Walmart’s NewCo Transformation

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How did Walmart build an internet startup inside the world’s largest retailer, undertaking one of the largest digital transformations in the history of business? It took talent, data and a huge commitment to Silicon Valley. Hosted at Walmart’s Global eCommerce office in Sunnyvale, California, this concise conversation between Walmart’s Brian Monahanand NewCo’s contributing editor Jonathan Weber reveals Walmart’s unique NewCo story.

Originally published at stories.newco.co on October 23, 2015.

Opening Up in Oakland

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Clef is a seven-person security company in Oakland that believes passwords won’t exist in five years. It spent the last year working with diversity and human relations consultants to reimagine how the company operates. On Thursday, hours before its NewCoOAK session, the company shared its new employee handbook as open source on Github.

Some of its bold practices include opening up company salaries and policy for all to see. It’s Clef’s attempt to signal its values, to be a positive part of the city where its employees work and live, and to spread what it has identified as best practices to other companies who are reconsidering how they operate.

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The Myth of The Valley Douchebag

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(Warning, loads of unabashed cursing ahead. Cross posted from my site.)

Everyone’s definition of what makes a person or a company “douchey” varies, but the Supreme Court’s approach to pornography is a good start: You know it when you see it. The very fact that the HBO series Silicon Valley can confidently parody douchey behavior is proof we’ve at least found common ground when it comes to extreme douchebaggery.

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Uber, Our Rashomon

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The Uber homepage, today.

Our industry loves a rashomon, and in the past year or two, our collective subject of debate has been Uber. Perhaps the fastest growing company in history (its numbers aren’t public, but we’ll get to some estimates shortly), Uber has become a vector for some of the most wide-ranging arguments I’ve ever had regarding the tech industry’s impact on society at large.

It’s not that Google, Facebook, Apple, or Microsoft didn’t evoke great debate, but all those companies came of age in an era where tech was still relegated to a sideshow in the broader cultural conversation. Microsoft was taking over the computer industry in the 1990s, Google the Internet in the early 2000s, Facebook and Apple the mobile and social world in the late 2000s. But Uber? Uber is about a very real and entirely new approach to our economy, a stand in for the wealth divide festering in the US and beyond, an existential rorschach testing your values around the role of government, the social contract, and the kind of society we want to become.

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How Companies Create Positive Change

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At NewCo, we spend a lot of time thinking about mission statements. We ask companies that apply to become NewCos for their mission statement, and we remind them that while most companies have mission statements, we look for companies that are in fact on one. There’s a difference — companies that are on a mission are filled with people who live and breathe their organization’s purpose. If you ask them about the “why” of their business, they’ll usually trace it back to the change their company is trying to make. That change is a verb — an active shift the company wants to see happen.

Put another way, great companies view their business as an argument. The company has a thesis about how the world ought to be in some way different — and every product, service, and customer touchpoint is part of proving that thesis true.

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Three Things In a Name

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I love being part of naming something. It’s probably the flat out most fun you can have legally with your clothes on — but for many folks, including entrepreneurs, it’s the source of endless consternation.

It doesn’t have to be. Here’s how I think about coming up with a name for something — a company, a new product, even a project you might be working on.

Rule #1: Don’t Overthink It.

A name means nothing till those using it make it mean something.

So be willing to consider non obvious, even crazy names. Google? I mean, really, Google? And….Yahoo?! Alibaba? APPLE?

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What Makes a Company a NewCo?

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We at NewCo regularly throw around the term “NewCo” to describe the type of company that presents on our unique “unconference” platform in cities around the world. We thought it would be important to break down this term and describe exactly what we believe constitutes a NewCo. So, here’s an update on our original post, newly edited by co-founder John Battelle.

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The Importance of Walkable Cities

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One of the key NewCo themes is presenting forward looking and innovative companies that are “of the city”. We closely monitor trends, like the one we see here in the Bay Area: many more companies are moving to San Francisco up from Silicon Valley because it is easier to hold on to key talent and personnel. And in Detroit: the story there is all about the re-sizing of that city as it re-emerges into a sustainable scope, which is all centered into the tight geography of downtown Detroit. In both cases, this is happening because key talent and younger people entering the work force value a walkable lifestyle. Case in point, many studies are showing that millennials are driving at a much lower rate than any previous generation.

This story about Los Angeles was a pleasant surprise when it hit my inbox earlier today: The city that once ripped up its rails and public transportation infrastructure is steadily making its way up the ranks of walkable cities! As this story points out, cities that have walkable centers see higher real estate values in addition to providing more aesthetically pleasing areas, places where the community can gather and opportunities for small businesses to flourish.

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