We're All Angels Now: Crowdfund investing, and the beginnings of the Open Startup movement*
We've done a great job getting open source into companies. But we've struggled to improve the openness and transparency of the companies themselves. Learn how Crowdfund Investing is combining with the Open Startup movement to to give the open source community a transparent and powerful new way to build companies, how it works, and how we can all benefit from it.
Look at a lot of startup companies, and frequently you’ll see a common theme: secretive foundational structure. Valuations built from financial documents you aren’t allowed to look at. For all the success we’ve had getting open source adoption in companies, we have struggled to improve the openness and transparency of the companies themselves. I’m done congratulating startups for getting a series round without being able to see the financials. How else would I know if that funding makes sense? Show me the books!
Try this test: Do you work at a startup? How many shares of it do you own, and what percentage of the total is that? What are your company’s financials for the next two years? Are you getting treated fairly? How do you know you’re being treated fairly if you’re not allowed see the books?
Last year, the most significant change in securities laws in 80 years came with the passage of the bipartisan JOBS act. Among the many changes it introduced were reforms that legalized Crowdfund Investing: The ability to join a startup by becoming a member shareholder in it, regardless of whether you are a wealthy investor or not. As a shareholder with vested interest, you have a say in the outcome by providing your skills to help: contributing ideas and source code, voting on changes, having a say in its process. And because the law requires it, the ability for you to audit and contribute to the business plan, financials, cash flow, and milestones.
This is an entirely new style of company: One with the power of a startup, and the transparency of a nonprofit. What are the implications of this? How can we use this to create a fairer, better system that improves the success rate of our startups? How can we all benefit? Let’s figure out how to make this work for us!
I have done numerous talks in the past, the slides for most of them are at http://slideshare.net/kyledrake. I have video at http://2012.realtimeconf.com/video/kyle-drake. I have also done a talk on how currencies work (Bitcoin: The Cyberpunk Cryptocurrency)
Net Brew Ventures
Kyle Drake is a hacker that has been programming computers since he got his first 286 computer at home. Kyle has a very long and bizarre history, and has been involved in numerous projects, including early work with OpenBSD, work on political campaigns, radio transmitter design, senior developer for a large Facebook development company, working to build the Geoloqi platform, and now working on Net Brew Ventures, a shell company for promising new startup ideas.
Some of Kyle’s interests are language productivity, simplicity, good API design, concurrency, finances, and business.