Any size company can incorporate or re-incorporate as a benefit corporation. Over 1,200 companies have incorporated nationally as benefit corporations, most in the last few years and all since October 2010. Some well-known benefit corporations include Patagonia, Method, Plum Organics, and King Arthur Flour.
Benefit corporations are attractive to a large and growing market for socially responsible and impact investments. Multiple benefit corporations including Ello, Dancing Deer Baking Co. and Cotopaxi have already raised capital both from social impact investors and from more traditional funds. There is over $3.7 Trillion in socially responsible investing assets under professional management today; the benefit corporation structure reduces due diligence time for those investors to find businesses that meet their investment goals.
While no benefit corporation has yet gone public, benefit corporation status does not itself present an obstacle to becoming a publicly-traded company, and B Lab expects to see the first public offering of a benefit corporation soon. Beyond going public, benefit corporations have seen success in other types of financial exits, and the benefit corporation structure provides a company’s directors with more options at the point of sale.
Shareholders are among the stakeholders whose interests the directors of a benefit corporation are required to balance. Benefit corporations are required to provide shareholders with more information than a traditional corporation through an annual benefit report, and shareholders of benefit corporations can vote to terminate benefit corporation status (usually by a 2/3 supermajority vote).