Kickstarter has reincorporated as a public benefit corporation. Co-founder and CEO Yancey Strickler, founder and chairman Perry Chen, and co-founder Charles Adler explained the move in a blog post yesterday, saying they wanted the crowdfunding platform to operate with an obligation to society as well as its own shareholders.
"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," the founders said.
The company's charter includes a laundry list of actions it will and won't do in the future. For example, it will "seek to limit environmental impact," and it won't "use loopholes or other esoteric but legal tax management strategies to reduce its tax burden."
Kickstarter has also pledged to donate 5 percent of its after-tax profits, with half of that money going to organizations addressing systemic inequality, primarily non-profits working on behalf of people of color, women, and LGBTQ people. The other half will go to support arts and music education, with a focus on underserved communities in New York City.
"Kickstarter is excited to join a growing list of forward-thinking organizations - like Patagonia and This American Life - that have taken the big step to become a Benefit Corporation," the founders said. "While only about .01 percent of all American businesses have done this, we believe that can and will change in the coming years. More and more voices are rejecting business as usual, and the pursuit of profit above all."
The founders also noted that not a single one of the company's shareholders voted against the plan to turn Kickstarter into a public benefit corporation.