Good guy Kickstarter says no to IPO, becomes a public benefit corporation instead

kickstarter reincorporates as public benefit corporation screen shot 2015 09 21 at 3 30 58 pm
Despite its best attempts at convincing us otherwise, it’s time to call a spade a spade: Technology is not a particularly altruistic industry. Certainly, hundreds upon thousands of startups and tech companies operate under the banner of changing the world or making the world a better place, but often it seems that the “problems” such organizations are trying to solve are more petty than they are pressing. Kickstarter, then, stands out as a breath of fresh air in an overcrowded space, and as of Sunday, the crowdfunding platform is reincorporating as a “public benefit corporation,” which means that they are now bound by law to make a “positive impact on society.” Kickstarter is no longer Kickstarter Inc. — world, meet Kickstarter PBC.

It’s a surprising move for the highly successful company that often serves as a jumping off point for companies that are, perhaps, less altruistically oriented. And in technology, an industry where a billion-dollar valuation and a million users seems to be everyone’s end goal, Kickstarter’s decision to become a public benefit corporation makes its mission and its values very clear — it’s not all about that coin.

“We don’t ever want to sell or go public,” Yancey Strickler, Kickstarter’s chief executive told the The New York Times, “That would push the company to make choices that we don’t think are in the best interest of the company.” Instead, Strickler and co-founder Perry Chen have made very clear what Kickstarter’s best interests are — in this case, helping bring creative projects to life, leveraging its unique position as crowdsourcers to aid the public. Under the public benefit corporation label, the company must include a socially responsible and impactful goal in its corporate charter, take public benefit into account in business decisions, and report on social impact.

Kickstarter’s homepage, which pays homage to the announcement, notes, “More and more voices are rejecting business as usual, and the pursuit of profit above all. Positive impact on society becomes part of a benefit corporation’s legally defined goals.” And in an email to its user base, the company said, “Radically, positive impact on society becomes part of a benefit corporation’s legally defined goals.” 

Maintaining full transparency, Kickstarter has posted its benefit corporation charter for all to see, and it spells out a “specific list of values and commitments” by which the company will abide. “We renew our longstanding commitment to arts and culture. We declare how we plan to conduct ourselves in situations that are often swayed by profit motives. And we newly commit to donate 5 percent of annual post-tax profits to arts education and organizations fighting inequality,” Kickstarter promises, “Every year, we’ll release an assessment of how we’re performing on the commitments we’ve made.”

It is telling that “not a single dissenting vote” was made by a Kickstarter shareholder when the time came to make the decision about reincorporating as a benefit corporation. As an organization that is based on community, risk-taking, and a leap of faith for the public good, it comes as little surprise that the people behind the company found their own values similarly aligned with those of a PBC. “From Kickstarter’s inception,” the company says, “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.”

Emerging Tech

Ford’s bipedal delivery robot can walk straight up to your doorstep

Autonomous wheeled delivery robots are seemingly everywhere in 2019. Agility Robotics' Digit robot takes a different approach: It promises to carry out its deliveries while walking on two legs.
Movies & TV

The best shows on Netflix right now (May 2019)

Looking for a new show to binge? Lucky for you, we've curated a list of the best shows on Netflix, whether you're a fan of outlandish anime, dramatic period pieces, or shows that leave you questioning what lies beyond.
Movies & TV

The best movies on Netflix in March, from Buster Scruggs to Roma

Save yourself from hours wasted scrolling through Netflix's massive library by checking out our picks for the streamer's best movies available right now, whether you're into explosive action, witty humor, or anything else.
Movies & TV

Prime-time TV: Here are the best shows on Amazon Prime right now

There's more to Amazon Prime than free two-day shipping, including access to a number of phenomenal shows at no extra cost. To make the sifting easier, here are our favorite shows currently streaming on Amazon Prime.
Gaming

Your PlayStation 4 game library isn't complete without these games

Looking for the best PS4 games out there? Out of the massive crop of titles available, we selected the best you should buy. No matter what your genre of choice may be, there's something here for you.
Emerging Tech

This guy managed to squeeze an entire game console into a Game Boy cartridge

Popular YouTuber 3DSage has managed to compress an entire mobile games console inside a single original Game Boy cartridge. Check it out in all in its impressively miniaturized glory.
Emerging Tech

I mainlined a bag of liquid vitamins — for science

Healthy people are signing up for treatments that are typically saved for patients stuck in hospital beds. Known as nutrient IV therapy, the treatment entails pumping vitamins, minerals, and fluids directly into the bloodstream, bypassing…
Emerging Tech

Scientists use an X-ray laser to create the loudest possible underwater sound

Researchers from Stanford University and the Department of Energy have produced the loudest sound possible to make under water. Here's how they managed to create it — and why they did it.
Digital Trends Live

Digital Trends Live: Huawei updates, Starlink launch, and Pac-Man’s birthday

On this episode of DT Live, we discuss the ongoing Huawei saga, Amazon’s social games for workers, Ford's partnership with a robotics company, the Starlink satellite launch, Pac-Man’s birthday, and more.
Emerging Tech

Las Vegas officials bet big on Elon Musk’s Boring Company

Elon Musk’s Boring Company has just been awarded a $48.6 million contract by Las Vegas to build a high-speed transportation system beneath the city’s enormous convention center, and it could be ready by early 2020.
Emerging Tech

Airbus shows off the futuristic interior of its autonomous flying taxi

Airbus has given us the first look inside its single-seat flying taxi. The absence of controls in the Vahana electric aircraft is a reflection of its autonomous capabilities, so you can just sit back and enjoy the ride.
Emerging Tech

Future smart clothes promise to keep you the perfect temperature at all times

Regulating your body temperature can sometimes be tough. Engineers from UC San Diego have developed heating and cooling wearable tech which could be embedded into future smart clothing.
Emerging Tech

Japanese spacecraft Hayabusa 2 aborts marker drop mission

The Hayabusa 2 spacecraft's mission to drop a reflective marker on the surface of asteroid Ryugu has been aborted. The Japanese team was considering a second touchdown on the asteroid to collect more materials, but this now seems unlikely.
Emerging Tech

Whose name should we etch on the Mars 2020 rover? NASA wants a vote

Dream of making it to Mars? NASA has opened up a new public outreach program to let people send their names to the Red Planet, as an engraving on a silicon chip launched with the Mars 2020 rover.