It’s been an eventful, fun, and highly successful year for data.world.
We closed our Series C funding round led by Goldman Sachs Asset Management. Our team and board of directors continues to grow despite an uncertain economy. We were named a “best place to work” for the seventh consecutive year by Austin Business Journal. We released dozens of new features and updates to our cloud-native, knowledge-graph-powered enterprise data catalog. And our open data community, the world’s largest — which contains hundreds of thousands of data sets made available for public use — has grown to more than two million members.
And as a Certified B Corporation — a business that puts as much emphasis on our social and environmental impact as we do our bottom line — we’ve done all this while surpassing the highest standards of verified social and environmental performance, public transparency, and legal accountability to balance profit and purpose.
Business as a force for good
Make no mistake, data.world was founded to generate revenue. But the company was also built from inception to work “for the good of humankind.”
Our mission and what drives us every day, is to build “the most meaningful, collaborative and abundant data resource in the world in order to maximize data’s societal problem-solving utility.”
(data.world is also a Public Benefit Corporation (PBC), which — though different from a Certified B Corp — is also a business that 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.)
“We’re a for-benefit corporation, but we’re also still for-profit,” says data.world CEO and co-Founder Brett Hurt. “We’re trying to build a company, from the beginning, with values and a mission that’ll pass the test of time and do something very good for the world and humanity. This is something that runs deep in our DNA.”
Just good business
As Brett wrote in a 2021 article for TechCrunch, “For decades, a misguided ideology has warped companies, economies and societies: that the sole purpose of corporations is to maximize short-term returns to one set of stakeholders.”
Brett went on to explain that shareholder value maximization is often a harmful choice, and “not by any means a moral imperative or even a fiduciary responsibility.”
It turns out businesses that focus equally on commercial success and “working for the good of humankind” are often more financially successful. According to the Yale Center of Business and the Environment, “Certified B Corporations demonstrated a greater revenue growth rate than public firms of comparable size from 2006 to 2011—a period that includes the Great Recession.”
And there are other business benefits associated with focusing on more than just shareholder value. According to VP of Employee Experience Lisa Novak, data.world’s focus on the triple bottom line has also benefited recruiting and hiring efforts.
“Over the past couple of years, the hiring market has shifted significantly; employees and candidates not only care about their role, but also want to work in an environment that contributes to society somehow,” she says.
“Minimally, they want to work with good people. Candidates are drawn to organizations that are more than revenue and margins. Our choice to be a PBC and our long-time B-corp certification status are significant indicators that data.world embodies those qualities.”
data.world’s philanthropic projects
“As a business, and as part of our public benefit corporation mission, advocating for and utilizing open data as a way to drive social change, and fostering an environment of collaboration and knowledge sharing is at the heart of who we are,” says data.world Social Impact Lead Hilary Mayes.
“We’re excited to be embarking on several impact projects, including assessing equitable access to entrepreneurship in the United States, where we hope to gain a better understanding of the entrepreneurial landscape, including gaps in equitable access for small business ownership, and the impact that entrepreneurship has on the economy.”
data.world will also be launching a project to assess the impact that sustainable product choices have on the environment. Through this project, we hope to share data on consumer preferences for sustainable products, and how it influences supply chains, the business landscape, equitable access to sustainable goods, and the positive impact those choices have on our environment via a reduction in carbon emissions.
“We’re proud that our employees are involved in the process of selecting which impact projects we focus on,” says Hilary. “And we’re equally proud of the strong partnerships we’re building across the community landscape to implement this important work over the coming months.”
Proud to be a B Corp
Looking further ahead, data.world remains entirely committed to standing for more than merely financial success, but also for doing good for society and our planet.
“I really believe that B Corporations are the future,” predicts Brett.
As he explained in a 2017 interview with Forbes:
“I still get questions from people asking me if [data.world is] a nonprofit. I enjoy answering those questions and educating others, and explaining why [a B Corp is] superior to C-Corp structure. I always tell people that, 10 to 15 years from now, I think more people will be asking why are you not a B Corp versus asking why are you a B Corp.
You don’t have to follow what everyone else has done — you don’t have to be a part of the herd. I think the question is why wouldn’t you do it, not why would you.”