Believe it or not, it was ten years ago that I founded the company that would later be renamed SecondMarket. Over the past decade, SecondMarket has gained tremendous experience breaking open new markets such as private company stock, auction rate securities, bankruptcy claims, community bank stock and, most recently, bitcoin. The competencies and lessons learned opening these markets has been invaluable.

As with all startups, we have had some fantastic successes and some clear failures.  But along the way, SecondMarket successfully transitioned from a telephone-based broker of illiquid assets into a highly scalable, product-focused organization that has redefined how private companies and funds raise capital and facilitate liquidity for their stakeholders. We have product market fit, a fantastic team, a record number of private company/fund customers and are very well positioned for long term success. The future for SecondMarket has never been brighter.

While I have never been more excited about SecondMarket, I have chosen to move on from day-to-day management of the private company/fund business so that I can focus 100% of my energy on our digital currency business. My passion for bitcoin is no secret, and I feel it is the right time to make this transition. Our intention is to formally separate the two business lines at the appropriate point in time. In the meantime, I will remain Chairman and CEO of our parent holding company.

Bill Siegel, who has been instrumental in the development and refocusing of our private issuer products, has been appointed Interim CEO of that business line. Our clients are in great hands with Bill at the helm, and we are running a formal search for a permanent CEO for our private company business, in which Bill is a candidate.  

 Barry Silbert, Founder & Chairman

In late September, the SEC eliminated its longstanding ban on general solicitation. For the first time in 80 years, companies and funds (issuers) can publicly discuss plans to raise capital. While the accredited investor restrictions remain, this rule change has the potential to create a paradigm shift in the way money is raised in the US.

The intent of the JOBS Act was to enable capital to flow more freely to smaller enterprises, so while it is now legal to tell the world about a capital raise, there’s a catch. The SEC has mandated that the issuer take reasonable steps to verify that all investors they accept are actually accredited investors as defined by the SEC. This is just one of many nuances that are vital to understand before deciding to publicly discuss a capital raise. In addition to issuers, other market participants will have to adapt. Here’s a breakdown of how these participants may be impacted by general solicitation rule change:

  • Companies: Now it is legal for companies to shout from the rooftops that they are open to new investors. But just because they can, doesn’t mean they should. If a company generally solicits, investors will need to undergo additional vetting before making an investment. Companies need to consider how their potential and existing investors will react to a public solicitation.
  • Incubators/Platforms: Incubators & platforms can now cast a much wider net in order to find new investors & evangelists for companies. But the onus of making sure that investors are eligible to invest still resides with the company – so it is important to be thoughtful about which investors to accept and how to manage that process.
  • Lawyers: The most important thing is to work with a lawyer to understand the implications of generally soliciting before starting to fundraise. These rules are VERY new so it is reasonable to expect conservative advice. Hear what the lawyers are saying on this LexisNexis panel.
  • Investors: Retail accredited investors now have access previously unseen deal flow, which helps them identify more opportunities and deploy more capital. Professional investors that are accustomed to private deals may find the additional requirements for verification bothersome. Most investors are excited about the new rules and the deals that have emerged as a result of the changes.

If you want to learn more, 500 StartUps, AngelList and SecondMarket will be hosting a webinar to discuss how general solicitation can help your company. Join us on November 13. Sign up now!

If you are unable to join the webinar, but would like to learn more about how to simplify your capital raise, reach out to Sudhir Kandula at

Over the last several weeks, you may have heard that the SEC eliminated its longstanding ban on general solicitation, allowing companies and funds to publically discuss the fact that they are seeking to raise capital through a private offering to accredited investors. As companies and funds develop their general solicitation strategies,  investors may be wondering how this new rule change will impact them.

Read SecondMarket’s latest article, “Understanding General Solicitation and How it Impacts Investors” for a quick breakdown of how general solicitation may impact investors.


I’m excited about today. Over the past two years I’ve become a big believer in bitcoin, the digital currency and transaction network. Friends, colleagues - honestly, anyone who would listen - have heard me describe the potential benefits of bitcoin. It could be this generation’s store of value, or a true global currency, or a better money transfer network. Or all three.

Or perhaps not. Bitcoin faces regulatory hurdles and widespread adoption concerns that make investing in bitcoin a very risky proposition. There is a real possibility that the price of bitcoin drops to zero. It is challenging to buy, store and secure bitcoin, and many investors simply don’t want to deal with the hassle of it. Yet there is an excitement about the prospects for bitcoin and we know some investors are looking to allocate a percentage of their portfolio to bitcoin.

That’s why I’m pleased to announce the launch of the Bitcoin Investment Trust (BIT), a private vehicle for institutional and accredited investors that is invested solely in bitcoin and derives its value from the price of bitcoin. Qualified investors gain exposure to the price movement of bitcoin without the challenges of buying, storing and safekeeping bitcoins. Alternative Currency Asset Management, LLC, a wholly-owned subsidiary of SecondMarket, is the sponsor of the fund.

SecondMarket has a long track record of making alternative assets more accessible to a broader group of investors. Our infrastructure enables streamlined capital raising, investor communication and periodic liquidity for private funds, so we believe a private, bitcoin-related fund is a perfect fit for the SecondMarket platform.

Bitcoin is clearly not for everyone. If you don’t know much about bitcoin, take a look at our education center and perhaps it’ll pique your interest. But if you’re an accredited investor interested in getting exposure to bitcoin, take a look at the materials and decide for yourself.

- Barry Silbert, CEO of SecondMarket


The bitcoin ecosystem is constantly changing and evolving. That’s why SecondMarket has launched Bitcoin Buzz, a newsletter that gives you a high-level overview of the biggest and most important bitcoin headlines, regulatory updates and signs of cultural adoption.

Check out the first issue of Bitcoin Buzz and be sure to subscribe to the mailing list.

Barry was on CNBC’s Squawk Box this morning. During his segment, he discussed the significance of general solicitation, SecondMarket’s new general solicitation product and the SEC’s accreditation verification requirements, and the company’s efforts to make bitcoin more investable.

To learn more about SecondMarket’s new product, please click here.

SecondMarket today released the following statement from Founder and CEO Barry Silbert on the Securities and Exchange Commission’s adoption of amendments to eliminate the prohibition against general solicitation and general advertising in certain securities offering conducted pursuant to Rule 506 of Regulation D under the Securities Act and Rule 144A under the Securities Act, as mandated by Section 201(a) of the JOBS Act:

“I applaud the SEC for fulfilling its mandate under the JOBS Act to lift the 80-year-old ban on general solicitation and general advertising. Today’s action will have a significant impact on the capital formation process, and is an important step forward in bringing today’s regulations into the 21st century.

“After today, a much deeper, broader group of accredited investors will have the opportunity to hear about – and potentially invest in – private companies and funds.  By allowing issuers to solicit to a broader group of potential investors, the SEC has today showed its commitment to democratizing the investing process and putting an end to yesterday’s “old boy” investor networks. 

“The lifting of the ban on general solicitation will prove to be transformative for issuers and investors. The SEC’s final rule will include a non-exclusive safe harbor provision for accreditation that will allow for issuers to delegate that responsibility to third parties, a recommendation that SecondMarket proposed to the SEC last year. In anticipation of the final rule, SecondMarket has developed a general solicitation product that will enable issuers to handle the increased volume of investor interest and heightened regulatory requirements that will accompany their general solicitation efforts.

“For issuers that decide to generally solicit, and don’t have the infrastructure or resources to manage incoming interest, they will be able to offload that administrative burden to SecondMarket, which has spent more than a year developing the infrastructure to satisfy the SEC’s requirements to verify the accreditation status of investors. We believe that our general solicitation product and our proprietary accreditation verification process will soon become the industry standard, and we look forward to partnering with a diverse group of private companies and funds as they begin to experiment with the various promotion avenues that are now available to them.”

Bitcoin Infographic

By Barry Silbert

In case you haven’t heard, yesterday SecondMarket launched a Bitcoin Education Center, an online resource where bitcoin enthusiasts (and those who are just curious!) can go to learn about all things bitcoin, and submit their email addresses to stay informed about our efforts to enable bitcoin investing.

At SecondMarket, we’re always looking at new, interesting asset classes and trying to figure out how to make them more easily investable to a broader group of accredited investors. 

We’ve seen a lot of interest in alternative currencies in general – and bitcoin in particular – and we believe we can play a central role in making bitcoin-related investments available to our users.  This is something we’ve done quite successfully in the past (e.g., restricted stock in public companies, auction rate securities and private company stock, among others) and we are broadening our focus to include alternative currencies, starting with bitcoin.  

So check out the education center and don’t forget to sign up to receive updates from us as we develop investment opportunities in bitcoin!

Barry Silbert is the Founder and CEO of SecondMarket.

By Barry Silbert

Since its passage last year, there has been significant discussion in financial and tech circles about the impact of the JOBS Act.  Commentators have debated the usefulness of the IPO “on ramp” and the potential power of equity crowdfunding.  However, few have noted the significance of lifting the ban against general solicitation in Rule 506 offerings, yet the seldom-discussed provision may turn out to be the most impactful piece of the puzzle.  

Private companies, funds, investors and legislators have been anticipating the removal of the 80-year-old prohibition on general solicitation and advertising. Why? Because the prohibition of companies and other issuers from openly marketing opportunities to broad groups of investors handicaps the capital formation process, and removing the ban could unleash capital from a wide array of sophisticated investors.

Much of the discussion about general solicitation over the past year has focused on the SEC dragging its feet on the issue (the JOBS Act requires the SEC to issue rulemaking about how issuers can verify that actual investors are “accredited”, although the deadline for the rulemaking passed about a year ago) and the ease with which hedge funds will be able to solicit new investors. I find the focus on hedge funds to be myopic.  To emphasize only on how hedge funds will benefit minimizes how transformational this change will be for startups, investors and the capital formation process. 

The lifting of the current ban will be nothing short of revolutionary for both issuers and investors.  Companies will have the opportunity to broaden the pool of potential accredited investors, thereby democratizing investing and bypassing the “old boy” investor networks that allow access exclusively to clients of investment banks and broker-dealers.

After the rule change, a much deeper, broader group of accredited investors will have the opportunity to hear about – and potentially invest in – private companies and funds that they previously would have barred from even knowing about.  Companies and funds will have the burden of ensuring that the investors are actually accredited, but that is a sensible tradeoff for the ability to tell investors that you’re raising capital. 

There are an estimated seven million accredited investors in the United States.  In a post-general solicitation era, there will be a lot of noise as more opportunities are marketed to these investors.   That will make the need for a well curated market, like the one we have created at SecondMarket, even more valuable to investors. SecondMarket already enables companies and funds to easily find, onboard and communicate with a broader set of investors. 

Once the solicitation ban is lifted, the cost of capital will be reduced and the process will become even more streamlined, providing a clear victory for issuers and investors alike. 

Barry Silbert is the Founder and CEO of SecondMarket.