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Going Public

by Rob Glaser

Rob Glaser

“WHEN YOU GO PUBLIC, it's like being shot out of a cannon. You go through this very intense two-week period where you're traveling all over the world meeting potential investors. One day we started in the morning in Germany, did lunch in Paris, had an afternoon meeting in Scotland, and then finished in London. We had a couple of days in the U.S. where we crisscrossed four states in a day. And this was seven years ago, before the technology boom had hit its full fever.”

“One of our company's philosophies is that five percent of profit will be donated to our foundation. You see, while most companies do some charity, very few do as much as five percent. And even fewer actually write it into their public documents—but it was in our original business plan. The bankers asked me, 'Look, do you really want to have this policy? Because people who [observe] your company won't like this.”

“Only twice during the whole process of going public did anybody even ask about it. One investor said, 'I read in your prospectus that you're going to give five percent of your profit to charity. Why don't you give that back to the investors and let them give it to charity?' I said, 'We certainly want to encourage investors to give to charity, but once it leaves our hands, we don't control it. If we give the five percent to charity ourselves, then we know it will serve a positive purpose.' The other response I got was actually in the other direction. In southern California, a guy associated with a big investment company said, 'I'm on the board of the Boys and Girls Club of Greater Los Angeles, and I'm going to really study your business plan. If it's a close call whether to invest in your company or not, the fact that you are making this commitment to charity will definitely weigh favorably in my decision, because I think it's wonderful.”

“My experience with this has been purely positive. It's one of the things about the company that I'm most proud of. Anybody who tells you that you can't do this is just wrong. And you don't have to have a product that you're marketing as a socially responsible product to run a company this way. Sometimes doing the right thing is its own reward.”


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This article is from
Our Business Issue