Web Masters Episode #83: Mitch Kapor


Lotus Software wordmark.svg

Mitch Kapor:

One of the cardinal points that we make is that all businesses have impact, some is positive and some is negative. The fact that our accounting rules view some of those negative impacts as externalities, is a problem with our accounting rules. But the negative impacts, the harm that is done, is still real when it happens.

Aaron Dinin:

That voice you just heard, it belongs to Mitch Kapor. You may have heard of him, you’ve certainly heard of the many things he’s had a hand in helping to build including Lotus Software, the original massively scaling software company.

He’s also at least partially responsible for the Electronic Frontier Foundation, the EFF, the Mozilla Foundation, parent of the Firefox web browser, and Kapor Capital, his namesake VC fund that set the standard for socially responsible investing. Mitch is joining us on this episode of Web Masters. As he tells us about his work, he’s also going to help us explore the topic of impact in entrepreneurship. Are you ready to hear the story? Let’s get dialed in.

[INTRO]

Aaron Dinin:

Welcome to Web Masters. I’m your host, Aaron Dinin. I’m a serial entrepreneur and I teach entrepreneurship at Duke University. This is the podcast that helps us become better entrepreneurs by talking with some of the Internet’s most impactful innovators.

Of course, when I say better entrepreneurs, well, there’s all sorts of ways to interpret that. Better in terms of being better at building companies? Better at making more money? Better at scaling? What about just being better human beings, and entrepreneurs who want to leave the world better than they found it? That, more than anything, is at the heart of this episode of Web Masters because of who we’re speaking with.

Mitch Kapor:

Hi, I’m Mitch Kapor. I’m a long time entrepreneur, and investor and social activist.

Aaron Dinin:

Few people in Silicon Valley have had such a strong history of entrepreneurial activism, alongside a track record that matches, indeed even exceeds, the reputation. I’m thankful Mitch has taken the time to share some of the story with all of us.

I can’t wait to get to it, but first I do want to take a moment to thank another entrepreneur, one who’s been incredibly generous in supporting the work of the Web Masters project. He is Rick Latona, Founder of our generous in supportive sponsor, Latonas.com.

Web Masters is being brought to you today with help from our sponsor, Latona’s. Latona’s is a boutique mergers and acquisitions broker that helps people buy and sell cashflow positive internet businesses and digital assets. That includes things like content websites, eCommerce stores, Amazon FBAs, Shopify sites, SaaS apps, domain portfolios, really any type of online work from anywhere internet business.

In other words, if it’s a profitable internet based company, you own it and you are thinking about selling it, then you should be reaching out to Latona’s. Their team of expert brokers can help you get your business sold for a great price.

Or if you’re hoping to buy an internet business, all you need to do to get started is visit the Latona’s website where you’ll find all the listings of the profitable internet businesses the Latona’s team is currently helping to sell. That website is of course Latonas.com. That’s L-A-T-O-N-A-S.com.

One of the most common words I hear associated with entrepreneurship is the word impact. By that I mean I often hear entrepreneurs talk about wanting to have impact on the world, to make a difference and so on and so forth.

I always chuckle a bit when I hear the word impact in relation to entrepreneurship, because well, impacts aren’t necessarily good. After all, a car crash is a type of impact. The same is true for entrepreneurship. Yes, the things entrepreneurs build have impact, but those impacts are never universally good.

The extreme example of this I like to give to my entrepreneurship students is creating a company that cures cancer. If you identify a cure for cancer and start trying to sell it tomorrow, I think we’d all agree that’s a good thing. But treating cancer is a multi-billion dollar industry that employs countless, hundreds of thousands of people around the world, maybe even millions of people.

If you cure cancer, what happens to all those people who depend on it for their livelihoods? To be clear, I’m not saying if you find a cure for cancer you shouldn’t give it to people. I’m underscoring my point, and to the point that our guest Mitch Kapor made at the start of this episode …

Mitch Kapor:

All businesses have impact, some is positive and some is negative.

Aaron Dinin:

Mitch would certainly know, he’s been a software entrepreneur for a long time. Plus he’s been an internet investor since about as long as it’s been possible to be an internet investor, which is pretty incredible. When you think about it. To understand his unique perspective on entrepreneurship, let’s start by learning a bit more about where his interest in digital technologies came from?

Mitch Kapor:

Well, I was always a kid who was really good at math. I was really fortunate believe it or not in eighth grade, and that would’ve been in 1962, I built with help from my father a small computer. It was actually a book, it had plans, it had some transistors.

It really consisted of 10 flip flops. All it could do is it could add and subtract numbers between one and 1000, but it was a real digital computer. It used a telephone dial for input, and little flashing lights for output. Was just interested in it, and we built this thing. That started me off.

The next big thing that happened, and again I was fortunate and privileged to have very early access to computers, in 1966 I was 15. I went to the summer program. At that point, the National Science Foundation had begun funding programs for “gifted and talented” students. We were behind the Soviets in the space race.

We were trying to catch up, so I got to go to this great program in California. I was crossing the country for the first time because I grew up on Long Island. It was an astronomy program, six weeks. It really changed my life, because for the first time I was with other kids who were smart and got rewarded for that.

But they also had a 1950s model G15 computer, really first generation. It was even obsolete then, but it was a one person computer. It was like a embryonic personal computer. I just fell in love with it, and realized then what I was interested doing was writing applications.

I mean, tinkering with the insides? Interesting. But I wanted to know from the earliest time how to make computers useful to people. It was another 10 years until personal computers came out in the late 1970s. I was in my late 20s, and I bought an Apple II computer and it literally changed my life overnight.

A new career, a new job. I started doing consulting self-taught. A very rapid ramp for four years of doing all sorts of things that led to the creation of Lotus. I still haven’t lost my excitement about things. I’ve been in early and various waves of innovation from the Internet, streaming media, virtual reality. I love working with founders who are building the next generation of interesting, innovative startups.

Aaron Dinin:

I know this is supposed to be a podcast about the web, and Lotus wasn’t exactly the web. But will you talk a bit more about building Lotus? I mean, it was still a very important piece of software in the history of digital entrepreneurship, right?

Mitch Kapor:

I was the principal designer of what was the breakthrough spreadsheet of its era. I worked with my co-founder John Sachs, who was the technical architect and implementer. We’re not the first spreadsheet. That was VisiCalc, which deserves that honor fully.

But we figured out how to improve the spreadsheet adding in graphics, adding in macros, adding in a whole host of features that are now taken for granted, and we put it on the IBM personal computer, which was at that time not the most prominent or most popular personal computer.

But that combination of a really powerful, easy to use spreadsheet in a computer that was accepted by the business community, one, two, three, became the killer app that really put PCs on the desktops of businesses all around the world, millions, ultimately tens of millions.

We started from nothing and raised venture capital. We came out in 1983. Within six months, we actually went public. We did $50 million in sales in our first year, and then tripled the year after that. Went from zero to a couple thousand people in, I think, three years. So, it was the hyper growth company of its time.

Now, this is all running on an operating system called DaaS, which was what there was before Windows. But Lotus was the dominant software company of its era, certainly in applications, and for a while the largest independent software company in the world.

But as we have seen, empires come and empires go. We can talk about what happened to Lotus, but I was there at the founding, and ran it as CEO for the first number of years in its period of glory.

Aaron Dinin:

I personally have very vague memories of Lotus. I think it might have actually been one of the first non-game software programs I ever used. But because I’m sure a lot of the people listening have maybe not used it, would you mind explaining more about what Lotus did, and where the idea came from, and maybe those kinds of things?

Mitch Kapor:

Well, first I saw a huge opportunity was going to be for productivity tools, for applications in general that would enable individual knowledge workers to be more productive. To me, I just knew at a gut level that this is what these things were good for.

I was kind of following on and inspired by the work of Doug Engelbart at Stanford Research Institute. I wasn’t just coming up with this out of a vacuum. VisiCalc was a complete game changer, because it was a brand new genre of application on the Apple II. It was a very small community, we were all close to one another, and had various business and personal relationships with each other.

I earlier had developed the first statistics program for the Apple II. I came out of my consulting practice. The publishers of VisiCalc came to me and said, “We’re looking for more products to bring to market to go with VisiCalc,” which was an immediate popular hit. The thing I did had statistics and graphing, and they were interested in the graphing part. “Can you do a graphing adjunct to VisiCalc, separate product?” Which I did, it was called VisiPlot. Got royalties, made some money.

So, being in the middle of things, I saw opportunities and I was all excited. I went to the guys who did VisiCalc, the authors Dan Brooklyn to Bob Frankston. The publishers said, “We ought to combine the two products together, and it could be more powerful.” Nobody wanted to have anything to do with me.

Now, in hindsight, I understood that maybe I was more than a little obnoxious about things. I had neither a management business background, nor a deep technical background, in terms of a computer science degree or working as a programmer.

Back then, the categories that we have today didn’t really exist. Today what we’d say I was doing is I was a Software Designer and I was a Product Manager. I had skills at that, and was self-taught. But then, who knew? So, I wanted to work with these guys and they didn’t want to work with me.

I had these ideas and then the IBM PC came out. That was a very big deal at the time, because it had credibility in the business community, but it was also much more powerful than the Apple II, for instance. It was a 16 bit machine on an eight bit. It had 10 times the memory, it was faster.

Interestingly, IBM had done a deal with Personal Software, which changed its name to Visicorp, the publisher of VisiCalc, to bring VisiCalc out on the IBM PC day one. Microsoft also had a spreadsheet for the IBM PC called Multi Plan. But they were both warmed over eight bit code, old code that they had rushed through to be there day one. I could see it wasn’t taking advantage of the capabilities of this new machine.

I knew from hanging out in computer stores … we had a local users group, I was living in the Boston area … people wanted to do bigger spreadsheets that were so great, that they would write big models and they would run out of memory. I’m looking at IBM PC and I’m going, “What a great machine.”

But you couldn’t make a bigger spreadsheet because they were only using 64K instead of a 640K memory. So I just said, “Well, we’re going to do this.” I followed customer research, it wasn’t called that. We said we’re going to do A, and B, and C, and D and E, and then we made this incredibly kick ass product.

Aaron Dinin:

So, it was a really great product for its time. But we all also know in the entrepreneurship world that having a great product is just one part of the success equation. So, what was the other part that helped make Lotus so successful?

Mitch Kapor:

The other part was competition advertising in Bite Magazine and Creative Computing, or whatever they were, the computer publication. Business products should be advertising in the Wall Street Journal and Business Week, so I found out how much it cost to run an ad, and how big an ad campaign would be, and I factored that in when we raised the venture capital.

So, we changed a lot of things, how we advertised, but also how we marketed and sold the thing. It was really the first software company of the modern generation. Lotus set a whole bunch of standards. We had no adult supervision. Nobody was taking the sector seriously, but I was ambitious and it was a good fit for my skills and talents.

John Sachs was a genius, and we were in the right place at the right time, and got lucky in that the results were five or 10X bigger than I ever thought in terms of what we would do. I mean, when I wrote the business plan, first year revenue, I was projecting $3, $4 million. I knew that the personal software publisher VisiCalc had just had a $12 million year and they were the biggest independent software company at that point.

I said, well, it would be a big success if we could be 25% of that in our first year, so I put that down. In fact, it turned out we did $53 million in our first year, so that is a forecasting error of 1700%. But fortunately the variance was favorable, so it was like that.

So, when I’ve seen subsequently the Google’s and the Facebook’s and the Uber’s and these other high growth companies, and I know about the excitement, the thrill, the terror, it’s this combination of doing a few things right, everything else wrong. I’ve lived through that. When I work with founders, pretty much nothing phases me.

Aaron Dinin:

So, yeah, Lotus isn’t exactly a web tech company. But in its day, Lotus was really the Google or Facebook or whatever other hypergrowth software company you want to name. That means Mitch is one of the few people in the world, and actually probably one of the first people in the world, to know what it’s like to be leading an enormously successful and enormously impactful digital business. That unique experience goes on to shape much of the rest of Mitch’s life and work.

Mitch Kapor:

Lotus was hugely successful, and I didn’t want to run a big company. I wound up leaving rather precipitously because I did a terrible job at succession planning. That’s another story.

Left me with a lot of time and energy. I spent a bunch of time hanging out at MIT in the late ’80s, and had some taste of the Internet, what it was like then, which was definitely pre-commercial and still quite small. But the big thing that happened to me about the Internet was I fell into a system called The Well, which was a computer bulletin board started in the mid ’80s by Stewart Brand, the guy who did the whole earth catalog and many, many other things.

It was one of the first virtual communities of people who were interested in technology, and the good it can do, and the frontiers of stuff. The Well had an internet connection. So, you accessed it through a dial-up mode on your personal computer. But once you were connected, you could then begin using internet services, FTP, and Gopher, which I think came a little bit later, you could Telnet.

It just was mind blowing to be on that early internet with other pioneers. A number of things happened there. One of more notable ones had to do with hackers. At that time, 1990 … This is half a decade before Netscape and Amazon, so still early, early, early days … but law enforcement, Secret Service and other agencies, were arresting and prosecuting hackers who were breaking into computer systems, both on the internet and off.

There was absolutely no understanding of who was doing what and why, and how damaging it was. While they were made out to be a national security threat and evil criminals, I understood for the most part, but early on almost overwhelmingly, these were teenagers, maybe teenagers plus five years, who were committing acts of trespass and little bit of vandalism like tagging, definitely far short of the felonies they were being charged with.

That was the genesis of the Electronic Frontier Foundation, which I co-founded with John Perry Barlow, may he rest in peace, and John Gilmore. We were really the first organization to address issues of civil liberties and how the Bill of Rights in the US applies to network behavior.

Aaron Dinin:

What you just heard Mitch describe was the creation of the Electronic Frontier Foundation, the EFF. Even though the EFF is of course still active and prominent today, to understand the original impetus for the EFF, we have to think back to what it must have been like to be trying to be entrepreneurial on the earliest days of the commercial internet and worldwide web.

The term wild west gets thrown around a lot to describe the early internet. But this was even before that. The earliest internet entrepreneurs were the pioneers operating in a place there wasn’t even civilization, so people were exploring and trying to figure out what was even possible, because nobody really knew.

But of course, what people were doing in the digital world was impacting people in the real world, and the real world did have rules and laws and whatnot. Sometimes the pioneers exploring the possibilities of the internet world were getting into trouble in the real world. Mitch believed someone who better understood what was happening should help protect them from a government that wasn’t prepared to regulate the emerging digital ecosystem.

Mitch Kapor:

I identified with these kids. I actually said, “Ugh, this easily could have been me, if it had been 20 years before.” I was adventurous and exploratory, and I wouldn’t have been paying careful attention to the boundaries. I could have gotten picked up for being somewhere where I shouldn’t be. It’s a huge miscarriage of justice.

Not only that, if we get this wrong now, we’re just going to set the whole thing back. We need to do this in a way that preserves the ideals and practices of democracy. We’re still fighting these battles, but it needs to be a proportionate response if there are problems. It’s not lock them up and throw away the key.

Aaron Dinin:

What was the EFF doing then, or maybe still doing?

Mitch Kapor:

The EFF is obviously still around and a very prominent member of the scene. But that, in brief, took me a lot to Washington, DC. I was testifying before Congress. It was many episodes and stories about EFF.

But that’s how I encountered the first commercial internet service providers, UUNET being one of them. NSF, which had been given control of the internet from the Department of Defense, NSF was beginning to allow some commercial use. This is 1992.

The first companies were in existence by which anybody could buy an internet connection. I wound up making an angel investment in UUNET, turned out to do incredibly well. I think I may have been the first angel investor to do a commercial internet investment. Not sure, it was 1992.

I said everybody is going to want to have an internet connection. This baloney people are bringing to DC about telephone companies saying, “Release us from these regulations, which prohibit us from doing X and Y and Z under the antitrust, and we will bring fiber to the home.” No.

The internet was the dark horse for what was going to be the national information infrastructure, so I was very involved in the early years of all of that sorting out. That’s sort of what I saw.

Aaron Dinin:

You are not still directly involved, but still related to it in some ways? Am I correct in understanding that from my research? I guess what I’m wondering, are you able to tell us a little about what the EFF does now?

Mitch Kapor:

I stepped down from the board, then I reengaged a decade or more later. I’m not actively involved with it, but I talk to EFF folks from time to time. When they ask me for advice, I’m happy to give it. So, not estranged, but not involved.

EFF is still meeting the cause of protecting people’s rights and avoiding institutional overreach, whether it’s government or corporate, that limits what people can and should do. So, EFF’s involved in a very broad range of issues.

It has fought a lot and been successful, for instance in what’s called right to repair, because there have been all these laws, that John Deere tractors have digital stuff, and it was actually illegal to go fix your own tractor. I think that’s now been changed, but let people work on their own system.

So, EFF ranges from that, to when there was the sort of unauthorized surveillance. This is Snowden era kinds of things. You have to hold government to account when it oversteps. So, they operate mostly through litigation and some policy work.

The annotation I would make to it, is that I think it is also important that inside government, policymakers seek to make policies that are what I would consider to be more in the public interest. Historically the past 30 years, there’s way too much, I’ll call it, regulatory capture by big business, and using government mechanisms to advance the business interests of intellectual property holders against the public interest.

Aaron Dinin:

As you can hopefully tell from Mitch’s involvement with the creation of the Electronic Frontier Foundation, he has a unique sense of the important relationship between entrepreneurs in the impacts of their work. It goes back to that idea I introduced at the start of this episode, that entrepreneurship has impact, and impact is both positive and negative.

It’s a tricky issue to navigate because while I suspect most entrepreneurs don’t actively want to harm people, they also want to promote progress and change. Unfortunately, the people who are negatively impacted by entrepreneurial progress are often the same people who will then stand in the way of it. An organization like the EFF is constantly trying to navigate those types of messy frontier battles, where the old world and the new world collide, and things still have to change.

As for Mitch, even though he is stepped away from the EFF, he’s continued with a career that’s been at the forefront of thinking about entrepreneurial change and impact. For example, consider the role he played in the Mozilla project. Mozilla is, as many of you may already know, the creators of among other things, the Firefox Web Browser.

Mitch Kapor:

Unlike EFF, with Mozilla, I was always a supporting cast member, not a lead, but I think an important supporting player.

The backstory is, first there was Mosaic, the first graphical browser that Mark Andreessen worked on as a student. He was lured to Silicon Valley and co-founded Netscape, which was the first really successful commercial browser. Netscape was hugely popular and unlocked the web, but two problems. It never had a real business model, and Microsoft.

Microsoft strangled them. That’s its own story. So, they wound up collapsing in on themselves and were acquired by AOL in a sweetheart deal because they had common investors. So, the Netscape investors actually made money, and didn’t suffer the fact that they couldn’t actually do a successful business. Another story.

As that was happening, because the Netscape browser was no longer the incredibly valuable asset that it was thought to be, they open sourced the code, although the code was a huge mass and not in a state that you could actually have an open source community work on it. So, the Genesis of Mozilla itself was inside Netscape, to make a real open source browser out of the code base.

At a certain point, I don’t remember exactly the sequence. The whole thing was absorbed into AOL. So, now you’ve got this Mozilla project, inside the former Netscape, inside AOL, and AOL doesn’t know what to do with it. It’s not really going anywhere. It produced this bloated, not very good browser.

So, the people inside Mozilla at that point, Mitchell Baker who is still the CEO of it, she and the other founders, what they really wanted to do was to be spun out, to become independent, so that they had a chance on their own. AOL was in principle willing to do that, because they didn’t want this headache anyway.

I knew Mitchell Baker because I was doing other open source things, and had gotten to understand her and that situation. But I also knew the senior execs at AOL, in particular Ted Leonsis who was, I think, the Vice Chair. That goes back to my Lotus days.

I was at a conference, and I ran into Ted. I said, “I hear you’re trying to spin out Mozilla, but you got to give it more money than you’re planning on giving it. Because if you only give it, I think it was like a million, that’s not enough for it to really establish itself and put something out there. You’ll just wind up embarrassing yourself. So, $2 million. That’s the minimum.”

Fifteen minutes later, he said “Fine,” because he knew me and he trusted me. So, I got to be the Founding Chair of Mozilla Foundation, which was the thing they spun out.

Aaron Dinin:

So, you helped get Mozilla the funding it needed. Then, what role did you play as the Founding Chair back in the organization’s early days?

Mitch Kapor:

Things happened early in Mozilla that I didn’t have anything to do with. Firefox as a Web Browser came out, and then the model to sell the search box to a search provider and monetize it, which provided the business model.

But what I did do is work very closely with Mitchell Baker on figuring out the right structure to house this thing, now that they’re going to have this huge revenue source inside the non-profit. So, the idea of Mozilla Corp inside the foundation, she and I with the architects of that. That’s the structure that it has to this day. So, that’s my Mozilla story.

Aaron Dinin:

Could you elaborate a little more on that structure? It’s strange that you’ve got this Firefox browser entity making millions and millions off this search deal with Google, but that’s all funneling up to a non-profit. Why are things structured like that?

Mitch Kapor:

The issue is that you wanted obviously to be able to use the revenue that was coming in to fund the continued development of the browser and its other projects, but you also wanted to keep Mozilla’s 501c3, its status as a charitable foundation which could also receive donations and doesn’t pay income tax.

But the issue is how you make those two things go with each other, because usually they don’t. If you’re generating a lot of revenue, it’s a business. Businesses are supposed to pay taxes, they’re not non-profits. I said, “Put the business activities inside the corporation. If the corporation is making a profit, just pay the taxes, and then move the balance up to the foundation to fund the rest of it.”

Don’t try to be cute. Don’t move to virtual Texas, or virtual New Hampshire where there’s no state income tax, like a lot of entrepreneurs are doing. Making life decisions based on tax avoidance is generally not a good idea. Even doing that, they had a several year fight with the IRS not to have their tax exempt status taken away. But they won ultimately, so it was the right call.

Aaron Dinin:

What’s funny is that shouldn’t seem like such a novel idea, that companies should want to pay their taxes. We sometimes forget that taxes are what pay for things like roads and the fire truck when you call 9-1-1.

Mitch Kapor:

Yeah. You want the government to spend the money well and wisely. If they’re not, well, maybe elect somebody else, or change government. But we need it. We need it for everything from sidewalks to national defense, to say nothing of public schools.

Mitch Kapor:

That, by the way, was one of the points of fracture within EFF, which had, and I guess to some extent still has, a kind of underlying libertarian constituency of support out there of people who don’t believe in government, and want to make it as small as possible.

Liberals and libertarians get along on issues of civil liberties, and not on economic or social policy. That’s still going on. You see this in Web3 today. So, I’m old, I’m 71. I’ve been doing this a long time, 40 plus years. My fast ball isn’t as fast as it used to be. But don’t forget, Nolan Ryan was pitching well into his mid 40s.

The advantage of having been around and having seen this is when a new thing comes along, it’s not really new. You look at Web3, you look at the kinds of things that people are saying, and you go, “I don’t think so.” They’re going to get disillusioned, or they’re going to find out it’s not so simple.

Aaron Dinin:

Speaking of things like Web3, as someone who’s been basically at the forefront of an evolving digital technology landscape for more than 40 years, any thoughts on where we’re headed?

Mitch Kapor:

Well, the first thing you need to know is that in the last dozen or so years, my own views and values have solidified in a certain direction, in a way that they hadn’t before. I’d always had instincts in favor of the underdog. I always believed in the inclusion of the misfit, because I felt like a misfit growing up.

But Frida, my wife, she’s been an activist since junior high school. She used to go cut school to picket for the farm workers when Caesar Chavez was organizing the farm workers in the fields. So, our world have merged, so my view now is that businesses ought to serve a social purpose and ought to be held to a standard, evaluated that way, and that business has a responsibility to in general think about the public interest to help make the world a better place.

Acting selfishly, it’s a set of values that got into government that has helped create this enormous, massive and rampant inequality. Structural racism, to use a shorthand. So, my interest in entrepreneurship is focused on the fact that I believe that you can use the tools that we know about making startups, and that founders who have an interest and a commitment by virtue of their lived experience to attack some of these huge gaps, that’s the activity that’s really worth doing.

That’s what I’m going to support and get involved with, whether it’s in ed tech for kids in title I schools, or FinTech trying to do something for the unbanked and underbanked, or job creation. It’s sector agnostic. So, my lens for looking at Web3, virtual reality and you name it, is it going to make the world better or worse? Is it going to decrease the gap between the haves and the have nots? What are the opportunities? What are people doing? What’s the dominant ideology in it.

So, with that preface, I would say my views on Web3 have softened some, from being an extreme skeptic, to saying despite the fact that whole ecosystem is still really being driven by greed and speculation and there’s just immense amounts of fraud, I think underneath it there are some interesting ideas trying to grow up and get out.

I’m not a utopian, I’m not an idealist about it, but I see so many people working on trying to get good infrastructure for decentralized finance, and trying to really build technologies of empowerment, that I think it’s worth trying to figure out what are the killer apps going to be? But I’m still really cautious about it.

Because I think on the whole, so many people in the startup ecosystem are still lionizing, the Elon Musks, and the Bezoses, and the Zuckerbergs. But this idea of building the next big empire out of bits, I’m not supportive if it doesn’t have a more values based approach, if it doesn’t reflect the needs and interests of the whole country and the whole world.

Aaron Dinin:

A values-based approach to entrepreneurial innovation. I think that one phrase best summarizes the work of Mitch Kapor. If you look at his history of investing, certainly over the last dozen or so years, it’s clear he’s someone who believes that impact is a core part of an entrepreneur’s work, and that to create better entrepreneurs, you have to support entrepreneurs who are thinking less about bottom lines and more about entrepreneurs trying to build a better world.

I don’t know about you, but from where I’m sitting, it’s a compelling pitch. I hope you’ve enjoyed hearing it, and I hope you’ll join me in thanking Mitch Kapor for taking the time to share his version of, and vision for, entrepreneurship with all of us. If you’d like to see what he’s working on these days, you can find him on Twitter. He’s @MKapor. He’d also probably want me to tell you to follow the Kapor Center, his organization for helping improve the technology in entrepreneurial ecosystem. They are @KaporCenter.

You can follow us on Twitter too, we are @WebMastersPod, and I’m on Twitter @AaronDinin, that’s A-A-R-O-N-D-I-N-I-N. Send us any thoughts or feedback you have about this episode, or find me over on my website, aarondinin.com, where you can also find lots of other content about startups, entrepreneurship, business, and those other kinds of things.

I’d like to thank our Audio Engineer Ryan Higgs for his help with this episode, and our sponsor Latona’s for all of their support. Don’t forget to check out Latonas.com, especially if you’re in the market to buy or sell an internet business.

That about does it for this episode. Hopefully before you move on to whatever is next in your life, you’ll please take a moment to like, rate, review us, over on your favorite podcasting app. It would mean a ton. Also, be sure to subscribe so you get the next episode when we release it. We will, of course, have that ready for you very soon. Until then, well, it’s time for me to sign off.

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