Entrepreneurs looking to the crowd to finance their big ideas just got a little extra help from the government.
What’s this? A new federal subsidy? Another stimulus program? Nope, it’s The New York Times's spin on new rules that went into effect today allowing crowdsourced investment in start-ups. That’s right: the government is now finallyallowing you to invest in startups on creative platforms like Indiegogo, Crowdrise and Kickstarter — but only if you’re rich enough.
Twenty-six Senate Democrats joined 46 Republicans in voting for the 2012 Jumpstart Our Business Start-ups (JOBS) Act. The creative class rejoiced across America. But even when hipsters cheer deregulation, the idea is apparently so foreign to the Times that they (or their readers?) can only make sense of it as a new kind of government largess.
The article goes on to quote Ajay Agrawal, a “professor of entrepreneurship” at the University of Toronto (where entrepreneurship is apparently a purely academic inquiry — studied by intrepid Canadian anthropologists on field work down south, no doubt): “it will be a tough challenge to make sure any boomlet of crowdfunding ventures does not result in fraud and ordinary people being cheated.” Right… because people worth more than $1 million or who who make more than $200,000/year (two requirements of the new rules) really need “help from the government” by limiting which startups they can invest in. Thanks, Washington! What ever would we do without you?
Oh, but hold on. Did you know many startups actually… <gulp> fail? That’s troubling news at The Times, which notes the troubling news that, on Kickstarter, “some projects have raised large amounts of money and struggled to produce their promised goods or services.” Oh, the unfairness of it all! Somebody might get hurt!
As Silicon Valley and other tech hubs celebrate today’s news, they should take note of the Times attitude as a small example of the “You didn’t build that…” mentality that Ronald Reagan once summarized as the nine most terrifying words in the English language: “I’m from the government and I’m here to help”:
And just in case you thought you (and your investors) built that startup on your own… you didn’t: