Wednesday, February 10, 2021

David Hogg's "Good Pillow" teaches us something about "commercial viability"

Harvard, Aug. 2015
 
 I can recall from the 2018 book “Skin in the Game”, by Nassim Nicholas Taleb”, that you “must start a business” if you want to be significant in public life.  You must do transactions with real people that meet real needs.  Virtue signaling is for the Pharisees. 

David Hogg, a founder of March for our Lives after surviving the Parkland mass shooting incident on February 14, 2018, and a business partner William LeGate, are forming a pillow manufacturing company, in response to the antics of MyPillow CEO Michael J. Lindell visiting former “President” Donald J. Trump, now under a second impeachment trial, apparently on January 15, 2021, five days before Biden’s inauguration, and allegedly proposing “martial law” (Vox story by Emily Stewart).

The company will be called Good Pillow, and is describing its proposed operations on Twitter and on a new website, which offers a short “manifesto” on its home page. .

The company will  hire union labor within the United States (possibly centered in Massachusetts) and will set up a non-profit operation or subsidiary to supervise community initiatives regarding desired social responsibility (with respect to issues like climate change, health care, countering racism and sexism, etc).  It will seek private certification as a “B Corporation”, as explained here and also discussed by Harvard Business Review.

Setting aside the polarized politics of the country for now, it is interesting to see a Harvard undergraduate ready to start a business, which appears likely to succeed (it has a six-month waiting list for products already?)  Of course, we know that Mark Zuckerberg did that (remember February 4, 2004), and, well, we are today where we are.  This appears to have a great chance of working.  Will Hogg have time to run a company and finish his traditional undergraduate work?  More and more resourceful students are starting businesses today (look at Max Reisinger’s “Perspectopia”).

I’ve talked a lot about “commercial viability” in recent months, as I must contemplate radically restructuring my own activity at the start of 2022. 

This, too, is a real company selling real products to individual consumers, not an intermediary, or another Internet channel dependent on attracting advertisers and clicks.  Nevetheless. Alyssa Rosenberg, among others, has had some fun with Hogg's embrace of capitalism in this Washington Post op-ed about holding Trump and his nightbreed minions accountable. 

It’s something to contemplate as we wonder what the online world will look like in another years after “runaway speech” of the past has led to so much radicalization. 

Update:  Hogg has announced he is taking leave from his board position on March for our Lives to have more time for his company and for school (at Harvard).  



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