WASHINGTON, September 21, 2015 – Kickstarter Inc., the crowd funding website, has a new name today. It’s
now Kickstarter PBC — a Public Benefit Corporation.
Public Benefit Corporations differ from regular business models. According to an email from Yancey Strickler, Kickstarter Cofounder/CEO, “Benefit Corporations are for-profit companies that are obligated to consider the impact of their decisions on society, not only shareholders. Radically, positive impact on society becomes part of a Benefit Corporation’s legally defined goals.”
Only about .01% of companies have become Public Benefit Corporations, including Patagonia and This American Life.
“There was not a single dissenting vote by a Kickstarter shareholder to re-incorporate as a Benefit Corporation. From Kickstarter’s inception, we’ve focused on serving artists, creators, and audiences to help bring creative projects to life. Our new status as a Benefit Corporation hard-codes that mission at the deepest level possible to guide us, and future leaders of Kickstarter.”
You can read their new charter here.
Among some of the points that are sure to attract attention are Kickstarter’s vow to avoid tax loopholes and tax management strategies to reduce its tax burden, and a pledge to donate 5% of its after tax profit to arts and music education (mostly in the New York City area) and to organizations that address systemic inequality and ending prejudices against people of color, women, and LGBTQ persons.
They also promise to deliver an annual benefit statement that will show the results of their efforts. The first report is expected in February, 2017.
Kickstarter vows to limit their environmental impact by investing in green infrastructure, supporting green commuting for employees and choosing vendors based on their environmental record. They haven’t forgotten their employees – they’re planning a supportive environment for their workers’ creative efforts, including time off to pursue creative projects and/or mentoring people underrepresented in the tech, art and business fields.
Kickstarter was launched on April 28, 2009 and in the past six years has helped over 92,000 projects, ranging from inventions to films find funding from average citizens, not corporations or big investors. Over 9.5 million people have backed a project and $2 billion has been pledged, over $1 billion of that in the first 24 hours.
One of its most popular projects was Coolest Cooler, which not only chilled drinks but had a blender, waterproof Bluetooth speaker and USB charger. The inventor set a goal of $50,000 to bring the project to market, but over $13 million was pledged.