I believe the profit-motive has produced the most good in the world by introducing the hugest world-changing ideas — both in terms of the products we use and the culture we consume.
But I suppose the next best thing to for-profit entrepreneurship is "social entrepreneurship" — a new breed of civic / non-profit / hybrid entrepreneurs.
I had the pleasure of supporting my friend Steven Clift be inducted as a 2006 Ashoka Fellow tonight at the Google campus after a welcome by Sergey Brin and other leading lights of the change-the-world movement. Ashoka is an organization funding the best social entrepreneurs. James Fallows, one of my intellectual heros, recently said if he had a million dollars to give away he’d give it to Ashoka. The work Ashoka supports is much more compelling than your traditional charity.
Steven Clift has been promoting e-democracy and e-government for many years. We were both named among the most influential people in the world of internet and politics at a conference in Paris a few years ago; he said some kind things about me in an SF Weekly piece; I’ve given him some material about Comcate‘s e-gov work that he’s used in presentations to congressional committes and audiences around the world. We share a passion to make government and politics more accessible and interactive using the internet.
Congrats Steven and the entire Class of 2006 Ashoka Fellows. March on. This change the world stuff ain’t always easy. Ashoka has just made it a little less hard.