I am happy to reveal that a non-profit legal entity for Mastodon, Mastodon gGmbH, is in the process of being entered into the German company register.
For context, I have been operating as a sole proprietor so far.
It's been in the works for 8 months but I didn't want to announce anything until everything was finalized just in case it didn't work out. Yesterday, I paid in the starting capital.
It wouldn't be possible without the help and advice of @mellifluousbox. More to follow in blog form.
@Gargron @mellifluousbox I hope that doesn't mean taking venture capital.
@lucas there are a couple of reasons for creating a legal entity to govern floss projects: receiving donations, paying salaries/freelancers, holding infrastructure, holding trademarks, shielding contributors from legal risks, formalizing community/contributor ownership ...
@uniq @lucas @BollerwagenPicard most importantly: managing risk. If you do everything with your private money, you are liable with all your private money. In contrast, a (g)GmbH is liable only up to its share capital (basically the money the company "owns", the share capital of a (g)GmbH is at least 25 k€), so your personal ability to survive (, house, car, yacht) is not on the line. GmbH is basically comparable to LLC or Ltd in anglophone countries.
@jums Yes. Lifted from Wikipedia: "A gemeinnützige Gesellschaft mit beschränkter Haftung (gGmbH) is a special form of a limited liability company with a charitable purpose. [..] They are required to spend any profits by the end of the fiscal year it was accrued, and are allowed to build capital reserves totaling 10 percent of annual donations or 33 percent of dividends received."
quite similar to a Community Interest Company in the UK (the two community radio stations in my area operate in this form).
Although the German version has slightly more strict rules about the use of profits and capital reserves (ours has a similar intention but doesn't state exact figures although the company must declare what positive social impact it has achieved each year along with the usual financial statements)
@vfrmedia interesting. What's the point of declaring your social impact ? Is there a threshold or a sanction if there is not "enough" ?
@jums what happens to the profits and the directors and other staff salaries also have to be declared, there are rules on what can be done with the assets as well and a government regulator (so there are various potential sanctions, on top of those that could already be handed to directors of a limited company who do not comply with their statutory obligations)
(the whole set of info about how it works is at the link below)
@jums @galaxis Actually it's not a German invention, in the US it's called b-corp:
@jums Having capital doesn't necessarily imply creating profit. Just having the means for production.
The original server operated by the Mastodon gGmbH non-profit