Mark Vletter, the founder of Voys, a cloud telephony provider, has decided to give away his multimillion company to three foundations. The Groningen entrepreneur says he is already financially independent and does not need the millions from Voys.
Vletter (43) has been the owner-director of Voys for almost 20 years. “I never felt that I have the sole right to the company as it is now,” he told the Dagblad van het Noorden.
He has chosen a model called steward ownership, in which the mission and continuity of the company are paramount. The shares of the company are transferred to a foundation or a cooperative, which becomes the official owner of the business. The shareholders become servants of the company, rather than its masters.
Vletter says he feels more like a colleague than an owner in his heart. He credits the success of Voys to his 250 employees, as well as his former colleagues, customers, and the Dutch infrastructure. “It is actually absurd that you then claim those millions. That is disproportionate self-enrichment,” he says.
He also points out that this kind of self-enrichment undermines the entire economic system. “We really have to stop that. I think it’s fun to be an example company that experiments with a new and better system.”
Vletter says he was inspired by Rolex, which is also a steward owned company. He hopes that more companies will follow his example and put their mission above their profits.