Managing Your Investments in Private Companies

For investors, investing in private companies can be a beneficial way to diversify their investment portfolios. Whether the investment was made through private equity or RegA+, proper management can contribute to long-term success. However, once the investment is made, investors need to ensure that they are correctly managing their shares. With this in mind, how should investors manage their investments once they have been made?

 

Investments made in private companies can often come with voting rights. Being a part of company decisions is an important aspect of being an investor and helps to elect company directors and resolve issues. Investors exercising their voting rights can be a major aspect of managing their portfolio.

 

Whether information is provided directly to the investors by the company or through a transfer agent, as companies release reports and other key information, shareholders should maintain current knowledge of the information. Understanding the company’s direction and changes that are occurring can give investors a picture of the future so they can determine how their shares will affect their portfolio. The investor should also know where the data can be found so that they are easily able to access and assess it.

 

Additionally, investors should monitor the liquidity of the shares. Since some private company shares can be traded in a secondary market, understanding the value and the option to trade is important for investors. If they know how much their shares are worth, and they have the ability to sell them, investors can freely trade their shares. This is key if they decide that they no longer want to be a shareholder in a particular private company.

 

However, for investors who own shares in multiple different companies, managing this information can become a burdensome task. With an all-in-one platform that incorporates portfolio management for investors, KoreConX streamlines and simplifies the process. KoreConX Portfolio Management allows investors to manage their investments from a centralized dashboard. Investors are easily able to see the shares that they own in each private company they’ve invested in. Through the platform, investors can access critical company information and performance data in one place, eliminating the need to remember where each piece of information is kept. Investors are also notified of upcoming shareholder meetings and can exercise their voting rights through the KoreConX platform. When companies and investors utilize the KoreConX platform, they can achieve higher success rates by maintaining compliance with necessary regulations. Utilizing KoreConX Portfolio Management is a powerful tool for investors to make informed decisions regarding their investments.

 

When dealing with private company investments, it is incredibly important that investors properly manage their portfolios. Remaining up-to-date on company decisions and performance can help them plan for the future of their shares while allowing them to make decisions to increase the success of their investments. When investors understand their voting rights, company developments, and the liquidity of their shares, they can be an active participant in their financial success.

KoreConX CEO Oscar Jofre was Recently Interviewed on DNA Podcast

Recently, KoreConX President and CEO Oscar Jofre had the pleasure of joining Jason Fishman on the Digital Niche Agency podcast. Jason and DNA are valued KorePartners and their podcast Test. Optimize. Scale. feature actionable insight for industry leaders on how to grow and optimize brands. 

 

In this episode, Jason and Oscar discuss how he was able to test, optimize, and scale KoreConX. In addition, they discuss the growing potential of Regulation Crowdfunding (RegCF) and the impact it will have on the private capital markets. 

 

The full episode can be listened to on Spotify or YouTube

Using a Transfer Agent Doesn’t Mean You Have a Single Entry on Your Cap Table

Many issuers are concerned that “Crowdfunding will screw up my cap table.” In response, several Title III funding portals offer a mechanism they promise will leave only a single entry on the issuer’s cap table, no matter how many investors sign up.

The claim is innocuous, i.e., it doesn’t really hurt anybody. But it’s also false.

The claim begins with section 12(g) of the Securities Exchange Act. Under section 12(g), an issuer must register its securities with the SEC and begin filing all the reports of a public company if the issuer has more than $10 million of total assets and any class of equity securities held of record by more than 500 non-accredited investors or more than 2,000 total investors.

17 CFR §240.12g5-1 defines what it means for securities to be held “of record.” For example, under 17 CFR §240.12g5-1(a)(2), securities held by a partnership are generally treated as held “of record” by one person, the partnership, even if the partnership has lots of partners. Similarly, under 17 CFR §240.12g5-1(a)(4), securities held by two or more persons as co-owners (e.g., as tenants in common) are treated as held “of record” by one person.

With their eyes on this regulation, the funding portals require each investor to designate a third party to act on the investor’s behalf. The third-party acts as transfer agent, custodian, paying agent, and proxy agent, and also has the right to vote the investor’s securities (if the securities have voting rights). The funding portal then takes the position that all the securities are held by one owner “of record” under 17 CFR §240.12g5-1.

Two points before going further:

  • Title III issuers don’t need 17 CFR §240.12g5-1 to avoid reporting under section 12(g). Under 17 CFR §240.12g6(a), securities issued under Title III don’t count toward the 500/2,000 thresholds, as long as the issuer uses a transfer agent and has no more than $25 million of assets.
  • 17 CFR §240.12g5-1(b)(3) includes an anti-abuse rule:  “If the issuer knows or has reason to know that the form of holding securities of record is used primarily to circumvent the provisions of section 12(g). . . . the beneficial owners of such securities shall be deemed to be the record owners thereof.”

But put both those things to the side and assume that, by using the mechanism offered by the funding portal, the issuer has 735 investors but only one holder “of record.”

Does having one holder “of record” mean the issuer has only a single entry on its cap table? Of course not. At tax time, the issuer is still going to produce 735 K-1s.

The fact is, how many holders an issuer has “of record” for purposes of section 12(g) of the Exchange Act has nothing to do with cap tables. The leap from section 12(g) to cap tables is a rhetorical sleight-of-hand.

As I said in the beginning, the sleight-of-hand is mostly harmless. Except for some additional fees, neither the issuer nor the investors are any worse off. And the motivation is understandable:  too many issuers think Crowdfunding will get in the way of future funding rounds, even though that’s not true.

Even so, as a boring corporate lawyer and true believer in Crowdfunding, I’m uncomfortable with the sleight-of-hand. When SPVs become legal on March 15th perhaps the market will change.

What is Cap Table Management?

More than a simple spreadsheet, a cap table (short for capitalization table) records detailed data regarding the equity owned by shareholders.  For companies at any stage, proper cap table management is essential for good business practices. For founders and shareholders alike, it is important to fully grasp the concept of cap tables. So, what exactly is cap table management?

 

A clear and well-managed cap table paints a detailed picture of exactly who owns what in the company. Whether a founder is looking to raise additional capital or offer incentives to employees, the cap table, when managed correctly, will show the exact break down of shares, digital securities, options, warrants, loans, SAFE, Debenture etc. This information enables founders to understand how the equity distribution is impacted by business decisions.

 

Proper cap table management ensures that all transactions are accounted for and that potential investors are easily able to see the equity structure during funding rounds. Founders are also able to better negotiate the terms of a deal when they have the entire picture of their company’s structure available for reference. Without a cap table, companies can face challenges when it comes to raising capital, due to a lack of transparency in the ownership of the company.

 

Once the cap table is created, it must be maintained properly, updated each time the company or the assigned registered transfer agent/share registry provider who performs equity-based transactions. In the early stages of the company, the cap table will be relatively simple to manage but as rounds of funding progress, it becomes more complex as shares are distributed amongst investors and employees.

 

While simple cap tables can be created in programs such as Excel, a cap table management software may provide a better solution as it becomes more complex.  As part of its all-in-one platform, KoreConX provides companies with the tools to properly record every transaction in their cap table. Encouraging transparency of shareholders, every type of security (digital securities, shares, options, warrants, loan, SAFE, Debenture) that may be offered is accounted for and kept up to date as deals occur. By maintaining transparent records, companies can benefit from both shorter transaction times and expedited due diligence.

 

With an understanding of the importance of keeping a properly managed cap table, founders can arm themselves with the ability to make well-informed business decisions. The detailed insight into a company’s financial structure allows potential investors to feel confident in their investments, secure with the knowledge that their share is accurately accounted for. Even if the task of creating a cap table may seem daunting, it is simplified with a cap table management software so that everyone is on the same page.  

KorePartners Spotlight: Rod Turner, Founder, Chairman, and CEO of Manhattan Street Capital

With the recent launch of the KoreConX all-in-one RegA+ platform, KoreConX is happy to feature the partners that contribute to its ecosystem.

Rod Turner is the founder, chairman, and CEO of Manhattan Street Capital, an online fundraising platform allowing companies to cost-effectively raise capital using Regulation A+, Regulation D, and other regulations, supporting them throughout the entire capital raising journey. The goal is to make it easier for investors to invest and for issuers to list their offerings. The popular term for the services provided by Manhattan Street Capital is “quarterbacking”; they are not the company raising money, but they bring all necessary services providers together and advise the company and marketing agencies on the nuances of raising money successfully. These services combine with the company’s offering platform which separates Issuer Clients into their own offering pages with rich features and deep instrumentation and integration with all marketing.

Before founding Manhattan Street Capital, Rod Turner founded 6 other successful tech startups. He has had extensive experience in the capital markets, from securing VC funding, IPOs listed on the NASDAQ, mergers and acquisitions, as well as building a VC fund with a colleague. This experience has led him to understand the power of RegA+ as a fundraising tool for startups and mid-sized companies.

I recognized pretty quickly that RegA+ is a phenomenally good fundraising instrument and that the regulations are really well-written, very pragmatically written, when it comes to implementing them. Which I was just really excited to see.”

Rod has seen many mature startups and mid-sized  companies  that are “strangled by the lack of access to growth capital” and sees RegA+ as very attractive solution for many of these companies Rod estimates that the scale of capital raised via Reg A+ may amount to $50-60 billion raised per year when it hits full stride. By getting involved in the industry, Rod wants to help solve this issue faced by companies and help them to secure the funding they need. “I want the whole industry to be very successful,” Rod said. RegA+ is continuing to expand rapidly, which will continue to open more opportunities for companies throughout the US.

At Manhattan Street Capital, Rod deeply analyzes the RegA+ industry to solve problems for his company and its clients. Each year, Rod and the Manhattan Street Capital team go through all the EDGAR filings with the SEC to assess the scale of RegA+. Rod likes to take a bigger picture approach so that he can solve problems that are not noticed by those that only focus on their specialty. 

Bringing Private Placements into the Digital Age

How blockchain-based technology will transform private markets

 

Remember the first time you drove a car with a rear-facing camera? The first time you streamed an on-demand movie at home via the Internet, or used GPS instead of a fold-out paper map to find your way on a trip? Similarly, emerging digital technologies have the potential to significantly streamline the cumbersome process of issuing and trading private securities, while automating regulatory compliance and enhancing secondary-market liquidity, transparency, and price discovery. The best part? All these benefits can be captured within existing market structures.

 

The growing popularity of private placements over public listings in recent years is a well-documented phenomenon, driven by tightened regulatory requirements for public issuers and a widening search for returns among investors in a low-interest-rate world.

 

Strong Growth in Private Markets

Acknowledging that raising capital in private markets is simpler than floating public offerings, the path to private issuance is still lengthy and complex. After capital is raised, issuers incur ongoing costs for stock transfers, escheatment, dividend payouts, and compliance. Meanwhile, participants in secondary markets must cope with complexities in making legal and transfer arrangements. Indeed, the timeline for executing trades in privates is currently calculated not in hours or days, but in weeks and months. Throughout, the process is larded with paper, paper, and more paper, stuffed into a file cabinet or residing on email servers.

 

Contrast that with the way new digital mechanisms can transform how private markets operate.

Source: Preqin

 

Blockchain based technologies help ensure that regulated securities are allowed for trading, execute and track payment and receipt of dividends, and validate that transactions have been executed solely with approved investors.  Post-trade processes leverage blockchain’s single “source of truth” — that is, the immutability of a blockchain ledger — working with SEC registered transfer agents.  Alternative trading systems (ATS) are now live for secondary trading of private yet regulated digital securities.

This is no pie-in-the-sky, far-in-the-future scenario. Industry standard-setting bodies like the FIX Trading Community (aka FIX), the Digital Chamber of Commerce, and the Global Digital Asset & Cryptocurrency Association, operating within the framework of the International Standardization Organization (ISO), are at work developing ways to integrate trading of digital securities into existing market structures. For example, FIX has a globally represented working group focused on adapting its widely used messaging standards to communicate and trade digital assets.

 

In short, digitization of private securities can ease capital raises, streamline compliance, improve liquidity and transparency, and save issuers and investors money — all within a regulated ecosystem. In future articles, we’ll explore what the emerging digital trading landscape means specifically for issuers and investors.

 

Continue reading “Bringing Private Placements into the Digital Age”

How Can a Company Raise Capital?

For companies looking to raise capital, there are many different options. While not every option may be best suited for every company, understanding each will help companies choose which one is best for them.

 

In the early stages of raising capital, seeking investments from family and friends can be both a simple and safe solution. Since family members and friends likely want to see you succeed, they are potential sources of funding for your company. Unlike traditional investors, family and friends do not need to register as an investor to donate. It is also likely that through this method, founders may not have to give up some of their equity. This allows them to retain control over their company. 

 

Angel investors and angel groups can also be a source of capital. Angel investors are wealthy individuals that meet the SEC requirements of accredited investors, who invest their own money. Angel groups are multiple angel investors who have pooled their money together to invest in startups. Typically, angel investors invest capital in exchange for equity and may play a role as a mentor, anticipating a return in their investment. 

 

Venture capital investors are SEC-regulated and invest in exchange for equity in the company. However, they are not investing their own money, rather investing other people’s. Since venture capital investors are trying to make money from their investments, they typically prefer to have some say in the company’s management, likely reducing the founders’ control. 

 

Strategic investors may also be an option for companies. Typically owned by larger corporations, strategic investors invest in companies that will strengthen the corporate investor or that will help both parties grow. Strategic investors usually make available their connections or provide other resources that the company may need. 

 

For some companies, crowdfunding may be useful for raising funds. With this method, companies can either offer equity or rewards to investors, the latter allowing the company to raise the money they need without giving up control of the company. Through the JOBS Act, the SEC passed Regulation A+ crowdfunding, which allows companies to raise up to $75 million in capital from both accredited and non-accredited investors. Crowdfunding gives companies access to a wider pool of potential investors, making it possible to secure the funding they need through this method. 

 

Alternatively, Regulation CF may be a better fit. Through RegCF, companies can raise up to $5 million, during a 12-month, period from anyone looking to invest. This gives companies an important opportunity to turn their loyal customers into shareholders as well. These types of offerings must be done online through an SEC-registered intermediary, like a funding portal or broker-dealer. In the November 2020 update to the regulation, investment limits for accredited investors were removed and investment limits for non-accredited investors were revised to be $2,200 or 5% of the greater of annual income or net worth. It is also important to note that now, companies looking to raise capital using RegCF are permitted to “test the waters,” to gauge interest in the offering before it’s registered with the SEC. The SEC also permits the use of SPVs in RegCF offerings as well. 

 

Regulation D is another method that private companies can use to raise capital. Through RegD, some companies are allowed to sell securities without registering the offering with the SEC. However, companies choosing to raise capital through RegD must electronically file the SEC’s “Form D.” By meeting either RegD exemptions 506(b) or 506(c), issuers can raise an unlimited amount of capital. To meet the requirements of the 506(b) exemption, companies must not use general solicitation to advertise securities, can raise money from an unlimited number of accredited investors and up to 35 other sophisticated investors, and must determine the information to provide investors while adhering to anti-fraud securities laws. For 506(c) exemptions, companies can solicit and advertise an offering but all investors must be accredited. In this case, the company must reasonably verify that the investor meet the SEC’s accredited investor requirements  

 

Companies can also utilize direct offerings to raise money. Through a direct offering, companies can issue shares to the company directly to investors, without having to undergo an initial public offering (IPO). Since a direct offering is typically cheaper than an IPO, companies can raise funding without having major expenses. Since trading of shares bought through a direct offering is typically more difficult than those bought in an IPO, investors may request higher equity before they decide to invest. 

 

Companies can offer security tokens to investors through an issuance platform. Companies should be aware that these securities are required to follow SEC regulations. It is becoming more common for companies to offer securities through an issuance platform, as it allows them to reach a larger audience than traditional methods. This is also attractive to investors, as securities can be traded in a secondary market, providing them with more options and liquidity for their shares. 

 

Additionally, companies looking to raise capital can do so with the help of a broker-dealer. Broker-dealers are SEC-registered entities that deal with transactions related to securities, as well as buying and selling securities for its own account or those of its customers. Plus, certain states require issuers to work with a broker-dealer to offer securities, so working with a broker-dealer allows issuers to maintain compliance with the SEC and other regulatory entities. This makes it likely that a company raising capital already has an established relationship with a brokers-dealer. 

 

Lastly, companies looking to raise capital can do it directly through their website. With the KoreConX all-in-one platform, companies can raise capital at their website, maintaining their brand experience. The platform allows companies to place an “invest now” button on their site throughout their RegA, RegCF, RegD, or other offerings so that potential investors can easily invest. 

 

Whichever method of raising capital a company chooses, it must make sure that it aligns with the company’s goals. Without understanding each method, it is possible that founders may end up being asked to give up too much equity and lose control of the company they have worked hard to build. Companies should approach the process of raising capital with a strategy already in place so that they can be satisfied with the outcome. 

What is Regulation A+?

Regulation A+ (RegA+) was passed into law by the SEC in the JOBS Act, making it possible for companies to raise funding from the general public and not just from accredited investors. With the implementation of Title IV of the act, the amount that companies can raise was increased to $50 million (since increased to $75 million), offering companies the ability to pursue equity crowdfunding without the complexity of regular offerings. So, what investments does RegA+ allow?

 

Outlined in the act, companies can determine the interest in RegA+ offerings by “testing the waters.” While testing the waters allows investors to express their interest in the offering, it does not obligate them to purchase once the Offering Statement has been qualified by the SEC. Also allowed by the Act, companies can use social media and the internet to both communicate and advertise the securities. However, in all communications, links to the Offering Statement must be provided and must not contain any misleading information. 

 

It is important to understand the two tiers that comprise RegA+. Tier I offerings are limited to a maximum of $20 million and calls for coordinated review between the SEC and individual states in which the offering will be available. Companies looking to raise capital through Tier I are required to submit their Offering Statement to both the SEC and any state in which they are looking to sell securities. This was a compromise for those who opposed the preemption that is implemented in Tier II.

 

For offerings that fall under Tier II, companies can raise up to $75 million from investors. For these offerings, companies must provide the SEC with their offering statement, along with two years of audited financials for review. Before any sales of securities can take place, the SEC must approve the company’s offering statement, but review by each state is not required. It is also important to note that for Tier II offerings, ongoing disclosure is required unless the number of investors was to fall below 300.

 

In contrast to typical rounds of fundraising, investors are not required to be accredited, opening the offering up to anyone for purchase. Under Tier I, there are no limits that are placed on the amount a sole person can invest. For unaccredited investors under Tier II, limits are placed on the amount they can invest in offerings. The maximum is placed at ten percent of either their net worth or annual income, whichever amount is greater. To certify their income for investing, unaccredited investors can be self-certified, without being required to submit documentation of their income to the SEC. Additionally, there is no limit placed upon the company as to the number of investors to whom it can sell securities.

 

Once investors have purchased securities through RegA+ investments, the trading and sale of these securities is not restricted. Only the company that has created the offering can put limits on their resale. This allows investors to use a secondary market for trading these securities.

 

Through Regulation A+, companies are given massive power to raise funds from anyone looking to invest. With the Act allowing for up to $75 million to be raised, this enables companies to raise capital from a wide range of people, rather than only from accredited investors. With two tiers, companies have the freedom to choose the one that best fits their needs. Regulation A+ and the JOBS Act have the potential to drastically change the investment landscape.

KoreConX CEO Oscar Jofre’s Interview on Recent EINBLICK Podcast

Recently, KoreConX President, CEO, and Co-Founder Oscar Jofre had the pleasure of joining Christian Klepp, Co-Founder of EINBLICK Consulting, on their podcast B2B Marketers on a Mission. 

 

With Christian, Oscar discusses empowering and transforming the private capital markets through pivotal regulations enabling them to better raise capital. Along with these changes, companies need the education and tools to manage their data and shareholders. No longer are private companies limited to a VC or fund to raise capital, they have the power to leverage their customers and shareholders to raise needed capital. However, they need to keep learning to understand their options and responsibilities. 

 

You can listen to the full interview with Oscar Jofre here.