Intrastate offering exemption
Photo by Jimmy Emerson

Last week, the SEC issued three new interpretations related to the so-called “intrastate offering exemption,” which is a registration exemption that facilitates the financing of local business operations.  An intrastate offering is exempt because it does not involve interstate commerce, and is therefore, outside the scope of the Securities Act.

We have received a few calls this week from startup companies who mistakenly believed that these new interpretations were creating a new registration exemption.  Largely, the mistaken belief is caused by the confusion stemming from some recent state law changes that allow for intrastate crowd funding.  While the new SEC interpretations were prompted by the recent state law changes, the intrastate offering exemption has been around since 1933, but for many reasons, it is not heavily relied upon.  And, despite the three new interpretations, we still advise against using the intrastate offering exemption.

What is this intrastate offering exemption?

The intrastate offering exemption is actually two separate exemptions, Section 3(a)(11) and a safe harbor Rule 147.  Although the two exemptions differ slightly, generally, if the (i) issuer is incorporated or organized in the same state in which it is offering securities; (2) a substantial portion of the issuer’s business occurs within that state; (3) each offeree and purchaser is a resident of the state; (4) the offering proceeds are used primarily within that state; and (5) the securities come to rest within that state, then your offering would be exempt from federal registration requirements.  The investors do not need to be accredited (unlike Regulation D offerings), there is no limitation on the manner of offering, there are no prescribed disclosures, there is no maximum amount that can be raised (unlike Rule 504, Rule 505, or Regulation A), and the shares are freely transferable to other residents of the state.  In other words, it is a fairly broad exemption that allows a lot of flexibility to issuers, especially to startup companies who need as much flexibility as possible when raising capital.

Ok, so what is such a problem with the intrastate offering exemption?

While there is lots of flexibility with the exemption, the intrastate offering exemption
Continue Reading Don’t cross the border!: Intrastate offering exemption still not useful despite new interpretations

506 offerings to raise moneyThe SEC issued Final Rules last week that effectively eliminate the ban on the use of general solicitation and general advertising in connection with certain securities offerings performed under Rule 506 of Regulation D. This is a major shift that will allow issuers to use general solicitation and advertising to promote certain private securities offerings. Rule 506 is widely used by many startup and early stage companies to provide a safe harbor from registration under the 1933 Act. The elimination of this ban should have very positive effects for startup and early stage companies. Hopefully it will facilitate capital raising for these companies and thus begin to allow some of the long-awaited positive impacts that we all expected from the JOBS Act. These Final Rules will become effective in mid-September of this year.

The SEC also issued a Press Release and a Fact Sheet that contain helpful information on the Final Rules.

These Final Rules provide amendments to Rule 506 and Rule 144A under the 1933 Act. I will focus on the Rule 506 amendments since they are most relevant to startup and early stage company financing situations. These Rule 506 amendments allow an issuer to engage in general solicitation and advertising in connection with the offering and sale of securities under Rule 506 provided that all purchasers of the securities are accredited investors under the Rule 501 standards and that the issuer takes “reasonable steps” to verify each investor’s accredited investor status. The Rule 506 amendments provide a non-exclusive list of methods that issuers can use to verify the accredited investor status of natural persons. These amendments also amend Form D to require issuers to tell the SEC whether they are relying on the provision that permits general solicitation and advertising in a Rule 506 offering. The Final Rules also contain some very interesting economic and statistical data on Rule 506 offerings and participation by accredited investors.

In a related development, the SEC issued a Final Rule on July 10, 2013 that amended
Continue Reading By removing ban on general solicitation SEC finally moves the JOBS Act forward

We have recently experienced some of the worst financial and economic conditions that we (hopefully) will see in our lifetimes. Most of us have been touched personally by these conditions. It appears that economic and financial conditions will continue to get better, but these situations have created some ongoing challenges that will continue to face early stage companies and entrepreneurs even under better conditions. 

The apparent changes in the traditional roles of the venture capital, private equity and angel investing models are some of the changes that will impact early stage companies. This appears to be the “new normal” for the financing of early stage companies.  Financing from venture capital and angel investor sources has historically been a vital source of funding for early stage companies.  Most early stage companies are not able to qualify for bank financing and are too early for private equity financing. Venture capital and angel investor financing traditionally stepped into this gap and gave these companies the critical financing that they needed to survive and expand. Private equity firms tended to remain out of the early stage financing arena until a company had reached a certain level of revenues or profitability.

This traditional financing model has changed.  Many private equity firms have shifted their investment focus to an even more mature class of companies. There has been a concurrent shift in focus by venture capital firms as many of them have also shifted their investment focus to more mature companies and are subjecting target companies to stricter investment criteria.

These shifts in investment focus are understandable, but they have significantly reduced the availability of crucial funding sources for early stage companies. These shifts happened at a very tough time for most small companies as they tried to recover from bad economic conditions.  This reduction in financing opportunities coupled with the overall slow pace of the economic recovery has caused a dire situation for many early stage companies and entrepreneurs.  Fortunately several events have occurred that should help to fill this financing gap.
Continue Reading Financing Early Stage Companies–Dealing With the “New Normal”