Why We Are a Public Benefit Corporation
What is a public benefit corporation?
A public benefit corporation (PBC) is structured similarly to "traditional" C corps: there are shareholders (people who have equity), C-level executives, employees etc.
The main difference between public benefit corporations and C corps or LLCs is that in case of PBC the notion of stakeholders expands to include employees, suppliers, customers, community, environment. This gives mission-driven businesses and social entrepreneurs the legal framework to operate in the best interest of more than just shareholders.
Why did we create Ondsel as a PBC?
PBCs are becoming more common but are still a rarity. Before incorporating with this structure, Ondsel carefully considered five important points:
1. The company should have a clear social or environmental public benefit purpose.
Ondsel believes that open-source design tools improve access to means of development and production for everyone, thereby fostering innovation and efficiency. We believe improving access to the power of these tools is a public benefit.
2. The companies public benefit purpose is central to its business model.
The more people use open-source design tools, the more collaboration and network effects will require exactly the kinds of proprietary features we develop.
3. The company should believe in transparency and be comfortable tracking the public benefit purpose.
As a 'Handbook First' company, Ondsel puts a high value on transparency. It's central to our identity.
4. The company should be comfortable with some legal risk and novelty.
5. The company should be prepared to educate users, partners, and potential investors on the PBC form.
The single greatest advantage Ondsel has over closed source competitors is the open source core itself. This makes it easier and less risky for potential customers to try the tool since vendor-locking is minimized.
Because of this, we have a vested interest in the long-term health of FreeCAD and related FOSS projects.