As Lyft launched its initial public offering on the Nasdaq stock exchange on March 29, investors watched intently, celebrating the success and the investment gains they hope to reap.
Quartz notes that the IPO won’t make Lyft drivers wealthy.
“Lyft set aside 5% of the shares for directors and some employees as well as for drivers who as of February have completed 10,000 rides on its platform or are serving or served on a driver advisory council. The company also will pay cash bonuses to those long-standing drivers, including $10,000 for those who completed at least 20,000 rides,” according to MarketWatch.
As an impact investor and manager of impact funds at Pique Ventures, I and my fund investors do want financial returns from our investments, but we also believe in our portfolio companies creating economic opportunities and positive impact for others.
In my view, impact ventures solve more than one problem and this distinguishes impact ventures from businesses in the conventional sense. They not only solve a problem for their customers, they also solve a problem for their suppliers and employees. It’s more than creating a supply chain or creating jobs, it’s about ethical and sustainable distribution channels and supply chains and giving employees access to a means of exchange. It’s about optimizing resource allocation while ensuring all participants contributing to a business model get a fair share of the resources and prosperity.
In the case of Lyft, drivers exchange their time for a means of exchange (i.e. they get paid for driving by getting a share of the ride fare) that they can then use to access other essential resources they need to survive, thrive, and be happy such as to pay their rent and groceries.
If only businesses realized they could “help take care of the village” by caring whether their suppliers or employees are paid fairly and paid what equates to at least a living wage and then acting on it. If suppliers, employers or members in these new business models could also be owners benefiting from IPOs, the sharing economy could be the prosperity sharing economy.
Employee stock ownership has a long history. In the US, “in the mid-19th Century, as the U.S. transitioned to an industrial economy with nationwide corporations such as Procter & Gamble, Railway Express, Sears & Roebuck, leaders of these corporations recognized that someone could work for the companies for 20 plus years, reach an old age, and then have no income after they could no longer work. The leaders of those 19th Century companies decided to set aside stock in the company that would be given to the employee when she or he retired.”
The earliest co-operative models of shared ownership appeared in Europe in the late 18th and early 19th centuries, during the Industrial Revolution.
As business models evolve and as people are shifted into self-employment situations (in some cases, not by choice, but rather due to lack of negotiating power with resource allocators and platforms), I’d be interested in seeing more shared ownership with the people whose time and labour is a critical contributor to a venture’s success. Etsy, for example, allocated some of its pre-IPO shares to members.
As the future of work changes and employment becomes more precarious, we’re looking for entrepreneurs and ventures that believe in shared prosperity, that create high quality jobs and supply chain opportunities. Pique Ventured could be a co-investor alongside employees, suppliers, and members a business models evolves.
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To learn more about how we invest in businesses that create economic opportunities for many and how we help investors achieve impact and returns through Pique Funds, contact us. We’d love to hear from you.
About Pique Ventures
Pique Ventures is an impact investment and management company. Pique Ventures enables a diverse community of investors to pursue integrated investing. Integrated Investing is a proprietary investment decision-making methodology to help create a better world and was developed specifically to evaluate impact and early-stage ventures.