The issue of finders is bubbling up again, this time at the state level. Finders are brokers who get a fee for introducing private companies to investors. The Securities and Exchange Commission has never issued a clear rule on when finders need a license and when they don't, which can leave a company defending an investment's integrity should something go wrong.
Now Texas has stepped into the breach. On July 25 the state legislature approved a regulation that would allow "celebrity finders" to accept a fee in return for introducing investors to entrepreneurs, provided the finders register with the state.
The term "celebrity finder" is actually a misnomer. It simply means people who are well-connected and powerful, not necessarily famous. It came into usage because the only thing that previously passed for finders law was a 1991 letter that the SEC sent to the singer Paul Anka, allowing him to act as a finder for the Ottawa Senators hockey team. The precedent has never been tested beyond that case. Texas's move to codify the Anka letter could lead to a patchwork of state regulations, but advocates for clarifying the rules are pleased to see even a little movement after years of inaction.
MIKE HOFMAN was previously editor of Inc.com and a deputy editor at Inc. magazine, which he joined in 1996. The site was nominated for a National Magazine Award for Digital Media in 2010, and was named the best business website by Folio Magazine. In 2006, Hofman was part of a team of writers nominated for a Webby Award for best business blog. He lives in New York City. @mikehofman