Today, The Upside Foundation launches 150x150: Turn Equity Into Charity with Wattpad’s CEO and Co-founder, Allen Lau, and other prominent Canadian startups WealthSimple, Overbond, and Hubba.
The national charity makes it easy for early-stage or high-growth Canadian companies to give back in a meaningful way. Any Canadian startup or private high-growth company can take the Upside pledge by committing stock options or warrants that will be converted to cash at the time of an exit or IPO, and donated to a registered Canadian charity .
Their latest campaign aims to grow the number of companies who have pledged to give back to 150 in the lead up towards Canada's 150th birthday on July 1st. Wattpad, is the first company to kick-off the 150x150 challenge:
“At Wattpad, we believe startups aren’t just about profits, they’re about giving back to communities, at home and abroad. We’ve already made a remarkable impact on millions of people’s lives around the world. Today, we pledge to join the 150x150 campaign to demonstrate our continued commitment to positive social impact,” said Allen Lau, Wattpad co-founder and CEO. “Whether you’re in the early stages or a well-established start-up nearing exit, it always makes sense to support charities that serve your users and mean something to your team. If you haven’t already joined the Upside Foundation, what are you waiting for? Join the 150x150 campaign today!”
Canadian startups who make the pledge will donate a small portion of their equity to The Upside Foundation (typically in the form of stock options), which are converted to cash upon a liquidity event and donated to the charity of the company’s choosing. Over 75 Canadian startups have already pledged to donate equity to charity and several prominent Canadian startups, including Wattpad, have taken the Upside pledge.
To date, there have been two exits from the Upside network, including BlueCat Networks, which sold for $400 million in February 2017; BlueCat CEO, Michael Harris donated the proceeds from a portion of his stock options to the Enbridge® Ride to Conquer Cancer® benefiting the Princess Margaret Cancer Centre. The first company to exit was Understoodit, who was acquired by EventMobi in 2013 and donated their equity proceeds to the East York Learning Experience and Mentoring Junior Kids Organization.
The Upside Foundation is partnered with Pledge 1%, a global movement founded by the Salesforce Foundation and others to inspire companies around the world about the benefits of early stage corporate philanthropy. Through Pledge 1%, over 1800 companies have donated one per cent of their equity, people or product to charity.
How Companies Can Take the Pledge
The Upside Foundation encourages Canadian companies to join those who have already taken the pledge.
1. Companies will need to fill out the online pledge form found on The Upside Foundation’s website and a representative will be in touch.
2. Once the pledge form is received, companies will receive detailed instructions on how to contribute from an ESOP (employee stock ownership plan) or a simple legal form, with flexibility depending on the stage of the company.