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Equity-Based Crowdfunding Platform EarlyShares Acquires HelpersUnite
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Equity-Based Crowdfunding Platform EarlyShares Acquires HelpersUnite

Equity-based crowdfunding platform EarlyShares announced today that it acquired HelpersUnite from Crowdnetic. The terms of the acquisition are being kept confidential.

HelpersUnite is a donation-based platform that connects artists, entrepreneurs and charitable organizations with supporters; it has been operating since September of last year.

The acquisition reflects EarlyShares’ desire to expand its portfolio and jump into the crowdfunding space as soon as it can. While the JOBS Act, which President Obama signed into law in April, legalizes equity-based crowdfunding, platforms are unable to begin facilitating transactions until the SEC specifies the regulations around crowdfunding.

“We saw a great opportunity to get engaged in the market right now,” EarlyShares co-founder and CEO Maurice Lopes told Crowdsourcing.org. “We thought, ‘Well, we’ve got a lot of resources, we have a very large team, we’ve been building a tremendous amount of infrastructure and projects, this is a good opportunity for an acquisition.’ We can get our feet wet, find any little bugs, have a bit of a learning curve in the crowdfunding space.”

EarlyShares will retain the HelpersUnite branding, though Lopes promises technological “synergy” between the two platforms.

Crowdnetic, a crowdsourcing company that also runs eco-centric crowdfunding platform GreenUnite, launched HelpersUnite in September 2011. The acquisition will allow Crowdnetic to focus on GreenUnite and related technological projects.

“[This deal] leaves us with [GreenUnite], and a lot of technology that we’ve been building,” Crowdnetic founder and CEO Luan Cox told Crowdsourcing.org. “This is very strategic in terms of really refocusing our business and making sure that HelpersUnite winds up in the hands of people that we respect and who we think are going to be some of the top players long-term in crowdfunding.”

Lopes said that the acquisition will allow EarlyShares to begin working on projects related to donation-based crowdfunding. Though he made it clear that branching out into other areas was always EarlyShares’ goal, the delays in the SEC’s rulemaking process around equity crowdfunding prompted the platform to expand faster than the company originally predicted.

“It was always our plan to have multiple verticals,” Lopes explained. “We’re going to be an active player in this space. We expected that the equity part would come first … [but] the timing is changing a little bit. We took a step back and said, ‘You know what, we can do this now. There’s no reason to wait.’”

While it’s difficult to speculate how the industry will develop in the long run, this deal may forecast a trend of crowdfunding platforms partnering up to create larger and more vibrant crowdfunding ecosystems.

“I’m very honored to be working with Maurice [Lopes] and the people who are active in our industry,” Cox said. “We’re banding together to make sure that the right access and the right experience gets put in the right place so we can build a very strong industry.”

To learn more about EarlyShares, check out our recent podcast with Lopes here.

Disclosure: EarlyShares is a client of crowdsourcing.org / massolution.

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