Listen. I’m no stock broker. But I DID spend 15 minutes on Investopedia so I’m feeling very qualified to advise our readers on low-risk investing. So here you go: find a sensible index fund, diversify your portfolio, buy low sell high blah blah blah. BORING. Or, hear me out, You could say “screw you, risk tolerance,” and invest a large sum of money in a company facing a lawsuit and possible injunction.
If the latter option sounds appealing, boy did you just miss your opportunity. On October 31, VidAngel wrapped up their mini IPO, which is a thing, having raised $10,159,434 from 7,556 investors. That puts the average investment at $1,344. Which, I mean, I don’t know your financial situation, but that’s not money I’m willing to bid farewell to forever unless I know it’s helping a cause I truly believe in, which is certainly the case with many of these mini IPO investors. “People and families are not going to take it this time,” says VidAngel CEO Neal Harmon. “VidAngel has become a rallying point for everyone else. They want this fight to be fought and won.”
The fight, of course, is VidAngel’s legal battle with Disney, Twentieth Century Fox, Warner Brothers, and LucasFilm. I’ve written extensively about the saga here, here, here, and here, but the tl;dr is it’s a battle over whether or not the law sides with VidAngel’s business model. “If we look at the history of edited movie companies, the public psyche perceives edited movies as unlawful,” Harmon says. “We wanted to create a historical event in America that brings attention to filtering movies, and show that it is legal, and that there is a market for it.” And that’s what this mini IPO, which will fund the fight all the way to the Supreme Court if necessary, has done.
VidAngel announced their plans to allow the public to invest in their company two weeks prior to being sued. Suspicious timing, amirite? Their plans at the time of announcement included the standard scaling growth dreams most startups have, but quickly pivoted to taking their fight all the way to the Supreme Court once the suit was filed.
VidAngel, after consulting with its legal team, determined that they would need $5,000,000 to make it to the highest court in the land without going broke. They raised that $5,000,000 in 28 hours. Then they quickly raised the additional $5,000,000, and had to turn away investors, and investments over the maximum amount allowed, $25,000(!!!)
Harmon says the sum “adds to this growing body of evidence that America is not going to settle this time around,” as do the 40,000 people who donated to VidAngel’s litigation fund, the 50,000 people who signed a petition to save filtering, and the 20,000 people who signed an additional petition.
Harmon describes waking up the morning after raising the initial $5,000,000, and feeling the weight of stewardship. “It strengthens our resolve as a team to ensure that families have this right,” he says. “VidAngel now has a responsibility to see this through to the end.”
Harmon and his team have made it very clear that customers’ investments is money they may never see again. “This is an extremely risky investment. People should expect that they could lose everything,” he says. “People are going in with their eyes wide open.” However, Harmon also states his every confidence, and the confidence of his investors, that this is a fight VidAngel will win. “I’ve put my own money and years of my life into this company, I believe, and allies believe, that ultimately justice is on our side,” Harmon says. “We’re all in this together.”
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