Nine years ago, I proposed the idea of a Long-Term Stock Exchange in the epilogue of my book The Lean Startup. The objective was to create a public market designed for trading the stocks of companies organized to sustain long-term thinking.
The concept arose from the many conversations I had while researching the book. I heard from fellow company founders and executives, long-term institutional investors, managers, workers and others, who all told me their stories about the problems we see in the public capital markets today.
They described the immense pressure on companies to pursue short-term results over creating value for future decades and generations. They described innovation held hostage by boom-bust cycles, abrupt changes in governance, struggles to maintain constancy of purpose, and the difficulty for public companies in knowing who their long-term shareholders even are. One of the few things that pretty much everyone agreed on is that the focus on the short term undermines the building of sustainable businesses.
In the years since, I’ve assembled an incredible team to make that idea a reality: a public market that supports capital formation while sustaining long-term thinking. Today, after months of booting up, I am thrilled to report that the Long-Term Stock Exchange has opened for business with a mission to support companies and investors who share a long-term vision.
I owe a debt of gratitude to our team, to our investors, and to everyone who has worked to help us reach this milestone.
Imagine if in the years since 2011 — a period, until the coronavirus pandemic, of business prosperity — America’s public companies had listed on an exchange that ranked building a sustainable business a top priority. Trillions of dollars would have been redirected toward training employees, breakthrough research, strengthening corporate balance sheets and making needed investments.
Employees, customers, communities and the environment would be dramatically better off. The majority of shareholders would be better off as well, because those companies would be both better equipped to deal with the disruption of the pandemic and to emerge on the other side prepared to create value for years to come.
As we adapt to a different world, a public market that offers companies the resilience of long-term governance and supports the creation of value over time can help to put our society on the path toward a sounder future. The Long-Term Stock Exchange represents, I hope, one brick in a new foundation for our civic society.