This Is What Businesses Making a Difference Looks Like
Anyone who’s grown cynical regarding the impact business can have on the lives of citizens should look toward Georgia, where governor Nathan Deal said he will veto a bill that would have excused critics of same-sex marriage from various anti-discrimination laws. The bill the Governor will veto was fought by many dozens of multinational companies with a Georgia footprint, among them Apple, Delta, Disney, Home Depot, Intel, Microsoft, Salesforce (whose CEO Marc Benioff led the charge), Unilever, and at least two sports leagues. Some merely expressed opposition; others publicly threatened to reduce investment in Georgia if the bill became law. This is a vivid example of companies acting like humans and leading toward purpose as well as profit. And it may signal a trend: A similar movement is underway to thwart a related law in North Carolina that has been signed already.
Encryption as Luxury Good
Even before its recently resolved (for now) tangle with the FBI, Apple was using encryption as a way to differentiate its phones from those running on Android. That’s no doubt a strong selling point, but it also makes The Atlantic wonder whether encryption is becoming something only those at the top of the ladder can enjoy. Cheap Android phones cost less than $50; iPhones go for 10x that. Google is stepping up security and making encryption the default on all but its lower-end models, but it still leaves inequality: “users who can only buy the cheapest possible smartphone are the most vulnerable to surveillance — and simultaneously the most likely to be surveilled.”
The Real Cost of Outsourcing
Sometimes conventional wisdom is wrong — and sometimes it’s worse than that. Tim O’Reilly rips into the common rationale for outsourcing across borders. Companies say they do it to support “value creation,” but O’Reilly argues it’s “a forced wealth reallocation from one set of stakeholders in the company to another.” What forces it? Not markets for goods and services, but “financial markets, where greed sets the price.” O’Reilly’s broadside forces you to look more closely at the assumption that low costs and high profits are the thing that matter most.
What’s Worth Copying — And What’s Not
Does the “Uber for X” model work when X does not equal Uber? If you’re still asking that question, which many are doing right now (NYT), it’s probably too late. We’re likely past peak “Uber for X,” and, after all, the on-demand economy is a lot more than just Uber clones. Those who hope to succeed in it must move beyond copying and into true innovation. So what’s really worth copying? Ask investor Chamath Palihapitiya, who told re/code’s Kara Swisher: “If you’re going to copy, copy the really important stuff like a diverse workforce.”
Should I Be Working Here?
HBR offers four hard questions to ask about your company’s purpose to make sure. The last one may be the most crucial: Is the organization’s purpose connected to your own?
Photo: Kevin Trotman
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