Does Big Business Have to Suck?

If you don’t believe that people feel like business generally sucks, let me prove it to you. We’ve all heard this expression before:

“It’s just business!”

What does this mean? If business were a neutral concept, this could mean business is boring:

Girlfriend: “Why do you never want to talk to me about discounted cash flows instead of watching the game?”
British boyfriend: “Ugh…it’s just business. Can’t stand that drivel.”

But it doesn’t mean that. It only comes up when one person is unspeakably horrible to another person and hides behind the construct of business as if that’s an acceptable excuse:

Mother of four: “You doubled the rent?! How will I feed my children?”
“It’s just business!” the evil landlord cackled, shivering with glee.

Does business have to suck? That’s the question that’s been rattling around in my head since I was a kid. Every day you hear stories about corporations taking more than their fair share, destroying the environment, or recklessly sharing our data. But to Andrew and myself, business is a tool that, with the right incentives, can align customer and business objectives so people don’t suffer for a bottom line.

Our business model ensures that the way we make money is by making Ripple more useful to you. Soon you’ll be able to make reservations for tickets and restaurants through the app, making it even more convenient to plan a night out with Ripple. We will then charge an affiliate fee to the businesses you go to so we can 100% guarantee that we will never pollute your pond with ads or sell your data to the highest bidder. The happier you are, the happier we are.

But what about the original question? Does business have to suck?

No, it doesn’t. Another principle of our company is to reject the common number one priority of maximizing profit. We’re here to defeat the Loneliness Epidemic through any means possible. For us, this means creating an ecosystem that gives each of you the tools to beat it with us (the app, the community, etc) so that we can fix this fundamental issue in our society. In the end, it won’t be Andrew or myself that succeeds. It will be all of us, or none of us. That is why we care so deeply about your feedback and your participation through sharing — even if the app gets 1,000,000 downloads, if you were not a part of that, then we have failed.

In light of this more democratic approach, we’re excited to announce the creation of our Advisory Board. We are going to select a group of 5 individuals (to start) who care about our mission and want to see Ripple succeed. These individuals will be our peers from a variety of backgrounds, from design, to sociology, from reporter to banker. If you want to be a Ripple Insider, send us an email at telling us who you are, what you do, and why you want to be a part of Ripple. It can be as long or short as you want — we just want to hear your voice and your passion. There will be monthly board meetings for 45 minutes, and we will seek your expert feedback and opinions regularly. You will work with us and our network as we grow, and have a chance to be deeply involved in the formation of a start up with minimal time investment and no risk on your part.

At Ripple, our main maxim is “Do right by you,” whether you’re Ripple Insiders or the doorman in the building we work in. We believe that we can raise the standard of what it means to be in business, so that one day, it’s not only a short list of companies that benefit society above and beyond their core product offering, but instead it is the expectation of any company looking to do business.

In a not too distant future:

Ripple: “Ad companies have been clamoring for the data you shared with us…but instead we used it to improve your service exactly how you asked!”
Mother of four: “Thanks for being on my side Ripple!
Ripple: “Think nothing of it…”

It’s just business.

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