Some topics, such as religion and politics, are better kept within the confines of heated in-person arguments. But if you notice, the products I have built over time reek of activism. NuMoney was built because fuck-you banks. Gom VPN was built because fuck-you government firewalls. Insofar that I am starting to see my life's work to be a form of activism.
Bach, my CTO, hates it. It his belief that a business should pursue profits, not purpose.
Apple did it
Apple is suddenly the world's largest proponent on privacy. As is Mozilla's Firefox as it seeks to wrestle the crown back from Chrome. And believe me, I am on that boat. Just recently, I switched the primary search engine on my mobile browser to DuckDuckGo.
So obviously, privacy as a selling point works for me.
It is not just Apple. Google began its decade of expansive growth with a tagline that I will never forget: "Do no evil." And for a while, I believed it and advocated fervently for Google.
Then there is Facebook with its mantra on connecting the world.
Activism as a marketing message
Every major company seems like an activist. But if I know anything about businesses, I'd take the advocacy with a grain of salt. Apple is not truly serious about privacy. iPhones come with built-in unique IDs for advertising tracking.
What I call activism is what companies call "vision." Blah.
The fluff unnecessary, in my opinion, but the side-effect is real. While Apple is pushing for privacy, the iPhones have indeed become one of the hardest phones to hack and track.
While Facebook is pushing to connect everyone in the world, its products, such as Whatsapp, have truly become how we chat with people daily.
Is the problem big enough?
In the startup world, we focus on problems. I posit to say that problems are too small to be worth considering. In my opinion, the better question to ask is:
Is my product an activism movement for any societal problems?
Uber came about believing that taxis fundamentally suck, and instead of bitching about the taxi medallions monopoly in the US. They made their own as an app on a phone. Because fuck-you taxis.
If the problem is big enough, it becomes a form of activism. And in this case, I believe a profitable and scalable business is the most efficient form of activism.
And given a good brain, a dash of luck, and an innovative product, profits will follow activist business models.