RStudio, PBC

January 28, 2020

We started the RStudio project because we were excited and inspired by R. The creators of R provided a flexible and powerful foundation for statistical computing; then made it free and open so that it could be improved collaboratively and its benefits could be shared by the widest possible audience.

It’s better for everyone if the tools used for research and science are free and open. Reproducibility, widespread sharing of knowledge and techniques, and the leveling of the playing field by eliminating cost barriers are but a few of the shared benefits of free software in science.

RStudio’s mission is to create free and open-source software for data science, scientific research, and technical communication. To that end, we currently lead contributions to over 250 open-source projects. To support this work, RStudio also sells a variety of commercial software products that enable teams to adopt open-source data science software at scale; along with online services to make it easier to learn and use data science tools over the web.

Melding the mission of creating open-source software with the imperatives of sustaining a commercial enterprise is a tricky business. It’s especially so today, as corporations are frequently forced into doing whatever it takes to sustain growth and provide returns to shareholders, even against the interests of their own customers! Users should be wary of the underlying motivations and goals of software companies, especially ones that provide the essential tools required to carry out their work.

In order to truly fulfill our open-source mission, RStudio needs to be uncompromisingly run for the benefit of all stakeholders, including employees, customers, and the community at large. Additionally, RStudio needs to earn the trust of its users, not just through its actions, but also its formal corporate charter. Until recently, there was no means under US corporate law for companies to put their mission and other stakeholders on equal footing with shareholders. Fortunately, thanks to the B-Corp movement, we now have a tool to do so: the Public Benefit Corporation. Today, we are thrilled to announce that RStudio has become a Public Benefit Corporation. RStudio, Inc. is now RStudio, PBC.

By becoming a PBC, we have codified our open-source mission into our charter, which means that our corporate decisions must both align with this mission, as well as balance the interests of community, customers, employees, and shareholders. As a PBC, RStudio will publish an annual report that describes the public benefit we have created, along with how we seek to provide public benefits in the future. The first of these annual reports is available on our website today.

As part of this transition, we have also been recognized as a Certified B Corporation (B Corp), joining a group of for-profit companies assessed to meet the highest standards of social and environmental performance, transparency, and accountability. These standards are measured by the non-profit B Lab’s “Impact Assessment”, a rigorous assessment of a company’s impact on its workers, customers, community, and environment. Details of this assessment can be found at: https://bcorporation.net/directory/rstudio.

More details on our transition to Benefit Corporation are available in my keynote slides from rstudio::conf 2020 as well as our first annual Public Benefit Report.

With this sustainable foundation and the support of our customers, employees, and the community, we look forward to making many more contributions in the years ahead.

J.J. Allaire's Keynote at rstudio::conf 2020, announcing RStudio, PBC

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