Under the terms of their new charter, Kickstarter has a mission—“to help bring creative projects to life”—and the company judges its performance on how well it achieves that mission, rather than on how much profit it makes. Kickstarter will continue to be a for-profit company, but it’s now a for-profit company which is quite explicitly not for sale: Strickler says that he and his partner “don’t ever want to sell or go public.” When Kickstarter makes money, and it’s been profitable for years, it’s going to do so the old-fashioned way, by providing a valuable service a lot of people find worth paying for, and, by keeping its expenses lower than its revenue.
So, what’s going on here? Is Kickstarter now focused on “altruism over profit,” as the New York Times headline has it?
So, what’s going on here? Is Kickstarter now focused on “altruism over profit,” as the New York Times headline has it? Not really. After all, the move was warmly embraced by Fred Wilson, a venture capitalist who owns a substantial chunk of the company, and who has fiduciary obligations to the investors in his funds:
Companies that align their values with their customers and communities will benefit over the long term, not suffer. And that alignment can produce value for shareholders sustainably and profitably. It is worth noting that not one of Kickstarter’s angel investors, venture investors, employees, and board members who own shares in Kickstarter dissented on the vote to convert to a PBC.
Wilson would never be able to say this if Kickstarter had, say, converted to being a non-profit. But, as an investor in Etsy—a Certified B Corporation which went public and is now listed on the Nasdaq stock exchange—he knows full well that there’s no conflict between doing good and making lots of money.