This April marked the two-year anniversary of the passage of the JOBS Act, which included a number of dramatic changes intended to support the entrepreneurial economy. To mark the occasion, CTC chief executive Matt Gardner sat on a panel with Joel Trotter of Latham & Watkins, Kate Mitchell of Scale Venture Partners and former chair of the National Venture Capital Association, Mary Dent of DCIQ, and Nicole Chiu-Wang of Ms. JD.
Most of the panel’s discussion centered on a re-telling of the process that led to the bill signing, including the development of broad, national coalitions supportive of entrepreneurship and the potential for this round of changes to drive economic growth.
Kate Mitchell told the CTC, “The passage of the JOBS Act enforces my view that normal citizens can make a difference. If you care about something, you need to ask yourself, ‘if not you – who will step up to take your issue forward?’ Once you do, you may find a number of like-minded people pitching in beside you.”
The CTC asked Indiegogo Founder and CEO Slava Rubin for perspective. “When we pioneered the crowdfunding industry in 2008, we discovered the primary reasons people contribute on Indiegogo are to support their passions, participate in movements, or receive perks,” said Rubin. “The industry has exploded since the JOBS Act was signed, and we are excited about this new wave of funders motivated by equity.”
While the world is clearly a different place, with perhaps the most empowered entrepreneurs in economic history, it’s possible we haven’t really seen the full impact of the JOBS Act yet. First, it took the SEC a year to come up with ground rules. To some, a new regulatory regime needed to protect those on Main Street. To others, it stood in the way of true grassroots participation.
The IPO window seemed open until perhaps the second quarter of 2014. Still, the combination of tools available to every citizen with access to a library computer hasn’t yet produced a dramatic turnaround in Springfield. Coding schools are popping up everywhere. But the model that this confluence should bring us: the self-taught coder from the tough upbringing who took an idea out via crowdfunding and secured investors simply because they were brilliant, made visible to funders because of this newfound ease.
A generation of those self-made coders with tales of rags to riches is not yet among us. But the upside of the JOBS Act has been generally positive for entrepreneurs and investors able to find exits. More than twenty IPOs occurred in the first four months of the year.
Joel Trotter of Latham and Watkins added, “Having advocated for these reforms to the IPO process, it's gratifying to look back on two years of experience since enactment and see widespread adoption of the IPO on-ramp accommodations in the most robust IPO markets in recent memory.”
How do we unlock that empowerment potential on Main Street? Slava Rubin reflected, “We are actively involved with the SEC and other key stakeholders as we determine our next steps.”