RStudio restructures to focus on ‘public benefit’

0
122


RStudio has changed its corporate structure to become a certified “Delaware Benefit Corporation,” a move that legally allows it to consider the needs of the R community when making decisions instead of focusing solely on what’s financially best for its stockholders.

“Our directors and officers now have a fiduciary duty to pursue public benefits along with balancing the needs of all our stakeholders,” not just its corporate owners, founder and CEO J.J. Allaire said in his keynote speech at this morning in San Francisco.

Those benefits include the creation of free open source software for data work, and helping people spread knowledge “regardless of economic means,” Allaire said. 

The company has already been trying to operate this way, he said. RStudio has 36 full-time engineers working on free, open source R software—more than half of its engineering resources. The new corporate structure was designed to offer legal protection for such deployment of resources, which arguably might not improve profitability.

There are unlikely to be changes in the pricing of its commercial software because of the new corporate structure, he said in an interview before this morning’s announcement.

Instead, Allaire said he hopes increased transparency will reassure enterprise customers “you can trust that the prices [for paid products] will always be fair and mutually determined . . . not shoved down your throat by fiat because we have you by the throat.”

.

“Corporations are inherently sketchy…. By default you shouldn’t trust corporations,” he said in his keynote, referring to the requirement under U.S. law that they maximize profits, possibly at the expense of their customers.

As part of becoming a certified benefit corporation, RStudio will issue annual reports outlining what it sees as serving a public benefit. has been posted online. 

today and tomorrow.