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e-Jan Internal Stock Market

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If someone asks, "Who owns the company?" one of the exemplary answers would be "It belongs to its stakeholders." Stakeholders are people and organizations affiliated with the company who make it possible to run, broadly encompassing shareholders, employees, customers, suppliers, and local communities. On the other hand, a capitalist answer would be "It belongs to the shareholders."

Questioning whether the stakeholders or the shareholders own the company is like arguing your belief in communism or capitalism, so it's an answerless sort of thing. I dislike arguments such as "who is right?", so I simply don't join such debates. When that kinds of arguments begin, I normally pull myself out and start to search for a possible alternative idea that potentially everyone can accept. So, to answer the question above, I thought the idea "Shareholders = Employees," could work.

In the "Shareholders = Employees" world, you work not only to earn money, but also to improve the company. If the company succeeds in the long run, as a shareholder, it would lead to the increase of your assets. It might sound like an old-fashioned family owned business style, but I would like to actualize it on a larger scale. If you work for yourself towards a better future, then it would bring out endless proactive energy toward your work.

Last year, I started to look into the possibility of a "Shareholders = Employees" structure. We were able to purchase back our stocks from our sponsor Toray last year, therefore, we currently have no stakeholders outside of the company; all of the stockholders are our directors. This is a very fortunate situation. We are lucky that we can think and act in a flexible way. I wanted to create an internal stock market within the company, so employees could trade their stocks among each other. Unfortunately, it was not feasible due to the current tax and law system. We would end up paying too much taxes and the law would take away the agility of the trades.

Currently I am considering an alternative idea. It is to have a stockholders' committee that would manage the amount of stocks owned among the employees. If the stocks were traded at a fixed price, we could encourage the employees to purchase stocks and the company could match 5 to 10% every year. The stockholders' committee purchase the stocks back upon employees' retirement, which would make it an automatic saving and investment system for employees. On top of that, the company wouldn't have external stockholders; external stockholders' interests tend to stick to their returns, not necessarily to the soundness of the company. When the company issued dividends, everyone would enjoy the cash return.

This might sound a little bit odd now, but I believe it could be a new style of running companies in the near future!

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