The shareholders quest to playing a constructive role in a company instead of shareholder serving company attitude, was the main topic of the ‘Ownership Conference’ I visited in Berlin last week. The centrally highlighted model during the congress was called the ‘steward ownership model’.
I’m discovering this model, because the platform economy is in hot debate about the extractive character of money. Venture Capital investors and entrepreneurs are often in it for the short-term profits only. This, in fact, can lead to perverse stimuli regarding long term decision making. Moreover, in many cases headed this direction the founders (as well as some employees of the first hour) will find their way out after a take-over, leaving the business crumbling.
The video below shows my interview with Juho Makkonen, founder of Sharetribe. Sharetribe creates (open source) software for anyone to build their own sharing economy marketplace, without the premise of any technical schooling. Sharetribe has gone through a transformation over the span of last year and became a Steward Ownership company. This means that:
- the voting rights aren’t in the hands of the investors, but in the hands of the management team working for the company;
- the company cannot be sold ever;
- salaries have a ceiling;
- the investment return for investors is capped at 5x and shares may be bought back with a maximum yearly rate of 40% of the company’s profit.
Although this model wouldn’t be a workable fit for every entrepreneur, it is a very interesting way of embedding securities within the business’ ownership model. The model is however not new; the 130 year old company Bosch also runs on a (partial) steward ownership structure.
This post is also available in: Dutch