On May 16, 2016, the Jumpstart Our Business Startups Act, or JOBS Act, officially went into effect and for the first time ever, the non-accredited were allowed to invest in startups. One company that has taken advantage of this new legislation is Legion M, a fan-owned production company, that sells shares of itself to the masses. I got a chance to talk with one of the founders, Jeff Annison, at the Los Angeles Comic Con (You know, the one that used to be Comikaze).
I didn’t only want to learn more about Legion M from him, I wanted to know what it was like starting a new breed of company. On the same day the bill went into effect, at 9:00 AM, in fact, Legion M was ready for fans to invest.”The Jobs Act is allowing regular ordinary people, into a sector of the economy reserved for the elite,” Jeff was proud to say, speaking as though he knows the fans he wants to bring to Legion M. Not just fans who have the required million dollars in net worth OR a yearly income of at least 200k in order to be accredited. He speaks with the same enthusiasm I imagine Rob Liefeld and Jim Lee felt when they launched Image Comics almost 20 years ago.
Some are saying that JOBS Act is a step backward, including the AARP. There are opinions that it allows people who won’t understand the market to invest. However, wouldn’t allowing ordinary people to make smaller investments improve their personal finances? According to Jeff, “There’s two opinions to every story,” but in this situation, his goal is to get one million shareholding fans; “you’ve got an audience who is literally and figuratively invested. With a lot of content these days, it doesn’t matter film, TV, or VR, the biggest challenge is rising above the noise.”
Currently, Legion M is producing a virtual reality collaboration with Stan Lee, titled Icons: Face to Face, which places the viewer in first-person, interactive interviews with Marvel’s original world-builder as well as other creatives. In addition, they are working with Stoopid Buddy Studios (formerly Stoopid Monkey), Seth Green’s production company that’s behind Adult Swim’s stop-motion powerhouse Robot Chicken.
Before founding Legion M, Jeff Annison, as well as Paul Stanlan, created the mobile television company Mobi TV in 1999 and was told numerous times that “Nobody wants to watch tv on their phones” before creating partnerships with multiple wireless companies. “Nowadays, my kids are more likely to watch a movie on their phones than in theaters.”
With another round of investing coming soon, I know that I’ll be investing in Legion M.