One of the first American software companies to adopt a novel ownership structure is an open source software company.
Wine’s open source developer, CodeWeavers, is creating an employee ownership trust that will own a majority stake in the business. The CodeWeavers Employee Ownership Trust will provide staff members a bigger say in business decisions and allow them to profit from the company’s success.
Employee ownership trust structures are still uncommon in the United States but are becoming more prevalent in Europe. One of the first U.S. software companies to use this new ownership model will be CodeWeavers.
The Trust will eventually become the only shareholder of the business under the new ownership arrangement. The company will continue to function for the benefit of its clients, the open source community, and its employees thanks to the Trust’s clearly stated purpose. The Trust will be managed in accordance with these principles by a stewardship committee. Employees who were elected to serve on the committee predominate, giving employees a strong influence in corporate direction.
This action is consistent with CodeWeavers’ long-standing dedication to open source ideals, which place a premium on community interaction, cooperation, and transparency. The organisation has a long history of supporting the creation of open source software, perhaps best known for the Wine Project, which makes it possible for Windows software to run on macOS and Linux systems. The compatibility employed by the well-known Steam Deck gaming system is powered by the Wine Project, code-named Proton
In April 2023, the CodeWeavers Employee Ownership Trust went into effect. After seven years, Jeremy White will no longer be a stakeholder; the Trust will then be the only shareholder.
White has stepped down from his position as CEO as part of the company’s succession strategy and is now chairman of the board and a member of the trust stewardship committee. The longtime president of the business, James Ramey, will become CEO. This change guarantees a smooth leadership turnover and puts the business in a position for continued growth under Ramey’s capable direction.
“I started looking at employee ownership models three years ago.” said CodeWeavers founder and CEO Jeremy White. “ESOPs and coops rely on specific U.S. laws, and our workforce is spread around the world. With an employee ownership trust, I was able to get exactly the result I wanted, with a much lower ongoing cost structure.”
CodeWeavers worked with Common Trust, the leading U.S. expert in employee ownership exit planning, to design and execute the company’s transition to an employee ownership trust. “Common Trust has been invaluable in helping us to envision and establish our trust,” said White.