Follow the Money

With Personalized Advice, SEC Registration, and an iPhone App, LearnVest Leaves Mint in the Dust

Financial planning with the ease of the Google doc.

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. Read More

The Equity of the Crowds

Crowdfund Act Passes In the Senate, But What Will It Mean for Startups?

Some familiar faces among AngelList's petition to pass the JOBS Act. (via angel.co/jobs-act/thank-you)

Update: On March 27th, the House passed a reconciled version of the JOBS Act, which includes the provisions from the Senate’s CROWDFUND Act, detailed below.

This afternoon, the Senate passed the Crowdfund Act by a resounding 73-26 vote. If you’ve been following the JOBS Act, which has won support from venture capitalists and founders alike (for evidence, just scroll down to this petition’s list of supporters), the Crowdfund Act is the Senate’s version of the JOBS bill, which now includes the requirement that startups looking to raise capital do so from SEC-approved websites.

The JOBS Act, short forĀ  Jumpstart Our Business Startups, centered around rolling back some investor protections in the name of making it easier for small businesses to raise capital.

Although the JOBS bill passed in the House in a 390-23 vote a couple weeks ago, because legislators were successful in amending a number of “more stringent safeguards for investors,” the Crowdfunding Act will need to be reconciled with the JOBS Act and head back to the House, rather than to President Obama for approval, reports Politico. Read More