What’s the Deal with Crowdfunding Investments?


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140102165457-ricks-picks-620xaA rule changed in September that transformed the way small business owners can seek investment, but it appears to be flying under the radar.

The new rule allows private companies to publicly advertise that they are seeking investment, known as “general solicitation.” Part of the JOBS Act, it aims to make it easier for smaller companies to access new investors and raise capital — something a majority say is their biggest challenge.

For the past 80 years, startups that wanted to raise money couldn’t publicly say they were seeking investment. They couldn’t mention it at speaking engagements, post an announcement on their website or tweet about it. That’s all changed.

“I’ve seen an entirely new class of individuals taking a look at my business now,” said Rick Field, CEO of Rick’s Picks, a New York-based company selling specialty pickles and beets.

Field – one of the small number of business owners to take advantage of the new rule — has seen three times the traffic to his fundraising profile on the crowdfunding site CircleUp. Though he says it’s too early to tell if that will lead to more investment, more and more people are discovering Rick’s Picks — and they could become investors down the line.

Shahab Kaviani is the CEO of CoFoundersLab, an online matchmaking platform connecting entrepreneurs with business partners. He also took advantage of the rule change in September by tweeting and blogging about his fundraising campaign. Since then, Kaviani has received about $150,000 in investments, and he says half of those investors were the result of general solicitation.

“It’s really going to help startups all around. They can sell out loud, which is going to give them more exposure, more quickly,” said Alejandro Cremades, CEO of the crowdfunding platform Rock the Post.

His website launched in 2012 and helps startups raise funds. Unlike crowdfunding sites Kickstarter or Indiegogo, Rock the Post allows entrepreneurs to sell shares, as does CircleUp, a site for consumer product companies.

Yet businesses haven’t been lining up to publicly solicit investors.

Only about one-third of the 66 startups currently using Rock the Post have taken advantage of the general solicitation rule, while just six of 34 companies on CircleUp are using it.

Advertising for investment really only works well for businesses with a tangible product like pickles, or those with an already established social network, said Cremades.

The National Federation of Independent Businesses and the Small Business Majority are not yet tracking the extent that small firms are using general solicitation. That may be because the JOBS Act in its entirety has yet to take effect.

Although the new rule allows business owners to tell the world they’re raising capital, that doesn’t mean they can take money from just anybody. Only accredited investors — those who have a net worth of more than $1 million or have earned $200,000 in each of the previous two years — can pony up funds. The burden to verify these investors is placed on the fundraiser.

And once a business owner opts to solicit publicly — done by filing out a fairly straightforward form with the SEC — he or she can’t take any funds from a non-accredited investor, which means passing up investments from family or friends they might otherwise have received.

The SEC is eventually expected to loosen that limitation.

“General solicitation is a step in the right direction, but without that second part we’re still not opening up to a broader population,” said Rhett Buttle, vice president at the Small Business Majority.

Ryan Caldbeck, the CEO at CircleUp, believes the rule change is significant regardless. There are millions of inactive investors that already meet accreditation standards, he said. The change helps small business owners reach them.

Article and Photo from CNN Money.

Shares in Apple Rise After iPhone Deal with China Mobile


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Shares in US technology giant Apple have jumped 3% after it signed a deal to supply its iPhone to China Mobile.

The Chinese firm is the world’s largest carrier and was one of three networks to be awarded China’s first 4G licences earlier this month.

Apple has been looking to boost its sales in China, the world’s largest smartphone market, but has struggled amid growing competition from rivals.

The latest deal is expected to help it increase its market share.

“China is an extremely important market for Apple,” Tim Cook, Apple chief executive, said in a statement.

“Our partnership with China Mobile presents us the opportunity to bring iPhone to the customers of the world’s largest network.”

Earlier this year, Mr Cook said he expected China to replace North America as Apple’s largest source of revenue. The iPhone is the firm’s most important product in terms of earnings power.

China Mobile has more than 760 million subscribers.

The country’s two other major phone carriers, China Unicom and China Telecom, already offer iPhones to their subscribers.

Apple Inc.

LAST UPDATED AT 23 DEC 2013, 16:00 ET*CHART SHOWS LOCAL TIMEApple Inc. intraday chart

price change %
570.09 +



Cheaper rivals

China is the world’s biggest smartphone-using country, with 1.2 billion users.

But Chinese sales of previous iPhone models have slumped recently, as consumers have turned to cheaper rival handsets from Samsung, and domestic Chinese developers.

China’s three bestselling smartphone makers are Samsung, Lenovo and Coolpad, according to a recent report by the consultants IDC.

Apple’s sales have also been impacted by the fact that unlike in developed markets, many phone carriers in emerging markets do not subsidise smartphones.

That means that subscribers have to pay the full amount for the phone upfront, making Apple’s products relatively expensive for some buyers.

In an attempt to take on the low-cost rivals Apple unveiled a relatively cheaper version of the iPhone, the 5c, earlier this year.

Analysts said the firm was hoping that a cheaper handset combined with a deal with the biggest mobile carrier in the world may help it take on rivals.

However, Apple is yet to announce how much Chinese customers will have to pay for the iphone 5s and 5c models sold via China Mobile.

‘Biggest partnership’

Nevertheless, analysts say the deal has huge potential. Cantor Fitzgerald Research estimates that Apple could sell 24 million iPhones next year to China Mobile customers alone.

Apple sold 102.4 million iPhones globally in the nine months to September this year.

Previously, China Mobile subscribers have not been able to use Apple’s iPhone, because the firm’s 3G technology was not compatible with Apple handsets.

However, its 4G network will work with the iPhone 5s and 5c.

Photo and Article from BBC Business

The Economy: What’s Ahead in 2014


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131203174232-economy-outlook-620xaAfter five frustrating years, the economy is ready to bust out. Stocks already had a banner run in anticipation of the rebound, housing is scorching, and jobs won’t be far behind.

There are plenty of moves you can make with your money to play to these strengths, even if the economy pulls some punches.

In Money magazine’s Make More in 2014, you’ll learn how to play to the economy’s strengths while making the necessary adjustments to navigate the stock and bond markets at a time of lofty valuations, the real estate market at a time of rising borrowing costs, and the job market at a time of new opportunities.

The Outlook

There comes a point in every feel-good story when the protagonist, after being beaten down or put upon for years, finally musters the strength to get up off the floor and face the challenges at hand. At long last, that’s where the economy finds itself today.

No one is predicting herculean growth in 2014. The consensus among forecasters surveyed by the National Association for Business Economics is that U.S. gross domestic product will actually expand a bit slower than the average rate of growth since 1930.

Yet for an economy that has performed slightly worse than expected in 2013 — and that has faced one calamity after another since the global financial panic — next year should mark the first time since the housing market’s collapse that growth reaches the 3% mark, which has historically served as the dividing line between strength and weakness.

Plus, “the underlying fundamentals in the U.S. economy are stronger than the numbers would suggest,” says Tim Hopper, chief economist for the investment manager TIAA-CREF. For instance, as housing roars back to life, consumer spending and job creation should also see a boost.

For instance, as housing roars back to life, consumer spending and job creation should also see a boost. To see how — and for other positive signs — consider the following.

1. Europe is coming back

The continent’s economy is expected to expand about 1% next year. That’s not exactly sizzling, but corporate profits there are recovering much faster.

Past 10 years
GDP: 0.9%
Earnings: 8.1%

Past 3 years
GDP: 0.2%
Earnings: 3.1%

Next 3-5 years
GDP: 1.4%
Earnings: 10.1%
Sources: Bloomberg, Eurostat

2. Housing is back

Each new home that’s built creates about three new jobs, and new construction is expected to exceed 1 million units for the first time since the crisis. (See table below.)

3. Policymakers will back off

The Fed stated it will start raising rates only after unemployment falls to 6.5%. Even if job creation picks up, that could take over a year.

When will unemployment hit 6.5%?
If the monthly rate of job creation is….
300,000: 1st quarter 2014
250,000: 4th quarter 2014
200,000: 3rd quarter 2015
150,000: 1st quarter 2018
Notes: For unemployment rate calculation, labor force participation is assumed to grow from 63.6% to 64.2% by 2014. CBO projections are used thereafter. Source: The Hamilton Project

Article and Photo from CNN Money



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