Venture Law Blog

Legal Issues Regarding Emerging Companies & Venture Capital

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In the beginning of February 2020, COVID-19 seemed to have little to no impact on venture capital investing in the United States.  Fast forward a few weeks later: concerns quickly spread over the entire industry about the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on venture investing, its impact on startup companies and the U.S. economy in general.  Emerging growth companies instantly went into “conserve cash mode” and applied for PPP loans.…
On November 2, 2020, the Securities and Exchange Commission adopted amendments intended to ease the rules for certain exempt offerings. These changes include increasing the annual cap on equity crowdfunding from $1.07 million to $5 million, raising the annual cap on Reg A+ offerings from $50% million to $75 million, raising the maximum offering amount for Rule 504 of Regulation D from $5 million to $10 million, and expanding the “test-the-waters” accommodation to Regulation Crowdfunding issuers.…
As the COVID-19 pandemic spread from Asia to the rest of the world at the beginning of 2020, global venture capital (VC) funding dropped dramatically—by about 20% since December 2019 according to Startup Genome.[1]  While the longer-term effects of the pandemic on startups’ ability to raise money cannot be fully grasped yet, it is likely that this downward trend will continue.  Furthermore, though many venture rounds in Q1 2020 benefitted from optimistic beliefs in a V-shaped economic recovery, deals that get done over the next several quarters may reflect pressures resulting from what most now predict to be…
The Jumpstart Our Business Startups Act of 2012 (the “JOBS Act”), was promoted as a new piece of legislation creating groundbreaking additional pathways to funding for companies, which was especially highlighted by the 2008 financial crisis.  Two provisions in the JOBS Act, created “Regulation” crowdfunding and “Reg A+” offerings, were particularly focused on early stage and emerging growth companies’ financing needs.…
As an expensive “slap on the wrist,” the Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC” or the “Commission”) recently concluded that approximately $12.7 million worth of funds raised in a 2017 Initial Coin Offering (“ICO”) by Gladius Network LLC (“Gladius”) were part of an unregistered securities offering, and all proceeds must be returned to investors. However, the penalty to Gladius for their regulatory violations was zero.…
This article was originally posted to the Corporate and Securities Law Blog on July 12, 2018. On June 28, 2018, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (the “SEC”) adopted amendments to the definition of “smaller reporting company” which expand the number of companies that qualify as smaller reporting companies and can thereby take advantage of the scaled disclosure requirements applicable to such companies. The amendments to the definition of “smaller reporting company” will be effective on September 10, 2018.…
On June 21, 2018, the United States Supreme Court issued its decision in South Dakota v. Wayfair, Inc., overturning a 26 year-old decision holding that a retailer must have a physical presence in a state in order to have a sales or use tax collection obligation. The Wayfair decision has an immediate and major impact on retailers of all sizes, but also leaves open numerous unanswered questions.…
On May 24, 2018, President Donald J. Trump signed into law the Economic Growth, Regulatory Relief, and Consumer Protection Act (the “Act”). The Act, which primarily focuses on rolling back certain regulatory provisions of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act of 2010, also contained a significant change in the law for companies looking to undertake securities offerings in reliance on the revamped Regulation A (commonly referred to as “Regulation A+”) under the Securities Act of 1933.…
On April 17, 2018, the New York State Attorney General (“NYAG”) sent a “Virtual Markets Integrity Initiative Questionnaire” to 13 companies operating virtual currency trading platforms. The questionnaire consists of 34 questions covering a number of topics, including ownership and control, operation and fees, trading policies and procedures, outages and other suspensions of trading, internal controls, and privacy and money laundering.…
Taking further steps into the world of cryptocurrency, two entities of the federal government recently took legal action against BitFunder, a now-defunct Bitcoin exchange, and its founder, Jon Montroll. The Securities and Exchange Commission filed civil charges against BitFunder and Montroll, and the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Manhattan brought criminal charges of perjury and obstruction of justice against Montroll, who was arrested and taken into custody. BitFunder was an exchange that, among other things, empowered its customers to create and trade Bitcoin denominated shares of enterprises. The numerous allegations and charges against the defendants include:…
Cryptocurrencies and blockchain technology are rapidly emerging as disruptive technologies. As has happened with many new technologies, particularly disruptive ones, a patent arms race is occurring. The number of patents being filed for these technologies is rapidly increasing. The number of published applications shows roughly a tenfold increase over the number of issued patents. Despite this increase in patent filing activity, many companies are unaware of what aspects of this technology can be patented and many myths and misconceptions exist. In addition to the usual misconceptions about patents (detailed below), the open source aspect of many blockchain-based inventions leads to…
The U.S. Congress is currently considering legislation that would tap the brakes on foreign direct investment in the United States, particularly on investments in sensitive industries like artificial intelligence, robotics, and semiconductors. We know: you’re saying we already have that in the form of the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (known as CFIUS).…
The SEC Munchee Order and Chairman’s Statement On December 11, 2017, the U.S Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”) issued a cease and desist order (“Order”) against Munchee, Inc.’s (“Munchee”) $15 million Initial Coin Offering (“ICO”). The SEC determined that the tokens were investment contracts, and thus securities, primarily because a purchaser of the tokens would have had a reasonable expectation of obtaining a future profit based upon Munchee’s efforts, including Munchee revising its app and creating an “ecosystem” using the proceeds from the sale of the tokens. On the second day of sales of MUN tokens, the company was contacted by SEC…
On July 25, 2017, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”) issued a report (“Report”) detailing its investigation into whether the DAO (an unincorporated “decentralized autonomous organization”), Slock.it UG (“Slock.it”), Slock.it’s co-founders, and intermediaries violated the federal securities laws. The SEC determined that the tokens issued by the DAO are securities under the Securities Act of 1933 (“Securities Act”) and the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 (“Exchange Act”), and advised those who would use a distributed ledger or blockchain-enabled means for capital raising to take appropriate steps to comply with the U.S. federal securities laws. However, the SEC decided not to…