Sunday, April 13, 2008

Swarm Business is Social Business - in the Silicon Valley

The New York Times today has a great article about social entrepreneurs in the Silicon Valley. While many companies in the Silicon Valley have had a social conscience to start with - most prominently Google, whose credo is "don't be evil" - a new breed of non-profits have successfully merged being a vibrant business with doing good to society. High-profile examples are the Mozilla Foundation, maintainers of the open source Firefox Web browser, TechSoup, a distributor of commercial software to non-profits in 14 countries, and the Internet Archive, started by successful entrepreneur Brewster Kahle, storing old versions of Web sites. In the New York Times article, Brewster lists core principles of social businesses like transparency, staying out of debt, giving away information and refusing to hoard.

These are the guiding principles of swarm businesses, where the goal of the business is not to make the owners rich, but to serve all stakeholders. The NYT describes the process of how these social businesses start: "The new companies ... typically begin as small groups of intensely motivated people dedicated to the goal of building a product or service." This is the key part of the definition of a COIN. According to the NYT, these social businesses are evolving into an ecosystem of companies combining solid profits with serving the greater good. This again corresponds to how COINs evolve into entire communities of COINs, CLNs (Collaborative Learning Networks), and CINs (Collaborative Interest Networks). For more see the SwarmCreativity Web site.

It is wonderful to see more and more COINs turning into real world businesses. There are few limits to what the creative swarm can achieve.


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