Eckart Wintzen (1939 - 2008) was an unconventional Dutch entrepreneur who has inspired many people in the Netherlands and abroad. Often labeled as management guru, he was also a visionary thinker and pioneer in the field of sustainability. Ex’tax is based on the concept of Value Extracted Tax, which Wintzen promoted since 1990. The Ex’tax Project was founded to continue to build on the legacy of Wintzen.
In the 1990s Eckart Wintzen built an IT company of 10,000 employees with offices in 20 countries. He did this by applying his own management approach, the ‘cell structure’ that meant that employees worked in relatively small self-sufficient groups. BSO was a sought after employer, communicating in the most creative ways, for example by publishing an annual report written for children.
BSO was the first to publish an integrated annual report in 1990, showing how much CO2 and waste the company had produced. The report also expressed the intrinsic value that was extracted from the environment by this pollution.
Eckart's book about this period, Eckart’s Notes has been read by more than 50,000 people and continues to inspire a broad audience.
Value Extracted Tax
As an entrepreneur Eckart was fully aware of the fact that in our society, the costs of labour are very high due to taxes, VAT, premiums etcetera. Resources, on the other hand, are hardly taxed and therefore they are used unrestrained. He noted that entrepreneurs, who want to compete and lower costs, will at first instance see if they can reduce the number of employees, even if that means using more materials, machines or energy.
Eckart was worried about the effects of our current fiscal system, as this system in his opinion was the root cause for both the climate crisis and overconsumption of resources as well as unemployment. He wanted the economic?system to shift towards taking better care of the planet and of people. This article explains his original opinion.
Pioneering in green investment
After selling his software business BSO/Origin in 1996, Eckart decided to ‘put his money where his mouth was’ and he initiated Ex’tent Green Venture Capital. A fund dedicated to help stimulate the free market economy to move towards welfare through services and digital entertainment rather than material consumerism. Ex'tent (Eckart's tent) has for example supported Ben & Jerry's (the ice cream), Greenwheels (car sharing) and founded Ex'pression College for Digital Arts.
After Eckart passed away, Ex'tent invested heavily in the development of Ex'tax. In 2012 The Ex’tax Project was initiated to take over the baton and to continue with Eckart’s range of ideas.
“Sustainable development is possible, but only if we begin managing the environment according to sound business principles. The goal of every company is to ensure its continuation and economic growth for the benefit of its employees and its shareholders. Is it not time then for us all, as equal shareholders in Earth Inc., to guarantee the sustainability of our own future prosperity? We must do this neither out of pie-in-the-sky idealism nor vague messianic ambitions, but out of pure economic necessity, a source of inspiration that has been the mother of so many fruitful inventions in the past.” -Eckart Wintzen