From 1997 to 2001, I was co-founder and CEO of Fairshare, Inc. More than a decade before the term "equity crowdfunding" was coined, we had formed an online community of 16,000 investors who wanted to learn about capital structures, valuation and to share due diligence on companies that were raising venture capital via a public offering.
Our plan was to invite companies with IPOs to pitch their deal to our members for free! All they had to do was use the Fairshare Model as their capital structure and allow members to invest as little as $100. We would charge no commission nor would we handle anyone’s money or stock. We simply wanted to improve entrepreneurial access to capital, to reduce the cost of it and to improve the opportunity for average investors to have an attractive way to make a venture capital investment.
As is often the case with pioneers, Fairshare struggled. We had to figure out how to engage an audience of average investors in arcane subject matter—capital structures, valuation, etc. It was a slog to find a way to position our planned services so that securities regulators were “less uncomfortable.” We had some success but before we could attract companies to our community, we sank below the waves created in the wake of the dotcom and telecom busts.
Fast forward more than a decade. One response to the Great Recession of 2007 was the JOBS Act of 2012. I thought “This is the time for a Fairshare type innovation to take hold!” I expected people to start talking about the valuation problems public investors in startups would face.
The job of this book is to move investors to support the ideas behind the Fairshare Model. As interest emerges, companies will pay attention. Some will adopt the model—companies you may want to invest in or work for.
Dear Reader, if you want to re-imagine capitalism, to balance and align the interests of investors and employees, to improve the opportunities available to public investors, your first step is to pre-order The Fairshare Model.