Changing The World

Three little words that mean so much.

Change the world.

Entrepreneurs utter them like a badge of honor, after all its what we are put on this planet to do, right?

Yet, so many of the startups I meet are trying to figure out how to put crap in a box and sell it every month, or as Jeff Hammerbacher, founder of Cloudera said:

“The best minds of my generation are thinking about how to make people click ads.”


Is it so hard to take the intelligence, savvy and problem solving skills and apply them to a difficult problem? Is our world so fucked up that it has become impossible to change it?

When did it become preferable to build a small company solving a questionable problem as a resume to be acqui-hired by Google or Facebook?

This is not the Silicon Valley I grew up in. I know that I am old, and with age idealism returns from youth carrying expectations and requirements; and I know that there are no new ideas, only ways to improve on old ones (at least that’s what people believe).

The world is fucked up place. There are more problems than solutions.

But, with the acceleration of the capacity of technology to make important and lasting change, we need more of our great minds caring about changing the world than clicking an ad.

Let’s pause for the moment when everyone calls me an idealistic old windbag, who in a very self-serving way has done little to solve big problems; and about now is when the list of companies and entrepreneurs that prove me wrong is posted on HackerNews.

Fine. You are all right. I lived a long time caring about the world’s effect me, rather than how I effected the world.

Yet, it doesn’t change the fact that the only people in existence that are capable of changing the world or leaving indelible marks of positivity, are entrepreneurs. Times have changed. You can no longer just throw money at a problem, or hope that someone else takes charge. Entrepreneurship and technology have changed all that. We can communicate with everyone, anywhere at anytime. We can connect in ways that we never could just five years ago.

We are the agents of change. And regardless of what our high school teachers, parents and others who told us to get a good job say, being an agent of change is the single greatest thing to be in this existence.

Yet, the vast majority of us are spending our time on the exit and not the build. We are not thinking about world changing technology that allows people to understand each other better, learn more, connect in smarter ways. We are not building technology that teaches or allows us to be more present. We are not solving issues in infrastructure or coming up with interesting technology that delights in its innovation.

We are putting crap in boxes and shipping them. We are coming up with new exciting ad units.

Change the world. If its not your calling as an entrepreneur, you are missing the greatest gift that being an entrepreneur provides – becoming someone that matters.


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