In the old days, an investor hoping to get in on the ground floor of the next Google GOOG, +1.78% or FacebookFB, +1.49% had a couple of options: have a friend or relative on the inside, or sign on with a big brokerage firm handling the startup company's private placement-a sale of stock that hasn't yet gone public.
Not anymore. Ordinary investors now can buy shares in startups that are just getting off the ground, sometimes for just a few dollars. If, that is, they are willing to take on a whole lot of risk.
It all started with the Jumpstart Our Business Startups Act in 2012. Since the...
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