The truth is, this was our mission before we chose the PBC corporate governance structure. The ideals of data democratization, utility, advocacy, and accessibility have guided us since day one.
If this is your first exposure to a Public Benefit Corporation, I’m so happy that data.world is the one that gets to be your introduction. In 10 years, we think that the question will be “why aren’t you a public benefit corporation” rather than “why are you?”
A PBC is similar to a traditional corporation in that it is a for profit corporation with shareholders who own the company and its assets. The key differentiator is that a PBC also has a clear mission to consider the impact of its actions on society. This means that a PBC can make decisions to do the things “for the good of humankind” which are set forth in its charter (and are given the legal protection to do so). As a result, a PBC can balance that mission with the pursuit of shareholder returns rather than being forced to maximize shareholder value at all costs.
While we are incorporated in Delaware since it was one of the early adopters of the PBC structure, we have since had a hand in bringing this structure to Texas, and look forward to the day when it becomes the accepted norm among new businesses globally.
As a part of our PBC status, we’re obligated to give periodic updates to our shareholders on the status of our PBC purpose. However, we feel very strongly about the value of transparency and strive to be as open as we can with our community, which is why we’re sharing this report with all of you.
As a data-driven organization, we felt the best way to share our progress was to look at what we’ve done for each component of our PBC public benefit purpose:
Building the most meaningful, collaborative and abundant data resource in the world in order to maximize data's societal problem-solving utility
We’ve undertaken an ambitious journey to unleash the potential of data by bringing together that data and the people who are interested in it. We’re happy to report some of the advances we’ve made on this front.
While our PBC benefit purpose is very explicit around the data ecosystem, we feel that the principles established there should hold true in all aspects of our lives, and we work hard to participate in our communities in the best ways possible.
In addition to being a Public Benefit Corporation, data.world is also a Certified B Corporation, and has been named to the “Best for the World” list two years running. BCorporation.net describes a Certified B Corporation as:
“Individually, B Corps meet the highest standards of verified social and environmental performance, public transparency, and legal accountability, and aspire to use the power of markets to solve social and environmental problems.
Collectively, B Corps lead a growing global movement of people using business as a force for good.™ Through the power of their collective voice, one day all companies will compete to be best for the world, and society will enjoy a more shared and durable prosperity for all.”
“I was initially intrigued by B Corporations learning that two of my favorite brands - Ben and Jerry’s and Patagonia - were B Corporations. The seed was planted.
Once I became a Henry Crown Fellow (a Fellowship with The Aspen Institute), I met Neil Grimmer, the founder of Plum Organics, who was also a Fellow in my class. Neil was very inspirational and had turned Plum Organics, a baby-food brand I knew well with my children, into a B Corporation. I started to learn more and more and then met the founders of B Lab, who created the B Corporation movement, and learned that they were also Henry Crown Fellows. Their story was also very inspirational. That got me connected to Rick Alexander, who is B Lab’s General Counsel, and was responsible for the legal creation of the Public Benefit Corporation structure in Delaware. As he sent me more information to become educated on the structure and B Corporations in general, I realized it was a more evolved way of “being” as a company - a more evolved way of capitalism.
I had served on the Board of Conscious Capitalism and had been very involved with their movement, and here was a well-defined legal - and highly tangible - method of being with the B Corporation movement. So I discussed it with my co-founders, Bryon, Jon, and Matt, and they all agreed that it was the right move for us to become a B Corporation. We discussed it with our lead investor and Board member, Jason Pressman, and he agreed and the rest is history!
We converted from a C Corporation to a Public Benefit Corporation on July 11, 2016 - the day we launched data.world to, well, the world. And it has turned out to be one of the best decisions we made. The way that the community, potential employees, universities, government entities, and, yes, other corporations react to us once they learn we are a B Corporation is very positive. I would say it has really impacted our internal culture as well. Along the journey, we were fortunate enough to participate in testifying to help Public Benefit Corporation law get passed in Texas. And we’ve been named to the top 10% of all B Corporations in the world for two years in a row.”