We can come together by building it together.
We can Disrupt.
Technology first enabled companies to automate, get more efficient, and grow at unprecedented levels. Now it’s driving an epic concentration of industries and economic returns. Individuals and firms with more power than many nations, possessing proprietary knowledge of technologies and in control of the platforms that power society, are exponentially furthering their own power and gains, often in ways that tear the fabric of society.
The shift to a shareholder-first ethos coincided with a rise of computers and networks. Technology enabled work to be automated, and outsourcing, cost cutting, and downsizing became commonplace. It also enabled firms to grow globally by acquiring and operating firms in distant markets.
Yet, waves of new economy, digital startups “unencumbered” by large workforces, inventory, real estate or other assets, scaled at an extraordinary pace, quickly displacing yesterday’s market leaders and becoming the largest and most profitable firms in the world.
As our world shifted from one based on physical goods to one dominated by digital flows, “old economy” firms began embracing digital business models and “digital economy” firms began moving into the physical world. This convergence has touched off a race to dominate a new omni-channel world in every single arena of the global economy.
We stand at the beginning of a radical new future, where technology can lead to fantastic innovations. But this new winner-take-all world comes with entirely new economic theories, playbooks and rules (most often, a returns-driven obsession with speed and scale combined with a culture of “move fast and break things” that too often leaves a wake of difficult consequences for society). Those who successfully leverage the new rules gain power; those who don’t, fall further behind.
Historians will look back on this moment as one that disrupted the established order in ways so enormous that society is forever altered. What that looks like is up to us. We can disrupt, but to what end? For greater concentration of power and wealth and value capture for a few? Or for a democratized future of more widespread thriving.
We can Disrupt to Democratize.
We believe the next frontier for massively scalable solutions looks a lot different than ventures past. Yesterday the corporation was sovereign, focusing on efficiency and optimizing for profits and shareholder return. In the digital era, the network reigns and it is supercharged by technology. The rise of networks gives us the power to question everything about the way the world works and rewrite all the rules. Tomorrow’s digital solutions will eliminate old school institutions, remove no-longer-necessary middlemen, connect people directly to one another, and upend the economic and power dynamics of society. With technology, we can build an entirely different, and better, future for all of us.
Individuals can leverage technology to connect directly across borders, time zones, social class, ages, and more, faster and more efficiently than ever before. In doing so, power can be more widely distributed and less concentrated.
Networks also thrive on trust rather than hierarchy or bureaucracy, making them more adaptive and creative. Networks enable even the smallest voices to be lifted up or lift themselves up in ways never before imagined.
When we see our own agency and capacity to create, engage, work, play, then we begin to question all barriers in the way of doing so. It starts by questioning everything. Why does the world work the way it works?
What institutions do we assume have permanence but, in actuality, only exist because we choose systems and structures that give them a role? We often mistake the utility for the organizational package it comes in, giving us a false sense of institutional inevitability.
What processes do we follow because it’s “the way things have always been done?” Rather than making those things more efficient, could we step back and reimagine entirely new ways to get the job done from the ground up?
What existed yesterday that no longer serves our tomorrow? Just because it’s “what is” doesn’t mean it’s what’s best. Technology gives us a blank canvas to create something new.
We back countercultural thinkers with the audacity to ask the hard questions, the vision to imagine something entirely new, and the excellence to successfully build their solutions at scale. We earn our partners an attractive return while funding positive transformation in the arenas of society and the economy most ripe for democratized solutions. This means we back early stage teams and ideas with a clear viewpoint.
We can Digitize. We can bring more of our lives and more sectors of society online in empowering ways. We can lower friction and increase immediacy of action.
We can Decentralize and Distribute. We can shift from central locations and organizations to more decentralized, accessible models. What institutions now control, the crowd can do for themselves.
We can Decouple. We can separate products and services from the utility they provide and then reconstruct those functions in new, unbundled models.
We can Deinstitutionalize. We can eliminate obsolete institutions and no-longer-necessary middlemen that used to be central. In doing so, we can directly connect people to one another in entirely new ways. We can Disrupt to Democratize nearly every arena of society.
We can Disrupt to Democratize nearly every arena of society.
In Civil Society
In Food + Agriculture
In Small Businesses + Startups
We’re Also Builders.
The future will only truly be democratic if more of us are participating in it and sharing in the immense potential of it. Today, too many of us, in a lot of places, are being left behind. This isn’t (just) about job skills and workforce training. This is about everyone being able to see the possibilities the digital economy is presenting, feeling like they have the power to take action, and having the tools to be an active part of creating the future. We call that Buildership™ and we aim to share it with as many people, in as many places as possible.
We can all look around us and see problems we wish someone would solve. With the right lens, though, we instead could see the possibilities for a better future and our role in creating it. We are at a historic moment to grasp three world-changing opportunities.
First, we can see “the digital era” as more than smartphones, apps and job-displacing automation and grasp the power it gives us. The power to connect directly with one another, in networks, across all historic or geographic boundaries. The power to organize without organizations or intermediaries, to mobilize quickly, and to communicate, collaborate, solve problems or take advantage of opportunities. Networks unlock the latent gifts, talents and connections of the entire community, rather than only those in a designated position of power in a hierarchy. Anyone can have an idea, and networks can help those ideas reach scale. If more of us grasped the potential this holds for solving the problems we care about and reimagining society in ways where more of us prosper, it would be an unstoppable force.
Second, we can all use proven entrepreneurial problem solving methods and tools to tackle enormous challenges of our time that can often feel overwhelming. With a few simple tools we could see a clear path forward to action. Breaking down a problem. Ideating. Then running quick, simple, experiments to see what works. Natural-born builders do this instinctively but others can develop it. We teach it to entrepreneurs everyday but everyone, everywhere can also learn it and put it to use. It isn’t just a tool for launching new ventures. It is the key to solving the problems we most care about. Especially in this digital era where all things have the potential to be reimagined.
Finally, we can shift our thinking. In an era of scale, it can be easy to forget that every big idea has to start somewhere, and our startup myopia makes us think that the only way we can express entrepreneurial action is by starting a company. This keeps many of us from taking action. The reality is, we can think big but start small. We can just pick up a pebble. Whether that’s volunteering, learning about a problem you care about, brainstorming some ideas, supporting someone tackling it, or just trying something out. There are problems everywhere crying out for solutions. Every single one of us is needed.