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    Etsy (ETSY), the online bazaar of handcrafted goods, received gobs of attention for its initial public offering last Thursday, in which shares nearly doubled to close at $30. Its big public offering could also help shine a spotlight on something else, though — the certification of "B Corp," which the company holds.That third-party badge, which comes from a nonprofit called B Lab, is intended to signal to customers, future employees and investors that a company has a strong commitment to being a good corporate citizen. To earn the certification, companies need to meet certain standards of social and environmental performance, accountability and transparency.Etsy (ETSY), for its part, has done plenty to earn its B Corp status, such as giving workers paid time off to volunteer, paying employees well above the local living wage and composting its office food waste. The company holds a score of 105 out of 200, according to B Lab's Web site, significantly higher than the score of 80 that's required to be eligible for certification.[CEO Chad Dickerson on his philosophy for running Etsy]Etsy (ETSY) is among the first certified B Corps to be publicly traded. Yet as more companies look for ways to juggle social responsibility and shareholder value, it's worth taking a deeper look at what the certification means, both to companies and investors. Her are five questions and answers that help explain the concept.So what's a B Corp? B Lab’s Web site says the designation aims to be to businesses "what Fair Trade certification is to coffee or USDA Organic certification is to milk.” Some companies that go through the certification see it as a marketing tool that helps promote their do-gooder business approach in a credible way to customers, potential employees or socially minded investors. Others see it as an organizing principle that helps hold them accountable to their corporate ideals when making decisions.To become a B Corp, companies first fill out an online assessment. After getting their score, they can elect to continue the process through a review with a B Lab staffer. To complete the certification, companies then must meet certain legal requirements that vary by state and reshape their legal cover for the company's management and board, so they can make decisions that benefit stakeholders besides just investors. (More on this below.) Companies must then get re-certified every two years.How much does it cost to become a B Corp? Katie Kerr, a spokeswoman for B Lab, said there are no fees to take the assessment that determines eligibility. But to become certified, the nonprofit requires annual fees based on a sliding scale. Those with annual revenues of less than $1 million pay a fee of $500 a year; those with revenues greater than $1 billion will pay a fee of $50,000 or more a year. Kerr said the fees go toward discounts, events, online portals for sharing best practices, as well as advertising and public relations campaigns by B Lab that feature certified companies.How many B Corps are there? Currently there are more than 1,200 B Corps, based in some 38 countries. Several recognizable brands have been certified, including baby food maker Plum Organics, ice cream maker Ben & Jerry’s, New Belgium Brewing Co., online glasses retailer Warby Parker, outdoor gear line Patagonia and soap maker Method Products.Yet it’s not all crunchy consumer products that have made the effort to get the sustainability stamp of approval. Law firms, manufacturing companies and real estate developers have all become B Corps. Vermont-based Green Mountain Power became the first public utility company to get certified.What’s the difference between a B Corp and a benefit corporation? It's a confusing but important distinction. B Corp is the name given to companies that have been certified by B Lab. A benefit corporation, meanwhile, is a legal status conferred by one of 27 states (plus Washington, D.C.) that have passed legislation allowing a new class of corporation.When companies incorporate under the benefit corporation legal structure, their responsibility to other stakeholders — such as employees or the community — becomes part of their charter. This means the companies are required to weigh the impact of their decisions on others besides just shareholders. The idea is to give these companies legal protection for working toward more than mere profit, but also give shareholders a way to hold them accountable if they slip on their social mission.Just to make it more confusing, B Lab has been part of the push for states to adopt the benefit corporation status. As part of its certification process, it also requires companies in most states to either become a benefit corporation or amend their legal documents so they mirror that structure. B Lab's site says that in Delaware, where Etsy (ETSY) is incorporated, certified B Corps are required to eventually become benefit corporations. Etsy's CEO, Chad Dickerson, told the New York Times (NYT) that for now, the company does not have plans to make the transition.What does this mean for investors? It’s too soon, really, to know. Etsy (ETSY) and Rally Software are the only two publicly traded U.S. companies to hold B Corp status. And like Etsy (ETSY), Rally Software also isn't registered as a benefit corporation. Making that conversion in the state of Delaware, where both are incorporated, would require a vote of 90 percent of shareholders, a very high bar. (A spokeswoman for Rally Software declined to comment on whether it planned to become a benefit corporation.)Still, it will be interesting to watch how such companies find a way to balance their social and financial goals in a business world that has long believed the purpose of a public corporation is to maximize shareholder value.Some investors could be concerned the focus on eco-friendly efforts or generous worker pay is happening at the expense of profits. Etsy’s Dickerson, for his part, has said a focus on people and profits can coexist. As he wrote in a company blog post Thursday, “Etsy (ETSY) has become a touchpoint of debate for larger issues, including whether the human-centered craftsmanship that we exist to support is compatible with being a public company, which requires a new set of responsibilities to shareholders. We understand the concern, but reject the premise that there is a choice to make between the two.”Read also:Podcast: Etsy CEO Chad Dickerson on leadershipCreating a class of 'do-good' companiesCan a happy, crunchy company like Etsy (ETSY) really survive on Wall Street?Like On Leadership? Follow us on Facebook (FB) and Twitter, and subscribe to our podcast on iTunes.




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    Shares of SandRidge Energy (SD) were gaining 2.2% to $2.08 Monday as oil prices were rising due to a drop in stockpiles at the delivery point for U.S. crude. WTI crude oil for May delivery was up 1.4% to $56.51 a barrel Wednesday, and Brent crude oil for June delivery was up 0.1% to $63.49 a barrel.

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    WASHINGTON-- It's what is feared by markets and by Federal Reserve officials alike-- a rerun of the May 2013 taper tantrum, when yields spiked higher on the suggestion of an imminent reduction in bond purchases. In a new research piece, Deutsche Bank's Joseph LaVorgna counts five episodes since 1994 when the yield on the 10- year Treasury note moved substantially higher because of a change in expectations on the likely path of Fed policy. "If history is a guide, a backup in Treasury...

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    Shares of Goldcorp Inc. (GG) are down by 1.26% to $19.56 in early afternoon trading on Monday, as some mining and related stocks are declining along with the price of gold. Gold for June delivery is slumping by 0.72% to $1,194.40 per ounce on the COMEX this afternoon.

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    The shares of a number of companies that are developing CAR-T cancer therapies are falling following the annual meeting of the American Association for Cancer Research. ANALYST REACTION: In a note to investors, Canaccord analyst John Newman wrote that UPenn's data was "modest at best," but added that the study is early.

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    U.S. stocks rally on Monday, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average jumping more than 200 points shortly after the opening bell. ESPN's Britt McHenry reminds us all the world's a stage. Britt McHenry's rant at a tow truck company's employee was caught on camera.

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    * Hasbro reports surprise revenue rise, shares jump. * Royal Caribbean falls as strong USD hurts onboard spending. * Indexes up: Dow 1.4 pct, S&P 1 pct, Nasdaq 1.2 pct. By Rodrigo Campos. U.S. stocks rose on Monday, reversing much of the previous session's sharp decline, as China's steps to stimulate its slowing economy and as earnings lured money back into equities.

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    * Benchmark yields not far from near 2-week lows * Worries about Greek exit from euro zone cap market decline * Fed's Dudley sees U.S. rate hike later 2015, still cautious By Richard Leong NEW YORK, April 20 - U.S. Treasuries prices fell on Monday as stronger U.S. stock prices reduced safe-haven demand for bonds, though traders remained wary about the future of cash-strapped Greece staying in t...

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    began the week on a cheerful note, rebounding from last week's losses. The Dow Jones Industrial Average jumped by triple digits shortly after the opening bell. Investors welcomed upbeat earnings reports and fresh monetary easing measures from China's central bank.

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    Stocks extended gains by late morning Monday as markets enjoyed a broad rally and commodities markets spiked. Crude oil rallied after China launched its latest stimulus measures on Sunday in a move to combat economic growth at six-year lows.

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    Shares of Colgate-Palmolive Co  are declining, down 0.84% to $69.28 in pre-market trading Monday, after the consumer goods company was downgraded by analysts at Goldman Sachs (GS) to "sell" from "neutral" this morning. Analysts at the firm set a 12-month price target of $64 on shares of Colgate-Palmolive (CL). Goldman analysts said the company's foreign-exchange exposure is substantial.

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     The Nasdaq Composite and Russell 2000 continue to be the best-year-to-date performers, but gains have slipped to 4.1% and 3.9%, respectively. The Dow Jones Industrial Average is virtually flat with the S&P 500, which is up just 1.1%, and the drags continue to be the Dow Jones Transportation Average and the Dow Jones Utilities Average, down 5.4% and 5.6%, respectively.