Obama jobs bill supercharges ‘crowdfunding’


President Barack Obama last night delivered a speech to Congress during which he outlined his American Jobs Act, a $447 billion plan to jump start the sluggish economy and get people back to work. With legislation this large in scope, there are more ins and outs than we care to think about, most of which we will leave to the political press to parse through.

There is, however, one particularly interesting bit of the bill that should have the tech world interested. As stated in a post on innovation and entrepreneurship on the White House website, part of the bill includes exempting small businesses who receive startup money through “crowdfunding” — the act of generating startup capital though many small donations — have to pay to the Securities and Exchange Commission in order to raise money in this way.

“…Gadget-makers are already using crowdfunding platforms to raise hundreds of thousands of dollars in pure donations – imagine the possibilities if these small-dollar donors became investors with a stake in the venture,” reads a post on the matter on WhiteHouse.gov.

Of course, the platform they’re talking about is Kickstarter, which allows people to submit ideas in an attempt to raise a certain pre-set amount of money. Started in 2009 by Perry Chen, Yancey Strickler, and Charles Adler, Kickerstarter has helped more than 10,000 projects — from art installations to iPhone accessories — raise a combined total of more than $75 million dollars in pledges. Out of all projects submitted to Kickstarter, 44 percent go on to meet their fundraising goals.

If Obama’s jobs bill manages to make its way through Congress, crowdfunding would be taken to an entirely new level, with new possibilities for entrepreneurs.

With a Kickstarter project, those who pledge money receive various gifts from the startup, like their name on the company website, or an early-run edition of the product. What Obama’s legislation would allow is for people to buy an actual piece of the company — just as one would buy stock in any publicly traded company — but without that company having to pay prohibitive fees to the SEC.

“We’re looking for ways to reduce the regulatory burden on the ability of high growth entrepreneurs to raise capital and go public,” said Tim Kalil, deputy director of the White House’s Office of Science and Technology, while taking questions from reporters. “We’ll work with the SEC to develop a crowdfunding exemption for companies looking to raise $1 million dollars or less.”

Needless to say, if this legislation does go though, crowdfuding will start to be used to create a lot more than robotic pipe organs and open source flashlights.

[Image via Helder Almeida/Shutterstock]


Which smartphone manufacturers won and lost in 2018

As the curtain comes down on 2018, we take a look at the big successes and failures in the smartphone market over the last 12 months. Which phone maker had the best year, and who had a year to forget?
Movies & TV

The best shows on Netflix, from 'Haunting of Hill House’ to ‘Twilight Zone’

Looking for a new show to binge? Lucky for you, we've curated a list of the best shows on Netflix, whether you're a fan of outlandish anime, dramatic period pieces, or shows that leave you questioning what lies beyond.
Home Theater

The best movies on Netflix in December, from 'Buster Scruggs’ to endangered cats

Save yourself from hours wasted scrolling through Netflix's massive library by checking out our picks for the streamer's best movies available right now, whether you're into explosive action, witty humor, or anything else.
Emerging Tech

Rise of the Machines: Here’s how much robots and A.I. progressed in 2018

2018 has generated no shortage of news, and the worlds of A.I. and robotics are no exception. Here are our picks for the most exciting, game changing examples of both we saw this year.
Emerging Tech

Bright ‘hyperactive’ comet should be visible in the sky this weekend

An unusual green comet, 46P/Wirtanen, will be visible in the night sky this month as it makes its closest approach to Earth in 20 years. It may even be possible to see the comet without a telescope.
Emerging Tech

Gorgeous images show storms and cloud formations in the atmosphere of Jupiter

NASA's Juno mission arrived at Jupiter in 2016 and has been collecting data since then. NASA has shared an update on the progress of the mission as it reaches its halfway point, releasing stunning images of the planet as seen from orbit.
Emerging Tech

Meet the MIT scientist who’s growing semi-sentient cyborg houseplants

Elowan is a cybernetic plant that can respond to its surroundings. Tethered by a few wires and silver electrodes, the plant-robot hybrid can move in response to bioelectrochemical signals that reflect the plant’s light demands.
Emerging Tech

Beautiful image of young planets sheds new light on planet formation

Researchers examining protoplanetary disks -- the belts of dust that eventually form planets -- have shared fascinating images of the planets from their survey, showing the various stages of planet formation.
Emerging Tech

Delivery robot goes up in flames while out and about in California

A small meal-delivery robot suddenly caught fire in Berkeley, California, on Friday. The blaze was quickly tackled and no one was hurt, but the incident is nevertheless a troubling one for the fledgling robot delivery industry.
Emerging Tech

High-tech dancing robot turns out to be a guy in a costume

A Russian TV audience was impressed recently by an adult-sized "robot" that could dance and talk. But when some people began pointing out that its actions were a bit odd, the truth emerged ... it was a fella in a robot suit.
Emerging Tech

MIT’s smart capsule could be used to release drugs in response to a fever

Researchers have developed a 3D-printed capsule which can monitor patients' vital signs, transmit this information to a connected device, and release drugs in response to symptoms.
Emerging Tech

‘Crop duster’ robot is helping reseed the Great Barrier Reef with coral

In a world first, an undersea robot has delivered microscopic coral larvae to the Great Barrier Reef. Meet Larvalbot: the robot "crop duster" which dispenses coral babies on troubled reefs.
Emerging Tech

Self-driving dirt rally vehicle offers crash course in autonomous car safety

Georgia Tech's AutoRally initiative pushes self-driving cars to their limit by getting scaled-down autonomous vehicles to drive really, really fast and aggressively on dirt roads. Here's why.

Cities looking to get smart take a lesson from an iconic shopping mall

From Disney World to the Mall of America, public venues are becoming microcosms for smart city projects. We dove into both, to show what government officials can learn – and what you can expect from your city.