A couple of days ago I shared something that I am passionate about making a reality. A wholly employee owned company from top to bottom. It’s actually one of the ways I think that we can start to fix what ails us from the inside out.
I asked Charlie O’Donnell (@ceonyc) to take a look at the post and give me his thoughts. Charlie is a guy I’ve followed on Twitter for a while and the reason I wanted to specifically get his feedback is because he’s also a venture capitalist in NYC. His response, was in large part, just what I expected.
@jamespoling bc 1) investors who take startup risk need a big payday (not payback over time) exit. And 2) founders want same thing, not caps
— Charlie O'Donnell (@ceonyc) July 20, 2013
The gist of the answer is that the people with money want more than to just make a profit, they want to make an obscene amount of it. His second response was that anyone who might have the ability to actually fund the project themselves and head the company wouldn’t want any sort of cap as to how much they made. What’s being left unsaid is that they would only want to cap what the workers made.
So here are the two things I’m taking away from that. I get that a lot of investors these days are not only looking to make obscene amounts on their investment but almost expect it. With billion dollar acquisitions happening in the tech industry becoming common place I can’t say that I blame them. But what I’m talking about isn’t a short-term investment in hopes of a big buyout on a technology that may or may not be relevant in five years. It’s a longterm investment meant to help hundreds, if not thousands of people for generations to come. That being said we can probably discount finding a “conventional” VC willing to take the risk on a business like this.
That leaves finding a founder. Admittedly this investment, at least in the beginning, is going to need to be accompanied by a nice dose of philanthropy. Someone who who has the foresight to see that while, there may be other opportunities that have the potential to make a slightly higher profit in the short-term, an investment like this has the potential to effect not just themselves, but a countless number of people for generations to come. Someone who has the vision to see that an investment in creating a strong, self-sustaining working class benefits everyone either directly or indirectly.
One response I still have yet to hear is that this concept is unsustainable. That a collective of hard working, driven people couldn’t succeed AND reap the benefits of their hard work and success rather than have the fruits of their labor funneled up to a few people at the top leaving far too many struggling just to get by. Where a company with billion dollar profits suggest to their employees that if they want to survive they should just get a second full-time job.