Last week Rise Companies Corporation, the owner of the popular real estate crowdfunding platform Fundrise, successfully raised over $14 million in an online equity offering to investors that they are referring to as an Internet Public Offering or “iPO.” The offering, which was exclusively offered to current Fundrise investors, became oversubscribed by as much as 146% within 24 hours of becoming available. (For related reading, see: How Crowdfunding is Expanding the REIT Market.)
The company reported that more than 2,300 investors took part in the iPO which differed from previous Fundrise equity offerings. In the past, retail investors were given the opportunity to invest in real estate investment trusts that were managed by Fundrise but this time investors got a chance to directly purchase an ownership stake in Fundrise itself.
Cutting Out the Middleman
As a result of not raising money through a traditional initial public offering (IPO), which entails working with an investment bank who charges a range of advisory fees, Fundrise was able to save big. (For more, see also: A Guide to Building a Portfolio with Crowdfunded Investments.)
Ben Miller, the company’s CEO explained to Investopedia, “Using technology, we’ve engineered a structurally superior model—cutting out unnecessary middlemen and lowering costs by roughly 90%. This reduction in costs results in greater efficiency, which means investors keep more of what they earn.”
In 2012, Congress passed a new set of rules called Regulation A+. It is essentially an exemption of the Jumpstart Our Business Startups (JOBS) Act that allows the public to invest in privately held companies. Fundrise used these set of regulations to conduct their iPO.
We asked Miller if he predicts that more companies will look at raising money online as a viable alternative to the traditional IPO.
He responded, “The success of The Fundrise iPO has further validated our model—giving the public access to a type of investment they otherwise would normally never see. The question is not if others will copy this model but who will be quick to adopt this new way of thinking and who will be left behind.”
Smaller Companies Are Also Doing It
According to Crowdfind Insider, Fundrise’s online offering is the largest one that the internet has seen to date. Previously, the record was held by a British crowdfunding platform by the name of Crowdcube. Last year, Crowdcube raised over £8 million (USD$10 million). The company allows companies in the United Kingdom to sell shares directly to investors over the internet. Similar platforms in the U.S. are Wefunder, which has helped American startups raise over $33 million since its founding in 2012, and SeedInvest, which has seen more than 115 successfully funded offerings on their site—the largest being $2 million.