Which vision do you want to contribute to?
I’d argue that there is no reason to work at a company whose founder doesn’t have a vision aimed at improving the world.
I remember reading a point in a startup advice post that mentioned ‘if you aren’t doing something that impacts the life of many people on a daily basis, don’t bother,’ and I’m not claiming this.
However, I’ve looked at research on happiness and know that being able to see how your daily tasks/accomplishments lead into your larger vision is one of the key determinants. What follows is a few completely subjective assessments of how certain close certain companies are operating to large visions.
Also, note that other than Musk’s companies, I’ve focused on smaller companies. At the current stage of my life, I’d rather be 10% of a company than 0.1%.
Note: This is a very limited list, there are too many startups to be make a comprehensive post that’s short enough that you would be reading it!
Make Our World Sustainable, or Explore Alternative Worlds.
0ft: SpaceX, Tesla, and Elon Musk.
Make life on Earth sustainable by reducing use of fossil fuels, though ensure that we are capable of reaching other planets in case we need to.
Make the world more open and connected. (Though it seems many are beginning to value Facebook more than the people it helps us connect to. Source.)
Uber for flowers.
Connect people with opportunities. (I can definitely see the larger vision).
Make People Happier
0ft: 7 Cups of Tea.
Connect people with emotional support.
Enable Entrepreneurs and Companies To Create Change
Make it easier to accept payments online.
Allow anyone to prototype an iPhone application.
Allow companies to predict whether legislation will pass to assist them in dealing with regulation (I believe over-regulation is a huge barrier in enabling impact).
20,000ft: Genome Compiler.
Democratize creation, starting with enabling more effective DNA design/modification.
Educate the World. Spread Knowledge.
Spread knowledge. (I absolutely love Quora).
20,000ft: Coursera, EdX, Udacity, and so on.
Educate the masses. (You could argue that I should rank this higher, however I believe attrition in MOOCs needs to be greatly reduced first).
Make People Healthier
30,000ft: Hasty & Fresh (grouped for similarity).
Let people order healthy food easily.
Uber for healthcare.
What I’d like you to take away from this post isn’t the above list. It’s that consciously thinking about the world’s problems you care about is important when selecting where to work.
You’ll be happier, and the world will be one engineer closer to your vision.