Finance Friday – March 17, 2017

$5.3 billion.  300k jobs.

Believe it or not, these are some of the least remarkable elements of Kickstarter’s 2016 Benefit Statement, which contains results from their first year as a Public Benefit Corporation.*

As part of the report, researchers at University of Pennsylvania quantified the economic impact of Kickstarter’s business, including the numbers above.

What’s even more remarkable is the straightforward tone and transparency of information:

We took advantage of two tax credits in 2016 and paid a combined effective tax rate of 25%….

We rejected the increasingly common move of including a forced arbitration clause or class action waiver in our Terms of Use…

We didn’t do enough to encourage staff to take advantage of the paid time off we provide for volunteering, so we’re setting that as a goal for this year.

Compared with the detailed but often convoluted (and required) legal language of 10-K’s and other SEC documents, this kind of commentary is a breath of fresh air.

As more and more businesses explicitly include purpose-centered goals alongside their financial targets, we have the chance to make this kind of matter-of-fact reporting more common. Benefit corporation structure opens up the window for this kind of candid discussion — letting the air in.


*Benefit corporations are for-profit entities that have an explicit purpose of public benefit, beyond maximizing shareholder value.  They are required to consider impact of decisions on stakeholders (not only shareholders), and are required to publish an annual benefit report. Some other benefit corps that you might know are Patagonia, Method, King Arthur Flour, and Laureate Education.You can learn lots more about these structures at  

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