By definition, a public benefit corporation (PBC) is a corporate entity whose charter purpose includes one or more specific “public benefits” that support not just shareholder — but stakeholder value.
We view our stakeholders as the participants of the public information ecosystem — the thousands of people who use our software every day to do their work together — from the staff at the newspapers across the country to the clients they serve in the public notice process.
Our public benefit status shapes the decisions we make and the approach we take to building our business like providing free websites for the display of public information or convening advisory boards across our community of users.
Our company was founded from a deep loyalty to journalism, handed down through five generations of the local news business.
From programmatically generating and distributing legal documents, to forging strategic partnerships, to improving the security of our software, everything we do is fundamentally aimed at offering products developed by a team that our partners can trust.
We believe that the problem we've chosen won't be solved by a cocktail conversation about the health of information systems or about how important local news is — it is. But this mission can't be just a philanthropic cause, the conclusion of an op-ed or the topic of a panel at an industry conference. Even if those things happen to be part of our journey, this problem demands more.
We show up. We deal directly with folks on the ground cataloging public records and keeping local journalism alive. There are more problems than we have time or energy to solve, so we ruthlessly prioritize building solutions that matter most. We communicate clearly about needs and outcomes, allocate time and capital rigorously, tune out the noise, and do great work.
Life is too short to learn every lesson the hard way.
Still, we place significance in learning from experience. We’re never deterred from hard lessons, we are constantly educating ourselves, we read voraciously, we seek from mentors (probably too much), we communicate honestly and operate without ego.
Above all else, we treat curiosity like a skill. And we practice it alot. It’s the gateway to knowledge, one that requires us to exercise attention to detail. We get more out of experiences tinged by our ever-present curiosity. Because everything we know, whether it be now or in the future, comes down to having the right questions and then asking them until you get the answers.
We believe community is something being woven into the ether of social fabric that surrounds us all the time. It’s also an element we weave into the support structures of our team, partners, customers, mentors and friends.
Going one step further, our products and services allow us to reach beyond the confines of our offices, weaving a sense of community into communities themselves. It’s a direct effect. Because we make intentional product decisions that build trust, tell stories and enrich the lives of those we serve. And those products support the distribution of public interest information in communities of all sizes. Where it’s needed.
Every startup begins with a story. That’s nothing new. But it’s the story’s narrative—and the narrator, for that matter—that has the power to change the world. It can divert the flow of capital, change centuries-old institutions and shape the course of a person's life.
Each of us has a story, our own collection of chapters, that detail the personal journeys that drew us to Column. And now, here at our offices, or remotely through our homes, we interlace these stories into a sum larger than its parts. A story we’re proud to tell. One that grows everyday with new experiences, individual eccentricities and our attempts to make each other laugh - whether feeble or fabled.
Led by a team of wildly talented technologists and civic-minded builders, our Columnists have a wide variety of backgrounds, histories and areas of expertise. We’re former startup founders, award-winning filmmakers, dancers & poets, designers, teachers, mentors—the list goes on. We come from communities both large and small. And each of us has a story to tell.
We are a wildly talented remote-first team. Sure, our Columnists are software engineers, marketers, salespeople, operators, and designers. But, we are also musicians, authors, dancers, (recovering) lawyers, former startup founders, and even award-winning filmmakers. Every Columnist has a story to tell. Will you join us?