The State of the NewCo


Welcome to the last NewCo Daily of 2015. We’ll be back January 4 to chronicle what NewCos are doing and start delivering a number of new editorial products (including one in January). It’s too early for us to run a comprehensive year-in-review piece (hey, we’ve only been publishing this newsletter since October) but today we’d like to look at the state of the basic unit of measurement for the NewCo: the company.

The NewCo Daily covers the organizations and the people in them trying to make meaningful change. Our founder John Battelle calls them companies on a mission, which is a subtle but important difference from being a company with a mission. Most companies have a mission. But companies on a mission are more likely to be open, driven by purposeful ideas, connected to their cities and communities, and connected to one another.

A report recently published by the JUST Capital Foundation investigates the role of the corporation in American society. It’s an impressive undertaking — more than 43,000 respondents — and we’ll address it in more detail in the coming year. But two data points jump out. One is that, across ideology and incomes, nearly 100% of respondents said measuring “corporate justness” is important. And no matter how JUST sliced the ideological pie, it never saw more than 50% of respondents say they trusted corporations. The desire to make businesses better is universal, and the belief that companies must earn our trust is strong.

Most important is what a company does, but what a company says has a great impact on its behavior. For example, if you’re on a mission, your mission statement has to be more than a series of rote bromides. NewCos like Patagonia (which we profiled recently) say what it believes upfront. Its mission statement: “Build the best product, cause no unnecessary harm, use business to inspire and implement solutions to the environmental crisis.” It captures both the idealistic and realistic reasons to build a business. Another NewCo, Warby Parker, says it was founded “with a rebellious spirit and a lofty objective: to offer designer eyewear with a revolutionary price, while leading the way for socially-conscious businesses.” A great mission statement says how a company will do well and how it will make good. It describes what it means to be on a mission.

We live in amazing times. Just this week a new kind of reusable rocket returned safely and gently to Earth after completing its mission. In our media products and our core festivals, we’re not only chronicling and celebrating NewCos. We’re also trying to live up to being one ourselves. We look forward to sharing the adventure with you next year and beyond.

Originally published at on December 23, 2015.

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