Growth

July 19, 2020 |
Image taken by MJ

There are many business ideas that I’ve had or heard from others. Goals to start a successful company, eventually sell it to the highest bidder, and ride off into the sunset as a multi-millionaire. We see buyouts in shaving companies like Harry’s (acquired by the owners of the Schick brand), Bevel (acquired by the owners of Gillette), and Dollar Shave Club (acquired by Unilever). In the realm of social media, Facebook’s acquisition of Instagram is the first I think of. I hold reservations when talking about a business-related topic because I haven’t started anything that generates income… yet. But I am writing this article because of the pain I feel when I see companies build something great and then sell to massive corporations. The reasons why these Davids sell to Goliaths are understandable. Joining a big corporation provides smaller companies with additional resources. “We’ve always had the vision to make health and beauty simple for people of color. But now we get to accelerate that vision with the many capabilities Procter & Gamble has to offer. I’m not going anywhere. We’re not going anywhere,” says Tristan Walker, the founder of Bevel, the shaving brand geared towards preventing skin irritation and inflammation in people of color. Kevin Systrom, the co-founder of Instagram, the current big dog in social media, when speaking on the topic of being acquired by Facebook said “The whole idea of joining Facebook was that we could scale way more quickly than we would independently. So if that is your goal, I think we’ve fulfilled that, and then some. If your goal, on the other hand, is not to have a billion dollars but two, or three, or four or whatever, well, good luck spending it. That’s not what makes you happy in life.” Warren Shoulberg wrote in a Forbes article that the disruptors have sold to the disruptees and a reason for that is they don’t believe they can continue. So they sell out and walk away with a ton of money. A very good return on investment. Companies like the Tristan Walker run Walker and Company Brands, and Instagram have both joined forces with bigger companies with the goal of scaling faster. But why is there a need to scale faster? By taking the time to gradually build, possibilities open for self-correction. I listened to an interview with Manchester United’s number 10, Marcus Rashford, where he mentioned that after his growth spurt he felt pain and had to learn how to use his body again. Companies are often described as living entities and it is possible that they will go through those organic and painful growth spurts like Marcus. And like an athlete growing into their body, companies will have to adjust by feeling out changes and getting accustomed to those changes. The studies on Instagram’s effect on the minds of its users is well documented. A phys.org article titled “Why Instagram might be affecting your mental health (and what you can do about it)” focused on a study done by the University of Notre Dame Australia educator Carmen Papaluca, touches on the well being of women aged 18-25. The article states that technology alone is not to blame for the feelings of inadequacy felt by women in their mid-20s. Nor is it to blame for the body image issues felt by participants in their late teens to early 20s. According to the article, “there has always been a medium transmitting these pressures… The thing that is scary about social media is that it's accessible all day, every day, and from anywhere for as long as you like.” I agree. Technology alone is not the sole reason for mental health issues. However, when an organization’s goal is to grow as fast as possible, other things are sacrificed, including the wellbeing of the user base. It is my belief that the sole focus on growth without the consideration of those impacted will do more harm than the economic good of a prospering company. What hasn’t been touched but could have an article of its own is the role of monopolies. I would like to reiterate that I am not an economic expert, but I do know that monopolies reduce competition and the pressure on companies to do right. If we are to change the culture, companies both large and small will have to change the focus from solely growth to one that involves empathy and compassion. I’m currently reading Seth Godin’s book “This Is Marketing. You Can’t Be Seen Until You Learn To See”. In it, he writes what I believe all companies should heed, “there’s the other path: the path of connection, empathy, and change.” Tristan Walker acquisition by Procter & Gamble - https://www.fastcompany.… Warren Shoulberg - Harry’s Is Selling To Owner Of Schick Razors, The Latest Example of Disrupter Joining Disruptee - https://www.forbes.com/s… Instagram co-founder Kevin Systrom says he has no regrets selling to Facebook for $1 billion, even though it’s worth 100 times that now - https://www.cnbc.com/201…