[Last update: Dec 07, 2019]
You either die a hero, or live long enough to see yourself become the villain.
— Harvey Dent, The Dark Knight Rises.
Business benevolence is a hard problem.
Founders often start off with a noble cause but with time and rapid growth soon find themselves stepping on the wrong squares a few years down the line. Their startup soon turns into this ‘interest group’ that is designed to extract value from every opportunity that comes their way. The key design problem of a for-profit organism is the requirement of unsustainable growth. The pursuit of maximizing shareholder value through profit easily turns good organizations into horrible monsters, especially on the web where the attention is the key driver of the economy.
The other option is to go with a non-profit set up like the Mozilla Foundation. And hope that enough good folks will donate money for sustenance and growth. Fortunately this strategy worked well for Mozilla earlier during the browser war with Microsoft’s Internet Explorer, but it seems to have taken a beating lately. The dominance of Google Chrome is a tough challenge to go after as a non-profit with a small budget.
Mind you, the perception that ‘a non-profit entity could not be evil’ or any less so than a for-profit one too is questionable. Look at the NRA, for example, and what they stand for despite being a 501(c)(4) non-profit. At the end of the day, in my opinion, being good and doing right in face of adversity or growth is completely a personal choice. Integrity stems from within and will always be a critical ingredient of the company’s DNA. The type of set-up obviously has some impact initially but it is the nature of the founders and their collective karma with the people they end up hiring on team later on that will determine the long term personality of the business.
Setting up Bubblin Superbooks
I am glad that we are documenting these thoughts as we go about setting up Bubblin Superbooks. Sonica and I have decided to register a PBC type of Delaware Corp with the following statement of purpose:
…to produce universally accessible books for consumers on the web by designing, developing and distributing book making software tools that deepen the effectiveness of the Internet and books together as a single unified resource.
Super thankful to the folks at Clerky, Greg Newby and Varun Singh for helping me on the processes of starting up and understanding the designs of entity formation. I am hopeful that Bubblin will grow up into a good company and remain net positive in perpetuity—long after I am gone and the generations after. The journey has only begun, but the track is set.
P.S.: It is likely that some of you viewed this article on your desktop or mobile. If you did that, I recommend you bookmarking us on the iPad! :-)