Oh the times, oh the customs! These days, with every Tom Dick and Harry CEO maintaining a Twitter account and public Facebook page, it’s easier than ever to violate the S.E.C.’s rules about where you can disclose key information so all your shareholders see it. That’s already gotten Netflix CEO Reed Hastings into a little trouble (not that his example stopped rogue Tesla CEO and would-be Martian Elon Musk).
Well today the S.E.C. announced that it’s a-okay to announce “key information” (like sales figures) via social media, “so long as investors have been alerted about which social media will be used to disseminate such information.”
The Equity of the Crowds
As soon as the JOBS Act passed back in April, would-be equity-based crowdfunding platforms were crawling out of the woodwork, ready to be open for business as soon as the S.E.C. handed down the rules governing this wild financial frontier.
But it seems they might be all dressed up with nowhere to go, for now at least. The New York Times reports that the S.E.C. is most likely going to blow its end-of-year deadline. In fact, it might be 2014 before equity-based crowdfunding is a reality. Hope your startup wasn’t depending on selling shares to average Internet joes!
The Securities and Exchange Commission is considering a civil action against Netflix after CEO Reed Hastings posted on Facebook in June that the company’s customers would soon view 1 billion hours of content a month. Mr. Hastings posted his thoughts on the SEC investigation on Facebook. [Facebook]
Because you’re dying to make “eggnog cinnamon Read More
When news broke this morning that Airbnb had supposedly raised a $117 million Series C, the only possible response was: Damn, that’s a nice chunk of change, and one in line with expectations. However, it appears that, in all the anticipation over another major round, the gun has been jumped.
When we reached out for comment, Airbnb gave us the following statement of denial:
Zappos’ Tony Hsieh is using his empire to help revitalize downtown Las Vegas. “I first thought I would buy a piece of land and build our own Disneyland.” [New York Times]
Sources say the SEC’s probe into Facebook’s IPO has found no evidence that the company withheld information from investors. Good news for those seeking relief for the stock dive in civil court: Whether retail investors were led astray by misleading info from brokers still remains to be seen. [Bloomberg]
BuzzFeed is opening a Los Angeles bureau; prepare for a lot more celebrity photo lists. [BuzzFeed]
Internet service providers like Verizon and Time Warner have launched the Copyright Alert System, a new warning feature that will send notes to customers they’ve found are pirating content. Users who ignore these messages could even have their connections throttled, because ISPs will pretend to care about piracy if it gives them an excuse not to pay for bandwidth. [CNN]
Shopping for glitzy gowns just got a lot easier. On Friday, Rent the Runway introduced a new feature that replaces models with everyday women, “allowing visitors to search for women of a certain age, height, weight and even bust size, to see how that dress looks on someone similar.” [New York Times]
IP Uh Oh
Yesterday over drinks, we asked an angel investor if he thought Gilt Groupe would actually go public this quarter or next year, as planned. Fat chance given the post-Facebook IPO market, he replied. (Stronger language was used.)
Today, Bloomberg offers a must-read, in-depth investigation into just how cynical Facebook was in the lead-up to the IPO, including obscuring material information on risks demanded by the Securities and Exchange Commission. Those vulnerabilities, such as difficulties in monetizing mobile, decelerating revenue and dependence on Zynga, became painfully evident to shareholders who have watched what was supposed to be “the IPO of the Century,” drop in share price from $38 down to $19.69 as of this afternoon.
Follow the Money
Alexa von Tobel is fond of analogies. Blame her time at Harvard, as both an undergrad and in the university’s MBA program–before she won a business plan competition and took a leave of absence to launch LearnVest, a personalized financial tool for those who can’t spare the $2,000 to $3,000 to sit down with a financial planner. (“61 percent of Americans are living paycheck-to-paycheck,” she noted from the company’s sunny new Soho office. For the former Morgan Stanley trader–and head of biz dev for Drop.io–statistics tend to roll off the tongue.)
In the past, Ms. von Tobel–the first in a growing line of local HBS female founders–has called LearnVest, “Weight Watchers meets personal finance.” In a recent TEDxTalk, she longs for a “Biggest Loser” for household budgets. But in demoing LearnVest’s revamped new platform and iPhone app last week–financed by a $19 million Series B led by Accel Partners last July–she opted for something more ambitious, describing it as “LegalZoom meets personal finance,” for its ability to take hard-to-parse documents and make them accessible to the masses.
It was glaringly sunny in Washington, D.C., on April 5, the day President Barack Obama signed the JOBS Act, and there was some confusion as to the location of the afterparty. One faction of Rose Garden attendees gathered on the roof of the W Hotel and wondered where everyone was. The rest assembled at Off The Record, a dimly lit bar in the basement of the Hay-Adams Hotel, and kicked things off with an icebreaker.
About 30 smartly dressed men and women, still sweating out the adrenaline of being three rows away from the president, stood in a circle. Many had worked with each other but never met. Each stated their names, the role they played in the bill, and perhaps a few words about the brave new world of so-called equity-based crowdfunding, which had just been legalized by one of the six constituent laws that make up the JOBS Act. The new rule will allow “ordinary Americans,” in the president’s words, to invest in a nonpublic company in exchange for shares for the first time since the enactment of the securities regulation that followed the 1929 stock market crash.
The mood was triumphant and boozy. Tim Rowe, a Cambridge-based venture capitalist, raised a glass and offered a toast to working together in the future. “The Marine Corps was founded in a bar in Philadelphia,” he said. “Big things can happen starting in a bar.” Attendees signed up to join a trade organization for the newly minted market. “There was the sense of elation that we had cracked the monopoly of Wall Street,” one attendee recalled.
Looks like we’re gonna have to add another name to our Facebook Mafia list. Chief technology officer Bret Taylor told Kara Swisher at AllThingsD that he will be leaving the company for an “undetermined startup.” Shortly after, he acknowledged his departure on his Facebook page. (A parting traffic gift, perhaps?)
IP Uh Oh
It’s been less than a week since Facebook debuted on the public markets. But each day, it seems, unearths new contenders for another round of the Facebook IPO Blame Game. (Play along at home!)
While Congress plans its investigation into underwriters like Morgan Stanley, Dan Primack dropped an interesting perspective in his Term Sheet newsletter: Blame the “adults.”