Randy Komisar, KPCB: You Can’t Make Change from the Outside You’ve Got to do it from the Inside

I spent my youth working in the public sector & nonprofit sector. I was raised in a house where I learnt to buy low & sell high really well: I was a good businessman. I fought all those instincts to try & follow more of a social mission. I had a crisis of faith one day coming home from work after a long arduous day & feeling really frustrated. I realized in that moment that the values that drove me to my social journey was human potential. I really cared about people & I cared about people being able to achieve their dreams & have an impact. I realized that the public sector jobs & nonprofit jobs that I had were actually belying those values. They weren’t supporting them! They were crushing their people, underpaying them, turning them into canon fodder, running these poor kids for 2 to 3 years until they never wanted to think about social mission again & then sending them out to become bank consultants after going to business school. Then bringing in the next group.

While they had these lofty goals & fantastic mission statements I realized that it was inconsistent with what I really cared about. So I decided I would take the tools of business I was really good at & apply them to try & make a difference. In order to do that I had to prove I could do it as well as anybody else. If I couldn’t compete in that world I didn’t have credibility. If I didn’t have credibility I can’t make change. You almost have to go into the belly of the beast, do it well & then be a model for how to do it differently. To sit on the outside & throw stones – you can’t make change in something, as successful as Wall Street or Corporate America by throwing stones from the outside. You’ve gotta do it better! A lot of what I have done in the past 20 years is serve the God of Schumpeter which is creative destruction. Try to find those businesses that abuse their customers, try to find those businesses that abuse the environment & I try to attack them with companies & business models that can do it better & profitably & hopefully can serve as role models for how to do it right!

Randy Komisar