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Rocketing On To An Employee-Owned Company

This post is written by Founder and Creative Director, William Gadea.

When a company you’ve founded encounters some success – and IdeaRocket has – you are soon faced with the question… what happens to this company after I’m gone?

That ‘gone’ might be an exit caused by a premature stepping off the curb in front of a speeding truck. Or it might be in tears, after a maudlin speech, and right before an idyllic retirement in… mmm, the south of France, say?  But gone one day I will be, one way or the other. So what then for IdeaRocket?

That question exists in the context of another realization that is made vivid to me every day. This company is nothing more than the flesh, spirit and talent that toils within it. What is it other than that? We have some rented space in midtown Manhattan. We have a few Macs and a shared microwave. But we don’t have expensive machinery. We don’t have intellectual property or proprietary processes or anything else to speak of other than our human capital: a group of people that, collectively and individually, are very good indeed at making animated videos for businesses.

So given the need to one day pass on this endeavor, and given the need to attract, foster, and retain the most formidable talent possible, is it possible to tackle both challenges with one gesture? I think so.

That is why I am pleased to announce that this past May, IdeaRocket started a journey that will one day make it a completely employee-owned company. Over the next 10-15 years, I will give away one-third of the company to employees. Then over the 10-15 years after that, I will sell my remaining two-thirds share to the employees, so that they completely own and control the business.

When we started this process, my capable advisors asked me to consider a number of options – such as bonuses, phantom equity, etc. –  that didn’t quite fit the bill, because they weren’t real ownership. You see, ownership is not just about a cut of the profit, it’s about connection and identification. When you own something, you are infected by a desire – no, a need – to nourish, protect, and grow it.

So the employees will receive real equity. That is a just reward for the contributions they have made to the building of this company. I hope they feel the same satisfaction and pride I feel at the progress of this company. I hope prospective employees will see an opportunity to pitch in and build something great, something they can own a part of. And, when the time comes, I hope the bouillabaisse is tasty in the south of France.

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