What's new, Utah? We are about to witness a major tectonic shift in the world of finance. It's happening beneath our collective feet, and it will change the world as we know it.
What is it? The new and controversial stipulations of the JOBS Act, signed by President Barack Obama in April, are about to be tested by an IPO filing by San Francisco-based real estate search service Trulia.
In an effort to make it easier for companies under $1 billion in revenues to go public and obtain critical cash for continued growth, the JOBS Act allows these midsize companies to circumvent the traditional filing process through the SEC.
This means Trulia is able to quietly file for its IPO without providing an S-1 for the public to review until 21 days prior to a marketing road show.
The good news? With financial restrictions being reduced, many more companies will qualify for public offerings and receive an infusion of capital. In short, much of the lengthy processes and expenses associated with an IPO that have hindered companies for years have now been abridged, restructured and streamlined. The goal of this action is to create more jobs and thereby facilitate a stronger and faster growing economy.
The concerns? A less rigorous process means that unsophisticated investors will need to be much more vigilant before they wire funds to a company. Every investor should also keep in mind that the time to review a prospectus and complete due diligence will be much shorter than before. As such, unethical company leadership may be tempted to hide underperformance.
Facebook's precipitous stock decline since its IPO has generated shareholder lawsuits from infuriated investors. With more relaxed requirements from the JOBS Act, how will investors respond to Trulia's IPO? Will investors step forward? Will this singular occasion represent a significant bellwether event for new IPO laws? I am hoping this historic moment is a winning game changer leading to many more successful IPOs within the next several years.
Regardless, one thing is certain: smaller-time and nonaccredited investors will need to be proactive in understanding potential blue sky investment opportunities in this new Wild West setting.
What will this mean for Utah's high-growth companies? There could be more than a dozen exceptional local companies that might become public entities. With the SEC's IPO light initiative of easier, quicker and cheaper, many CEOs of Utah firms might be tempted to go for the gold to raise needed cash.
I can think of several firms that fit this category. If they take the plunge, my hope is that their growth will accelerate and create a vast pool of job openings for those looking for work.
As for Utah investors of all sizes, I look forward to the regulations forthcoming from the IRS on crowd funding. This other major component of the JOBS Act will allow any citizen to invest in start-up companies without having to be an accredited investor (someone with a wage over $250,000 a year and a net worth more than $1 million). This means an individual can invest in a fast-growing company at a set amount of money, established by the IRS, and potentially enjoy a return of 100 percent or more.
On the other hand, due to the very nature of investments in speculative opportunities, the small investor could lose money as well. But at least he or she had the chance to invest alongside serious and professional investors.
How do you feel about this act of Congress? Are you in favor or against it? I would like to hear from you at www.AlanEHall.com or via @AskAlanEHall.
A portion of this article originally appeared in Alan Hall's Forbes column.