The legislation currently being proposed raises the 500 shareholder limit to 2000 shareholders. Accredited (wealthy) investors and employees receiving options will count against this limit.
Here are some links to this story:
The Atlantic Wire: http://www.theatlanticwire.com/technology/2011/11/lawmakers-sponsoring-very-facebook-friendly-bill/44748/
Fortune Term Sheet:
The original purpose of the 500 shareholder rule was to force a company with 500 or more shareholders to publicly disclose its financials in order to provide the shareholders with information that they otherwise wouldn't have. The basic tenets of the securities laws are disclosure and protection. Accredited investors are deemed to be sophisticated and in need of less protection. But employees and investors who are not accredited investors deserve disclosure and protection, which in my view should be purpose of the 500 shareholder rule. Therefore I would argue that the 500 shareholder limit should remain, but accredited investors should be exempt from the rule.