Before you get too excited there are some significant differences to imutual
Firstly, they seem to be predominantly US-based. According to their site:
They claim to also service other countries, including the UK and Ireland, but I can't really work out how to access UK offersBigCrumbs.com generates millions of dollars in revenue each month, serves a constantly expanding member base, and is one of the top loyalty programs in the United States.
Their new initiative is called Crumbshares, which they explain thus:
Sounds a bit like imutual, doesn't it? Except that they're not offering real "shares" (or "stock" as they say across the Atlantic). From the T&Cs:Each time you earn cash back through BigCrumbs, you'll also earn an equivalent number of CrumbShares..... In the event that BigCrumbs is acquired by another company, you may redeem your CrumbShares for a percentage of the cash compensation that BigCrumbs receives. The percentage that you will earn is based on the percentage of all CrumbShares that you own.
US regulations make it much trickier to give away 'real' shares. To quote the owner:CrumbShares are not options, securities or equities, are non-transferrable and have no monetary value.
As a consequence, you don't get any true ownership or control of the company i.e. members don't have any additional influence over what the company does. Compare that with imutual where you can vote for directors and on resolutions, have an automatic right to see audited accounts and ask questions etc.not quite ownership. We have to be careful with that word per securities regulations. Plus, you'd have to pay taxes immediately if they were actual stock or options!
"So what?" you might say. "I'm just interested in getting a payout once they sell up". Ah but you have no say in whether to accept such an offer. And the lack of true shareholder rights could actually affect how much you receive. I've seen many of these "pseudo-share" schemes before and they have a habit of unravelling (or being purposely 'circumvented') before any sale is achieved. I don't doubt that in this instance the owners have perfectly good intentions, but here's an example of how things might not work out as the members expect.
The T&Cs state:
Now, you might ask questions about exactly what constitutes "legal and other expenses", what happens to "unclaimed amounts" linked with inactive accounts and whether staff also hold "CrumbShares". But I reckon the biggest likely impact is around the phrase "net cash proceeds". The T&Cs later expand on this:BigCrumbs.com will set aside fifty percent (50%) of the net cash proceeds (minus associated legal and other expenses) to be shared among members who hold CrumbShares.
An offer for this company is likely to consist partly (and possibly wholly) of shares in the acquiring company. e.g. if Facebook buys them, the owner might be offered $Xm of Facebook shares and NO CASH. That would mean no payout for members. Though of course the acquirer would need to factor in the bad will that would generate, so a mixture of cash and shares is more likely. But as you are not true shareholders you have no right to be told the details of the deal; you may just be told how much net cash is involvedYou understand that the CrumbShares program represents only an agreement between you and BigCrumbs.com that provides you with a claim to a certain percentage, as set forth herein, of the net cash (not stock) proceeds of a completed purchase of BigCrumbs.com.
So unlike imutual (which guarantees its members 90% of ALL the proceeds of any sale), this site is offering its members at most 50% of the "net cash" element and with little control over the terms or acceptance of such an offer.
But having said that, it does seem to be a genuine offer and it's encouraging to see a site similar to ours embracing the "Members deserve a share of the company" concept. Interesting times...