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Crowdfunding: Crowded out?

first_imgCrowdfunding was once touted as the next big thing — a way for average investors to get into the lucrative world of real estate and a way for platforms to tap a new spigot of funding.The space took off around 2013, when the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission announced new rules allowing private companies to sell securities to the general public.That one small change — which was tucked into the 2012 federal JOBS Act — instantly increased awareness around crowdfunding and spawned a host of platforms. That was even as many (including Prodigy Network, the platform launched by Rodrigo Niño) targeted accredited investors.See related story — Panic at Prodigy — here In 2014, Scott Whaley, president of the National Real Estate Investors Association in Cincinnati, told the Wall Street Journal that there was “massive demand, both from entrepreneurs who want to get access to capital, and from people who want to invest capital.”ADVERTISEMENTBut the field has thinned since those early days, and venture capital money has retreated from the space. Globally, venture capital for crowdfunding peaked in 2015 at about $76.4 million and plummeted to $25.7 million in 2017, according to real estate tech research firm CREtech. This year, it’s bounced back to $72.2 million year-to-date.So far this year in the U.S., four firms — Groundfloor, RealtyMogul, Vairt and Wealth Migrate — cumulatively attracted a paltry $9.8 million.Zach Aarons, co-founder and partner of MetaProp, a venture capital proptech firm, said many of the crowdfunding platforms that emerged in the early days were overcapitalized and going after the same users.“That does not sustain itself forever,” Aarons said. “When the venture capital money runs out, the music stops.”Last year, industry leader RealtyShares shuttered its crowdfunding operations. The company, which had raised $870 million-plus for more than 1,160 projects over five years, failed to drum up additional capital. Meanwhile, Fundrise, which had raised $60 million, ended its crowdfunding program in 2015.Ben Miller, CEO and co-founder of Fundrise, said the firm shifted into raising capital for funds with lower fees in order to “mitigate risk for investors.” By switching its business model, Fundrise, like other fund managers, can raise capital before deploying it into deals and maintain control over its investments, Miller said.Some crowdfunding companies pool money from investors for deals that they sponsor but don’t execute. Prodigy co-develops all of its properties. And unlike many of its rivals, it has never raised venture money, though it did just recently sell stakes in its company to investors.Despite some high-profile issues, several sources said they are confident in the sector and that investor demand for crowdfunding is strong.Many of those who’ve invested through crowdfunding portals, including via Prodigy, have, in fact, made money. One investor told TRD he invested in Prodigy’s AKA Wall Street early and exited a year or two later, with no issue.Darren Powderly, an executive at CrowdStreet — which recently topped $800 million in equity raised — said “the interest level is exploding.”“The growth is just tremendous, and that is because both sides of the marketplace are hitting this network effect,” Powderly said.Adam Kaufman, co-founder of the Manhattan-based crowdfunding platform ArborCrowd, said the space is bifurcated and that many of the remaining players are thriving.“We’re starting to see some companies … experience difficulties. But at the same time, we see a lot of companies in the space who are really flourishing,” he said. “What it comes down to at the end of the day are the fundamentals.” This content is for subscribers only.Subscribe Nowlast_img read more

Jimmie Johnson to wear Blue Bunny Helmet of Hope at Kentucky

first_imgCHARLOTTE, N.C. — Seven-time NASCAR Cup Series Champion Jimmie Johnson will highlight the Jimmie Johnson Foundation this weekend during the Quaker State 400 NASCAR Cup Series race at Kentucky Speedway in Sparta. In addition to wearing the Blue Bunny Helmet of Hope, which honors five charities working to improve K-12 public education, a special Jimmie Johnson Foundation (JJF) paint scheme will be featured on his No. 48 Lowe’s Chevrolet. As a show of support for Johnson’s efforts to raise funds for K-12 public education, a number of his NASCAR Cup Series competitors will join him in displaying JJF-branded decals on the visors of their helmets.“I’m thrilled to be able to share and celebrate the work of the Foundation this weekend,” said Johnson. “Chandra (wife) and I are so grateful to Lowe’s for allowing us to run the Foundation paint scheme for the thirteenth time, Blue Bunny for sponsoring the Helmet of Hope program again this year, and all of the drivers participating in the visor campaign. Thanks to the overwhelming generosity of our partners and the NASCAR community, we are able to provide much needed financial support to some outstanding non-profits and schools through Foundation programs.”The Blue Bunny Helmet of Hope program allows fans and consumers across the country to nominate and vote on not-for-profit (501c3) organizations that support K-12 public education.  Each of the recipients was also awarded a $25,000 grant and a Blue Bunny Ice Cream party.The five grant recipients are:●  Hamilton Heights Educational Foundation in Arcadia, Indiana●  Life Pieces to Masterpieces in Washington, DC●  Read Better Be Better in Phoenix●  Siouxland Ag in the Classroom in Moville, Iowa●  The Pencil Box in Tulsa, Oklahoma“We are extremely proud to once again support the incredible work and commitment displayed by each of the organizations to assist K-12 public education,” Mike Wells, President & CEO, Wells Enterprises, Inc., maker of Blue Bunny ice cream said. “The passion around the mission of each of these organizations is evident through the rallying of their supporters to vote and ultimately secure additional needed funding. It never ceases to amaze me at how creative and driven all of the organizations are to securing the votes needed.”A number of competitors will sport a specially designed JJF strip on the visors of their respective helmets. At the conclusion of Saturday’s 400-mile race at Kentucky, participating drivers will sign the visors. The signed visors will be available in an online auction to raise funds to support K-12 public education. Participating drivers include: AJ Allmendinger, Aric Almirola, Alex Bowman, Clint Bowyer, Chris Buescher, Kurt Busch, Kyle Busch, William Byron, Matt DiBenedetto, Chase Elliott, Erik Jones, Kasey Kahne, Michael McDowell, David Ragan, Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Daniel Suarez and Martin Truex Jr. Drivers Austin Dillon, Kevin Harvick, Joey Logano, Paul Menard and Jamie McMurray will donate visors for the auction.In addition to the Blue Bunny Helmet of Hope program, the Foundation operates the Champions Grant program, which provides cash grants to schools in the Johnsons’ hometowns and where they currently live; and Team Up For Technology, a $48,000 technology makeover open to schools nationwide.  Each of these programs will be featured on the special JJF paint scheme.About the Jimmie Johnson FoundationChandra and Jimmie Johnson launched the Jimmie Johnson Foundation in February 2006. Johnson, the seven-time NASCAR Cup champion, drives the No. 48 Lowe’s Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 in NASCAR’s top series. The mission of the Foundation is to assist children, families, and communities in need throughout the United States. The Foundation has committed more than $11 million to various charities. The Foundation currently focuses on K-12 public education.  For additional information on the Jimmie Johnson Foundation, please visit www.jimmiejohnsonfoundation.org.last_img read more