Solium helps creative marketplace Redbubble along its global journey
Redbubble is well on its way to becoming the world’s largest marketplace for independent artists: a goal the company set back when it started in 2006. At the heart of this creative e-commerce site is a community of more than 450,000 independent artists who sell their work to millions of customers worldwide. Artists post designs and customers select the ones they want printed on a wide range of everyday items, from clothing to housewares. The products are then created on demand by third-party suppliers all over the world. Business is thriving and Redbubble is now in full global expansion mode. Solium is ensuring the company’s employee share plan can grow along with it.
Managing the challenges of global growth
After its initial public offering and listing on the Australian Securities Exchange (ASX) in 2016, Redbubble ramped up its international growth plans. With an expanding workforce worldwide, the company needed a new strategy to manage the increasing complexity of share plan administration.
The company started in 2006 with a handful of employees and that number had grown to more than 200 across Australia, the United States and Europe. Its existing plan administration platform was no longer adequate. The company needed a more powerful tool to manage its plans on a global scale.
Redbubble wanted a platform that would save time, reduce risk and improve visibility. It was also looking for some key capabilities:
- Configurable platform
- Accurate, real-time data delivery
- Quick in-house access to updates
- Easy-to-use tools for plan participants
Along with that, the system had to comply with accounting standard IFRS2 and support the calculation and payment of withholding taxes in jurisdictions beyond Australia. In the end, the company found the simple but robust solution it needed in Shareworks.
Working together eases transition
Redbubble’s implementation of the Shareworks platform was smooth and efficient. It took about six weeks and had minimal disruption on the business, says Paul Gordon, the company’s General Counsel and Company Secretary. Gordon attributes that to great collaboration.
“Solium provided a superior service every step of the way. The speed of the transition from our previous platform was incredible” he recalls. He says weekly check-ins ensured the implementation stayed on track and Solium representatives brought a “can-do attitude” to every meeting. “We were really impressed.”
As a newly listed public company, Redbubble relied on Solium’s international experience and the Australian team’s detailed knowledge of the platform’s capabilities. Redbubble’s administrators were also able to optimize the configurable platform to fit the company’s specific requirements. They created different settings for employees in different countries and business lines, added visually appealing charts, graphs, and intuitive navigation labels, and changed plan names and grants to reflect the company’s own terminology.
Transforming share plan management
Redbubble’s Financial Reporting and Equity Plan Manager, Dimple Shah, says Shareworks has helped the company manage its share plans with greater efficiency and less risk.
“We used to spend a lot of time emailing back and forth and double checking to make sure none of the separations had been missed,” explains Shah. “With Shareworks, it is a matter of seconds. It saves time, reduces risk and is just one of the many ways Shareworks is helping us improve the way we do things.”
Plan administrators now have a solution that supports all their activities. They can grant awards, calculate withholding taxes at vesting, sell shares, track mobile participants and manage an Employee Share Trust to facilitate on-market purchases of shares.
Managing share plans takes less time because administrators now have quick access to live data and can automate processes that used to be done manually. For regulatory and internal reporting, they use Shareworks to generate scheduled reports for the company secretary and finance team before board meetings and provide ad-hoc reports on the fly. There’s also no limit on how many reports plan administrators can create and schedule.
Forecasting vesting numbers is simpler too. It used to be done manually and took hours. It involved multiple spreadsheets and was prone to human error. Now, Shareworks draws on source data within the system, runs the appropriate filters and generates the required data automatically. And more accurate data means the company no longer has to troubleshoot errors because there are no items for reconciliation at the end of the month.
“Our processes are more streamlined, our administrators spend less time on manual tasks and have access to data in real time, which in turn leads to a better experience for our plan participants,” says Shah.
Participants send fewer queries about where to find documents and enjoy using a simple portal that contains all their equity-related information and makes it easy for them to access information on their own.
Bringing more creativity to the world
With a successful IPO behind it, Redbubble now has its sights set on attracting more artists and customers to its global marketplace. Future plans involve investing in technical infrastructure and building on its current international operations, which include offices in Melbourne, San Francisco and Berlin and websites in English, German, Spanish and French.
It’s been an exciting decade-long journey for Redbubble, but its mission is the same today as when it started: to provide an online marketplace that connects customers searching for unique and personalized products with independent artists eager to share their creativity with the world.