Crowdfunding site I-Bankers Direct expands into Palo Alto

I-Bankers Direct, based in Stamford, Conn., expanded into the Bay Area with the opening of a Palo Alto office and the hiring of Humphrey Polanen.

Polanen has deep roots in Bay Area tech and finance. He is director of San Diego software maker EdgeWave, (OTCBB: EWVE) which he took public as CEO, and San Jose bank Heritage Commerce Corp.(NASDAQ: HTBK) He also worked at Sun Microsystems and Tandem Computers.

“We view Silicon Valley as a key region for I-Bankers Direct,” Polanen said.

While regulators decide how big a crowd they want participating in crowdfunding, I-Bankers Direct and similar services are focused on bringing investment opportunities to accredited investors, which meet certain income or asset requirements on which the SEC infers they’re sophisticated investors.

Such sites can cast a wide net geographically, relying on the Internet to attract fast-growing companies and investors from around the country. San Francisco-based CircleUp is connecting entrepreneurs and investors focused on consumer product companies. And MicroVentures Marketplace in Austin, Texas, uses a similar model to connect wealthy investors with startups.

Polanen told me this morning that he sees his firm filling the gap between angel investors and venture capitalists, who he sees increasingly focused on larger investments creating what some call the Series A crunch.

And unlike angels focused on startups, Polanen said companies raising money through I-Bankers Direct will meet certain growth thresholds.

“We don’t do startups or pre-revenue companies,” Polanen said. “We’re focused on real companies with real revenues and real customers.”

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