interest, but complies with SEC regulations by not guaranteeing cash payouts.[34] RocketHub testified in Congress June 26, 2012 in support of the JOBS Act and its intent to offer equity crowdfunding.[35]

The bill was also supported by David Weild IV, former vice-chairman of NASDAQ, who also testified before Congress. Studies written by Weild, co-authored by Edward H. Kim and published by Grant Thornton, "identif[ied] changes to stock market structure that gave rise to a decline in the IPO market", and thus "gave rise to the JOBS Act", according to Devin Thorpe of Forbes Magazine. This has led some to refer to Weild as the "father" of the JOBS Act.[36][37] The first company to complete an Initial Public Offering using provisions under the Jobs Act was Natural Grocers by Vitamin Cottage (NYSE:NGVC) on July 25, 2013.

Criticism[edit]

The bill was opposed by some securities regulators and consumer and investor advocates, including the AARP, the Consumer Federation of America, the Council of Institutional Investors, and others.[38] Among the complaints were that the loosening of investment protections would expose small and inexperienced investors to fraud.[25] The Consumer Federation of America characterized an earlier version of the legislation as "the dangerous and discredited notion that the way to create jobs is to weaken regulatory protections".[39] Criminologist William K. Black had said the bill would lead to a "regulatory race to the bottom" and said it was lobbied by Wall Street to weaken the Sarbanes–Oxley Act.[40] It is also opposed by labor unions, including the AFL-CIO,[41] the AFSCME,[38] and the National Education Association.[38]

Criticisms were levied against the House version of the bill as "gutting regulations designed to safeguard investors",[42] legalizing boiler room operations,[43] "reliev[ing] businesses that are preparing to go public from some of the most important auditing regulations that Congress passed after the Enron debacle",[44] and "a terrible package of bills that would undo essential investor protections, reduce market transparency and distort the efficient allocation of capital".[45]

Current status[edit]

Titles I, V, and VI of the JOBS Act became effective immediately upon enactment.[46] The SEC approved the lifting of the general solicitation ban on July 10, 2013, paving the way for the adoption of Title II.[47] As of October 2014, Titles III, and IV are awaiting more detailed rulemaking by the SEC, which did not meet its original deadlines.[48] Some have attributed the delay to former SEC chair Mary Schapiro's concerns over her legacy.[49] Title III rules were proposed for adoption by the SEC on October 23, 2013.[50]

Industry associations[edit]

A number of US organizations have been founded to provide education and advocacy related to equity based crowdfunding as enabled by the JOBS Act. They include:

External links[edit]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ an example is here)
  2. ^ Barnett, Chance (September 23, 2013). "The Crowdfunder's Guide To General Solicitation And Title II Of The JOBS Act". Forbes. 
  3. ^ http://mchenry.house.gov/blog/?postid=266337
  4. ^ http://hdl.loc.gov/loc.uscongress/legislation.112hr1070
  5. ^ http://hdl.loc.gov/loc.uscongress/legislation.112hr2930
  6. ^ http://hdl.loc.gov/loc.uscongress/legislation.112hr2940
  7. ^ http://www.whitehouse.gov/sites/default/files/omb/legislative/sap/112/saphr2930r_20111102.pdf
  8. ^ Cortese, Amy (September 25, 2011). "A Proposal to Allow Small Private Companies to Get Investors Online". The New York Times. 
  9. ^ http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/bdquery/z?d112:SN01791:
  10. ^ http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/bdquery/z?d112:SN01970:
  11. ^ http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/bdquery/z?d112:h.r.3606:
  12. ^ http://thehill.com/blogs/floor-action/house/213613-cantor-says-jobs-bill-set-for-house-passage-next-week
  13. ^ http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2htl-O1oDcI PandoMonthly: Fireside Chat With AngelList Co-Founder Naval Ravikant, see 1:23:00, 1:25:05
  14. ^ http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2htl-O1oDcI PandoMonthly: Fireside Chat With AngelList Co-Founder Naval Ravikant, see 1:27:40
  15. ^ a b http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/bdquery/z?d112:HR03606:@@@X
  16. ^ http://www.masslive.com/politics/index.ssf/2012/03/compromise_crowdfunding_bill_p.html
  17. ^ http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/query/z?c112:S.2190:
  18. ^ http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/bdquery/z?d112:SP01884: - see page S1806, Sec. 302
  19. ^ http://www.whitehouse.gov/blog/2012/04/05/jobs-act-encouraging-startups-supporting-small-businesses
  20. ^ a b Feldman, David. "Summary of JOBS Bill and Update". Retrieved March 19, 2012. 
  21. ^ a b "H.R. 3606, 112th Cong., ti. 1". Retrieved March 19, 2012. 
  22. ^ "Section 12(g) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934". 
  23. ^ "SEC Rule 12g-1, 17 CFR 240.12g-1". 
  24. ^ a b c d e Grant, David (March 8, 2012). "What does the JOBS Act actually do? Six questions answered.". csmonitor.com. Christian Science Monitor. "Six discrete bills, all tied up with a bow. Together, they would have the following impacts: Raises the number of shareholders a company can have before it is forced to go public. You could call this part The Facebook Act. Facebook, among others, was growing rapidly as a private company but quickly bumped up against the 500-shareholder limit, reducing its ability to compensate employees in one of the main coins of the Silicon Valley realm: stock. The new limit would be 1,000. ~." 
  25. ^ a b c Marielle Segarra, "The JOBS Act: Crowdfunding and Emerging Businesses", CFO.com, October 23, 2013
  26. ^ Bearman, Asher (April 24, 2012). "You Cannot 'Crowdfund' a Fund (in Case You Were Wondering)". Communities. LexisNexis. Retrieved February 19, 2013. "The new crowdfunding rules specifically prohibit investment companies, including those that are exempt from investment company registration under Section 3(c) or 3(b), from crowdfunding: (f) Applicability.-Section 4(6) shall not apply to transactions involving the offer or sale of securities by any issuer that...(3) is an investment company, as defined in section 3 of the Investment Company Act of 1940, or is excluded from the definition of investment company by section 3(b) or section 3(c) of that Act; or (4) the Commission, by rule or regulation, determines appropriate. In short, you can't crowdfund a fund." 
  27. ^ http://www.milkeninstitute.org/publications/download.taf?pubtype=pdf&pubid=38801360&file=/pdf/crowdfunding120827.pdf
  28. ^ "Small Biz Jobs Act Is a Bipartisan Bridge Too Far". Bloomberg. March 18, 2012. 
  29. ^ Liberto, Jennifer (March 8, 2012). "House to pass bipartisan bill aimed at start-ups". CNN. 
  30. ^ Chavez, Pablo (March 15, 2012). "Bipartisanship, new businesses and new jobs, with a little help from your friends". Google's Public Policy Blog. Google. Retrieved February 19, 2013. "As we highlighted in a recent post on Google’s Policy by the Numbers blog, entrepreneurs need access to capital to make grow their ideas into successful companies. We are excited to see members of Congress working to promote entrepreneurs’ efforts to build new companies and create new jobs. Last week, the House of Representatives passed the Jumpstart Our Business Startups (JOBS) Act with nearly full bipartisan support. The JOBS Act makes it easier for startups to raise capital. The crowdfunding provisions drafted by Congressman Patrick McHenry and Majority Leader Eric Cantor are particularly exciting and we applaud the House for its focus on helping to promote innovation and economic growth." 
  31. ^ Albanesius, Chloe (April 5, 2012). "Obama Signs JOBS Act to Boost Startups". PC Magazine. 
  32. ^ Colao, J.J. (April 5, 2012). "Breaking Down The JOBS Act: Inside The Bill That Would Transform American Business". Forbes. 
  33. ^ Kiva Case Study, Sarah Anderson and Joel Ramirez, December 6, 2007
  34. ^ Daniel, Rozas (July 5, 2011). "Microfinance without the MFI? Zidisha tests the boundaries of microlending methodology". Financial Access Initiative. New York University. Retrieved 27 July 2013. 
  35. ^ "JOBS Act Implementation". C-SPAN Video Library. Jun 26, 2012. Retrieved 27 July 2013. 
  36. ^ Devin Thorpe (August 6, 2013). "Live Interview With Crowdfunding Leader David Weild IV". Forbes Magazine. Retrieved October 11, 2013. 
  37. ^ "What the Jobs Act Means for the IPO Market". Bloomberg News. September 23, 2013. Retrieved October 11, 2013. 
  38. ^ a b c "Organizations and Individuals Critical of Anti-investor Provisions in the House JOBS Act and Companion Senate Bills", Consumer Federation of America.
  39. ^ "Public Interest Groups Oppose Anti-Investor 'Capital Formation' Bills", Consumer Federation of America open letter to Sen. Johnson and Rep. Shelby.
  40. ^ Jobs Act 2012 a Recipe for Fraud, The Real News Network
  41. ^ William Samuel, American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations, Open letter to Sen. Johnson and Rep. Shelby, February 29, 2012
  42. ^ Kathleen Pender, "Financial regulations gutted in new bill", San Francisco Chronicle
  43. ^ Statement of Professor John C. Coffee, Jr., Adolf A. Berle Professor of Law, Columbia University Law School, at Hearings Before the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs, "Spurring Job Growth Through Capital Formation While Protecting Investors" (December 1, 2011) Washington, D.C., p.1
  44. ^ Gail Collins, "The Senate Overachieves", The New York Times, March 15, 2012, p. A35
  45. ^ "They Have Very Short Memories" (editorial), The New York Times, March 10, 2012, p. SR10
  46. ^ http://www.sec.gov/news/testimony/2013/ts041113lnjr.htm
  47. ^ http://www.sec.gov/News/PressRelease/Detail/PressRelease/1370539707782#.Ue7Y_z44Vx8
  48. ^ Thorpe, Devin. Forbes http://www.forbes.com/sites/devinthorpe/2013/04/03/anniversary-of-jobs-act-finds-investment-crowdfunders-champing-at-the-bit/ |url= missing title (help). 
  49. ^ "SEC Chief Delayed Rule Over Legacy Concerns". Wall Street Journal. Retrieved 16 December 2012. 
  50. ^ "SEC Proposes Crowdfunding Rules". CFO.com. Retrieved 24 October 2013. 
  51. ^ “National Crowdfunding Association Partners with SCORE”, Hispanic Business, 1 August 2012
  52. ^ “Crowdfunding Professional Association Welcomes Departing National Crowdfunding Association Board to Their Coalition” SBWire 19 July 2012
  53. ^ Beth Potter, “Event at CU to offer crowdfunding primer”, Boulder County Business Report, 25 July 2012