Maybe it's a coincidence that the same year Facebook's lobbying presence in Washington ballooned, legislators introduced a bill that would re-write securities law in the social network's favor. In any case, that's what happened yesterday when Senators Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania and Tom Carper of Delaware submitted a bill that would kill the 500-shareholder rule requiring companies to disclose financial information once they acquire that many investors. The bill's two co-sponsors are Senators Mark Warner of Viriginia and Mike Johanns of Nebraska. In the past few years, the law has been endlessly cited as a reason Facebook will soon go public—a prospect its CEO Mark Zuckerberg has been openly unenthusiastic about. The new legislation could delay a Facebook IPO as it increases the shareholder limit from 500 to 2,000.
There are no glaring connections between the lawmakers and Facebook: None of them have accepted any money from the corporation, according to campaign finance data between now and 2007 and two of them have corporations in their home states pining for securities law reform. But at least one of the bill's co-sponsors has enjoyed the privilege of touring Facebook HQ and finding himself in a nice photo op with a certain pop music starlet and young billionaire:
It's Warner meeting Katy Perry! Warner made a glad-handing appearance with the pop diva in a star-packed shot of Zuckerberg, Perry, and Facebook chief operating officer Sheryl Sandberg, during a visit to Facebook headquarters in January. At the time, he tweeted that he, Zuckerberg and Perry were discussing the "need to support innovation in America." Good for them!
For the record, the chief sponsors, Toomey and Carper, gave some provincial reasons for supporting the bill in their joint press release:
Many companies, such as Wawa in Pennsylvania will be able to grow and add jobs because of this legislation. Philadelphia-based Wawa has grown in the five states it serves and has added crucial jobs in the Mid-Atlantic region, including Pennsylvania and Delaware. The regulatory reform provided by this legislation will allow Wawa to continue to grow and create new jobs.
This legislation will also help companies like W.L. Gore & Associates in Delaware continue to take a long-term view in investing in the development of innovative products. W.L Gore & Associates is recognized for its unique culture and for creating innovative, technology-driven solutions, from medical devices that treat aneurysms to high-performance GORE-TEX fabrics.