Zopa is certainly a disruptive idea.
Here's the way the world works (and it must be right because it's been like this for hundreds of years…)
People who have spare money give it to a bank. Banks then do whatever they like with it. Some of it they lend to people who need to borrow. Some of it they give to their shareholders. Some of it they gamble on the price of tin, or the dollar going down, or whether there'll be floods in Asia. Banks make lots of money from all this, a fraction of which they give back to their customers.
Zopa though lets people who have spare money to lend it directly to people, like them, who want to borrow it. No bank in the middle, no huge overheads, no unethical investments.
To minimise any risk, the money each lender puts in is spread amongst at least 50 borrowers (and likewise each borrower gets their money from a number of different lenders).
Zopa is, therefore, for people who want to be a part of something new. Who want to join a community of like-minded individuals and lend to them and borrow from them in a trusting but secure way.
This is where I was heading with TBE. I originally wanted it to be a "wisdom of crowds" VC fund, but the SEC won't allow that. Distributed business models are the future, and the SEC needs to get its ass in gear and prepare for it.
When I spoke with my lawyers recently about TBE and told them I was going to give part of the equity to "the crowd" in return for their "wisdom" and participation, they said we may have to file a private placement offering, and that the SEC problemably won't know what to do with it. These laws were put in place to protect investors. Company owners and managers know so much more about the inner workings that it is easy to pull the wool over investors eyes. But with a company that is run totally in public, totally in the open, is that really an issue?
This is another example of a changing world and a government that isn't keeping up.