Exploring Companies Using the Capped Profit Model for Equity Compensation‍

Casey Fenton

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December 7, 2023

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Did you know that aside from OpenAI, there are other companies leveraging a compensation model as ingenious as it is motivating? Imagine a model that rewards employees not just for the company's immediate success but for its long-term prosperity. That’s a capped profit model, where employees become true partners in building a thriving future.

Take Buffer, for instance. It is a company that has mastered this model to create a win-win scenario for both the business and its dedicated workforce. But Buffer is just the tip of the iceberg. In this article, we will study ten diverse companies, each with its unique take on the capped profit model. They offer valuable insights for startups and company owners eager to explore the wide selection of equity compensation.

Company Selection Criteria

The following companies were selected for this article based on their diverse industries and successful implementation of the capped profit model, providing a comprehensive view of its applications.

1. Buffer

Buffer is a well-known social media management platform used by businesses and individuals to schedule and analyze their social media posts. Beyond its innovative product, Buffer has gained recognition for its progressive approach to compensation.

Buffer has successfully implemented the capped profit model by linking equity compensation to the company's long-term profitability. Employees are rewarded not just for short-term success but for their contributions to Buffer's sustained growth. This approach aligns perfectly with the ever-evolving world of social media, where long-term strategy is crucial for success.

Buffer's employees report a high level of satisfaction with this compensation model. They appreciate the transparency and clarity it brings, and it motivates them to invest in the company's future success. Buffer's experience showcases how the capped profit model can be applied in the tech sector to foster innovation and employee engagement.

2. Etsy

Etsy is a global e-commerce platform that focuses on handmade and vintage items, connecting artisans and creators with a worldwide audience. Beyond its marketplace, Etsy has garnered attention for its unique corporate culture.

Etsy's implementation of the capped profit model is a testament to its commitment to its community of sellers and buyers. By capping profits, Etsy ensures that employee rewards are linked directly to the platform's ongoing growth and the success of its creators. This approach mirrors the ethos of its platform, where individual artisans' long-term success is a priority.

Employees at Etsy embrace the capped profit model as it reflects the values of the company and encourages a collaborative approach to growth. Etsy's experience demonstrates how this model can resonate with a community-driven marketplace and empower employees to support and nurture its unique ecosystem.

3. Zapier

Zapier is a leading workflow automation tool that connects apps and automates repetitive tasks. The company's innovative approach to automation extends to its compensation strategy.

Zapier's use of the capped profit model is a testament to its adaptability in the tech industry. By tying equity compensation to long-term company success, Zapier motivates its employees to think strategically and work toward sustained growth. This aligns with Zapier's mission to simplify and streamline complex workflows.

Employees at Zapier appreciate the model's emphasis on long-term value creation. They find it encourages collaboration and innovation, driving the company forward. Zapier's experience demonstrates how the capped profit model can be applied in the fast-paced world of tech to foster innovation and employee satisfaction.

4. Basecamp

Basecamp is a renowned project management and team collaboration software company. Known for its remote-first approach and unique company culture, Basecamp has adopted an innovative compensation strategy.

Basecamp's use of the capped profit model reflects its emphasis on creating a balanced and sustainable work environment. By tying equity compensation to long-term profitability, Basecamp encourages employees to focus on the company's ongoing success rather than short-term gains. This approach aligns perfectly with Basecamp's philosophy of providing a stable and supportive platform for remote teams.

Employees at Basecamp appreciate the clarity and predictability that the model offers. It fosters a sense of security and trust in the company's future. Basecamp's experience showcases how the capped profit model can be applied in a remote work context, promoting collaboration and employee well-being.

5. ConvertKit

ConvertKit is an email marketing software provider catering specifically to creators. It empowers individuals and small businesses to build and manage their email marketing campaigns effectively.

ConvertKit's use of the capped profit model is a reflection of its commitment to supporting creators in the digital space. By linking equity compensation to the company's long-term success, ConvertKit motivates employees to work toward the sustained growth of the platform. This approach aligns with ConvertKit's mission to empower creators to earn a living from their craft.

Employees at ConvertKit find the capped profit model inspiring, as it directly connects their efforts to the success of creators using the platform. It fosters a sense of purpose and shared achievement. ConvertKit's experience demonstrates how this model can resonate with a creative and entrepreneurial audience, driving innovation and employee satisfaction.

6. Elastic

Elastic is an open-source search and analytics engine company that provides powerful tools for organizations to explore, analyze, and visualize their data. Elastic's unique approach extends to its compensation philosophy.

Elastic's use of the capped profit model reflects its commitment to fostering innovation and growth. By tying equity compensation to the company's long-term profitability, Elastic motivates employees to think strategically and work towards sustained success. This approach aligns with Elastic's mission to make data usable in real-time.

Employees at Elastic appreciate the model's focus on innovation and long-term value creation. It encourages a collaborative and forward-thinking culture. Elastic's experience demonstrates how the capped profit model can thrive in a data-driven and tech-savvy environment.

7. Trello

Trello is a visual project management tool that simplifies team collaboration and task management. The company's approach to work organization extends to its compensation strategy.

Trello's use of the capped profit model reflects its commitment to providing a flexible and supportive platform for project management. By tying equity compensation to the company's long-term profitability, Trello motivates employees to focus on the sustained growth of the platform. This approach aligns with Trello's mission to simplify teamwork.

Employees at Trello appreciate the transparency and long-term perspective that the model encourages. It fosters a sense of collaboration and dedication to project success. Trello's experience showcases how the capped profit model can be applied in a visual and collaborative work environment, promoting teamwork and employee satisfaction.

8. Shopify

Shopify is a leading e-commerce platform that empowers businesses to sell online. Known for its user-friendly approach and commitment to entrepreneurship, Shopify's compensation model is equally innovative.

Shopify's use of the capped profit model reflects its dedication to supporting businesses' long-term growth. By linking equity compensation to the company's ongoing profitability, Shopify motivates employees to contribute to the platform's sustained success. This approach aligns perfectly with Shopify's mission to make commerce better for everyone.

Employees at Shopify appreciate the model's emphasis on empowering businesses and entrepreneurs. It fosters a shared commitment to helping others succeed. Shopify's experience showcases how the capped profit model can be applied in the e-commerce industry to drive innovation and employee engagement.

9. Atlassian

Atlassian is a software company known for its popular products like Jira and Confluence, which facilitate collaboration and productivity. The company's innovative approach extends to its compensation strategy.

Atlassian's use of the capped profit model reflects its commitment to fostering collaboration and innovation in the tech industry. By tying equity compensation to the company's long-term success, Atlassian motivates employees to think strategically and work towards sustained growth. This approach aligns with Atlassian's mission to unleash the potential of every team.

Employees at Atlassian appreciate the model's focus on teamwork and innovation. It encourages a culture of continuous improvement and problem-solving. Atlassian's experience demonstrates how the capped profit model can thrive in a software development context, driving creativity and employee satisfaction.

10. Stripe

Stripe is an online payment processing platform that enables businesses to accept payments over the Internet. Known for its focus on simplifying financial transactions, Stripe's compensation philosophy is equally forward-thinking.

Stripe's use of the capped profit model reflects its dedication to innovation and the fintech industry. By linking equity compensation to the company's long-term profitability, Stripe motivates employees to contribute to the platform's sustained success. This approach aligns perfectly with Stripe's mission to increase the GDP of the internet.

Employees at Stripe appreciate the model's emphasis on simplifying online payments and its global impact. It fosters a sense of purpose and a commitment to making a difference. Stripe's experience showcases how the capped profit model can be applied in the financial technology sector to drive innovation and employee engagement.

Key Takeaways for Startups and Business Owners

Based on these diverse companies' capped profit model implementation, there are several key takeaways for startups and business owners considering innovative equity compensation models:

1. Customization is Key

The capped profit model is flexible and adaptable. Companies should customize it to align with their unique values, objectives, and corporate culture. What works for one organization may not work for another, so it's vital to tailor the model to your specific needs.

2. Transparent Communication

Maintaining open and transparent communication with employees about the model's mechanics and potential rewards is vital. Employees should have a clear understanding of how their efforts contribute to the company's success and how equity compensation ties into that success.

3. Regular Evaluation and Adaptation

The business landscape is constantly evolving. It's essential to regularly assess the capped profit model's effectiveness and adapt it as needed to align with changing goals and circumstances. Flexibility and agility are key to long-term success.

4. Focus on Long-Term Value

The model inherently encourages a long-term perspective. Businesses should leverage this to their advantage by emphasizing strategies that contribute to sustained growth rather than short-term gains. This shift in mindset can lead to more strategic decision-making.

5. Mitigating Risk

The capped profit model serves as a risk mitigation tool during challenging financial periods. Companies should recognize the value of this safety net and use it to navigate uncertainties with confidence, knowing that they can retain and motivate their talent even when times are tough.

6. Fair and Inclusive Distribution

Companies should design the model to ensure fairness and inclusivity in equity distribution. Preventing excessive wealth concentration among a few employees fosters a more equitable and collaborative work environment.

7. Enhanced Employee Satisfaction

Employees who participate in a capped profit model often report higher job satisfaction. This sense of ownership and shared success can lead to higher morale, increased productivity, and a more positive workplace culture.

If you want a real deal that guarantees employee satisfaction, consider complementing their basic salary package with Restricted Stock Units (RSUs). RSUs, with their performance-based vesting and cliffs, can help motivate your employees to push for a collaborative workplace that contributes to personal satisfaction. 

8. Inspiring Innovation

The model encourages innovation and creative problem-solving by aligning employee interests with the company's long-term success. Companies should leverage this to drive innovation and adapt to changing market dynamics.

Bottomline

As startups and business owners embark on their journey to equitable and forward-thinking compensation strategies, the lessons from these pioneers remind us that there's more than one path to prosperity. The capped profit model may well be the future of equity compensation, where businesses and employees work hand in hand to build a lasting legacy of success.

However, if you prefer a more straightforward and transparent option, try Upstock’s RSU plans. Ours are crafted with employee satisfaction and long-term ownership vision in mind. Book a demo today to find out why companies like Meta and X are staunch supporters of the RSU equity model.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Casey Fenton

Founder, Upstock & Couchsurfing, AI and Equity Innovator

Casey Fenton, the founder of Upstock & Couchsurfing and an AI and equity innovator, has revolutionized how we perceive and implement equity in the workplace. His foresight in creating platforms that not only connect people but also align their interests towards communal and corporate prosperity has established him as a pivotal figure in technology and community building. Casey speaks worldwide on topics including ownership mindset, worker equity, With Upstock and Couchsurfing, he has demonstrated an unparalleled expertise in harnessing technology for the betterment of community interaction and organizational benefits.

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