Signals | November 16, 2021

Sustainable infrastructure company Generate Capital becomes a public benefit corporation

Amy Cortese
ImpactAlpha Editor

Amy Cortese

ImpactAlpha, Nov. 16 – Generate Capital is embedding its mission to build a more sustainable world into its charter. The San Francisco-based investor, owner and operator of sustainable infrastructure is the latest company to re-incorporate as a public benefit corp, or PBC.

Generate’s Scott Jacobs says the move will help protect the interests of community members, customers, suppliers, employees and other stakeholders.

Generate has long been structured as a corporation, not a series of funds. “The fiduciary duty of the board and the shareholders now includes a duty to the public benefit,” Jacobs told ImpactAlpha. “We think this is stakeholder capitalism at its finest.” 

Walking the Talk

PBCs are gaining as a way for companies to signal their values – and protect them from short-term profit pressures. Companies including ZenBusiness, Novata, Lemonade, Vital Farms, AppHarvest, WeFunder, Coursera, and Amalgamated Bank have adopted the legal structure.

Still, their ranks are slim compared to the masses of companies making social and environmental pledges. Generate, which raised a fresh $2 billion in July, hopes other companies and investors “feel the pressure to make their sustainability bona fides more transparent,” Jacobs said. “What we have done today is we’ve changed our incentives. And we’re calling on everybody else to do the same thing.” 

Generate’s investors signed off on the move. “To build the resilient, climate-aligned infrastructure that meets our net zero emissions goals, we need everyone focused on bringing all stakeholders into the process,” said Ross Israel of Australia’s Queensland Investment Corporation and a Generate board member.