New legislation is typically received by the business community with as much adoration as a Yankee fan at Fenway, but there are exceptions.
In a boost for small business — and in a rare display of bipartisanship — the Jumpstart Our Business Startups Act (JOBS) became federal law in April.
The act has several provisions, but in sum it makes it possible for nearly anyone to become a junior venture capitalist, and it opens new doors for small-business owners to go public and raise capital in ways previously unavailable.
Before JOBS, anyone investing in a business for equity had to be an “accredited” investor — someone with a net worth of more than $1 million, not counting their primary residence. Under JOBS, companies can sell up to $1 million worth of shares to any investor during a 12-month period.
Disclosure rules for private companies also have been eased, so companies looking for $100,000 in capital only need financial statements certified as accurate by their chief financial officer. Up to $500,000 and a professional review — but not an audit — is all that’s required. To many of the bill’s detractors, that sounds eerily similar to some of the financial reporting practices that fueled the housing collapse.
The Act has several other key provisions, and no government act would be complete without exceptions, but overall it is generating an extra dose of optimism and is likely to drive more strategic purchases in an economy that needs it.
“There are lots of small companies out there that can use this as part of a toolbox to finance an acquisition to grow their footprint,” says Curt Rocca with DCA Partners. “It will be interesting to watch how this law affects the pace of small-business
For much of the past decade, venture capitalists showered dollars upon clean-technology startups with promising-sounding ideas in areas like solar, electric cars and biofuels.
That era appears to have ended.