Future Companies: an English excerpt from our Dutch book Toekomstbedrijven

In November 2023, Toekomstbedrijven was published, a Dutch book about steward-ownership. At the end of this post we share an English summarized excerpt (10 pages).

Future companies

Steward-owned companies demonstrate how being mission driven and profitable can go hand in hand. Steward-ownership offers companies a promising path forward – enabling them to stay true to their mission and taking into account societal and environmental factors – paving the way for a more sustainable and equitable economy.

Steward-Ownership: A New Paradigm For Businesses

Founded in 1996, Booking.com revolutionized how we book hotel rooms, making it possible to book a room anywhere in the world, within a few clicks. While growing towards becoming a dominant platform and hotels becoming very dependent on their services, Booking.com increased its commission fees. This resulted in spectacular profit margins and maximization of shareholder value – at the expense of hotels and travelers.

After an extremely profitable year and during the 2020 global pandemic, Booking.com sought taxpayer support to cover salaries of employees. This prompted public outrage: Why do taxpayers have to help a company that makes billions of profits in one year and can’t keep paying salaries a year later? Why don’t Booking.com’s shareholders chip in? Entrepreneur Niels Meijssen proposed it was about time for an alternative: a fair booking platform: Time to Momo.

To keep its mission at the core of its operations, Time to Momo would become steward-owned. This should ensure that decision-making power lies with stewards committed to the company’s mission and prevents the typical pitfalls of Booking.com and other shareholder-driven companies that can’t help but optimize for shareholders and forget everything else. Time to Momo’s structure ensures that at least 50% of profits are reinvested into the company’s mission, fostering innovation and reducing hotel commissions. The founders and investors share the remaining profits within predefined limits, maintaining the focus on the company’s core purpose.

The concept of steward-ownership isn’t unique to Time to Momo. Companies like Carlsberg and Patagonia have also embraced this model, demonstrating that businesses can financially thrive while prioritizing their mission. These and other examples highlight a growing movement towards ownership structures that align profit with purpose, challenging the traditional shareholder-centric approach and proving that businesses can thrive financially while staying true to their mission.

You can read more in the English summarized excerpt from the first chapters of the book Toekomstbedrijven.