Entrepreneurs rise up to defend the Occupy Wall Street movement
I don’t know about you guys, but I’ve been pretty intrigued by the Occupy Wall Street movement as it “went global” last week. Yeah, a few anti globalization demonstrations caught headlines in the late 90s, but I never thought a movement uniting the middle class left AND the right (at least in theory) against the perils of crony capitalism, corporate greed and political corruption would ever fully get rolling in the US.
I was wrong.
We’re now a month into a growing movement kicked off by the savvy (anti) advertising guys at Adbusters in Canada and this time around it feels different. Several prominent thought leaders and change makers are lining up in defense of the protesters. In 2011, just about everyone (except some on the hard core right) realizes that our institutions are broken and need tweaking…
And, when heavy tweaking needs to be made in US society, we tend to look to entrepreneurs instead of govt. While many of our best entrepreneurs are off trying to clone the next daily deal site, others are talking about how they can respond to the current crisis by building tools that really matter to people. Below are a couple of great examples of entrepreneurial thought leaders standing with the OWS movement & pushing the dialog forward.
- Marc Cuban, a wealthy serial entrepreneur recently wrote a passionate blog post defense of OWS. Here is what Cuban would do if he were elected to be a spokesperson for the cause; this is a pretty motivating blog post even if you aren’t a Cuban fan.
- Fred Wilson, a highly influential VC blogger–with considerable influence in the startup world–wrote a widely discussed post on Oct 16 entitled Occupying my Mind. In this post, Fred stated that he wanted to help the movement bring about intelligent progressive change. The OWS movement should connect with Fred & exchange ideas.
- Jason Calacanis initially scoffed at the protestors for being lazy & not starting up their own businesses on HuffPo, but he seemed to reverse course a bit as he railed against heavy handed NYC police response to OWS in a recent vodcast (scroll to the last 5 minutes). On the vodcast, Jason and Tyler discuss how they would like to see a well designed, radically transparent website where politicians are outed for receiving corporate money.
Entrepreneurs with big ideas are needed very, very badly right now. There is an unbelievable information revolution happening–right under our noses. And, there are tons of places where entrepreneurs can help reimagine our creaky institiutions and help fix USA Inc. One of the best assessments on how to fix USA Inc out there is from Mary Meeker–a Kleiner Perkins VC. I would encourage you to read this great report from Mary if you are interested in the details.
If you aren’t into addressing problems you feel the govt. should solve, why not start a next gen. collaborative business that keeps $$$ in local economies and stimulates job growth? As Calacanis notes in his HuffPo article, the guys who started Airbnb created a billion-dollar business that democratized travel, while giving individuals in local economies the ability to make extra money. In an Airbnb, person to person, new economic order the 99% earn money, while the 1% lose out (unless they join the revolution & rent out their mansion!) Social, local, mobile apps like We&Co empower service employees to become business drivers in the new experience economy. As consumers and OWS supporters, we should try to support these new collaborative/human2human businesses.
I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to live in a world where the 99% gets fully left behind (see the troubling chart below). It is up to us to re imagine a new world, where the 99 percent are empowered, not forced into working three jobs just to get by. Past generations have responded to challenges like this with hard work & collective sacrifice. We can do the same.
PS: If you are an entrepreneur with big ideas or a blogger/influencer out there, please join the discussion around OWS. This is big & we need your help…Thanks.
PSS: Full disclosure, I am a We&Co CoFounder.
Photo at top courtesy of The Reid Report