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Maurice Lopes, the president and CEO of equity-based crowdfunding platform EarlyShares, left the National Crowdfunding Association (NLCFA) in favor of the Crowdfunding Professionals Association (CfPA), he confirmed to Crowdsourcing.org earlier today. EarlyShares co-founder Renee Caputi, Crowdnetic founder and CEO Luan Cox, and CrowdCheck CEO Sara Hanks also left the organization, according to Lopes.
Previously members of NLCFA’s interim board of directors, Lopes, Caputi, and Cox will now work with the CfPA to further industry goals and help facilitate the crowdfunding community’s growth.
“[We] decided that our efforts would be better spent assisting the CfPA’s agenda,” said Lopes. “We tried very hard to unify both associations and establish a single voice, but it was clear that wasn’t going to happen easily, so we decided to resign from the [NLCFA] board.
“Our priorities are education of the people and getting the crowdfunding message out to the general public, and it just seems like the NLCFA was so much driven towards membership, and less towards actual things that needed to be done for the industry,” Lopes continued. “In my opinion, the CfPA is so much more engaged in the politics of [the SEC and FINRA rulemaking processes] than the NLCFA ever was.”
The sudden departure of nearly half of the NLCFA board is a major blow to the organization, particularly because there are no longer any crowdfunding portal representatives on the board. Though securities attorneys, accountants, and venture capitalists are helpful as the regulatory bodies continue to deliberate and fine-tune the JOBS Act rules, the crowdfunding platforms themselves are the core of the crowdfunding ecosystem. After all, the framework means nothing without registered intermediaries in place to facilitate the crowdfunding process.
NLCFA founder and executive director David Marlett doesn’t view the situation as calamitous, however, framing it as the natural turnover of a young association.
“Organizations go through changes — we’ve had other board members come and go,” Marlett told Crowdsourcing.org. “We’re just four months old, so we’re simply moving into another phase. Other board members will be joining quickly.”
According to Marlett, the NLCFA currently has about 500 members — crowdfunding portals, attorneys, accountants, educators, and the like — but an inside source confirmed that only 50 or so have paid their dues. Regardless, the NLCFA aspires to reach “several thousand” members by the end of the year. If some of those individuals or firms are also CfPA members, noted Marlett, that’s not a problem.
“I regularly encourage people to become members of both [the NLCFA and the CfPA],” said Marlett. “It’s a huge marketplace and I’d love it if we can continue to work together.”