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A Critical Look at Equity Crowdfunding – ReadWrite – Louis Lehot

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Crowd Funding, Startup Resources


Traditionally, the world of startup investing was not for “the main street.” Investing was the private preserve of venture capitalists, venture debt lenders, private equity and angel investors (accredited investors), high network individuals, family offices and business angels.

The process of meeting your investor was largely dependent on in-person meetings, over a hundred cups of coffee.  Only the 1% had the ability to invest in private companies.

Since the adoption and implementation of the JOBS Act a decade ago, there has been a paradigm shift in the source of funding for startup investments, with crowdfunding platforms sprouting.

A Critical Look at Equity Crowdfunding

Combined with incubators and accelerators, a whole new definition and creative means of high-resolution fundraising for startups have evolved. The timing could not be better – with a global pandemic and geopolitical instabilities preventing travel or even face-to-face meetings.

As always, entrepreneurs were forced to think more creatively about raising funds for their startups and navigating financial uncertainties. Investors had to open up their laptop cameras and calendars to attend video meetings.

Image Credit: rodnae productions; pexels; thank you!

Changes in Startup Investing

Startup investing has grown from niche venture capital firms, where only a few players formed the market. We now have highly segmented, deep and broad-based pools of capital. These types of capital can accelerate technology innovation better, depending on specific industry vertical, stage of growth and geography.

While the startup world is not for the faint of heart, over time, entrepreneurs and investors have been weaving themselves into the fabric of the global Silicon Valley, layer by layer.  In the frothy markets of H1 2021, some say it is easier for startups to raise money than it is to find engineers.

Help from policy and regulations

With the help of policy and regulation, even more avenues of investing in startups are being created every day.  Governments are handing out cash via stimulus programs, often funneled through local municipalities or academic institutions. Retail investors are sitting at home behind a screen have discovered equity crowdfunding.  But what is equity crowdfunding exactly and what does it do?

Traditional crowdfunding players

Traditional crowdfunding platforms, such as Kickstarter, Indiegogo, and Patreon, were constructed on a rewards-based system. Retail investors contributed cash in exchange for gifts, products or discounts.

Equity Crowdfunding

Equity crowdfunding, however, is a neat method of investing in private companies in exchange for equity.  Equity crowdfunding allows startups to raise funds from and pitch to a crowd of small, individual investors through internet-based platforms that design regulatory and legal compliance.

While these smaller retail investors may not be able to make a significant impact on a stand-alone basis — when pooled with other like-minded retail investors, their financial contribution is magnified.

Investing in one mission together with other like-minded investors, the community aspect is designed to generate media and profile and raise capital at a sufficient scale to accelerate growth.

An added benefit is that these platforms open doors for startups to connect virtually with investors all across the globe.

With COVID-19, lockdowns, limited travel options, entrepreneurs and investors turned to equity crowdfunding to seek funding and invest, respectively, while staying safe.

Reinvesting resources

Larger institutions are reinvesting resources, energy and time into the startup ecosystem. When large companies and institutions invest, it helps promote all aspects of the startup world and encourages entrepreneurship. Cross-pollination between different industries and demographics also helps pave the way for a higher resolution startup market.

Sustaining entrepreneurship

Investors are important players in this space, always have been and always will be, as their funds help sustain entrepreneurship.

With regards to equity crowdfunding, these investors can invest in startups they are passionate about. The investors have the ability to explore different offerings while learning about the companies and their founders and products on a more intimate level through a few simple clicks.

These investors are not required to possess accredited investor status, as traditional avenues still require.

The company receives the working capital it needs, and the investors get an equity stake in the company.  This is often viewed as a less expensive and less time-consuming way to raise funds.

The following summarizes the advantages and disadvantages to consider before embarking on an equity crowdfunding campaign.

Crowd Funding, Venture Capital, Startup Resources

Image Credit: @rethaferguson; pexels; thank you!

The Benefits and Risks of the Crowd

Opening your company to invest on a crowdfunding platform should attract investors who have passion and personal interest in your idea, service or product.

While still considered an investment, with the expectations of return of capital and gain, investors in equity crowdfunding typically possess a noticeably different mentality and energy than professional, financial or strategic investors.

Investors in equity crowdfunding

Investors in equity crowdfunding like what you have to offer enough to put their personal funds behind it.

When that crowd gets big enough, it can become evidence of validation and viability.  The emotional boost from seeing dozens or even hundreds of micro-investments in a company for founders cannot be quantified. That large crowd can also be a powerful marketing tool, spreading the word quickly about your company’s product to friends, family and the wider community.

The closer you are to recognizing revenue or shipping a workable prototype, the greater the chance of success.

Proof of concept and valuation

Retail investors look for a product with an audience, a proof of concept and a tested market. Additionally, startups incorporated and undergone a 409A valuation provide investors with greater confidence and thus increase the chances that an investor will take a further look into the company and invest.

That is not to say a startup without having been audited or filed with regulatory agencies cannot succeed on funding portals — it just makes for more productive discussions when all the ducks are in a row.

Equity crowdfunding platforms are not an automatic assurance for investment.

Investors still have to conduct due diligence, and startup founders still need to ensure foundational aspects are in place before seeking investments. These portals are designed to provide startups with additional platforms to engage a wider audience. The portals protect retail investors by requiring startups to have undergone a light form of business diligence at their own expense before the first issuance of equity is permitted.

Another advantage of equity crowdfunding platforms is that they can provide opportunities to sponsor conferences, arrange webinars and facilitate introductions between investors and entrepreneurs.

How to accomplish your platform in a virtual format

Your crowdfunding platform can be accomplished wiCrowd Funding, Venture Capital, Startup Resources

Crowd Funding, Startup Resources, Venture Capital
A Critical Look at Equity Crowdfunding

th high resolution and speed over digital media in the current virtual format.  Additionally, crowdfunding platforms provide a variety of forums for discussions and dissemination of marketing literature and content.

The world is getting smaller, and word spreads fast. Entrepreneurs should still consider self-promotional tools as their best source of networking.

Leverage social awareness and media platforms

Properly leveraging social awareness and media platforms associated with crowdfunding in tandem with self-promotion can yield exponential social points and tangible benefits. Some successful companies were born in the equity crowdfunding space. A few examples are: Zenefits, Ginko Bioworks, Rappi and Ironclad.

Don’t disappoint

There are also downsides. With a population of retail investors who invested in your company and who cannot necessarily afford to lose, you are at a greater risk of negative publicity if your business disappoints in any way.

Apart from personalized and often strongly worded letters, emails, texts and posts — thousands of angry investors could mean a tidal wave of negativity, media, and even a potential class-action lawsuit.

Do you really want that many investors?

Entrepreneurs must carefully consider whether or not they really want that many investors involved at the early stage of their company.

At the early stages, when money is tight or non-existent, the lure of any funds may seem appealing. Startup founders should strongly consider whether all funding sources should be accepted.

Money is not always good money. While the responsibility of due diligence largely lies with the investors, ultimate accountability always falls at the feet of the management team.

What about entrepreneurs at the ideation stage, before minimum viable product?

Each crowdfunding platform has its own requirements for admission to its platform. That is one of the benefits of equity crowdfunding. Each platform is tailored to procure projects of a specific vertical, stage of growth or geography, and to those with funds to support them.

However, startup founders should closely read the requirements of each equity crowdfunding platform and understand its implications, both on the financial and on the legal side.

Equity crowdfunding is a breathing model, subject to change with regulatory updates, global shifts in consumerism, and sudden shocks to the status quo.

Over time, equity crowdfunding platforms and those startups and ideas nestled on the platforms will respond to the market demands and evolve naturally.

Even since the start of COVID-19, a surge of medical-based, emergency response-oriented startups, and campaigns have emerged to respond to the pandemic.

Louis Lehot - Crowdfunding for your startup

Does Crowdfunding Really Save Time and Money?

It depends.  The “JOBS Act” was passed by the Obama administration in 2012, and stands for “Jumpstart Our Business Startups,” with the stated mission of changing the framework for investing into private companies.

Private companies and entrepreneurs were no longer required to restrict themselves to accredited investors. The gates of opportunity to obtain funds from retail investors and crowdfunding platforms were thrown open.

Four years after the JOBS Act was signed, Regulation CF of the JOBS Act was promulgated by the Securities and Exchange Commission. Another benefit of the JOBS Act is that it allows entrepreneurs to bypass lengthy public filing requirements that normally come with a registered initial public offering.

Companies still have compliance requirements.

While indisputably less expensive and quicker to prepare, there are abbreviated and streamlined compliance requirements to observe.

The Rules

Companies are limited to raising an aggregate amount of $5 million in a 12-month period through equity crowdfunding offerings. The $5 million cap was recently raised from the $1,070,000 annual cap on Regulation CF.  This would not apply if a company chose to go with venture capital or angel investment options.

Companies can still seek out other forms of financing, so there is an option to raise additional funding if needed from other more traditional avenues of funding. Additionally, Regulation CF requires all transactions online through a Securities and Exchange Commission registered intermediary, either a registered broker-dealer or a qualified funding portal.

There is also a limit to the amount of individual non-accredited investors who can invest across all crowdfunding offerings in a 12-month period.

An additional note on the JOBS Act:  given that equity crowdfunding is still a developing and evolving industry, the full impact of the JOBS Act and implications of state and federal regulations are still being assessed.

With COVID-19 impacts felt across the globe, businesses all over have sought assistance in debt relief and financial support.

In the United States, the SEC has announced various temporary, conditional reprieves for businesses who want to seek expedited crowdfunding offerings. Crowdfunding platforms have waived certain fees, or provided additional credits to users of their platforms, all in an effort to gain additional traction, and help those impacted by recent global events.

These are just a few examples that illustrate the evolving nature of equity crowdfunding, and a glimpse of what is to come. Equity crowdfunding will likely change to be more accessible, adaptive, and “smart” in a post-COVID-19 world.

One-size-does not fit all — consider

Ultimately, there are multiple factors to consider before choosing equity crowdfunding.

The fit between entrepreneurial business and method of capital raising will be unique and specific for each venture, its short-term status, requirements and long-term goals.

As with all big decisions, carefully consider the pros and cons, and consult with your broader advisor team and legal counsel before pressing go.

Top Image Credit: karolina grabowska; pexels; thank you!

 

By Louis Lehot, a business lawyer at Foley & Lardner LLP in San Francisco and Silicon Valley

Louis Lehot

Partner

Louis Lehot is a partner and business lawyer with Foley & Lardner LLP, based in the firm’s Silicon Valley, San Francisco and Los Angeles offices, where he is a member of the Private Equity & Venture Capital, M&A and Transactions Practices as well as the Technology, Health Care, Life Sciences and Energy Industry Teams. Louis focuses his practice on advising entrepreneurs and their management teams, investors and financial advisors at all stages of growth, from garage to global. Louis especially enjoys being able to help his clients achieve hyper-growth, go public and to successfully obtain optimal liquidity events.
To assist his clients in realizing their objectives, Louis brings to bear a broad array of legal and business instruments, processes and strategies, from formation to liquidity. He guides emerging private companies as they secure venture capital financing, prepare for IPO or de-SPAC, and navigate the exit. His domain experience in public offerings and private placements of equity, equity-linked, and debt securities, mergers, acquisitions, dispositions, spinoffs, strategic investments, and joint ventures, as well as corporate governance and securities law compliance matters, serves his clients well. Additionally, Louis regularly represents US and non-US registrants before the SEC, FINRA, NYSE and NASDAQ.
Prior to joining Foley, Louis was the founder of a Silicon Valley boutique law firm called L2 Counsel. He previously served as both the co-managing partner and co-chair of the emerging growth and venture capital practice of a global law firm in Silicon Valley. With a legal career in New York, London, Paris, and Silicon Valley spanning more than 20 years, Louis has worked in technology, health care, clean energy, and other innovative industries, leveraging the latest legal technology tools to drive strategies and solutions that make sense.

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How Blockchain Is Being Used With Smart Buildings – ReadWrite

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Saul Bowden


Whether you realize it or not, many of us live in buildings with some smart capacity. You probably have at least one smart device in your home.

With the smart device industry set to grow by $65 billion by 2024, the odds are, you’ll add more of these devices. The true potential of smart homes lies in the ability of smart devices to communicate together — and that’s where blockchain technology comes in.

How Blockchain is Being Used With Smart Buildings

On the surface, smart technologies make individual tasks easier, but the potential is much larger than that. A smart device is effectively a sensor able to collect significant amounts of data about everything, from your energy use to how well-stocked your fridge is.

Smart Technology Works Better in Swarms

On its own, this data is valuable; when combined with data from other devices, its usability becomes game-changing. A properly connected smart home would be able to automatically adjust the heating to your preferences while minimizing bills, ordering your favorite groceries, monitoring and adjusting energy usage, sending repair notifications if something breaks, and much more.

Internet of Things (IoT) technologies are already used extensively in supply chain management. They help efficiently manage products passed through multiple stakeholders and verify that products are what the label says they are.

Catching Slave Labor in Fishing Supply Chains

One example where smart technology has been useful is in tracking fishing supply chains. The World Wildlife Federation (WWF) has used IoT to track sustainable tuna fishing.

The Western and Central Pacific tuna trade is rife with illegal fisheries — and, in some cases, slave labor — because tracking is either done via an easily-forged paper trail or not at all. However, savvy consumers and brands are demanding more accountability from the tuna industry.

The WWF’s branches in New Zealand, Australia, and Fiji have combined forces with blockchain software studio ConsenSys to implement secure traceability and track to address the problem.

Radio-frequency identification (RFID) or QR codes capture information as a fish moves through the supply chain from the boat to grocers. Tracking information is automatically saved in blockchain, making it nearly impossible to forge.

Privacy and Compatibility Remain a Concern

Although smart technology has many uses in enterprise settings, it becomes a thornier prospect for individuals. IoT devices collect huge amounts of data which can reveal a lot about their owners. Additionally, they are often poorly secured, creating significant security challenges.

Most smart devices must run on centralized platforms controlled by major tech companies, notably Amazon and Google.

There have been significant privacy concerns about both companies due to their access to an extraordinary amount of personal data.

Amazon Alexa’s Vulnerabilities

Setting aside concerns about microphones, Amazon’s voice-activated assistant Alexa also presents other significant security concerns.

Although Amazon provides some privacy protections, with 100 – 200 million Alexa devices and over 100,000 skills already deployed, there is a significant concern about malicious developers taking advantage of security holes.

For example, developer names aren’t verified, allowing a malicious developer to stage a phishing attack posing as a different company. This risk is especially high with some skills that link to email, banking, or social media accounts.

After a skill has been approved and added to the marketplace, a malicious developer can change its coding without getting Amazon’s approval or notifying the customer. Many developers also have misleading privacy policies — or none at all, meaning that customers will have no idea how their personally identifiable information will be used.

Lack of Device Compatibility

The second challenge is compatibility. Early adopters are painfully familiar with the concept of device divorce, where two smart devices cannot speak with another. Part of the problem is that Amazon and Google are used as primary smart home controllers, and there isn’t a platform-agnostic solution widely available to most consumers.

Blockchain Technology is the Missing Piece of the Puzzle

Blockchain technologies are working to provide the solution to these challenges and others since they can enable P2P connections without the need for a centralized validator.

With blockchain, it would be possible to connect numerous smart devices without being forced to hand that data directly over to the device manufacturer, mitigating privacy and security concerns. It can also provide increased transparency over how data is used, helping users understand what data their smart home is collecting and what it’s used for.

Blockchain technology is also hardware agnostic. Thus, it would be possible for users to pair together devices from different manufacturers without worrying about compatibility.

IOTA’s Tangle vs. Traditional Blockchain

One of the best examples of this vision is the IoT-focused blockchain IOTA.

It is important to understand that we are not talking about financial blockchain technology like Bitcoin. Blockchains based on traditional Proof of Work (PoW), like Bitcoin, lack the speed and scalability necessary to process the millions of data points produced by smart devices.

Instead, we are looking at smart device-focused technologies, most notably IOTA. IOTA uses a Tangle specifically designed for data and value transfer.

Blockchains like Bitcoin are essentially long chains of blocks containing transactions. The Tangle, on the other hand, is constructed as a directed acyclic graph (DAG), which is a collection of vertices connected by edges.

Eliminating Validators

IOTA’s implementation is designed in such a way that each new transaction (vertice) must approve two previous transactions when it enters the Tangle. This eliminates the need for Proof of Stake (PoS) or PoW consensus methods.

Because these transactions don’t require always-online validators, they are feeless and contain metadata that makes them suitable for micropayments and data transfer.

IOTA’s Partnerships

IOTA is interesting because the technology is more mature than many other IoT-focused blockchain solutions. The project has experienced past problems, but the roll-out of its improved Tangle has allowed it to secure some important partnerships, primarily in areas designed to improve transparency.

Properly Validating Smart Device Data Is The First Step

IOTA’s most important partnership for smart homes is undoubtedly Project Alvarium. The biggest challenge posed by IoT — and smart devices in general — is the sheer volume of data collected. The vastness of information makes assessing what data is trustworthy and useful difficult, especially in an automated environment.

To solve this problem, Dell and IOTA teamed up to create Project Alvarium, designed to provide a simple way to assess the trustworthiness of data gathered.

Project Alvarium’s system logs every datapoint as it travels across the system. Each interaction is given a trust rating, which is logged on the IOTA Tangle to prevent tampering. This provides a simple way to find problems or deliberate tampering within a network of data.

Blockchain Can Help Resolve Security Concerns About Smart Security

When smart home users are certain that they can trust the data being generated by their devices, it opens up a world of opportunities that could transform our daily lives.

The most immediate use of blockchain technology is in improving building security. The most high-profile problem is undoubtedly Amazon’s Ring. In late 2020, dozens of people sued Amazon over accusations that their Ring doorbells had been breached.

The breach enabled hackers to watch people inside their homes and talk to individuals in the house over the Ring speakers.

Additionally, the product’s privacy policy is porous and allows Amazon to share video and microphone data with numerous third parties, removing any expectation of privacy.

The Blockchain Difference

Blockchain has been shown to resolve both the problem of data breaches as well as hacking takeovers. Capturing a blockchain-powered device would require compromising the entire blockchain itself compromised.

But proper validation, such as that proposed by IOTA, allows malicious devices to be pruned from the network, significantly improving security.

Additionally, blockchain could enable consumers to understand how their data is being used, helping to make smart devices more privacy-focused.

Smart Building Management Solutions are Already Being Tested

The value of blockchain technology becomes even bigger at scale. One of the most impactful uses of IoT and blockchain technology is in building management. Whether for an apartment building or an office building, it’s often difficult to effectively manage a building’s heating, lighting, and security in a way that minimizes waste.

Example: How Blockchain Could Manage Heating Bills

In a traditional setting, most buildings are managed centrally. If there is a unified heating system, it is often controlled by the local administration. Although this system is more efficient than individually-heated buildings, there is significant room for human error. That’s because the system is not optimized to account for more efficient heating higher up in the building as heat rises.

A network of heating sensors could be used to automatically measure the temperature in each apartment or office in a building. If the different thermostats could communicate with each other, it should be possible to input all the data into a blockchain solution.

A scheme like this would allow the building operators to create a proper heat map of the building and understand the most efficient usage of energy. It would also enable residents to access the data and understand why the system works the way it does.

Theoretically, it could also enable a user to select a target temperature for their apartment by leveraging rising heat from lower apartments.

Solutions on the Horizon

This kind of project is already being tested. For example, Brickschain offers several products that minimize difficulties with building management and handover on sale. There are also an increasing number of studies looking at how blockchain can be positively implemented into the building management process.

The Future of IoT: Many-to-Many Marketplaces

When buildings are utilizing IoT devices and blockchains, a bigger opportunity opens up: decentralized marketplaces.

Currently, it can be difficult to get the best deal on energy or heating bills because it is a marketplace with many customers but only a few providers. Switching providers can be difficult and doesn’t guarantee a competitive rate.

However, with blockchain, it would be possible to change providers based on real-time pricing data. This setup would create a competitive many-to-many environment where many providers are looking to sell energy to many customers. The competition among providers would drive down energy prices and improve overall efficiency in energy markets.

Swedish District Heating Study

Sweden has conducted studies to investigate the utility of blockchain for a district heating market. The setup allows apartment blocks already utilizing blockchain to automatically select the most affordable provider at any given moment, minimizing bills without requiring micromanagement.

The same concept could be applied to many aspects of building management.

Decentralized Governance

One interesting idea is the concept of decentralized governance. This type of network could empower tenants and apartment owners to vote on changes to their apartment block’s management proceedings.

For example, renters could vote in favor of using only green energy sources or for changes to living space regulations. Building administrators could then better understand their occupants’ needs and create a better living environment for all involved.

Blockchain Will be Needed to do IoT Correctly

Adoption of IoT and smart technologies will likely increase. Governments like the UK are already pushing hard on smart meters and many of us have already adopted some form of smart technology in our homes.

This rush to adopt new technology will undoubtedly come with significant scaling problems as well as security concerns and significant privacy issues.

Additionally, a market dominated by a handful of major tech companies like Amazon and Google could prove damaging to the consumer in the long term.

To counter these eventualities, we’ll need a platform-agnostic solution that allows a more diverse field of producers to create new IoT devices.

Blockchain technology still represents the best way to utilize IoT for everyone’s benefit. If solutions like IOTA are implemented into existing smart homes, then we could build a new decentralized marketplace that will give us better control of our data, while improving the efficiency of our homes.

Image Credit: pixabay; thank you!

Saul Bowden

Saul writes about tech & business, he’s covered everything from cryptocurrency to the oil & gas industry. He spends time working with start-ups and writes for commodity.com.

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Social Sign-on: Sure, it’s convenient. But is it really safe? – ReadWrite

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Remembering passwords is always a hassle, especially when you have innumerable websites that require logging in to view or interact with their content. To make the process simpler (as little as a couple of clicks), webmasters worldwide have accepted and implemented social logins on their websites.

Social Sign-on: Sure, it’s convenient. But is it really safe?

So, what exactly is social login? How different is it compared to the traditional method of inputting your credentials such as username, email address and password manually? More importantly, is it safe enough for use on all kinds of browsing activities?

Disadvantages of Social Sign-On

In this article, we answer all the above questions and more, helping you understand what social sign-on is, and what the disadvantages of this convenient method are.

The history of social logins

Social sign-on as a method of hassle-free authentication has been around for over a decade now. Back in the nascent days of the modern internet in 2008, Facebook launched Facebook Connect, a service aimed at simplifying registrations on websites.

Once webmasters enabled FB Connect on their websites, visitors to the site would no longer need to fill up lengthy registration forms to sign up for the website’s offerings.

All they needed to do was connect their existing Facebook account to the website, enabling direct access to the site with a click of a button.

In 2009 and 2010, Twitter and LinkedIn respectively enabled their users to socially login to other sites using their existing social network credentials.

Google+ followed suit in 2011, and although no longer active as Google+, it still supports social sign-on using a Google account.

While it all sounds very convenient, social sign-on has many drawbacks and challenges that impact both website visitors and website owners.

Social Sign-on: The challenges and disadvantages

The Trust Factor

Most internet users do not trust the websites they browse to store and utilize their personal information safely and responsibly. Often, website visitors are concerned about how the information they have shared will be used.

In a June 2020 survey conducted by Insider Intelligence, 32% of US Facebook users felt that they somewhat disagreed that the platform could keep their data and privacy secure.

Not everyone has the time or patience to read the data handling and privacy policy put forth by a website, so they simply choose to be cynical of the data they share on such sites.

Data Accuracy

People tend to be wary of the private information they share online; they often resort to uploading falsified or inaccurate information about themselves on social media.

Considering that these social media sites do not verify or vouch for the authenticity of their user’s information, this could be less than ideal for a website looking for accurate data while accepting new user registrations.

In 2019, Facebook released data that said that 16% of the accounts on its platform are fake/duplicate accounts created by individuals or companies. What’s more worrisome are the findings of the research team at NATO StratCom that suggest 95% of the reported fake accounts still continued to remain active, with no action taken by the social media website.

With no checks on the actual profile that’s being used to socially sign-on to your website, you could soon have an imposter, Donald Trump or Joe Biden signing up for your global warming newsletter or purchasing a bag of your freshly powdered Mexican coffee.

Not everyone’s social — nor on social

While we talk about social media, we need to understand that although it is a global phenomenon with an insanely large number (read 3.6 billion) of people using it, there is still a sizeable chunk (>50%) of the population that is not on social media.

Using a restrictive method, you risk alienating a section of society that could be your potential target audience.

Transfer of Power

Enabling social sign-on seems pretty enticing at first, considering it would cut down your authentication work significantly. But this very ‘benefit’ could end up costing you dearly, as you lose control over your visitors’ data to a third-party service provider, i.e., the social media network.

Should there be any downtime at the social media service’s end, your website visitors would be stranded, unable to login to your site or access their data?

Access Control Issues

Many internet access places tend to have controls in place when it comes to accessing social media. For example, corporate and educational networks generally block access to social websites. Certain countries like Iran, China, Syria, and North Korea have blanket bans on the most popular social websites.

Social sign-on still depends on an API call-back to the social networking site to authenticate the user. Thus, by having social sign-on set up on your website, visitors authenticating on your site through these networks would end up facing a website with broken functionality.

Security concerns

Social media accounts are often the target of several hacking and phishing attempts. Thus, if your user’s social media account is hacked, it could lead to their account on your site being compromised as a result.

A University of Maryland study revealed a hacking attempt every 39 seconds on average, affecting a third of Americans every year.

Hacked social accounts could have an adverse impact on your website as well, by performing activities that might eat up your server resources or corrupt your files, if your security is not up to the mark. Secure authentication is the need of the hour, and knowledge of the security practices will help solve these concerns.

Too much to choose

People use many social media websites, so keeping a single social login can be counterproductive. However, providing multiple methods to login could likely confuse or overwhelm your visitor, leading to lower conversion or sign-up rates.

Lesser data to work with

Using a social sign-on for your website would mean limited access to user data, especially email. Not every social media network allows websites to access the customer’s email address. For businesses that rely on customer information for lead generation, this would be a major deal-breaker.

Awareness of all the security practices and malpractices (sawolabs dotcom) will help educate users as well as the website owners.

If not social sign-on, then what?

All the above drawbacks would make webmasters question the efficacy of social sign-on. But then, is there a better alternative that does not include such shortcomings?

Say hello to passwordless authentication powered by SAWO Labs. A new-age solution designed to address all concerns of security, compatibility and functionality.

Image Credit: yellow graphic — from author; thank you!

 Top Image Credit: karolina grabowska; pexels; thank you!

Akshay Shetye

Akshay Shetye

“SAWO – Secure Authentication Without OTP – is a B2B2C service-based company whose API Integration enables one-tap authentication on your app (Android, iOS) and web to provide a passwordless and OTP-less authentication experience. We are a secure, sustainable, and cost-effective solution to making a business passwordless and OTP-less.”

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3 Ways Companies Can Be More Sustainable – ReadWrite

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Eric Lander


I’m thinking about our planet today — I think about our planet every day. Our planet is hurting, and many businesses are encouraging their employees to live more sustainably. According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), industry and agriculture account for approximately 32 percent of direct emissions.

3 Ways Companies Can Be More Sustainable

Here are a few ways companies can encourage sustainability in their employees and work to lower the remaining 68 percent.

Employ a hybrid work model

With so many people working from home due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we’ve inadvertently been doing Earth a huge favor. The EPA shows that transportation is responsible for 28 percent of greenhouse gas emissions, with about half of that coming from personal vehicles that burn gasoline and diesel. Because many companies instituted a work from home policy, there were fewer cars on the road and fewer greenhouse gas emissions. Companies can continue this progress by instituting a hybrid work model once the pandemic is finally over.

Reduce waste in the office

One big way to reduce waste in the office is by offering snack and drink options that eliminate single-use plastic. For example, TechnologyAdvice uses a Bevi machine in the office, offering still, sparkling, and flavored water without single-use plastic. You might also consider snacks that don’t need to be individually packaged, like fruits or nuts.

While you may not be able to completely eliminate office waste, you can work to offset the waste you do generate. Make it easy for employees to recycle and encourage them to do so. You can create an employee-led recycling program, keep an “I don’t know” bin for those items that don’t always fall into the normal categories, and create challenges around recycling goals.

Continual education about climate change

However you decide to encourage sustainability in your office, it’s important that both you and your employees engage in continual education about climate change. Thanks to the different forms of media available today, educating yourself about climate change has never been easier.

For podcast listeners, consider checking out How To Save A Planet. It’s a Spotify original podcast hosted by scientist Dr. Ayana Elizabeth Johnson and journalist Alex Blumberg, and it is the exact opposite of what people think when they hear “climate change resource:” it’s inspiring instead of depressing, entertaining, so accessible, and has great intro music.

Another Earth-friendly podcast you should listen to is Stories for Earth, which examines how climate change is discussed in pop culture.

If you like documentaries, check out Before the Flood, which was made by Leonardo Di Caprio and National Geographic. If you are a reader, consider these three: No One Is Too Small To Make A Difference by Greta Thunberg, All We Can Save edited by Ayana Elizabeth Johnson and Katherine Hayhoe, and The Future Earth by Eric Holthaus.

Image Credit: karolina grabowska; pexels; thank you!

Eric Lander

Content Writer

Eric Lander serves as the Director of Audience Development for TechnologyAdvice, a full-service B2B media company that engages technology buyers through websites, email newsletters, and phone conversations. Lander, a father of children with speech and language impairments, currently resides in Topsail, North Carolina.

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