The Fine Line Between Crowdfunding & An Illegal Securities Offering Part II: SEC Fines Ad Execs Over Pabst Stunt
from the saw-that-one-coming dept
Way back in February of 2010, we talked about some ad execs who had set up a website, BuyaBeerCompany.com, asking people to help crowdfund the $300 million it was expected it would take to buy Pabst Brewing, Kickstarter-style (i.e., make pledges, with different “rewards” based on pledge amount, and pledges only due if the total amount raised). While there was some press about this publicity stunt at the time, I believe I was the only one who pointed out that this whole thing almost certainly ran afoul of SEC guidelines on selling securities — even if it was a stunt. Apparently, the SEC agreed. It only took 16 months, but Davis Freeberg alerts us to the news that the SEC went after the ad execs, and they’ve now “settled.”
From the description from the SEC, it sounds like no money changed hands here. It’s just that these guys agreed to “cease” making such offerings. I’m assuming that the SEC spotted this independently of me bringing it up, but if I brought it to their attention, sorry guys. I can definitely see the reasoning behind the SEC getting involved here, as there’s certainly a reasonable risk of fraud on some random website offering people an opportunity to buy a company. However, the internet has certainly opened up new ways to raise money — such as via crowdfunding. While most crowdfunding offerings don’t involve an “ownership” stake, and thus no equity that the SEC might be concerned about, it does make you wonder if the tight regulation from the SEC over such matters might squeeze out some interesting, and entirely legitimate opportunities.