In a huge show of generosity that could make millionaires of select employees, Chobani has announced that its 2,000 full-time workers in its upstate New York headquarters will each receive an ownership stake in the company.
Hamdi Ulukaya, the philanthropy-minded Turkish immigrant who founded Chobani in 2005, has made billions from the company. Ulukaya has been a leading figure in efforts to aid global refugees, hiring hundreds of them to work for Chobani in the last five years, and pledging more than half of his personal wealth to the humanitarian crisis.
Tent, a foundation launched by Ulukaya, works to connect refugees — from war-torn regions like Iraq, Syria, and the Sudan — with resources from the private sector, enabling asylum seekers to obtain job skills and physical necessities.
On Tuesday, April 26, Chobani employees were given news of Ulukaya’s decision, with packets sharing individual information about how many shares they would receive once the company went public or was sold. The number of shares is based on tenure, meaning that the size of the stake is based on how long an employee has worked at the company. For Chobani’s earliest employees, the value of their shares is potentially worth more than $1 million. The average value of an employee’s shares is approximately $150,000.
“I’ve built something I never thought would be such a success, but I cannot think of Chobani being built without all these people,” Ulukaya told the New York Times. “Now they’ll be working to build the company even more and building their future at the same time.”