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A NEW LIFESTYLE How the flexible workplace keeps staff happy AIRBNB WANTS TO UNITE THE WORLD Why 70 million guests in 191 countries isn’t enough for CEO Brian Chesky

SWIPE RIGHT Is CEO Sean Rad the best match for Tinder? I’M IN! Meet the five Dragons’ Den SA judges

LESSONS OF

LEADERSHIP R35.00

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Serena Williams and other winners share their insights on creativity in business

“I don’t think you can succeed unless you fail. You have to fall down a lot.”

SEREN A W ILLI A M S , Tennis superstar


March/April 2016

Contents S PEC IAL REPORT

LESSONS OF LEADERSHIP Fifty-one of the world’s top innovators and cultural luminaries—hailing from Apple, Nike, Facebook and others—share their insights on what matters most in a business world that never stands still Begins on page 42

46 “It’s about looking at the world in a different way”

Nest CEO Tony Fadell and Oscar-winning actor Jared Leto on creativity, technology and invention

50 “First of all, just listen

54 “Pressure is a privilege” Nike CEO Mark Parker and tennis powerhouse Serena Williams on what it takes to stay on top

58 “Think crazy”

CEO Anne Wojcicki of 23andMe discusses the science of risk taking and breaking the mould

and learn”

Apple senior vice president of retail, Angela Ahrendts, on why the tech company’s culture is its greatest strength

FEATU RES

16 Set The World On Fire 66 Airbnb’s R380-billion

Keep your eye on the ball “If you’re always looking behind you, you’re never going to see the competition ahead of you,” says tennis ace, Serena Williams. (page 54)

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Meet the judges of Dragons’ Den South Africa who are helping make local entrepreneurs’ business dreams come true BY EVANS MANYONGA

Culture War

CEO Brian Chesky has an audacious plan to remake cities, the hospitality industry and our definition of sharing. Forty million guests in 191 countries are currently cheering him on BY MAX CHAFKIN

78 Tinder’s Curse

How CEO Sean Rad’s outsize personality has spurred the dating app’s amazing boom— and undercut his credibility BY AUSTIN CARR


Contents

NE XT

For your finger only Identilock offers hope that 2016 could be the breakthrough year for smart guns. (page 36)

26 Serious Beauty

With her growing network of vloggers and beauty-box subscribers, YouTube star Michelle Phan is changing the marketing playbook for makeup BY NICOLE LAPORTE

30 Work=Life=Work

The new “lifestyle business” is nipping at the heels of the nine-to-five, top-tobottom structure that has dominated the scene for centuries BY GABRIELLA REGO

38 Microsoft’s Inclusive Design

How studying underserved communities is helping the tech giant create better products BY CLIFF KUANG

REG U L ARS

10 From the Editor 12 The Recommender 36 Trigger Happy Could a biometric lock be the key to gun safety? BY DARRELL HARTMAN

64 Great Strides

90 The Great Innovation Frontier Is this the fourth Industrial Revolution? We need adaptability and ingenuity— and the capacity to innovate BY WALTER BAETS

Behind Toms founder Blake Mycoskie’s plan to build an army of social entrepreneurs BY RICK TETZELI

92 Fast Bytes & Events

88 Train of Thought

96 One More Thing

Modern business and ancient kung fu share a common connection: Use power only when needed BY SCOTT CUNDILL

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How tech can be a force for societal good rather than a drag on it BY BARATUNDE THURSTON


PUBLISHER AND EDITOR-IN-CHIEF Robbie Stammers

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No article or any part of any article in Fast Company South Africa may be reproduced without the prior written consent of the publisher. The information provided and opinions expressed in this publication are provided in good faith, but do not necessarily represent the opinions of Mansueto Ventures in the USA, Insights Publishing or the editor. Neither this magazine, the publisher or Mansueto Ventures in the USA can be held legally liable in any way for damages of any kind whatsoever arising directly or indirectly from any facts or information provided or omitted in these pages, or from any statements made or withheld by this publication. Fast Company is a registered title under Mansueto Ventures and is licensed to Insights Publishing for use in southern Africa only. 8   FASTCOMPANY.CO.Z A  MARCH/APRIL 2016


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From the Editor

Work/life balance The lifestyle business is becoming as ubiquitous as the presence of youthful billionaire entrepreneurs in sneakers and T-shirts. Both go against the traditional grain, but they are in tune with the forward thinking of Generation Flux. This fast-growing model values people and recognises them as key cogs in the functioning of a company. Employees’ interests, family life and individual personalities are taken into consideration to fit their work schedules. Many business owners are now seeing the positive outcome of offering their workers this flexibility. “When people are unstressed and having fun because they feel a link between their values and their place of work’s values, magic happens,” says one of the lifestyle employers we interviewed for our article on page 30. Sir Richard Branson is one of the most well-known proponents of the lifestyle business. He believes entrepreneurs should focus more on life rewards, not solely financial ones. According to Branson, there is a higher possibility that your business will do well when you have a passion for what you are doing. “If you’re an entrepreneur, the chances are you’re going to be working long hours at certain points in your career, if not for the duration. But there’s also a fairly high chance that you will love

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No pressure Sir Richard Branson says work “feels a lot less like work when you’re doing something you love.”

what you do, and that’s the reason we choose to put ourselves through it. It feels a lot less like work when you’re doing something you love.” Entrepreneurs are the pioneers pushing the boundaries out further, through constantly challenging the norm, raising the bar and redefining the way the world of business works. In this edition, we feature some of the Lessons of Leadership shared during the inaugural Fast Company Innovation Festival held in November in New York City. The world’s top innovators and cultural luminaries—including our cover personality, tennis superstar Serena Williams, plus others hailing from Apple, Nike and Facebook among others—inspired us with their wide-ranging and invaluable insights on creativity in business and how to stay ahead in a world that never stands still. Before you dive into the magazine, I leave you with a quote from Jim Brett, president of West Elm, as featured in this edition: “As exciting as the digital age is, the most brilliant, fastest tech can’t bring what human connection can bring.” PS: We would love to hear from you, so please find and follow Fast Company SA on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram (see page 89 for details).

Evans Manyonga evans@fastcompany.co.za @Nyasha1e


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The recommender What are you loving this month?

Derek Kilpin

Partner, Great Domaines Fine Wine Importers

Favourite wine region

Burgundy, France: A mere 50 kilometres

long and just over one kilometre wide, the hillside region of Burgundy, with its myriad individual vineyard parcels—awarded Unesco World Heritage status in 2015—is regarded by many in the wine world as the Holy Grail. The wines produced here are predominantly from Chardonnay (white) and Pinot Noir (red) grapes; for many years, they have captivated oenophiles the world over. These vines grow in a decades-old harmony of physical and climatic elements which, with the right guidance, can produce wines of incredible depth, subtlety, complexity, aroma and flavour that also evolve over time in-bottle if afforded the patience.

FAVOURITE OUTDOOR VENUE Yashini Padayachee

Executive producer, news anchor, eNCA

Fourways Farmers Market:

This is the perfect place for a relaxed Sunday, unwinding with family and friends. I love that everything is so green and earthy—it makes me feel grounded and calm. After a busy week, a day at the market always soothes my soul with good food, music and energy. The market is always on my ‘places to see’ list when family or friends are in Joburg, because it’s an oasis in the middle of the big city. 12   FASTCOMPANY.CO.Z A  MARCH/APRIL 2016

FAVOURITE BUSINESS TOOL Kaz Henderson Founding partner, director of possibilities, Networx PR

Task Express: We work in an agency environment, handling multiple clients with multiple projects. Task Express has helped us streamline our day-to-day duties. It acts as a simple yet highly effective planning and reminder system so we can get on with what needs to be done, instead of focusing on the ‘remembering’. It has allowed us to be more productive in all aspects of the business—and our clients like it too!


The recommender

FAVOURITE FILM FESTIVAL

Fast Company SA team

AB Moosa

CEO, Avalon Group

Berlin Film Festival: One of the most pleasant ‘side effects’ of my work is to engage with some of the biggest film festivals worldwide. This takes me to cities as diverse as Dubai, Mumbai, Cannes, Toronto and Berlin. But the festival in the German capital is my absolute favourite. Based in a city bustling with life 24/7, it draws me in with its charm, intensity and passion. It’s such a joy watching the great selection of films here. The Berlin Film Festival is so well structured that it affords you the time to engage with people, and I find its openness to, and support for, universal content very refreshing.

FAVOURITE SHORTCUT Lara Hirschmann

Head, Shining Stars Occupational Therapy Practice

How brands grow (Part 2) by Jenni Romaniuk and Byron Sharp: Following the

success of the first international best-seller, How brands grow: What marketers don’t know , the second book goes deeper to explore smarter, evidence-based marketing. The authors delve into emerging markets, services, durables and luxury categories as well as the latest branding trends changing the way traditional markets operate. A definite must-read if branding and buying behaviour are your areas of interest.

Drive-by Latte: There are small joys in life, and the “Drive-by Latte” from JB’s in Melrose Arch is one of mine. My car nearly annihilates the “parking for drive-by’s only” sign in an attempt to keep up the strict rule for which this bay has been allocated. A quick call is made, and out comes my skinny latte, clad in its I-ain’t-gonna-spill-a-drop travel gear. Not a minute has been wasted on parking or running into a restaurant, and the caffeine gives me the much-needed zing to continue with the craziness of the day.

FAVOURITE DRINK Angus Moir

Co-founder, MD, Agatha Code Architects

Chalong Bay Rum: On a recent trip to Phuket, I fortuitously stumbled across the amazing Chalong Bay Distillery. I’d never liked rum before, so it came as a big surprise that I really enjoyed this one.

It seems that being handcrafted from start to finish with a healthy dose of love and pride makes a big difference. And who knew there were over 200 varieties of sugar cane in Thailand? MARCH/APRIL 2016  FASTCOMPANY.CO.Z A   13


The recommender

App Alley Gianluca Tucci MD, CN&CO

Golfshot Plus:

Not only does this app have a massive selection of courses from around the world and superb features, but it’s also compatible with my Apple Watch. Instead of taking a cart, I walk the course— and all my activity stats are sent to my Health app and shared with Discovery.

Phumeza Langa

Communications specialist, ADT Security

Nike+ Training Club: I find that I’m incredibly overwhelmed when I want to try out a new gym routine. This app helps you focus on the areas you want to work on, and achieve specific results. It also allows you to choose the level at which you want to train. If you have the equipment at home or can get creative and improvise, you can do these workouts anywhere you’re comfortable. Track your progress and tweak your programme by adding new workouts.

Torsten Koehler

Founder, Love Your Nuts

Yoco:

Running a campaign for testicular cancer, I ‘talk balls’ to save lives whenever and wherever. As I always have my merchandise with me, Yoco is the perfect app with which to accept card payments. It comes with a small device to insert/swipe cards, and customers get a receipt via SMS or email.

Clodagh Da Paixao Head of Brand, The Fulcrum Group

Photofy: I like having

some creative fun with the pics I take on my phone, so right now I’m really enjoying this amazing photoenhancing app. Photofy is great for individuals or businesses to add a personal touch to their photographs. The app is free (but you can upgrade to Photofy Premium), with great templates, collages, text and overlays to get you started. It automatically saves your images to a Photofy album on your device, and has all the sharing capabilities you need.

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Danielle de Grooth Owner, Design Lounge

Basecamp: With

the majority of my clients overseas, conversations tend to be electronic—and Basecamp is the best way to track them. You can send briefs, integrate time trackers, set up schedules and reminders, and get reports on what everyone is doing, what’s coming up or what’s overdue.


SET THE WORLD ON FIRE Meet the judges of Dragons’ Den South Africa who are giving local entrepreneurs the spark needed to pursue their business ventures with renewed vigour—and more money in the bank BY

Evans Manyonga

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“I think there’s p o t e n t i a l f o r a massive business here. I want to be a part of it. I’m in!” Those are the words every aspiring entrepreneur wants to hear from the judges on Dragons’ Den when pitching their startup ideas. Like 18-year-old business science student Emile McLennan, who convinced two of the South African Dragons to invest R5 million in his online shipping service, eShip. He also received some good advice: “Take a year off and go figure this out and get some real-world experience. And you know what? If you fail, go back to school, finish your studies.” The worldwide smash reality-television show originated in Japan as Money Tigers, and has now been produced in over 30 countries. South Africa’s own version airs on DStv’s Mzansi Magic channel, and has concluded a very successful first season. Gil Oved, Lebo Gunguluza, Polo Leteka, Vusi Thembekwayo and Vinny Lingham make up the South African panel. They each bring their own entrepreneurial spirit, expertise and individuality to the table. Co-executive producer of Dragons’ Den SA, Kee-Leen Irvine, said: “We were looking for successful entrepreneurs who had built their own businesses, rather than people who had climbed the corporate ladder, or people who had made their money through share deals or corporate structuring. We also wanted people with a passion to invest in startups and grow companies, and who would be committed to mentoring the entrepreneurs.”

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Like the contestants on the show, the five Dragons also had to start at the bottom, take a risk and work themselves up. They know the disappointment of not having enough funds, or seeing their venture fail despite their best efforts. But they dusted themselves off and started again. Thanks to this personal insight, and following the success of the inaugural season of Dragons’ Den SA, the five judges last year co-authored And For All These Reasons ... I’M IN: a book to inspire both budding and seasoned entrepreneurs through the five Dragons’ collective lessons learnt in business. It isn’t a howto-build-your-business type of book, but rather one that offers insights into the thinking of people who themselves have built up companies and seen them fall back down—experiences by which aspiring entrepreneurs can be motivated. Fast Company SA sat down with the five business giants to discover more about them and their journey in entrepreneurship.

Serial entrepreneur G I L O V E D was flattered to be invited onto the show. “I think Dragons’ Den is a critical component of growing and inspiring entrepreneurs in the country. I keep getting stopped wherever I go by people who have ideas, who want to become ‘masters of their own destiny’ and who want to make a difference. They say, ‘Thank you for being on the show and giving me the licence to follow my dreams.’ “ He believes the day he is able to define his business is the day he’ll be out of business. He cofounded The Creative Counsel (TCC), and is the group co-CEO. His chutzpah and business acumen have been instrumental in growing TCC into South Africa’s largest communication and advertising group by billings and staff complement. The past two decades have seen Oved either purchase or start over a dozen companies spanning digital, brand

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GIL OVED Tit l e Group co-CEO, The Creative Counsel Favo u rite q u ote? “Passion-fuelled optimism.” Okay, it’s not so much a quote as it is a mantra. But that’s what I live by and I’m sticking to it. Favo u rite boo k ? Max Ehrmann’s Desiderata.

30-SECOND BIO

activation, production and fieldmarketing services. Networking is one of his passions, and he believes solid relationships in business can open doors to many opportunities. “TCC was founded in 2001 as a promotions company, but has evolved into a R700-million business and South Africa’s largest advertising agency group by turnover and headcount—a first for a nontraditional advertising agency,” he explains. “TCC is a first-time employer of thousands of people around South Africa in townships, peri-urban and rural areas. These are mainly people who are otherwise unemployed and ‘unemployable’ because of lack of experience and education. TCC sources and upskills such people, giving them employment, a salary, dignity and hope.” In addition, due to the nature of the business, Oved has been able to identify many an entrepreneur around the country, mentor them and help set up their ventures. Innovation, disruption and business are interlinked, he feels. “Business has always been about disruption. It may not have had the fancy terms and slick 20-something CEOs wearing takkies and making millions, but disruption is a fancy word for innovation. Once upon a time you could make a good living by delivering ice into homes. Then refrigerators came along. Once upon a time

Favo u rite p l a ce to b e? NYC, baby! The Big Apple! H ow d o yo u u nw i n d a n d re l a x? What does that even mean? Why would you want to do that anyway? Wh o h a s b ee n yo u r b i g g e st i n s p i ra t io n i n l i fe? My parents. They enveloped me with love and support— unconditional. They allowed me to live my dreams and encouraged me to pursue my passions. Yo u r i d ea l d ay ? Family and girlfriend. Good wine. Lots of laughter. Exotic food. Some jazz in the background. Favo u rite tec h g a d g e t? My new Oculus Rift VR goggles. Virtual reality is going to change the world!

“I think Dragons’ Den is a critical component of growing and inspiring entrepreneurs in the country.”

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people had a lifelong career of rewriting books, and then the printing press was invented. Job roles are invented and decimated all the time, because business is about flux. It’s just that the rate of change is exponential.” Together with business partner Ran Neu-Ner, Oved has a number of accolades under his belt. TCC was awarded the 2013 Absa Unlisted Company Award for business excellence and entrepreneurship. In 2014, the co-CEOs jointly won the CNBC All Africa Business Leaders Awards (AABLA) Young Business Leader of the Year. The AABLAs honour business leaders who are making a difference through innovation and inspiration in their industry. When asked about the future, Oved is humble and honest. “We have just sold our business to a large global advertising agency called Publicis Groupe. They bought us because they liked the IP [intellectual property] we had and believed that it should, and could, be exported to the rest of the African continent and, in fact, emerging markets in general. I am proud that South African–born companies and SA-based IP can be relevant to the rest of the world.”

Port Elizabeth–born L E B O G U N G U L U Z A wears many hats: entrepreneur, turnaround strategist, motivational speaker, among others. He has made and lost his fortune in the past, but is now one of South Africa’s most successful businessmen. No stranger to hardship, his father passed away when he was young and his mother, who was a nurse, raised him on her own. Gunguluza was always committed to his education and studied toward a Bachelor of Commerce degree at night while working in a clothing retail outlet during the day. He started his career at the SABC, where he was responsible for selling advertising space on radio stations; he later worked at MetroFM. “I had grown up so deprived that I was determined to make a lot of money and never experience poverty again,” he says. “I set three goals: to become a millionaire by age 25, a multimillionaire by 35, and a billionaire by 45.” And he did just that: At the age of 27, the self-titled “Ultimate Breakthrough Entrepreneur” became one of South Africa’s youngest black millionaires— without any funding or government tenders. His first business was Gunguluza Entertainment,

“Business has always been about disruption. It may not have had the fancy terms and slick 20-something CEOs wearing takkies and making millions, but disruption is a fancy word for innovation,” says Oved. 20   FASTCOMPANY.CO.Z A  MARCH/APRIL 2016

an event-based company that organised club nights and launch parties for corporates. From there he branched out into talent management. Corporate Fusion followed, operating in publishing, media, communications and events, and he soon grew that into a business with annual turnover of R14 million. However, a failed event for a big financial client resulted in Corporate Fusion losing further clients worth a total of R7 million in three weeks. Lebo found himself R4 million in debt, and his newly formed Gunguluza Enterprises and Media Group (GEM Group) closed down. But he picked up the pieces and was determined to pay off his debt. Gunguluza and his wife at the time acquired a Primi Piatti franchise, which they successfully promoted to great success. During this period, he started rebuilding the GEM Group. The reformed GEM showed consistent growth thanks to restructuring and refocusing after Gunguluza identified media, hospitality, technology and property as the sectors in which he wanted to be involved. Through hard work, dedication and wise investment, he rebuilt his company into a multimillionrand business with more than 12 print publications and stakes in numerous hotels. In addition, he diversified into architectural design and construction, and is also involved in executive travel and transportation, events, manufacturing, and mobile technologies. In 2011, Gunguluza joined the professional-speaking

circuit where his life experience of overcoming tremendous odds to succeed struck a chord with audiences. By December that year, he was chosen by a leading speaker bureau as one of the top three new motivational speakers in South Africa. He believes disruption is critical, because it enhances technology while taking it to the next level. “I believe disruption is taking advantage of all the relevant technologies to create a new way in which business is done. Innovation has become key to disruption, because most people are now accustomed to doing something in a mundane way, and innovation brings a new and easier way in which business is done. In most cases, disruption is the use of technology that makes life easy for the consumers.” As part of his vision to empower young people, on 12 December 2012 Gunguluza launched his mentorship programme, 12-12-12, through which he is committed to recruiting 12 would-be entrepreneurs over 12 months to start 12 enterprises. It was through his investment in 12-12-12 that he came to the attention of the producers of Dragons’ Den SA, and was invited to be a judge. “I found it was already in line with my decision to explore new business opportunities,” he says. “My wish is for [the show] to continue, because there are a lot of hungry entrepreneurs out there who require our support as Dragons, be it funding or advice.”

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“There are a lot of hungry entrepreneurs out there who require our support as Dragons, be it funding or advice.”

LEBO GUNGULUZA

Tit l e Chairperson, GEM Group Favo u rite q u ote? “Do what is necessary, follow up what is possible, and the impossible shall be achieved.”

30-SECOND BIO

Favo u rite boo k ? I’M IN! Favo u rite p l a ce to b e? Port Elizabeth. H ow d o yo u u nw i n d a n d re l a x? Lying on the beach, and reading a book. Wh o h a s b ee n yo u r b i g g e st i n s p i ra t io n i n l i fe? My father. He was the best lawyer in the Eastern Cape and he inspired me a lot. Yo u r i d ea l d ay ? Warm day by the beachfront, where I sit and get two calls to say two invoices have just been paid; I order some more Champagne and sip all day. Favo u rite tec h g a d g e t? My Apple iPad—it really simplifies life.

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POLO LETEKA Tit l e Owner, CEO, IDF Managers Favo u rite q u ote? “Just do it!” Favo u rite boo k ? The Bible.

30-SECOND BIO

Favo u rite p l a ce to b e? Home. H ow d o yo u u nw i n d a n d re l a x? Spending time with family, watching comedies, having wine. Wh o h a s b ee n yo u r b i g g e st i n s p i ra t io n i n l i fe? My mother, who instilled a never-saydie attitude in me from a young age. I’m eternally grateful to her, for it is this quality that has sustained me. Favo u rite tec h g a d g e t? My Samsung smartphone.

“It was important to contribute toward educating entrepreneurs about what investors look for in an entrepreneur when deciding to invest in them.”

P O L O L E T E K A began her entrepreneurial journey at a very young age. “I started selling sweets and snacks in high school to make extra pocket money. While it was not seen as an entrepreneurial activity at the time, it taught me the importance of tracking customer preferences and stocking their favourites rather than my own,” she explains. While on a business trip in the little town of Ladybrand in the Free State, Leteka stayed at a quaint bed & breakfast and was enamoured with the ambience of the place. She loved the concept so much that she decided to pursue her own venture. From the outside it looked lucrative, unique and exciting, so while working fulltime in Pretoria, Leteka set up her B&B in Mafikeng. It was run primarily by her mother and cousin during the week, and she would make the 300-kilometre trip twice a month to check on the business. “Looking back, I would say this venture was doomed to fail because, as a lifestyle business, a B&B requires the personal touch of the owner at all times to make it work. The market was there, but the operational model was wrong,” she says. The key lessons Leteka learnt were that it is critical to employ the right people with the requisite skills and expertise to make any venture a success,

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and to pay them the right salary. She took a break and managed a few private properties while planning her next endeavour. In 2008 Leteka and her business partner Sonja Sebotsa—together with other associates—conceptualised and established Identity Partners and IDF (Identity Development Fund) Managers. From the outset, she and Sebotsa split themselves between these two businesses; they understood the importance of focus and undivided attention. Having just spent three and a half years at the Department of Trade and Industry, being responsible for drafting the very first Broad-Based Black Economic Empowerment Codes of Good Practice, Leteka was clear that her passion lay in significantly impacting the economic development landscape of South Africa. She was of the firm view that this could be achieved only through entrepreneurship. Leteka was tasked with establishing and running IDF Managers on behalf of the Identity Group, while Sebotsa, who brought extensive investment banking experience, took care of Identity Partners. In 2011 they established a new entity called Identity Resources, which is run by their third partner, Sipho Mofokeng. Since starting the Identity

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Group, they have funded in excess (and counting) of 70 small and medium enterprises, and participated in significant transactions across various sectors of the economy. It was in fact Leteka’s business partner who was invited to participate in Dragons’ Den SA, but they agreed that since Leteka was running the part of the business that dealt with entrepreneurs on a daily basis, she would be better placed to participate on the programme. “For us, it was important to contribute toward educating entrepreneurs about what investors look for in an entrepreneur when deciding to invest in them,” she adds. On the future of entrepreneurship in South Africa, Leteka has earmarked SA Florist (which appeared on the show) to grow massively. “SA Florist has a strong technical team, a clear vision and clear goals. They are also responding to a market need and are continuously looking at finding new ways of servicing their target market.” The ever growing debate around female entrepreneurs is another point of interest. “Women need to start taking their rightful place in society first and foremost. By this I mean women should not be apologetic for having ambitions to actualise their full potential. After this, the opportunities are endless,” she concludes.

Dragons’ Den SA is “an opportunity to begin to influence the conversation about high-impact, highgrowth [businesses].”

The “Rock Star of Public Speaking”, V U S I T H E M B E K W A Y O has singlehandedly rewritten the rules of success for professional speakers in Africa. He empowers his audiences with new knowledge, research findings, models and tools they can immediately apply in their business or career. He has spoken in 24 countries over the past decade, and in 2013 hosted a sold-out show in Las

Vegas as part of his Global Inspiration Tour. Already at the age of 17, Thembekwayo was ranked first in Africa for public speaking and went on to attain third place at the English-Speaking Union International Public Speaking Competition. He delivered his first professional talk in 2002 and over the past 13 years has been gracing the global stage with his humour, charisma and thought-

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VUSI T H E M B E K WAY O

30-SECOND BIO

provoking content. He has the ability to deliver a serious message while keeping the audience enthused and inspired with his talks on sales, strategy and leadership. Forced to drop out of university at the end of his first year due to financial constraints, Thembekwayo walked the full length of two malls in the East Rand, handing out his CV door to door, store to store—but after six weeks, he still couldn’t secure employment. But ever the solution-seeker, he used his international networks (gained through public speaking) and his cellphone to begin recruiting learners in South Africa for jobs in the UK and Australia. This initiative birthed his first company, Global Professionals South Africa: a worldwide recruitment agency that he ran from his township bedroom. He sold a portion of his business to a Johannesburgbased digital agency in an effort to digitise the company; however, too early for the digital revolution and having poorly chosen partners, he was soon out of work and money once more. Then Thembekwayo received a life-changing opportunity: an offer to join a corporate finance company. Here he refined his skills in corporate finance and became one of the go-to leverage finance guys in the team. He combined his skills in finance with public speaking and, after a successful speaking engagement, walked away with a new job as executive at one of the largest consumer goods businesses in Africa where he started, grew and managed a multimillion-dollar portfolio. Today, at age 30, in addition to his public speaking he is the CEO of the HR management

Tit l e CEO, MOTIV8 Advisory MD, Watermark Advisory Ltd Favo u rite q u ote? “Faith is taking the first step even when you don’t see the whole staircase.” —Martin Luther King, Jr   Favo u rite boo k ? Zero to One by Peter Thiel.   Favo u rite p l a ce to b e? Ras Nungwi Beach Hotel in Zanzibar.   H ow d o yo u u nw i n d a n d re l a x?  On the trampoline with my kids. The world really looks and feels different when you’re bouncing to the rhythm of your daughter’s giggles.   Wh o h a s b ee n yo u r b i g g e st i n s p i ra t io n i n l i fe? My mother. After my father died, she raised three kids against almost insurmountable odds. My mother’s a rock star. She’s my living example of perseverance, integrity and commitment.    Yo u r i d ea l d ay ? Gym in the morning; late breakfast with the family; swim with the kids; race on the track in the afternoon; late afternoon braai, with Manu Katché playing in the background.    Favo u rite tec h g a d g e t? My FiftyThree Pencil—meetings are just not the same without it. 

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and development consultancy, MOTIV8 Advisory; MD of Watermark Advisory Ltd, a private equity house with assets in six African countries; and chairperson of the venture capitalist startup, My Growth Fund. Thembekwayo believes in high-impact, high-growth companies and notes that Uber is a sterling example of the new age of business. “Uber symbolises the way the modern business landscape has changed. Innovation leads to high-impact growth.” He saw Dragons’ Den SA as “an opportunity to begin to influence this conversation about high impact, high growth. If we can’t tick those two boxes, then there’s going to be a problem. So you have a growing unemployment rate— how do you fix that? We need high-impact entrepreneurs,” he stresses.

Lingham began Clicks2Customers in a spare bedroom he had rented back from the new owner of his former home. At the time, he said he would rather be homeless than not start a company due to lack of finances.

It’s a long way from East London in the Eastern Cape to Silicon Valley in San Francisco, but it’s a journey that the 36-yearold serial South African entrepreneur V I N N Y L I N G H A M has travelled in less than a decade. He thought that being a part of Dragons’ Den SA would be “an amazing experience” to keep in touch with entrepreneurs in his home country and give back by investing in them. “I’m proud to have concluded 10 deals on the show—and a few outside the show—in the past year, and I have a nice portfolio of South African entrepreneurs whom I’m backing,” he shares. Lingham’s first love has always been the Internet, and at the age of 19, having dropped out of studying information systems at the University of Cape Town due to lack of funds, he moved to Johannesburg to start his professional career. He worked at a number of tech companies in Sandton, including a division of Dimension Data. He started his first tech business by selling his townhouse for a R125 000 profit and then racking up R75 000 in debt on his credit cards to provide additional cash flow. The year was 2003 and the company was Clicks2Customers (along with its holding company, incuBeta), which he began in a spare bedroom he had rented back from the


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VINNY LINGHAM Tit l e Co-founder, CEO, Civic Favo u rite q u ote? “You can take a horse to water, but you can’t force him to drink.”

30-SECOND BIO

Favo u rite boo k ? The Martian by Andy Weir. Favo u rite p l a ce to b e? Hawaii. H ow d o yo u u nw i n d a n d re l a x? I play games! Chess, Hearthstone, among others. Wh o h a s b ee n yo u r b i g g e st i n s p i ra t io n i n l i fe? It’s changed over time. I have been inspired by Bill Gates, Sir Richard Branson, Steve Jobs and now Elon Musk (fellow South African). Yo u r i d ea l d ay ? Wake up late, grab breakfast and a round of golf; lunch with family and friends; afternoon watching sports (rugby, cricket, NFL); evening dinner in a nice restaurant with old friends. Favo u rite tec h g a d g e t? My iPhone 6 Plus and my Samsung Gear VR headset.

“I’m proud to have concluded 10 deals on the show—and a few outside the show— in the past year.”

new owner of his former home. At the time, Lingham said he would rather be homeless than not start a company due to lack of finances. Within three years, Clicks2Customers was a R100million-per-year business with clients such as eBay, Yahoo and Expedia—all while being based out of Cape Town and creating

over 50 local technology jobs in the process. Clicks2Customers was the Top Technology Company in South Africa in 2006 and also won numerous awards internationally; it continues to be a market leader even a decade later. Lingham’s passion for entrepreneurship in South Africa led him to make early-

stage investments in other local startup businesses such as Quirk (recently acquired by WPP), SkyRove, Personera, ChessCube, Runway Sale and SweepSouth. In 2007 he became restless and consequently stepped down from Clicks2Customers to launch Yola.com, a company that helps small businesses build

websites. Lingham decided he could deliver the vision of cloud computing to SMEs globally, and set up an office for Yola in the US, primarily because that’s where the market opportunity was. After securing funding of $5 million (more than R70 million) from JSE-listed Richemont, he relocated to Silicon Valley. Since then, Yola has received over $25 million (R380 million) in further investment and boasts more than 10 million users worldwide with operations and employees in Cape Town and San Francisco. In late 2011 Lingham felt the itch again and stepped down from the day-to-day operations at Yola. After thinking about the future of payments, in January 2012 he started his new venture, Gyft—again based in the US but with a development team in Cape Town. The product was a mobile wallet for digitising plastic gift cards and selling mobile versions. He successfully raised capital from Google Ventures and Ashton Kutcher, and within two years of launching, it was snapped up by the world’s largest payments company, First Data, for a rumoured $54 million (more than R800 million)—cementing Lingham as one of South Africa’s greatest tech entrepreneurs. Gyft has become an overnight leader in the crowded mobile and prepaid space, driven by Lingham’s passion for bitcoin, his strategic technical and business insight, and his ability to drive user adoption into the market. He is now widely regarded as one of the foremost bitcoin thinkers globally and was recently appointed to the board of the Bitcoin Foundation. His very latest venture, Civic, founded in January 2016, will offer identity-protection services to consumers for free— for life—in a bid to fight online identity fraud. Launching later this year, it will use bitcoin blockchain technology to secure some of the consumer data, Lingham says.

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N E X T

Serious beauty YouTube star and Ipsy founder Michelle Phan is at the forefront of the social reinvention of the almost R600-billion cosmetics industry By Nicole LaPorte

Photographs by Rene & Radka

Beauty squad Ipsy president Jennifer Goldfarb (left) is a veteran of Bare Escentuals; CEO Marcelo Camberos (centre) came from viralvideo website Funny or Die.

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Behind the brand

“Hi! I’m Michelle.” Michelle Phan is poking her head into a spacious room at the Ipsy Open Studio in Santa Monica, California—an outpost of the San Mateo–based beauty subscription company she co-founded four years ago. A young woman named Sophie Torres is sitting at a table, neatly arranging brushes, bottles and tubes in preparation for a video tutorial she is going to film about hard-to-pulloff hairstyles. She is a member of Ipsy’s extended family of online beauty influencers who, like Phan, are using YouTube, Instagram and other social media to build careers as beauty gurus. Phan is the biggest guru of all. Since 2007, when she started

making videos of herself applying makeup in her bedroom and uploading them to YouTube, she has amassed a following of more than 8 million subscribers who tune in to watch her dreamyvoiced instructions on everything from “grunge beauty” to how to achieve the Daenerys Targaryen look from Game of Thrones. Now, through Ipsy, she’s helping others follow in her footsteps—last May, Ipsy opened this 900-squaremetre studio, complete with 360-degree cameras, state-of-theart lighting and elaborate props, for its network of beauty vloggers to shoot their videos.   Torres seems a little flustered by the sudden appearance of the 28-year-old Phan and apologises for not wearing any makeup. Phan, who’s dressed in a simple black turtleneck dress and colourful Nikes, smiles warmly. “It’s fine. We don’t judge here. I don’t have any makeup on either.”  It’s true. But though there is nary a hint of kohl or foundation on Phan’s porcelain complexion, it’s clear she takes beauty very seriously. She has written a book and is developing a premium video network and music label, but Ipsy demands most of her attention—and brings in the most money. The subscription service works in much the same way as rival Birchbox (and Rubybox in South Africa), sending out a set of personalised beauty goodies each month in an ever changing set of “Glam Bags”. Ipsy now boasts more than 1.5 million subscribers (who pay around R150 a month for the bags), surpassing Birchbox at just over a million. Last year, Ipsy raised $100 million (R1.5 billion) in Series B funding from the high-profile firms TPG Growth and Sherpa Capital, valuing the company at a reported $800 million (R12 billion). Since then, Phan and her partners, CEO Marcelo Camberos and president Jennifer Goldfarb,

have been busy. They bought back her two-year-old cosmetics line, Em, from L’Oréal, to reassert creative control and fully profit from its sales. But their ambition is much more far-reaching. While Birchbox takes in a reported 35% of its revenue from sales of fullsize beauty products online and in flagship stores, Ipsy remains focused on using its community to drive subscriptions. Its bet: that as the cosmetics industry grows ever more decentralised, Ipsy will emerge as the go-to source for beauty advice and intelligence. To realise this, Ipsy is investing heavily into building up its already 10 000-person-strong network of amateur beauty vloggers such as Torres. These content creators aren’t bound by a stringent contract. “They just have to make a few videos a month that are Ipsy-related; the rest is up to them,” Phan says. Together with Ipsy’s inhouse stylists, they generate 300 million social media impressions a month for the company. Ipsy gets exposure (it has so far done very little paid advertising) and more views of its ad-embedded YouTube content. In exchange, it gives these vloggers access to the Open Studio, mentoring, networking and publicity opportunities, and special tools such as a mobile app that helps with beauty giveaways. “There are hundreds if not millions of beauty content creators online. We want all of them,” says Goldfarb. The idea is to develop a whole stable full of Phan-level gurus promoting and creating content, who, in turn, will draw in and help retain subscribers. As Camberos says, people join Ipsy to get the Glam Bags, but the community experience “is why they stay.” Ipsy’s plan reflects where the cosmetics industry is heading. No longer do many women (particularly millennials) get their

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Behind the brand

makeup tips at a departmentstore counter or from a celebrity spokesperson. Rather, they head to the Internet and binge-watch DIY videos posted by people like Phan and Karen O, one of Ipsy’s inhouse stylists. The fact that these new voices of authority are both diverse and relatable makes them invaluable marketing tools for brands. One recent study by Defy Media found that more than 60% of 13- to 24-year-olds said they would try a product suggested by a YouTuber. “The standard of beauty, the idea of beauty, is changing,” says Phan. “The one-size-fits-all look no longer really exists in this new paradigm.”  The YouTube-wrought democratisation of beauty has also allowed smaller makeup lines, which lack the marketing budgets of bigger competitors, to break through. Researchers at the Kline Group estimate that sales of indie cosmetics brands grew by 19.6% from 2013 to 2014 (though they still represent just 7.3% of the total market). NYX, a Los Angeles– based cosmetics company now owned by L’Oréal, skyrocketed to $100 million (R1.5 billion) in sales in 2014, thanks largely to beauty influencers who participated in

“The standard of beauty, the idea of beauty, is changing. The one-sizefits-all look no longer really exists.”

NYX’s annual video contest. Given this new reality, major cosmetics brands are aggressively courting social media stars. Smashbox has opened its photo studios to vloggers who create “Made at Smashbox” videos. And the campaign for Garnier’s Fructis Full and Plush hair-care line last year was put entirely in the hands of 100 vloggers; the resulting YouTube videos received more than 3 million views. “We get complaints if we launch a product and it’s not reviewed by key vloggers,” says Beth DiNardo, Smashbox’s global general manager. For companies unaccustomed to the strange new world of

social media celebrity, Ipsy serves as a guide, helping to get their products not only out to subscribers but also into the right tutorials. In return, Ipsy gets its Glam Bag products for free. “Part of our proposition to brands is ‘We will give you an amazing marketing campaign and an amazing experience with our community,’ ” explains Goldfarb. Ipsy also provides brands with a detailed report on their products based on feedback from subscribers. According to Goldfarb, there are no plans to charge for this intelligence, but it helps the company attract “the best of the best” beauty companies, from more established brands such as Urban Decay to up-and-comers like the two-year-old Trust Fund Beauty. But even with its army of vloggers, Ipsy faces a stiff challenge: Consumers may be getting their beauty tips online, but most still buy their products in brick-and-mortar stores. According to Shannon Romanowski, senior beauty analyst at Mintel, less than 5% of women who are 18 and older use online subscription services like Ipsy and Birchbox. “Although the

beauty subscription model is a growing trend, beauty tends to be an in-store purchase,” she says. Ipsy’s response is to keep growing its community. The company’s latest effort is hosting a series of Generation Beauty conferences—a Comic Con of sorts for beauty lovers. In 2016, there will be four events in cities including San Francisco and Atlanta­, up from two last year. “The one we just had in New York, we had 850 creators, plus 3 000 people paying $150 [more than R2 000]each to attend, plus all these brands,” says Camberos. At the heart of Ipsy’s community, of course, is Phan, whom Camberos calls its “soul”. Although she’s become fluent in MBA–speak, chatting easily about new “business paradigms”, she still uploads a video every week and is Ipsy’s primary source of trendsetting ideas. As we talk, she opens up a notepad and starts absentmindedly sketching a pair of enormous, seductive eyes with long lashes. “I think this will be the design of a new bag,” she says, holding it up like a mask in front of her face. “If this was the Glam Bag, you could take a selfie like this and just have fun with it.”

C A ME R A- R E A DY There’s a beauty guru for everyone among Ipsy’s network of 10 000 influencers. Here’s a sample:

Desi Perkins

Loey Lane

YazTheSpaz

SOCIAL FOLLOWING:

SOCIAL FOLLOWING:

SOCIAL FOLLOWING:

YouTube 1 591 000 Instagram 2 100 000 Twitter 145 000

YouTube 563 000 Instagram 202 000 Twitter 14 800

YouTube 66 000 Instagram 156 000 Twitter 16 700

A former freelance makeup artist and now an in-house Ipsy stylist, Perkins is known for her eyebrow tutorial videos, one of which has raked in more than 10 million views.

This beauty and plus-sizefashion vlogger uses her platform to showcase stylish outfits for bigger women and promote body positivity for everyone.

Turkish-Cuban model and makeup guru Yasemin Kanar spotlights creative ways to wear hijabs.

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Aurora AmorPorElMaquillaje

Nyc Dragun

SOCIAL FOLLOWING:

YouTube 39 000 Instagram 116 000 Twitter 2 000

YouTube 356 000 Instagram 1 600 000 Twitter 1 100

Mexico City–based Aurora focuses on glamorous lip and eye makeup combinations that help fans embrace their inner Kardashian.

SOCIAL FOLLOWING:

Dragun recently posted a “Male to Female Transformation” vlog where she came out as transgender and guided viewers through her full makeup routine.


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Lifestyle business

Work = life = work

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There’s a new type of company nipping at the heels of the nine-to-five, top-tobottom structure that has dominated the scene for centuries. It’s called the lifestyle business BY GABRIELLA REGO

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Lifestyle business

Different strokes “Some people work best in an office, some in a coffee shop. You may even work best while sitting at home in your underwear,” believes CN&CO’s Carel Nolte.

This model is designed to fit the schedules, personal needs and lifestyles of its employees. While it may seem counterproductive to many doyens of the suit-and-tie, corner-office business world, more and more companies—large and small—are seeing huge value in offering their workers such flexibility.

Richard Branson is a good example of a lifestyle employer. Some even call him the poster boy for this particular business model. But we don’t have to look all the way across the Atlantic to find examples of lifestyle businesses in action; there are companies much closer to home that are seeing the benefits. Carel Nolte, “chief señor” at CN&CO (a Johannesburgbased people and brand consultancy that launched last year), set up his company with a certain structure—or ‘unstructure’, if you prefer—to suit and serve the lifestyles of the people who work there. For Nolte, lifestyle businesses should be all about people. “In fact, all businesses are about people,” he stresses. “Most companies say that people are their most important asset. That said, it’s important to recognise that people lead different lifestyles and work at their best under different circumstances.​Some people are early birds, some are night owls. Some like to work nine to five, while others are more comfortable putting in an 18-hour day. Some people work best in an office, some in a coffee shop. You may even work best while sitting at home in your underwear. Businesses need to adapt their models to best serve their people—and, in return, they will get the best from their people.” Working and being productive doesn’t necessarily mean sitting at a desk or at a computer. “Reading, talking, travelling and thinking can also contribute to your work,” says Nolte. “It’s vital for lifestyle employers and businesses to create time and space for that. People add value at a particular time in a particular​context. Context changes—a person’s and a company’s—and when it does, you move on. You mustn’t be in things for the short term, but you must realise that companies are (and should be) living entities that change and grow. So what they need from workers also changes, and that’s a good thing.” Venetia LePine-Williams, co-founder of Le Vino Vita, says one of the reasons she left the corporate life behind was because she felt that, as an employee, she was working a lifestyle as opposed to living one. She and her business partner Etienne Heymans intentionally don’t have an office, as they’ve always felt this would tie them into a space they’d naturally feel

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Life happens

duty-bound to fill and work in. “We work from coffee shops, home, trendy bars and restaurants that support and love entrepreneurs,” LePine-Williams explains. “We’ve found that operating out of this space allows us to grow our network, list our products with friends and owners of these establishments, and also to create a space and culture that allows open sharing of ideas and information.” The eight-hour workday has been firmly in place since the Industrial Revolution in Britain. Most companies in the global north have subsequently adopted that model. Americans currently work an average of 8.7 hours a day. But things are starting to change, as we see with emerging lifestyle business models. In 2012 Brath, a Swedish company specialising in search-engine optimisation, introduced a six-hour workday. Since then, many other companies in Sweden have followed suit. But why did Brath make this move? Simply: for its employees. The company’s CEO believes that “once you get used to having time for the family, picking up the kids at day care, training for a race or simply just cooking good food at home, you don’t want to lose that again. That we have shorter days is not the main reason people stay with us; they are the symptom of the reason. The reason is that we actually care about our employees—we care enough to prioritise their time with the family, cooking, or doing something else they love doing.” Which takes us back to Nolte’s point: building a business model around people. Many other entrepreneurs are opting for a lifestyle business model to better serve their time when it comes to their family. Christo Crafford, founder of Martha’s Mojo, which operates 5-Star Street Chef and Amexicano food trucks, is a committed husband and doting dad to two young boys. “My family was a big catalyst in the decision to create a more flexible work schedule,” he says. “I am able to participate actively in my boys’ schooling, sports and other

Christo Crafford, founder of Martha’s Mojo, says that when emergencies crop up, employees shouldn’t have to choose between their employer and their family.

activities, while maintaining optimal business operations.” Jolene Roelofse, founder and director of Mum & Baby Affair, is a “momtrepreneur” who, after returning to the corporate world following four months of maternity leave, realised she’d miss out on all of her son’s key milestones. “They grow up so fast, and I felt it was important to be present as much as possible,” she says. “The most important thing for me is that I’m in charge of my time. So if the nanny can’t make it on a particular day, I can

easily shuffle things around.” Crafford notes that everyone wants and appreciates flexibility and work/life balance. “Life happens,” he says. “Your kids get sick, your parents get sick, emergencies pop up all the time; employees shouldn’t have to choose between their employer and their family— the two should happily co-exist.” Nolte echoes Crafford’s sentiments. “Work equals life equals work; they’re not separate. So picking up the kids, doing exercise, having sex, reading, travelling, playing sport, shopping, going to the doctor

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Lifestyle business

We the People The CN&CO team won a 2015 SA Blog Award for their travel and lifestyle related business content, to which each member contributes.

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The lifestyle employer realises how important and valuable it is to be exposed to different countries, different cultures and different ideas that come with exploring the world.

and everything in between are all part of the same thing. When people are unstressed and having fun because they feel a link between their values and their place of work’s values, magic happens.” It’s widely known that Branson’s personal staff can take leave from their jobs when they like, without seeking permission, as long as the timing of their break won’t have a detrimental impact on the business. Closer to home, CN&CO has a similar approach, while at the same time complying with South Africa’s labour laws, of course. No one in the CN&CO team is required to sit working in the office, clocking hours; they’re free to fire up their laptop while sipping cocktails on the beach, if that’s what tickles their fancy. In fact, employees are encouraged to take time off to travel as much as they can and as much as they want, without having to worry about having enough leave days. “All we ask is that they’re 100% comfortable that they and their team are up to date on their projects, and that their absence won’t have a negative impact on the business,” says Nolte. “Why should an employee’s curiosity and desire to explore the world be hampered by something as banal as insufficient leave?” The lifestyle employer realises how important and valuable it is to be exposed to different countries, different cultures and different ideas that come with exploring the world. “This not only has tremendous value for the individual’s personal growth but also for the various teams and brands they work with,” explains Nolte. “Travelling provides a fresh perspective and, more often than not, inspires people with new ideas and ways of doing things. And technology allows us to work from any corner of the globe, which means we can easily tap into our networks from wherever we are.” Setting up and maintaining a healthy lifestyle business requires a major mindset change for traditional managers, and a massive culture change for big corporates. But in time, businesses that can’t make the change won’t attract the best talent. It’s all well and good providing employees with a working model that provides them with the freedom and

flexibility to be able to come and go as they please, but in order to get the lifestyle employer model right, it’s vital to have the right team on board. “Team members must be mature and responsible enough to warrant the flexibility and responsibility,” says Crafford. “Workers who need constant direction and supervision, and who take advantage of the flexibility, will not last. The rest of the team, and the company, will suffer as a result.” He points out that while his company is very much a lifestyle business that affords him the flexibility and luxury of planning each day, people in general are under a misconception regarding just how much hard work, time, risk and variable income it entails. Nolte adds that lifestyle employers should be very clear with themselves and others on the outputs required—and then everyone should “just get on with it”. “Micro-managing is for the birds,” he says. “Why keep a dog and bark yourself? If you trust people and empower them, they normally rise to the challenge, delivering great results. Treat people with respect and they will deliver. Expect more and you get more. Give more and you will get more.” He advocates lifestyle employees holding on “lightly, not tightly” when it comes to employees. “If you try to control people, apart from it being patronising, you don’t get the best from them. All you need to do is support, guide, challenge and influence your team and you’ll get amazing results. Holding on tightly takes more time and effort, and is extremely draining on everyone concerned—not to mention inefficient and generally unsuccessful in the long run.” With the high level of unemployment in South Africa, the lifestyle business model may be just what we need to encourage more people to head into the business space and start up a small company. It could encourage entrepreneurs to take more risks in getting something off the ground if they don’t have to compromise on their lifestyles. When employers and employees find a way to integrate work and life seamlessly and effectively, exciting things are bound to happen—starting with a happy team and a healthy bottom line.

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Prototype

Trigger happy Could a biometric lock be the key to gun safety? By Darrell Hartman

Illustration by Steve Courtney

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Though the idea of using technology to improve firearms safety has been around for decades (and stymied by politics for just as long), a forthcoming product offers hope that 2016 could be the breakthrough year for smart guns. Created by Detroit entrepreneur Omer Kiyani, Identilock is a biometric clasp that shields a gun’s trigger and releases only when it detects the owner’s fingerprint. The goal: Curtail the estimated 2 000 accidental shootings that hospitalise children and adolescents

in the US each year, and reduce the market for stolen handguns. The first device of its kind, Identilock is preselling online for $319 (just over R5 000) and is set to start shipping in autumn. Kiyani hopes that it will change the conversation around smart-gun technology. “Identilock is the one product that brings both sides of the gun debate together,” he says. The main difference between Identilock and, say, the Armatix iP1—a smart gun that went to market in 2014 and was met with fierce resistance by gunrights activists—is that Identilock is not a gun. It’s an accessory, created to fit

a broad range of existing handguns. If that’s a difference only a gun owner can appreciate, then perhaps it makes sense that Kiyani is one. He’s also a member of the US National Rifle Association, a father, and the survivor of a shooting—he took a stray bullet in the mouth as a teenager. “I’ve created a solution that I’d be willing to use myself,” he says. Knowing that some of his most important constituents are people, like him, who keep firearms at home for security, Kiyani has focused the entire technology on quick access. “As soon as the authorised user touches [the shield], it gets out of the way,” he explains. And the biometrics he employs are no different from those currently being used reliably outside the gun market, resulting in a clasp that’s as simple to unlock as a smartphone. Kiyani has been able to develop and engineer his product thanks to a $100 000 (R1.6-million) grant from the Smart Tech Challenges Foundation, an incubator programme launched by tech titan and billionaire angel investor, Ron Conway, in the wake of the Sandy Hook school shooting in 2012 in Connecticut. While some of the programme’s other grantees are developing similar tools, Kiyani’s will be the first to go to market following a crowdfunding campaign in early 2016. Besides selling online, Kiyani and his team are also pushing to get Identilock on the shelves of national stores in the US, as well as specialty retailers—which would be a huge leap forward in the mainstreaming of smartgun technology.


Our oceans need you. R49


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Behind the brand

Microsoft‘s inclusive design How studying underserved communities is helping the tech giant create better products By Cliff Kuang

Photographs by Chloe Aftel

On one otherwise unremarkable day in May 2013, August de los Reyes fell out of bed, hurting his back. The then–42-year-old designer was just six months into his dream job at Microsoft: running design for Xbox and righting a franchise that was drifting due to mission creep. He had worked at Microsoft before, on projects such as MSN and Windows, but had returned because the world of gaming had an almost spiritual appeal to him. “I believe the universe is play,” he says. “And I believe there’s a moral imperative to play.” At first, De los Reyes didn’t think the accident was serious. But several trips to the hospital later, he finally underwent emergency surgery. He’d broken a vertebra, his spinal cord had swelled and, with breathtaking quickness, he was unable to walk ever again. The agonising months adapting to his new life awakened De los Reyes to the thoughtlessness that hides all

Design, unbound Xbox’s De los Reyes came to a new understanding of design after thinking about disability.

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Next Forward looking Kat Holmes, Microsoft’s principal design director, is helping to lead the company’s push into inclusive design.

around us. He couldn’t meet friends in the usual restaurants, simply because no one had made the effort to pour a tiny concrete ramp. A tipped-over dirt bin blocking a pavement would force him to circumnavigate an entire block. Disability, he came to believe, isn’t a limitation of a person; it is a mismatch between a person and the world that has been designed around him. “That was what radicalised me,” he says as we sit in his office in one of the colourful new design studios scattered about Microsoft’s sprawling Redmond, Washington campus. The question was: Radicalised him to do what? De los Reyes rushed back to work after just three months of rehabilitation. Within weeks, he spied an opportunity. Albert Shum, who’d become famous within Microsoft for designing the company’s elegant mobile operating system, had recently been elevated to oversee all OS design. He called his top deputies—including De los Reyes and Kat Holmes, Microsoft’s principal design director—to help define a new mission. De los Reyes pushed for the idea that design should include everyone. Holmes, a seasoned user-experience researcher, was familiar with ‘universal design’ as propounded by companies like Oxo: It held that, for example, by making kitchen goods with the arthritic in mind, you create something easier for all users. She also realised that in helping to create Cortana,

Microsoft’s answer to Siri, earlier that year, she’d already stumbled upon a new kind of process, one that brought outsiders into the fold. She had a hunch that applying that idea more formally to the digital world could be profound. De los Reyes and Holmes went on a quest to transform a squishy idea into something

tangible enough to move even the most business-minded product executive. They eventually hit upon inclusive design—a vein of research descended from universal design, which had been pursued for years in academia but had remained largely unknown in the world of technology. Holmes is now

helping to lead Microsoft’s charge into this new realm, which the company hopes will inspire groundbreaking ideas for new products. De los Reyes, still on the Xbox team, is one of the principal designers realising that aspiration—one detail at a time. Inclusive design begins with studying overlooked

DESIGN F OR A L L Long before it reached the halls of academia (and Microsoft), universal design had been informing products all around us. Here’s a brief history

1808

1876

1937

1948

1960s

Pellegrino Turri invents the working typewriter to help a blind friend write legibly.

The telephone emerges from Alexander Graham Bell’s many attempts to create technologies to help the disabled.

Joseph Friedman creates the flexible drinking straw so his young daughter can drink from her cup more easily at the table.

The transistor is invented to power smaller hearing aids.

Icon-based keyboards, now ubiquitous, are first developed to assist those who are unable to speak to use speech synthesisers.

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Behind the brand

communities, ranging from dyslexics to deaf people. By learning how they adapt to their world, the hope is that you can develop better products for everyone. Say, for example, you’d like to build a phone that’s easier to interact with while you’re driving. You could just study drivers. Or you could study the blind. How do they know when their phones are paired with another device? What aural feedback do apps need to provide? Building those features into a phone would benefit not only the blind. What’s more, by finding imaginative analogues between groups of people outside the mainstream and situations that we’ve all found ourselves in, you can come up with entirely new product ideas. “The point isn’t to solve for a problem,” such as typing when you’re blind, says Holmes. “We’re flipping it.” Holmes and her team are identifying the ingenuity that arises naturally when people are forced to live a life different from most. When Shum convened his deputies in the third quarter of 2013, Microsoft had already been inching toward inclusive design with Cortana, which was developed throughout that year before launching in April 2014. The voice assistant’s thoughtful and intuitive approach is a testament to the process that went into creating it. Led by Holmes, a research team began by coming up with communities to learn from. They eventually settled

upon studying actual personal assistants—a seemingly obvious move that nonetheless was very different from Apple’s black-box development of Siri, or Google’s creation of Google Now, which began on the whiteboards of the company’s engineers. By looking at how real personal assistants nurture trust among their clients and then creating idealised storyboards of how they work, Holmes was able to recommend a series of behaviours for Cortana. The best personal assistants keep track of client preferences, but they’re also transparent about why they’re recommending certain things. Thus, Cortana logs all the preference data it has extrapolated about you and allows you to edit it. Cortana also behaves as a human would when befuddled by a question. Instead of giving you a flippant joke, as Siri does, Cortana admits to what she does and doesn’t know, and asks you to teach her. Cortana and the process that led to her creation weren’t just one-offs. Today, the design team’s mandate—handed down from CEO Satya Nadella, as well as Shum and Julie Larson-Green, Microsoft’s recently appointed chief experience officer—is to use inclusive design to address as many problems as Microsoft can identify. Dozens of projects have been completed; dozens more are in the works. One, likely to debut soon, yielded a font and a system

“We’re going to change the way products are designed across the industry. Period.”

of text wrapping that makes reading easier for dyslexics— but also faster for those without dyslexia. Another, in the late stages of user testing, is a subtle rethinking of how directions are given on Bing. Right now, almost every way-finding app offers directions according to cardinal point, distance and street: “Go north for 2 kilometres, then turn left on Elm Street.” But research has shown women are more likely to navigate by landmarks and visual cues, so Microsoft built more universally relatable directions: “Go north for 2 kilometres, then

turn left at the McDonald’s. Now you’re on Elm Street.” In Redmond, De los Reyes and I watch behind a two-way mirror as the inclusive design process unfolds on yet another project. A young grad student with a scruffy beard describes why he, as a deaf gamer, sticks to playing World of Warcraft on a PC, even though he would love to play Destiny on an Xbox One: The PC’s keyboard lets him chat with teammates in a way that simply isn’t possible on the Xbox, where players exchange strategy and advice over headsets. “A keyboard means I can lead my team [on a raid]; a controller means I have to follow,” the gamer says, his frustration evident. The solution seems obvious: better keyboards for gamers on the Xbox. But as the researcher in the room keeps prodding, De los Reyes perks up. He starts thinking beyond keyboards to imagine creating something akin to a huddle before a raid starts, which would allow deaf players to strategise with their teammates in advance. And what if, in creating these pre-game strategy sessions, you made it easier not only for deaf gamers but for all players to kick more butt? For De los Reyes, the promise of this new design process isn’t in just a better Xbox, or even a better Microsoft. “If we’re successful, we’re going to change the way products are designed across the industry. Period. That’s my vision.”

1973

1978

1990

1994

1990s

Vint Cerf, who is hard of hearing, develops email, in part because it’s an easy way to communicate with his wife, who is deaf.

Ray Kurzweil creates machinescannable fonts, and the first image scanner, to help the blind.

Sam Farber founds Oxo, dedicated to making easyto-grip kitchen tools, inspired by people with arthritis.

Originally begun by Bill Stumpf and Don Chadwick as a research product to create seating that wouldn’t cause bed sores in the elderly, the Aeron chair is released.

Working on making emerging technologies accessible for people with disabilities, Jutta Treviranus develops the Inclusive Design Toolkit, which Microsoft later adapts.

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LESSONS OF LEADERSHIP When the world’s top innovators and cultural luminaries— from Apple retail chief Angela Ahrendts to Nike CEO Mark Parker and tennis superstar Serena Williams—gathered for the first-ever Fast Company Innovation Festival, the lessons were broad, rich and unforgettable Photographs by Samantha Casolari, Melissa Golden and Michael Greenberg

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Tech and creativity

Apple’s core values

How Nike stays No. 1

Facebook and Samsung connect

A role model for change

NEVER STOP IMPROVING “When I hear people say, ‘Well, that’s just not the way we do things,’ my hair stands up. You have to be careful not to let success breed a one-dimensional way of thinking.” Mark Parker CEO of Nike (centre), pictured with Serena Williams and Fast Company editor Robert Safian

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LESSONS OF LEADERSHIP

COLLABORATION IS KING “It’s all about choosing your [creative] partners wisely—choosing partners who are additive.” Darren Star Creator and executive producer, Younger TV series

FORGE YOUR OWN PATH “Look at the things that everyone else believes to be a bad idea. If you’re chasing something that everybody else believes to be a good idea, there are probably a hell of a lot of other people chasing that same thing.” Tristan Walker CEO, Walker & Company Brands

PUSH IN NEW DIRECTIONS “If you’re being given a number of takes [while making a film], trust that the thing you were trying to do—you kind of did it. Why not try something else? You could take that idea and [apply it] to life.” Cynthia Nixon Actress, director

REACH FOR THE UNEXPECTED “Great tension comes from trying unusual combinations—like a hybrid between a museum, a bridge and a sculpture.” Bjarke Ingels Architect


QUESTION YOUR GOALS “We have to think of retail as less about a box that sells things and more about a box that brings people together in interesting and creative ways.” Rosie O’Neill Co-founder, Sugarfina (left), pictured with Rebecca Minkoff CEO Uri Minkoff, and Nordstrom director of creative projects Olivia Kim

SamanthaGUTTER CasolariCREDIT (Walker,TKKarp and Doré); Melissa Golden (Star, Turlington Burns, Salata, Nixon); Michael Greenberg (O’Neill, Minkoff, and Kim, Ingels)

SEEK DISAGREEMENT “Surround yourself with good people who like things you don’t like.” Garance Doré Fashion blogger, pictured with Tumblr founder and CEO David Karp

RESPECT THE DETAILS “We don’t do anything without an intention. Sometimes our intention is just to have some fun. But there definitely is some soul-searching done on every decision we make.” Sheri Salata Co-president, Oprah Winfrey Network

CHOOSE THE RIGHT CAUSE “What makes you cry? Start there.” Christy Turlington Burns Founder, Every Mother Counts

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“I T’S A B O U T LOOKING AT THE WORLD IN A D I F F E R E N T W AY” How creativity emerges when art meets commerce

Tony Fadell CEO, Nest

Jared Leto

Actor, musician

What could the founder of Nest (and designer of the original iPod) have in common with Oscar-winning actor and musician Jared Leto? A lot, actually. For one thing, Leto was an early investor in Nest and has made a host of other savvy bets on startups (he also owns two music-business companies, VyRT and Adventures in Wonderland). But it goes deeper than that: Both spend a lot of time thinking about how to approach the creative process. In an interview with Fast Company US’s Max Chafkin, the friends share thoughts on how they innovate and collaborate—both with each other and in their separate endeavours. Fast Company: Jared, you have a lot of investments. Besides Nest, there’s Slack, Uber, Airbnb, Blue Bottle. It’s basically every hot company in Silicon Valley right now. I’m curious how you got into the position to be in all these deals. When Tony says, “I need a really good investor who is connected to the entertainment world,” why is it you instead of somebody else? Jared Leto: That’s a good question. “I don’t know” is the answer. Tony Fadell: I can answer it. It’s by reputation. There are certain investors who will drive you nuts and not have any input. They’re always like, “When am I going to get my money?” You [Jared] are patient, you’re thoughtful, and you say, “How can I help?” JL: As soon as you start a band, you in some ways have a startup. You’re a few guys in a garage, usually around a

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computer. I remember the early days of Pro Tools. You were using software to make something—the combination of technology and creativity, which is basically the same thing Tony does and a lot of my other friends do in tech. There’s a lot of common ground there. We’re both creative problem solvers. It’s been something that has changed my life: technology and the community. It has inspired me, and I love it. And I think Tony is right: The companies that I have worked with, I have really leaned in and participated. If they don’t want me to, I’m more than happy to stay out of their business. But being an artist, understanding artists, understanding audiences, and then also being entrepreneurial, I think gives me a vantage point that’s unique. FC: You guys have both had really interesting careers that have taken turns. Jared, a few years back you basically stopped being in movies, stopped doing this thing that

Photograph by Melissa Golden


Both Fadell (left) and Leto are unusually driven. “It seems like the more that I accomplish, the more I want to accomplish,“ Leto says.

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had made you famous and successful. Was that a hard decision to make? JL: I think it was about focus. I knew that I needed to commit everything to music at that point in my life. I’d been making music longer than I had been acting, but at that time it was a very challenging thing to do for a lot of different reasons, so I knew I needed that energy and that focus and that commitment. Commitment means sacrifice. I just charged ahead and did what I had to do. FC: Tony, it’s kind of the same thing with you, because you had this amazing career at Apple and then you turn and make a thermostat. JL: If you can make a thermostat sexy, my God, Tony. TF: No, seriously, my wife, the first time I gave her the pitch, she goes, “What? The iPod guy making a thermostat? This makes no sense whatsoever. Go do some more stuff in media, go do some more cool stuff.” I’m like, “No, this is cool. We can make it cool. It’s about looking at the world in a different way and applying all the design techniques to mundane objects.” FC: When you look back on that time when you both made the jump, was it useful to have a period of relative quiet? TF: [I was] travelling around the world for a year and a half. We were in Spain and France and going to all of these museums and exhibitions and seeing Picasso’s Green Period, Picasso’s Blue Period. All these artists would take a year or two off and gather their thoughts and then find a new vector that they could go off in. It was very inspiring to me. I was like, Wait a second, I’m in that phase right now. I had to pull back and get out of Silicon Valley to gain perspective and see the world in a different way—to then re-enter it to do Nest. It was really cathartic. JL: I rock climb, and there is an expression: You can only climb as hard as you rest. I think that’s true for creativity.

But rest doesn’t have to be going on vacation. Rest for me could be spending time with people like Tony or working on some other entrepreneurial pursuit away from music, away from film. It’s important to take time, like Tony is saying, to let certain parts of your life breathe a bit. FC: How do you guys manage to balance everything? You have so much going on. JL: I love what I do. Most of what I do. And I love to work. I have learnt how to use my time very, very, very well. And that’s important, because I don’t like what comes along with not using your time well, which is stress and anxiety and not accomplishing dreams. That’s a pretty big price to pay. So I like to be productive. It seems like the more that I accomplish, the more that I want to accomplish, which is a funny thing. TF: You get hooked. It’s like a drug. You have to say no to a lot of things. You have to self-edit. You have to figure out your time. I have to engineer my calendar every day and every week. What am I going to do, what am I not going to do? And leave some open space for thinking as well. Don’t just let life control your schedule. You have to control it, and you have to say no a lot of times. FC: Jared, is there anything from the entertainment world that has helped you as you’ve looked at tech deals and the entrepreneurial part? JL: I think it’s all the same thing, really. You look at a script, you meet a director, you’re basically looking at a business proposal and a team and an entrepreneur. You’re betting on teams. I have been very fortunate to work with directors like [Darren] Aronofsky and David Fincher and these incredible people. They’re like the CEOs, the founders of these films. It’s very similar. You learn a lot from that.

Fast lessons “I N T H E W O R K E N V I R O N M E N T , I N N OVAT I O N C O M E S F R O M G R E AT T R U S T, F R O M P E O P L E H A V I N G A V O I C E . F E A R I N H I B I T S I N N O V A T I O N .” Susan Reilly Salgado Managing partner, Union Square Hospitality Group’s consultancy division

“When an idea is at your desk, it’s yours. But when it’s up on the wall, it’s everybody’s.” Tim Jones New York director of strategy, 72andSunny

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“The difference between skill and talent: A skill is something you learn. Talent is what you can’t help doing.” Caroline Ghosn Founder and CEO, Levo

“D O N ’ T B E A F R A I D T O F A I L , BUT WHEN YOU DO, FAIL FAST A N D L A U G H A T Y O U R S E L F .” Michael Houston CEO, Grey North America

“As exciting as the digital age is, the most brilliant, fastest tech can’t bring what human connection can bring.” Jim Brett President, West Elm


A SHARPER LENS How Oscar-nominated director Ava DuVernay challenges the conventions of TV and Hollywood FOLLOW OPPORTUNITY Selma director Ava DuVernay is tackling TV with the upcoming drama Queen Sugar. “I’m a filmmaker to my bones. But this is the golden age of television again. There’s television happening now that is jaw-dropping, stunning, and it’s changing our culture. You can’t not want to be a part of that if you’re a storyteller. For me, it’s looking at [Queen Sugar] as a 13-hour movie, because every episode is going to be very cinematic and beautiful and dope.”

that’s a wrap. Whereas I can give a list a mile long of people who are not of colour or women who get the opportunity: ‘Do you want to make another bomb? Here’s more money.’ [Laughs] Art is something that grows and breathes and lives, and it shouldn’t be predicated on the success of box office—but it is. But within that, you have to give people a chance to find their voice, to play, to continue to create.”

DuVernay is looking to tell stories that feature characters who are both multicultural and multifaceted.

EMBRACE DIVERSITY— AND COMPLEXITY Multiculturalism is about more than just inclusiveness: It’s about depicting people realistically. “In Hollywood, there is one dominant voice. It is a white, male, straight gaze. When I talk about positive portrayals of black people and women, I’m saying complexity. I’m not saying goody-two-shoes, everything’s okay. No. The positive view of me is to see me as I am: the ‘good,’ the ‘bad,’ the grey. That is a positive portrayal.”

FAILURE SHOULDN’T BE FATAL Success is unpredictable, and sometimes projects don’t connect. But what happens next? “You could make the most beautiful film, and that weekend it’s raining too hard on the East Coast and no one goes out. Artists should have a chance to do it again. That’s the challenge: Women artists don’t get a second chance. Peopleof-colour artists don’t get a second chance. You’re put in director’s jail and

Photograph by Samantha Casolari

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Ahrendts wants Apple Store workers to feel connected. “I don’t see them as retail employees,” she says. “I see them as executives in the company.”

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“F I R S T O F A L L, J U S T L I S T E N AND LEARN” Apple’s newest high-level executive explains what it takes to make change inside a successful business

Angela Ahrendts

Senior vice president of retail, Apple

Having jumped to Apple in 2014 after eight years as CEO of Bur­berry, Angela Ahrendts talks with Fast Company’s Rick Tetzeli about how Tim Cook is building on Apple’s culture. Fast Company: Coming to Apple, did you feel you were about to take on a sort of monstrous job? How have you gone about improving morale in a workforce of 60 000? Angela Ahrendts: In the first six months, I was able to hit 40 different markets and spend time with the leaders. An amazing culture was already built and an amazing foundation. I would first of all just listen and learn. And then you start in your own mind to think where you can add value—you’re uniting people, you’re getting them to collaborate. You’re building trust. That alone is empowering. We just ended the year with the highest retention rates we’ve ever had: 81%. And the feedback [from Apple Store employees is that it’s] because they feel connected. They feel like one Apple. They don’t feel like they’re just somebody over here working with customers. I don’t see them as retail employees. I see them as executives in the company who are touching the customers with the products that Jony [Ive] and the team took years to build. Somebody has to deliver it to the customer in a wonderful way. FC: Do the folks in the stores feel something similar to the folks in Cupertino—a shared pride in the company? AA: The thing I didn’t know before I came in—a month in, I told my husband, “I now know why this is one of the most successful companies on the planet: Because the culture is so strong. The pride, the protection, the values.” The company was built to change people’s lives. That foundation, that service mentality, that drive to continue to change lives— that is a core value in the company. And Tim [Cook] then has added his on: He says it’s also our responsibility to leave it better than we found it. So you have these two amazing pillars and a culture built around that. It’s the same in retail and in [Cupertino]. That is the underlying mission, and how could you know that unless you’re inside? But it is deeper than you would ever imagine. Photograph by Michael Greenberg

HITTING THE RIGHT NOTES Music manager and investor Troy Carter on how he guides careers—and what drives his own FIND NEW ANGLES “You have to be flexible, right? There has to be a lot of open-mindedness. If I took the strategy for breaking Lady Gaga and used that for Meghan Trainor, we would’ve failed. You have to adapt with the times and understand how consumer behaviour changes.”

pitched Uber [as an investor], I thought it was the dumbest idea ever. I get on the phone with Travis [Kalanick], and once he explained it, then I got it. I’m definitely a risk taker. Being an entrepreneur, naturally you take risks.”

ENCOURAGE DISCOVERY “I never wanted to put myself in the box of just talent manager. I’m a founder; I’m a builder. It’s about experiences for me. Who knows where it’s going to take me? I’m just curious about things. I’m always exploring, trying new things, wanting to meet with people who I’ve never met. I dropped out of high school, so this is probably my college experience. Learning is a big thing for me. That’s what gets me up in the morning.”

OPEN YOUR MIND—NOT JUST YOUR WALLET “It takes me a while to get to rejection. It’s not a knee-jerk reaction. I like to hear people out and see if there’s something there. When I first got

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TRY, TRY, TRY “The fastest way to create culture change inside the bureaucracy is by demonstrating that things can be done differently. It’s impossible to innovate from on high.” Hayley van Dyck Co-founder, United States Digital Service (far left), pictured with fellow government tech leaders Lisa Gelobter, Todd Park and Hillary Hartley

“NO” IS A POWERFUL TOOL “We were given some great advice early on: Strategy is what you don’t do. Whenever we do anything, we ask ourselves, ‘Is this true to Warby Parker?’ ” Neil Blumenthal Co–CEO, Warby Parker

KEEP IT ALL IN PERSPECTIVE “A strange and astonishing fact is that you and I are made of the stuff of the cosmos—exploded stars and other rogue material. The fact that you and I are made of stardust is one of the ways the universe knows itself.” Bill Nye The Science Guy

KNOW YOUR PURPOSE

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“It’s not that fun to start an organisation unless you feel like you’re solving a problem.” Barbara Bush Co-founder and CEO, Global Health Corps

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CONSUMERS HAVE THE POWER “As audience members, vote with your pocketbooks and time. Watch things that are good, and don’t watch things that are not good. The more you consume great content, the more likely it will get made.” Franklin Leonard Founder, The Black List

LESS IS MORE “Every industry has its own opportunity where you can dramatically simplify the experience. It will take outside-in thinking.”

GUTTER Samantha CREDIT Casolari TK (Blumenthal); Michael Greenberg (Van Dyck, Gelobter, Park, and Hartley, Levie, Krawcheck and Comstock, Bush); Melissa Golden (Leonard, Hyman, Nye)

Aaron Levie Co-founder and CEO, Box

CELEBRATE DIFFERENCE “If you want innovation, you want diversity. We often hire people like us, and the actual answer is to hire the person who is least like me—who is going to complement me. There’s a real art to that.” Beth Comstock Vice chair, GE (left), pictured with Sallie Krawcheck, owner and chair, Ellevate Network

THE PATH TO SUCCESS IS UNPREDICTABLE “Six years ago I would’ve said we’re going to outsource engineering, operations and dry cleaning. Now those are the three largest parts of our business.” Jennifer Hyman Co-founder and CEO, Rent the Runway

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Parker and Williams both relentlessly push to reinvent themselves.

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“P R E S S U R E I S A P R I V I L E G E” The tennis great and the leader of the shoe giant trade tales of collaboration and competition

Mark Parker CEO, Nike

Serena Williams Tennis star

For insight into the art of winning, it’s hard to think of two better guides than Mark Parker, the head of industrydominating apparel brand, Nike, and Serena Williams, one of the best athletes in the history of sports. In addition to ruling their respective universes, the duo has worked closely together on Williams’s line of Nike products. In this Q&A, moderated by Fast Company US editor Robert Safian, they reveal some of the secrets of their powerful partnership. Fast Company: Serena is the No. 1 female tennis player in the world. She wins a lot of matches. What are the other attributes that she brings that make her particularly appropriate for Nike? Or is just being No. 1 enough? Mark Parker: Where do I start? Serena is—a simple statement is she’s awesome. Obviously as an athlete, she is not only the best in her sport [but] arguably one of the best athletes in any sport of all time. She has been so dominant. But I don’t just define her as a tennis player. She is so much more. We were texting when she was playing at the Australian Open last year, and I said, ‘What are you doing between matches? You’ve got a lot of time.’ And she goes, ‘Well, I’m taking some premed courses.’ And then she paints, she’s incredibly creative, she is a designer. For me, personally, coming from design, I love collaborating and connecting with Serena on new product ideas. She’s fantastic. At Nike, we listen to the voice of the athlete. That’s where we get the insights that

Photograph by Melissa Golden

ultimately drive the innovation that is so important to who we are as a company. And she is really the ultimate, not just as an athlete but in all the other dimensions of who she is. So I’m a fan. [Laughs] FC: Serena, you could work with any company. So why do you choose to work with Nike? Serena Williams: Well, that’s a very simple answer. When you’re the best, you want to work with the best. Also when I was younger, you dream of being with Nike, because they built such a great brand. My lifelong dream was to be a part of the Nike brand and the Nike family, because I wanted to be the best at what I did. MP: By the way, she’s incredibly demanding. SW: Very. MP: And I say that as a compliment. I really believe that the athletes who demand a lot of themselves demand a lot of us. In that process, we get better. Helping Serena realise her potential makes us realise our own. FC: Mark, I know you personally collaborate on Serena’s designs. How does that work? Where do the ideas start? MP: It’s really iterative and organic. We go back and forth. Serena has a million ideas and very strong opinions about what she likes and doesn’t like, or what she wants to portray of herself and how she wants to project. So all that comes into the conversation, but it’s incredibly organic. I’m not sitting there with a list of questions and checking them off. SW: Mark has known me for several years now, and he knows, for instance, something simple: I like roses. So he was able to put that in the design. He showed me different designs of a shoe which were inspired by some of the things that I like. Having that collaboration and being sensitive like that really helps across the board for all athletes. MP: It does get very personal in terms of what the athletes are into. I mean, good design, I think, you’re going deep. You’re really going beneath the surface and trying to pull out bits of inspiration that are coming from the athlete and that can inform the design, so ultimately it means something to the athlete both functionally as well as aesthetically. To do that, you really need to get the insight, and the insights come from personal relationships. We have a saying at Nike, sort of a guiding principle: Be a sponge. It came actually from my grandmother, who taught me at a young age to look around me and observe. It’s having wide peripheral vision and taking in everything, because you don’t know where inspiration is going to come from. FC: Nike is No. 1 in its business, far and away ahead of all your competitors, and yet there are hundreds, thousands of competitors who are out all day trying to take a piece out of you. Serena, every time you play a match against anyone, it is the match of their life. Being the target of that competition, is it exhausting? Is it distracting? Is it motivating? How do you manage that constant assault? SW: When you’re on the top, you like it there. You aren’t necessarily like, “Oh, I’ve got here and I’ve arrived, and now I’m ready to go back to the bottom.” I’m not

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answering for Nike, but I feel like that’s something we really have in common. And I see, every day, new sports brands coming out. Nike still manages to be on top, do everything better. Just looking at that is inspiring for me. Like, Wow, this is a company that doesn’t need to do anything and has completely proven itself over the years, but they keep reinventing themselves and trying to come up with new ideas. And I want to continue to be the best, so I have to always continue to reinvent myself. And like you said, when I’m playing an opponent, yeah, they literally play the match of their lives every time they play against me, so I have to always be not one, not two, but several levels ahead. MP: Competition for us is actually quite motivating. We are a sports company—we like competition. But we are actually more motivated by our own potential, where we think we can be. That’s where we like to spend our time and energy and focus: How much better can we be than we are? And you have to prove yourself every day. We don’t take our success for granted by any stretch. You’re as good as your last . . . not quarter, but week. You can’t live on your laurels. You have to keep moving and innovating. That’s what gets me motivated every day. FC: There is so much about performance that is mental. When you’re at the top and you don’t want to go back down, that can breed a lot of pressure. And pressure can make it harder to be creative and take risks. MP: That’s true. Pressure can be a good thing. But you also need time and space to really stretch and experiment. We have a culture at Nike where we move, we try things, we fail, we learn, we try more things, and we eventually get

some things right. But we’re trying to edit more, because there are so many ideas, so many opportunities to pursue, so many different paths, that you have to be able to edit fairly quickly. We have a very open environment where people can riff and play off of each other, but then we have to lock in and go and really commit. We’re not successful all the time, but that’s part of the process. It’s okay to fail as long as you learn and keep moving. FC: Do you feel like it’s okay to fail, Serena? SW: Oh, yeah. I don’t think you can succeed unless you fail. You have to fall down a lot. I think not only does that help you, but it also creates character and it builds strength in you and it builds a determination—so when you do get on top, it works. The first shoe wasn’t made perfect. It had to be done more than once. My first match I lost in 50 minutes, or actually I think it was less. And look at me now, Annie Miller! [Laughs] You have to have that opportunity to fall down and rise up stronger. And to what you were saying about pressure, I always say pressure is a privilege. It’s a privilege to be in that situation where you actually have pressure on your shoulders, as opposed to not having that pressure. Someone asked me the other day, ‘Do you stare at your trophies when you walk in your house? Are they all there?’ I’m like, actually, no. Because the second I win the tournament, yeah, for a few hours I’m in that moment. But if you’re always looking behind you, you’re never going to see the competition ahead of you. There’s always next week and there’s always another phase. I do want to continue to get better and I do want to be known as the greatest ever.

Fast lessons

“If you make something you love, people are going to fall in love with it.” Brown Johnson Creative director, Sesame Workshop

“The more decisions we make in a day, the worse our decisions get and the more stressed we get over time. But there are millions of choices that technology can solve for us.” Aaron Shapiro CEO, Huge

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“W E D O N ’ T H A V E E M P L O Y E E S . R E A L LY. T H E R E ’ S N O S U C H T H I N G AS EMPLOYEES HERE. YOU DON’T W O R K F O R M E .” Daniel Lubetsky Founder and CEO, Kind Snacks

“L E A R N . K N O W W H AT YO U DIDN’T KNOW B E F O R E .” Eileen Fisher Founder, Eileen Fisher Inc.

“When you put pressure on people, they default to their archetypes. But everybody is creative, given the right context.” Alex Castellarnau Head of design, Dropbox

Photograph by Melissa Golden


DREAMING DIGITAL How Facebook marketing VP Carolyn Everson and Samsung Electronics America CMO Marc Mathieu are harnessing the power of change

MAKE MARKETING SMARTER “If you purchase a car, you probably don’t want to see another car ad anytime soon,” says Carolyn Everson. “If you want to see anything, it might be an ad from the car company welcoming you and telling you how the car works. Consumers want you to add value to their experience. Otherwise, you are noise.” Ads need to feel essential, not like something to endure.”

“The relationship people want to have with brands ...most of the time they don’t want to be advertised at, interrupted,” says Marc Mathieu. “When you bring utility to people’s lives, that’s where you have an opportunity.”

THE FUTURE IS COMING

where we go next with the Internet of Things. It’s going to change the way we connect. Someone listening to music on his device who walks into his home can have the music seamlessly start in his living room. That’s the kind of world we’re aspiring to build.”

“[Virtual reality] is going to drastically change the way people think about the world,” says Mathieu. “And we’re working on

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Everson and Mathieu are thinking hard about where tech is headed. “We shouldn’t be talking about how the shift to mobile is happening,” says Everson. “The shift has happened.”

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“T H I N K C R A Z Y” The leader of one of healthcare’s hottest startups sees big value—and challenges—in making a difference

Anne Wojcicki CEO, 23andMe

As the head of boundary-pushing genetic-testing company, 23andMe, Anne Wojcicki is impacting lives and inspiring much discussion—especially now that her products have finally garnered approval from the US Food and Drug Administration after previously being removed from the market. Interviewed by Lizzie O’Leary, a host of publicradio show Marketplace, the CEO talks about what keeps her pressing ahead. Fast Company: What’s the draw to going out on your own and building a business from the ground up? Anne Wojcicki: What I’m most excited about is this consumer-health revolution. Consumers are more and more standing up and saying they want to take control. FC: But the motivation was internal too. AW: I think about when we started 23andMe. When you’re solving a problem that’s for yourself, it seems very obvious and very natural. Like, I really want 23andMe for me, and I have this vision that’s just so obvious to me—for what it should look like, for how we can actually change healthcare. A lot of that creativity comes from this vision of a world that I can imagine. It’s the ability to mentally enable yourself to say there could be lots of possibilities. Part of the beauty of Silicon Valley is that people generally encourage you to think crazy. It’s the hypothesis that there’s nothing sacred that can’t be changed. I always joke that when we went to get my son’s passport at the passport office, we had to wait 15 to 20 minutes, and during that time, Sergey [Brin], my ex-husband, was like, “This office infrastructure is all wrong: You can do the entire passport system a different way.” When we sat down with the agent, he was like, “I have a whole new plan for you.” There’s something beautiful in that thinking. It’s almost this constant desire to optimise and think about everything in a new way. People look at the world and

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say, “How could you potentially imagine things in a different way?” There’s a lot of space and creativity in that community to say, “Wow, if healthcare sucks today, why don’t we try doing it totally different and see what could work?” That’s where I think a lot of creativity comes from. FC: In Silicon Valley, there’s a lot of [talk about] “make a difference,” “change the world”. Does the Valley get out over its skis, particularly with regard to regulators? I feel like that’s a pretty contentious relationship. Is there circular thinking within Silicon Valley that inhibits innovation? AW: There’s a beauty in being unrealistic. When we were all kids, did you ever really think you could start your own rocket company? It’s kind of crazy, the fact that Elon Musk has started a rocket company and a car company. It’s pretty insane. There’s something beautiful about ignoring all realistic constraints. And I do this frequently with our team. I say, “Imagine a world where there’s unlimited resources and no regulatory landscape. What would we do?” It’s really important for teams to think about that. And then, laws are meant to be changed; they’re meant to evolve and adapt to society. Look at Uber. If you just think about the world of possibilities with the existing infrastructure, you’re massively limiting yourself. I do think there’s a disconnect and Silicon Valley doesn’t necessarily understand a lot about politics and how to communicate, but I think it’s really great at imagining a world of what makes the most sense and how we can actually work to change policies. It’s really important to realise that laws are meant to evolve; they’re not meant to be fixed. FC: I hate work-life balance questions because if you were a dude, no one would care. But do you think your path as CEO is different because you are a woman? AW: I was really raised in a gender-neutral household. I always knew I was a girl, but it never occurred to me that there was a limitation. It was clear that, yes, there are more men in certain areas than women, but to me that was always a question of time and society evolving and adapting. One of the things I think a lot about is, it’s our job to actually be here and be a role model for the next generation—show that there are women CEOs, there are women in biotech, having an alliance and being supportive and mentoring. The reality is that the only way change comes is when you lead by example. 23andMe is just now changing our paternity policy, because it is not just women who want time off. We try to be super supportive of both the men and the women [on staff]. I think it’s important as a leader to set that tone and that example. It’s changing, and we will be part of the change that is helping inspire the next generation.

Photograph by Michael Greenberg


GUTTER CREDIT TK

“There’s something beautiful about ignoring all realistic constraints,” says Wojcicki.

Art credit teekay

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LESSONS OF LEADERSHIP

DEMAND EXCELLENCE “Mediocrity drives me crazy.” Debi Mazar Actress (right), pictured with costume designer Patricia Field

ADAPT, ADAPT, ADAPT “Starting with the premise that consumers are smart and their needs will continue to change, is the only way that we will not become a victim of our own success.” Katia Beauchamp Co-founder and CEO, Birchbox

ENGAGE WITH DISCIPLINE “To stay relevant, you have to be a brand. But there’s this inner battle we all struggle with: How much do we share of ourselves and give away? How many selfies can you post? It’s exhausting.” Hilary Duff Actress

GO BIG

GUTTER CREDIT TK

“We’re working on 100-year, 200-year, 300-year, 1 000-year questions.” Casey Gerald Co-founder and CEO, MBAs Across America

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Art credit teekay


IGNORE THE DOUBTERS “There wasn’t a blueprint for my kind of career. When I made the transition into Hollywood, it scared a lot of people.” Dwayne Johnson Actor, with WME co–CEOs Ari Emanuel (centre) and Patrick Whitesell

GUTTER Melissa Golden CREDIT (Beauchamp, TK Field and Mazar, Johnson, Emanuel, and Whitesell, Paltrow, Duff); Michael Greenberg (Bdeir, Zee, Gerald)

GET INVESTED “Obsession is the biggest driver of innovation. It gnaws at you. It pushes you beyond what other people have tried.” Ayah Bdeir Founder and CEO, littleBits

CONTROVERSY CAN BE GOOD “ ‘Conscious uncoupling’ broke the Internet. I’m glad that happened. It opened a discussion.” Gwyneth Paltrow Founder and chief creative officer, Goop

BE A SOMETHING/ SOMETHING “The ‘slashie’ is someone doing everything they love, and along the way maybe it became money-making.” Joe Zee Editor-in-chief, Yahoo Style

Art credit teekay

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LESSONS OF LEADERSHIP

STYLE GOES SOCIAL Instagram’s Eva Chen and Proenza Schouler partners Jack McCollough and Lazaro Hernandez on how digital media is shaking up fashion ENGAGEMENT IS ESSENTIAL From left: McCollough, Chen and Hernandez have uncovered new ways to connect brands and consumers.

“It’s important to talk to your fans and update them as to what you’re up to—what’s new, what’s fresh,” says Lazaro Hernandez. “Instagram is also a way to connect to a new audience. We’re seeing that a lot of people are experiencing the brand for the first time via social media. It’s interesting to show people the process of manufacturing and how labour-intensive it is to make the things that

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we make—the magic that happens behind the scenes.”

THINK “THUMB STOPPERS” “Almost every designer I work with now is like, ‘What’s the Instagram moment?’ ” says Eva Chen. “What is the piece that everyone’s going to pick up? What’s the thumbstopping moment when everyone’s like, ‘Oh, I have to capture this on Instagram!’? It’s amazing,

because now you have an audience of 400 million to play with versus a small, insular group. Now you can have your message spread to everyone.”

NOTHING FABULOUS ABOUT PHONINESS “You just want to have an honest voice,” says Jack McCollough. “Nothing that looks too contrived or too promotional. Something more inspirational. It’s just a platform. It’s our respon-

sibility to keep that platform fresh and interesting and keep our followers engaged.” Come across like a robot, and you’re going to alienate people. “We respond to accounts of brands that have a story, where they make you dream and make you interested in what they’re doing,” says Hernandez. “Brands that just post product pictures, like ‘Buy me! Buy this! Look what we did, buy it!’ We tend to unfollow those people.”

Photograph by Michael Greenberg


Next

Passion project

Great strides After selling half his company, Toms founder Blake Mycoskie is doubling down on social entrepreneurship By Rick Tetzeli

Photograph by Jenny Hueston

Sole man Blake Mycoskie’s new investment fund is backing socially driven companies similar to Toms.

Last year, Blake Mycoskie confronted the one dilemma all entrepreneurs dream of: what to do with a personal windfall. In Mycoskie’s case, the $200 million (R3.15 billion) [after taxes] that arrived after he sold half of his company—the buy-one, give-

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one shoe retailer Toms—to Bain Capital. He consulted family and friends, intending to find a philanthropic cause that he could embrace and attack, in the manner of other entrepreneurs such as Bill Gates, Marc Benioff and Sergey Brin. But Mycoskie

has always been an unusual businessman, a free spirit sprinting down a path of his own invention. His decision: use $100 million (R1.5 billion) of his money to launch an investment fund that will back, well, companies that want to be like Toms. Encouraging clones isn’t high on the list of strategies recommended by the world’s finest business minds, especially when, as with Toms, dozens of companies have already mimicked the pioneering idea that once distinguished your brand. When Mycoskie launched Toms a decade ago, the one-forone approach was radical. “No one was talking about business being a force for good,” recalls Mycoskie. “Nobody was talking about social good, or the triple bottom line, or B Corps.” But now brands from Warby Parker to the Company Store offer customers the feel-good thrills of one-for-one


S OCI A L IN V ES T ING Some of the companies receiving money from the Toms Social Entrepreneurship Fund

Hello!

Illustrations by Andrew Groves

How are you?

AVA

C OTO PA X I

OWLET

LAXMI

BA C K TO T H E R O OT S

Soon-to-be-released mobile app that uses a device’s microphone to offer real-time conversation transcription services for people who are deaf and hard of hearing.

E-commerce adventure brand (jackets, tents, water bottles etc.) with a commitment to alleviate global poverty through health, education and job skills– development grants.

Smart baby sock that measures—and alerts parents to— an infant’s heart rate and oxygen levels.

Purpose-driven luxury skin-care company using ingredients sourced from female producers in developing countries.

Makers of organic, sustainable ready-toeat and ready-to-grow products including DIY boxed mushroom farms and tin-can herb gardens.

shopping, while a host of other companies are being founded on similar principles. Threatening stuff? Not to Mycoskie. “The moment the model is not really a competitive advantage for Toms is the moment when we’ve won, society-wise,” he says. So far, privately and through the Toms Social Entrepreneurship Fund, Mycoskie has made 16 investments, ranging from $25 000 (R393 million) to $1 million, in a diverse and ambitious set of companies. Some are tiny, like ArtLifting, a website that sells artwork created by homeless and disabled people. He’s also supporting the petition site Change.org and Rubicon Global, a data-driven garbage hauler that has been called “Uber for trash”. “The diversity is really appealing to my entrepreneur side,” says Mycoskie, who sees his investments as part of a larger “crusade to prove that business can be a force for good.” That effort also involves him acting as a consultant and adviser to the companies’ founders, and eventually bringing them together at a convention or conference he’s planning for 2017.

This vision marks an impressive turnaround for Mycoskie. Two years ago, Toms had stopped growing for the first time since its founding. Critics, from philanthropists to business pundits, questioned Mycoskie’s leadership: Did his one-for-one approach really help people, or was it yet another example of a capitalist’s fly-by philanthropy? (Mycoskie points out that Toms doesn’t just give away shoes; it funds sight-saving surgeries, helps ensure safe drinking water, and creates jobs in communities including Port-au-Prince, Haiti, home to one of its shoe factories.) And even if Toms did help, critics wondered if the company’s revenue doldrums were a sign of the limits of his model, or of his ability. At a time when Toms was having more troubles than ever, Mycoskie blithely declared that the company would open a new “one-for-one” business every year. “I made a lot of the mistakes founders typically make,” he says. “One example: Trying to drive that growth, I put too many butts in too many seats.” Toms started getting weighed down by the kinds of

problems Mycoskie associated with traditional corporations: slow decision-making, hierarchy and infighting. “People would come work for Toms expecting ‘Kumbaya’, and it would be like Shark Tank,” he says. “It got to the point where I didn’t want to come in myself.” Finally, Mycoskie realised that to keep the company moving forward, he would need both professional and financial backing. In 2014, he sold 50% of Toms to Bain Capital in a deal that valued the company at $625 million (R9.8 billion). To many, Bain seemed like a strange partner; after all, it was once headed by Mitt Romney, who was caricatured in the 2012 presidential campaign as the embodiment of corporate greed. But according to Mycoskie, Bain is committed to his social mission; the private equity firm has even put $100 million of its own into his investment fund. Just as important, “Bain has helped me really focus,” says Mycoskie. “Where can we win? How can we capitalise on the deep connection we have with our customers?”

His first move was stepping down as CEO and appointing Jim Alling, the former chief operating officer of T-Mobile, to the position last April. (Mycoskie is still heavily involved in marketing and product development.) Instead of launching new one-for-one businesses, Toms is now beefing up its core product by expanding its range of shoe styles, and advertising to buttress its already strong word of mouth. The injection of funds has also prompted Mycoskie to reconsider his company’s mission. “We thought that ‘one for one’ was why we do what we do, but we realised that it is just what we do,” he says. “The ‘why’ of our mission is that we care for one another.” Indeed, now that the old model has been fully appropriated, it’s time for something more expansive: Toms has launched ads that complement the “One for One” logo with a new one: “For One, Another”. It’s a broader slogan, one that matches Mycoskie’s investment ambitions: “I’m going deep on the idea that social entrepreneurship can be the future of business.”

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AIRBNB OPENS UP THE WORLD 66   FASTCOMPANY.CO.Z A  MARCH/APRIL 2016

Photograph by Carolin Wanitzek


In the wake of the attacks in Paris, Airbnb’s most popular city, CEO Brian Chesky is redoubling his efforts to expand his business—and close the cultural gaps between us

By Max Chafkin

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They’d come from 110 countries including Cuba, New Zealand, Kenya and even Greenland. They’d spent R4 500 for three days of talks, parties and sightseeing as part of the second annual Airbnb Open. On an unseasonably warm November afternoon, they gathered in a tented, football-field-size arena in Paris’s Parc de la Villette, 5 000 wildly enthusiastic hosts who offer apartments and bedrooms for rent on Airbnb. The company’s CEO Brian Chesky—a compact and well-built 34-year-old with an aquiline face, muscular neck and square jaw—spoke to them. “Share your homes, but also share your world,” he said, explaining how Airbnb’s competitors in the travel industry had lost touch with their customers, boxing up their guests in ticky-tacky hotel rooms and antiseptic resorts, as if the goal were to ensure that nothing remotely interesting happened. He urged his hosts to strive to be different and give guests a real sense of what life in a foreign country is like. Later, Chesky gathered with his parents, his sister, his girlfriend, his co-founders Joe Gebbia and Nathan Blecharczyk, as well as Airbnb’s first 40 employees, at a rented Airbnb apartment in the 18th arrondissement for a catered dinner to celebrate. The company has more than 2 million

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listings and a valuation of $25.5 billion (R405 billion), which makes it bigger—at least on paper—than any hotel chain in the world. The nine-year-old brand lost money in 2015 in part because Chesky spent lavishly to attract hosts, but financial documents that leaked last year suggested it was on track to book $900 million (R14.2 billion) in revenue, with projections rising to $10 billion (R158 billion) per year, by 2020. (Airbnb collects up to 15% of every booking from guests and hosts. The company expects to be profitable this year.) Chesky counts Apple’s Jonathan Ive, Facebook’s Marc Andreessen and Walt Disney’s Bob Iger as friends. He is reportedly worth $3.3 billion (R52.4 billion). He recently appeared on The Late Show With Stephen Colbert. Now he was surrounded by his family and closest friends in one of the world’s most vibrant centres of culture and intellectualism, which also happens to be Airbnb’s biggest market. He glanced at his phone and read a news alert. A shooting had been reported at a restaurant near Canal Saint-Martin, the picturesque waterway three kilometres south. When he looked again, a few minutes later, there were reports of explosions at the Stade de France, the big soccer stadium, and mass shootings at sidewalk cafés elsewhere in the city. Now everyone in the room was staring at their phones. Terrorists, still at large, active shooter, curfew, stay indoors—these words flicked across Twitter feeds as the death toll grew. Gunmen took control of the Bataclan, a 19thcentury concert hall a few blocks from the first shooting, which also happened to be in the same neighbourhood where many of


Grooming: Julie Dy; styling: Danny O’Neil at Artist Untied; set design: James Whitney at Artist Untied

“This company is first and foremost about the hosts, not the guests,” Chesky says.

Photograph by João Canziani

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A IR BED A ND . . . T REE HOU SE? Company data reveals a colourful picture of Airbnb’s global ecosystem

70 million Total number of guests

2009

21 000+ guests

2010

160 000+ 850 000+

2011

3 million+

2012

6 million+

2013 2014

2015

2 million Total listings on Airbnb

4 000+ Number of listings that are boats

20 million+

2 000+ Number of listings that are castles

34 000 Total number of cities where Airbnb rentals are available

620 Number of listings that are tree houses

191

40 million+

390 Number of listings on private islands

City with the most Airbnb rentals

PARIS

Total number of countries where Airbnb rentals are available Most popular city for Airbnb stays

NEW ZEALAND Country with the oldest hosts (average age is 48)

10%

Proportion of Airbnb guests who are business travellers

New Zealand, Norway, Serbia, Sweden and the United States Countries with the highest percentage of five-star reviews for hosts

4.1

Australia, China, Denmark, Taiwan and the United States Countries with the highest percentage of five-star reviews for guests

10%

Average age worldwide 39 years old Hosts

34 years old Guests

Percentage of hosts over 60 years old

nights

Average length of an Airbnb stay worldwide

2 YEARS AND 4 MONTHS Longest stay in an Airbnb

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85 000 “Superhosts” worldwide

55% Female

45% Male

Hosts worldwide

Chesky’s employees were staying. Photos and videos posted to social media sites showed victims fleeing and bodies lying in the street. By the end of the night, terrorists affiliated with ISIS had killed 130 people in co-ordinated assaults around the city. Chesky breathed. He walked upstairs, through the master bedroom, and into the shower. He shut the glass door, sat down on the tile, and called Airbnb’s security chief. “The one thing I was very focused on was being calm,” he tells me several weeks later. “I was trying to basically figure out how to account for 645 employees and 5 000 hosts. The gravity, the responsibility I had in that moment—it hits you.” Airbnb staff set about contacting every employee and host who had come to Paris for the Airbnb Open. None had been hurt. Chesky didn’t think about business much that night, but eventually, the implications of what had happened began to sink in. Clearly, the co-ordinated attacks might put a damper on potential travellers’ wanderlust, which had ramifications not only for his company’s bottom line but for its entire ethos of openness and inclusivity. Plus, the attacks had come at a time when Airbnb was already facing more peaceable challenges such as newly emboldened competitors and ongoing regulatory hurdles. In the months before the Paris event, Chesky had been forced to spend more than $8 million (R127 million) campaigning against a San Francisco ballot measure, Proposition F, that would have severely limited the ability of Airbnb hosts to rent out their apartments—and similar political fights are simmering in New York, Berlin and Barcelona. “We are on this brink of greater legitimacy,” Chesky had told me at the start of the conference. “But we’re not there yet.” Chesky had recently begun to mobilise what had long been a largely underutilised asset: the hosts themselves. There are more than a million of them around the world, many of whom regard Airbnb with an almost religious devotion. Chesky plans to turn this group of believers into active participants in his business, as well as spokespeople for a new vision of travel. It’s a wildly audacious marketing project that will determine the future of his company—and its culturebridging ideology.


The Airbnb headquarters takes up three floors of a former battery factory in San Francisco’s SoMA neighbourhood and houses roughly 1 100 employees, but its secondary function hits you as soon as you walk in: The place is a museum. Chesky, an art school graduate, designed the conference rooms as exact replicas of more than a dozen of the most significant Airbnb listings, including the nearby apartment where he and his co-founder Joe Gebbia were living when they rented out three air mattresses during a design conference to help pay the rent. (Chesky still lives there, periodically offering the couch to travellers for around R600 a night.) Doll’s-house–like dioramas of well-known listings greet guests near the lobby, and framed artwork lines the walls throughout, accompanied by museum-style didactic panels that offer an interpretation. An entire wall is dedicated to exploring the creative origins of Airbnb’s new logo, and another exhibit attempts to imagine what Airbnb’s flag may look like if the company were a country. One possibility: airbnb is the next stage of human evolution, overlaid on a scientific illustration that shows our progression from apes to cavemen to humans. None of this is done with much of a sense of humour, and as I mull the March of Progress, I wonder if there has ever been a company with such an expansive sense of its own importance. Even Coca-Cola’s famous “Hilltop” ad—“I’d like to buy the world a Coke / And keep it company / That’s the real thing”—had a certain sense of proportion. As idealistic as this is, it’s also the point. “How could you be cynical about humanity and join Airbnb?” Chesky asks during an employee orientation. “When we started this company, people thought we were crazy. They said strangers will never stay with strangers, and horrible things are going to happen.” This is no exaggeration: During Airbnb’s first year in business, every venture capitalist Chesky pitched turned him down, and few guests were willing to risk staying with people they’d never met. Chesky and his co-founders relied on storytelling to make the idea seem friendly and, crucially, safe. It was a tall order, but Chesky is a gifted storyteller. “He’s incredibly charismatic,” says Jeff Jordan, a board member and general partner with Andreessen Horowitz.

“He just draws you in. There’s this elegance in how he describes the business and how he envisions the future.” Chesky grew up outside of Albany, New York and spent most of his childhood shuttling between two different worlds—ice hockey and art. Hockey came first: His parents had him on skates at age 3 and playing in a tyke league (under 7s) by kindergarten. He was small for his age, but he made up for it with skating skills and general toughness. Deborah Chesky, Brian’s mother, remembers him suffering a collarbone fracture when he was 15 years old, after getting thrown into the boards violently during a game. Chesky was still in pain when he returned to the ice, six weeks later, in time for the state hockey playoffs, and broke his collarbone again. “He was going to be the next Wayne Gretzky,” she says. “And if that didn’t work out, there was art.” By middle school, he was spending whatever time he had off the ice, sketching paintings at the Norman Rockwell Museum, an hour’s drive from his house.

fairly incompatible worlds,” he says when I meet him for lunch at the Modern, Danny Meyer’s upscale restaurant inside New York’s Museum of Modern Art. “I basically had these two lives.” At first this made him uncomfortable, but by the time he got to the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD), he’d learnt to own it. He took up competitive bodybuilding, becoming possibly the first art school student to make it to the finals of the Collegiate National Bodybuilding Championships. He also dedicated himself to improving RISD’s moribund hockey team. The Nads, as the team was called, was, technically speaking, a club hockey team, with the name a joke designed to make fun of the machismo of sports. (The team’s cheer: “Gonads! Gonads!”) Chesky thought it was hilarious, and he eventually became captain. “The first thing we did was brand the Nads,” he says. With an irrepressible smile, Chesky tells me that as part of this, he created a new mascot, Scrotie, a

“G U E S T S A R E L O O K I N G F O R E X P E R I E N C E S WHERE THEY CONNECT WITH PEOPLE A N D C O N N E C T W I T H T H E C U LT U R E , ” C H E S K Y S AY S . ” Y O U C A N ’ T A U T O M AT E H O S P I TA L I T Y . ” The dissonance between one of the most physically demanding pursuits and one concerned with emotions and beauty went unremarked by Chesky’s parents and teachers—in upstate New York, everyone loves hockey—but Chesky noticed it. He didn’t talk sports when attending figuredrawing classes on Saturday mornings, and he left the sketchbook full of nudes at home when he went to practice. “They were

1.8-metre-tall, anatomically correct penis with a red cape. He takes out his iPhone and shows his redesigned logo, a hockey stick with two unfortunately placed pucks. “It was kind of like my first startup,” he says. It also introduced him to Gebbia, an industrial design major one year below Chesky who took a cue from the Nads and launched a school basketball team, the Balls. By the time Chesky graduated—as the

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CHECK ING IN When it comes to total number of rooms for rent, Airbnb dwarfs the world’s biggest hotel chains (1) Airbnb 2 000 000+

(2) Marriott International 1 112 613 (749 990 from Marriott; 362 623 from Starwood; merger announced in November 2015)

(3) Hilton Worldwide 745 074

(4) InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG) 726 876

(5) Wyndham Worldwide 672 000

(6) InnSuites Hospitality Trust 598 000 *

(7) Accor Hotels (France) 543 366

(8 ) Choice Hotels International 504 961 *

(9) Jin Jiang International (China) 360 000+ *

( 10 ) Homeinns (China) 311 608

*As of June 2015

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school’s commencement speaker, he opened his talk by stripping off his gown and flexing his biceps—he had helped endow his alma mater with a whole collection of similarly themed teams: the Jugs (women’s soccer), the Sacs (men’s soccer), the Shafts (lacrosse), the Strokes (swimming). “There’s like a whole franchise now,” he says. Chesky’s experience in college might have been his first startup, but it also gave him a taste for testing limits. “Is this too much?” he asks, after sharing these anecdotes. He shoots a look at Airbnb’s communications chief and then shrugs. “I can’t help myself.” In the company’s early days, Chesky and Gebbia famously photographed each Airbnb listing personally, which helped strengthen the company’s bond with its hosts while conveying to guests that its listings were trustworthy. More recently, Airbnb has created a set of standards designed to give prospective guests a sense of greater predictability. Hosts who earn good reviews and who respond to booking requests quickly receive a digital badge identifying them as a “superhost” in Airbnb search results. Those who, among other things, include hotel-like amenities—Wi-Fi, a desk and basic toiletries—are marked “business travel ready.” In Paris, Airbnb announced partnerships with a number of electronic lock companies that will allow hosts to check in guests without physically showing up to exchange keys. All these features, Chesky says, are being developed so that hosts can devote more time to delivering a great experience for guests. “Guests are looking for experiences where they connect with people and connect with the culture,” Chesky says. “You can’t automate hospitality.” This idea is central to Chesky’s vision of the future. To date, Airbnb’s growth has been driven not so much by ‘experiences’ as by the appeal of its listings, which are generally cheaper than hotel rooms and located in more

attractive neighbourhoods than the business districts where hotels are usually found. Or, perhaps, where hotels were usually found. Developers are currently building eight new hotels in Williamsburg, Brooklyn for example—a New York neighbourhood that is huge on Airbnb but has not traditionally been well-touristed. Meanwhile, big hospitality brands, like Accor, have vowed to make their rooms more unique to keep up with consumers’ changing tastes and are trying to evolve their concierge programmes to reflect a more local sensibility. “Hotels can compete on price and convenience, but less so on the relationship with the host,” says William Carroll, a recently retired clinical professor at Cornell’s School of Hotel Administration. “That’s why Airbnb is pushing the mystique of staying in someone’s house.” Now Chesky wants to go further. In October last year, the company emailed users about a pilot programme, Journeys, that packages a three-day homestay in San Francisco with an airport transfer, meals and day trips for $500 (around R8 000). Chesky declines to comment on the new offering—“We’re testing a lot of things,” he says—but speaking on stage in Paris, he urged hosts to offer their guests extra services for free, such as airport pickups, walking tours and snacks. “What’s special in your world isn’t just the home you have,” he says. “It’s your whole life.” Of course, there are limits to this approach. Most Airbnb hosts are not fulltimers, and while the idea of sharing their world may hold some appeal, many just want to make the rent and get to work on time. And so Chesky has tried, in addition to helping with practicalities, to convey to hosts (and potential ones) that Airbnb is important even as a concept. The company launched an ambitious rebranding effort in 2014 that scrapped a straightforward text logo for an abstract symbol, endowing it with a weighty name and backstory. Chesky characterised the bélo, a made-up word created with the help of a London branding agency, as “the universal symbol of belonging”, and encouraged hosts to display it prominently in their homes. (“We wanted something that transcended language, transcended culture, transcended geography,” he said in a video about the rebranding.) He also gave Airbnb a new slogan: “Belong Anywhere.”


“Cities used to be villages,” Chesky wrote in a blog post. “Everyone knew each other, and everyone knew they had a place to call home. But after the mechanisation and Industrial Revolution of the last century, those feelings of trust and belonging were displaced by mass-produced and impersonal travel experiences.” Many joked that the bélo looked a bit like Scrotie. Chesky laughed off the comparison and pushed the message even harder. “Let me draw something for you,” he says when I suggest, ever so gently, that the message seems just a little bit over the top. He grabs my notebook and sketches a simplified version of Abraham Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. Typically represented as a pyramid, Maslow’s hierarchy says that people are motivated both by basic needs (like food and shelter) and more transcendent ones (like “self-actualisation”, which is found at the very top of the pyramid). “Most of our advertising is here,” he says, pointing to the bottom of the pyramid—and noting how Airbnb routinely buys Google ads targeted at people searching for rooms and apartments in specific cities. Airbnb’s more conceptual marketing, he says, is aimed at “the most passionate people” and is intended “to turn on the right people and turn off the wrong people.” What Chesky means by the “right people” are the hosts. They are, as he often says, his company’s product, as well as the key to its growth. “This company is first and foremost about the hosts, not the guests,” he says. “We”—that is Chesky and his co-founders— “were the first hosts. We are them.” If this seems a bit cult-like, well, that’s the point. Chesky’s head of community is Douglas Atkin, a former advertising agency executive known for his work on US low-cost airline JetBlue, and for writing a book that draws business lessons from cults like Sun Myung Moon’s Unification Church and the Hare Krishna movement. “We’re an ideologically led brand,” Atkin says. The thing about cults is that they tend to inspire passionate opposition when messages intended for their followers inevitably trickle into the wider world. Proposition F, for example, generated weeks of negative headlines in San Francisco, and at one point Chesky had to apologise for a series of passive-aggressive billboards Airbnb had purchased to try to help defeat

the measure by reminding voters that its hosts pay hotel taxes to the city. But Chesky has become a skilled communicator and shown a willingness to compromise. Whereas Uber, another disruptive sharing-economy service, prompted riots in Paris during which cars were overturned and burnt, Airbnb has stirred only minor controversy there. In August, Paris officials agreed to allow the company to collect tourist taxes on behalf of its hosts, essentially legalising the service in the city. In fact, feelings were so warm that the city’s deputy mayor Jean-François Martins appeared on stage at the Airbnb Open— calling Paris’s status as Airbnb’s biggest market “a special honour”. On the morning of November 13, the second day of the Airbnb Open, Chesky’s chief marketing officer Jonathan Mildenhall led the audience through a raucous group boogie-down to Whitney Houston’s “I Wanna Dance with Somebody”, followed by a screening of the company’s latest television spot: a 60-second commercial that had aired immediately after Caitlyn Jenner’s emotional acceptance speech at the ESPY Awards gala in July. (“Is man kind? Are we good?” asks narrator Angela Bassett, as a toddler waddles toward a window. The viewer is invited to “sit at [Airbnb hosts’ tables] so you can share their tastes; sleep in their beds so you can know their dreams.”) The campaign had been called “wildly pretentious” and “existential bordering on absurd” by Adweek. But here in Paris, Mildenhall, a former CocaCola executive who has said he was inspired by the “Hilltop” commercial, got a standing ovation. As the crowd erupted, Mildenhall dropped to his knees, as if in prayer. He later called it “the best moment of my career”. The hosts I met at the event seemed similarly moved. (This is yet another way that Airbnb differs from Uber. Most Uber drivers seem to look at Uber as a business partner. Airbnb hosts tend to be true believers.) “Airbnb speaks to a big part of who I am,” said Michele Martinez, a textile designer and former real estate agent who began renting out rooms in her Brooklyn loft in 2010 and who now has built a life around Chesky’s service. She is close with a group of two dozen hosts who “have drunk the KoolAid”, as she put it. She also organises regular meetups, attends city council meetings on behalf of the company, and starred in a

political ad designed to rally support in New York for the company. This is a model that Airbnb hopes to replicate. Two days after successfully defeating Proposition F, policy chief Chris Lehane announced that Airbnb would help fund “home-sharing clubs” in 100 cities around the world, essentially formalising the kind of meetups that Martinez already organises. In a triumphant press conference, Lehane—a famously pugnacious Democratic Party operative who was Al Gore’s press secretary—noted that Airbnb users represented a robust voting bloc. He compared them to, among others, the National Rifle Association and the National Education Association. The reference to two of the most polarising and powerful lobbying groups in the US was seen by many as a threat. But in Paris, Chesky again played peacemaker. On stage, he announced the release of a new manifesto, the Airbnb Community Compact, which promises that hosts will pay their lodging taxes, and that in cities with a housing shortage, Airbnb will not work with hosts who acquire multiple apartments and turn them into short-term rentals. The moves are aimed at soothing city officials and housing activists (while giving political talking points to hosts) and could help Airbnb gain wider regulatory acceptance, but they won’t do much to address harder questions about how the company is changing neighbourhoods. Part of the appeal of Airbnb to travellers is that it puts you in a regular neighbourhood rather than a touristy one—you get to “live like a local”, as the company often promises—but many people worry that a proliferation of Airbnb listings could take all the charm out of that charming residential enclave. (In August, a New York magazine blogger surveyed pedestrians on a Williamsburg street corner and discovered that only one in every four people lived in the neighbourhood.) Moreover, it’s not clear that Airbnb will be able to reconcile its “Belong Anywhere” ethos with the politicalisation of its host community. “We want to stick up for our hosts, and we want to do it in a way that’s consistent with our narrative and our values,” Chesky had told me after the first day of the Paris conference. But he admitted, with a sigh, “There’s a tension.” We were sitting in the back of a minivan, and Chesky let his normally imposing frame

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slump into his seat, his head falling toward the window. It was dark, almost dinner time, and we passed over the cobblestone road in front of the Louvre and crossed the Pont du Carousel. We moved into Saint-Germain, a left-bank district where Chesky and his girlfriend Elissa Patel, a community manager at the photo-sharing startup Frontback, like to stay when they come to town. “This is our neighbourhood,” he said, after a few moments of silence. “There are artists’ studios everywhere. It’s incredibly cool.” His choice of words—our neighbourhood, with all the implications of familiarity and home—was deliberate. Everything Chesky says is deliberate. “I think a lot of people, when they travel to a city, they’re made to feel like tourists,” he explained. “And I think when you have a great Airbnb experience, you kind of start to feel like you live in the neighbourhood. You don’t feel like you’re just wandering around.” The following afternoon on stage, Chesky showed the audience a series of snapshots of his parents’ travels through the city earlier in the week. There was a picture of a double-decker tour bus, a cheesy boat ride and the line at the Louvre. Chesky treated each clichéd scene with comic derision. “Every year, 30 million people go to Paris,” he said. “They look at everything, and they see nothing. We don’t need to go to monuments and landmarks to experience a culture. We can actually stay with people.” He presented another montage, a second day on the town during which his parents were accompanied by Airbnb’s top hosts as guides. Mom and Dad had coffee at a sidewalk café; they took a walk in a garden; they drank and danced at a cozy Parisian boîte (small restaurant). They looked like locals. “Maybe we should not travel to Paris,” Chesky offered. “Maybe what we should do is live in Paris.” That night, I sat at a bar eating dinner alone. When the news of gunfire less than a mile away began to trickle in, a young woman in the restaurant asked, desperately, if the manager could bring down the metal gate. But there was no gate, so we locked the glass doors and waited in a state of apprehension. I texted my wife and told her that I loved her. I thought about my 8-month-old daughter. At some point, hours later, the manager started pouring wine, and I fell into conversation with a cook who’d gone to high school in Arizona. Then I walked back to my apartment through an

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eerily empty city. CNN said that some of the perpetrators were still at large. In the weeks since, I have found it difficult to talk about that night, and to write this article. Describing Airbnb’s mission at all in relation to the violence in Paris seems in some sense ridiculous, like writing a story in 1971 about how CocaCola would end the Vietnam War with its message of peace and harmony. And yet, Coke’s “Hilltop” ad, which is regarded by many as the greatest TV commercial of all time, did turn out to be sort of true, at least in some small way. “You can be watching TV and see Coca-Cola, and you know that the president drinks Coke, Liz Taylor drinks Coke, and just think, you can drink Coke, too,” Andy Warhol wrote in 1975. “All the Cokes are the same and all the Cokes are good. Liz Taylor knows it, the president knows it, and you know it, too.” Global capitalism, propelled by big brands like Coke, helped usher in a period of relative calm and unprecedented wealth in America and in many parts of the world. We saw the ads and we believed them; and in believing them, we kind of made them real. More recently, we’ve started turning against mass consumerism. We are not all the same, and no longer do we want to

localised ideas and products. All Airbnbs are emphatically not the same, and they’re not even all good—hence the need for hosts and guests to review one another. But that texture, Chesky argues, makes travel better, and maybe makes us better, too. His message is that by experiencing distinctly local norms and ideas, by coming to the understanding that the world is varied and rough and interesting, we will learn to see ourselves and others with more humility. “I don’t want to suggest that people living together creates world peace,” Chesky tells me, a few weeks after returning from Paris. “But I will say that [living in close proximity to people from other cultures] does make people understand each other a lot more. And I think a lot of conflicts in the world are between groups that don’t understand each other.” As a longtime user of Airbnb, I have often felt that Chesky’s marketing message—“Belong Anywhere”—can sound a bit naive. My choice of an inexpensive homestay instead of a hotel room won’t make me a local in any meaningful sense, nor, necessarily, will booking a walking tour on the Airbnb of the future. And yet, after Paris—where locals used a social media hashtag, #PorteOuvert (“open door”), to alert frightened foreigners of safe houses; taxi

“ I W I L L S AY T H AT [ L I V I N G I N C L O S E PROXIMITY TO PEOPLE FROM OTHER C U LT U R E S ] D O E S M A K E P E O P L E U N D E R S TA N D E A C H O T H E R A L O T M O R E . ” pretend to be. This is evident in millennials’ obsession with social media self-expression and in their preferences for artisanal goods. It’s evident, more ominously, in the growing popularity of nativist politicians and fundamentalist groups like ISIS. Airbnb, which offers travellers an experience that is more unique and localised than the cookie-cutter offerings of most hotels, has benefited from the shift in consumer preferences to smaller, more

drivers turned off their meters to take people to safety for free; and French President François Hollande quickly vowed to take in more Syrian refugees in the coming years— I’ve begun to wonder. That’s the other thing about cults: They stop being cults once enough people believe. Today, Airbnb is a good business with great marketing. But maybe it’s more. Maybe it’s the real thing. chafkin@fastcompany.com


The Da Vinci Institute

Saying thank you to our stakeholders for their ongoing support

The Da Vinci Institute, a private higher education institution focusing on managerial leadership development, is one of a kind. Here we believe education is more than obtaining a qualification, as we challenge our students to create relevant solutions to solve work based problems. The focus of our programmes is to deliver innovative thinkers and decision makers equipped to make a difference in the real world and to contribute towards the development of a sustainable society. Founded in 2003, Da Vinci has established itself as a boutique institution where learning programmes are customised according to the particular needs and environment of either an organisation or an individual. Over the past ten years we have developed a cadre of managerial leaders from a wide range of organisations, including the likes of Eskom, FNB, Anglo Gold Ashanti, Telkom, Altron, Standard Bank, PPS, Nedbank, Gold Fields, Anglo Platinum, Investec, BHP Billiton, JP Morgan, SABS, Henley Air, IDC, City Power, Limpopo Treasury, Bank Seta, Gautrain, DBSA, MTN, DST, Services Seta, SANDF and SASCOC. Da Vinci’s academic programme offerings include: PhD programme In the PhD programme (NQF Level 10), aimed at senior managers and executives, candidates are required to

demonstrate their ability to develop new concepts that will significantly improve their organisations and the social system at large. Masters programme The MSc programme (NQF Level 9), is based both on modular work and a dissertation. Candidates are expected to utilise their newly acquired knowledge and skills related to the Management of Technology, Innovation, People and Systems to solve a work-related challenge. Bachelors programme The Bachelor of Commerce (Business Management) degree (NQF Level 7), expects candidates to gain an understanding of their own working environment and identity performance challenges facing their own organisations and create solutions to solve these challenges. Certificate programme The Certificate programme (NQF Level 5), is aimed at developing people who have been earmarked for junior management positions within their organisation. Candidates are provided with the basic concepts relating to the Management of Technology, Innovation, People and Systems.

Excellence is not a destination; it is a continuous journey that never ends School of Managerial Leadership

www.davinci.ac.za


Fast Company promotion

Contributing to a better society How Siemens is helping shape the development of South Africa

Siemens believes companies can only truly succeed if they help to fulfil the needs of the society in which they operate. Besides helping to drive a country’s economic growth, the technology giant believes businesses should add lasting value to communities. The company recently invested in a study to determine its contribution to South African society, named: “In South Africa, For South Africa—The Business to Society Report”. Companies like Siemens must demonstrate how their business interests are aligned with the country’s national development agenda, and play an active role in economic and societal development. “This requires us to measure corporate success by much more than profit,” says Sabine Dall’Omo, CEO of the Siemens Southern and East Africa operations. “In South Africa, we are putting ourselves under scrutiny and trying to understand our role and responsibilities to society in a more structured and complete manner. “Rather than viewing the country from the perspective of Siemens and its own operations, we looked inward at Siemens from the perspective of South Africa and its particular social, economic and political circumstances. We recognised almost immediately that only by understanding what is important to South Africa can we really evaluate our place in society,” she explains. Dall’Omo argues that governments don’t always innovate, but engineering businesses do. She also feels that South Africa needs creative and collaborative solutions to many pressing challenges,

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including the country’s power and water crisis—which she believes technology companies can help solve. “For our study, we started by looking hard at what matters most to South Africa. The economy matters, and our Business to Society report showed that we directly and indirectly contributed R6.8 billion of value to South Africa. An important aspect to note was that approximately 80% of that value stays in South Africa,” she adds. By controlling the movement of 175 million tonnes of material for the coal, platinum, gold, iron ore and diamond industries, Siemens plays a role in half the value created by mining—generating products worth R140 billion. “Our technology sits behind more than 20% of South Africa’s rail and pipeline infrastructure, and we are involved in the manufacture of about 50 % of the cars made in South Africa.” Dall’Omo continues: “In our report, we didn’t hide from the hard truths of the impact of our business on the environment. Water is scarce in South Africa, and we used 88 700 kilolitres last year. We also used 8 700 megawatt-hours of electricity and produced 9 300 tonnes of carbon dioxide. Also we enable industries that consume water and power, and produce waste. That, too, is part of our responsibility.” She argues that it’s the responsibility of both government and business to aid the racial transformation of industry. Siemens has 30% black ownership in South Africa; 15% of that figure is owned by previously disadvantaged employees through the company’s employee share ownership programme. “We have found that transformation is good for business. Historically disadvantaged people make up 56% of our 1 460 staff, and every job at Siemens is linked to 10 more jobs in South Africa. We are developing a solid base of black engineers, and the bottom line is that making transformation part of our business strategy has been a winning strategy. It’s clear to us that being a good business is good for business,” she says. “We’re in a long-term relationship with the countries where we do business. Business and society need each other more than ever, as we build a country, engineer the future and empower a nation. It’s a humbling and rewarding opportunity.”

“Whatever we do, it must add lasting value and deliver benefits—for shareholders, for employees, for customers, and for our partners in business and society.” —Joe Kaeser, CEO of Siemens AG


WHAT MATTERS TO SOUTH AFRICA? It goes without saying that South Africa is a country recovering from injustice, inequality and uneven development. It has huge opportunities and significant challenges. There is an urgent need to develop new infrastructure, to create industrial opportunities and employment, and to

tackle endemic poverty and inequality. Through its external research and analysis unit, Siemens identified six key pillars that set the focus of its impressive impact assessment and provided the framework used to measure the company’s contribution to South Africa.

THE SIX PILLARS ARE: 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6.

DRIVING THE ECONOMY DEVELOPING LOCAL JOBS AND SKILLS VALUE-ADDING INNOVATIONS SUSTAINING THE ENVIRONMENT SUPPORTING TRANSFORMATION FUTURE CHALLENGES AND COMMITMENTS

Our contribution to the sustainable development of South Africa

Driving the Economy

Developing Local Jobs and Skills

Value-adding Innovations

Sustaining the Environment

Improving Quality of Life

Supporting Transformation

GDP contribution: Contributed R6.8bn in direct and indirect GVA to the economy

Job Creation: 1,460 people directly employed with 15,600 jobs enabled

Electrification: 31,000 MW of SA’s total installed base and 20% of green electricity managed with Siemens technology

CO2e offset: 1,300 kt of CO2e offset with our carbon saving innovations

Health: 34,000 patients benefit daily from healthcare based on Siemens equipment

Compliance: >R18m invested in Integrity Initiative over last 5 years

Mining: Enabled ~50% of SA mining value (R140bn)

Employment Equity: 56% of employees are historically disadvantaged

Automation: ~20% of SA’s total industrial processes enabled with automation control systems (>20,00 processes)

Energy used: 8,700 MWh of electricity consumed and 9,300 tons CO2e generated

Employee Wellbeing: 78% employee engagement score

Ownership: 30% B-BBEE ownership

Transportation: Enabled ~20% of total rail and pipeline infrastructure (>5000km)

Employee Training: 3,900 training days and R40m invested in employee up-skilling

Digitalization: Insights from 640bn pieces of process and operation information generated from smart products

Water used: 88,700 kilolitres of water used

Long Term commitment: 155 years in South Africa

Procurement with QSEs / EMEs: >30% of procurement spent with QSEs / EMEs

Automotive: Enabled ~50% of total car production (240,000 cars)

External Training: 1,751 suppliers and customers trained

Waste generated and recycled: 670 tons of waste generated and 80 tons recycled

CSR: R100m invested in Mandela School of Science and Technology supporting 700 learners

B-BBEE: Level 2

by 2016

(Petro-)Chemicals: Enabled ~90bn SA base chemicals & gases industry value (8m tons)

SIEMENS VALUE MAP As a dynamic developing nation, South Africa faces political, regulatory, labour and economic issues that have hampered foreign investment and economic growth—both inside and outside the country. Siemens recognises this may reduce the growth and scale of the key industries to

which it supplies technology and engineering competence. However, the company remains committed to adding local value through its manufacturing and service facilities in South Africa, particularly in the energy, rail and industrial sectors. It shows that Siemens is much more than a business. “We are also a partner in the development of South Africa as a fair and prosperous nation. We are most certainly in South Africa— for South Africa,” concludes Dall’Omo. Areas of continuous improvement

Focus areas of improvement

Note: All figures are for 2014, unless otherwise stated.

Learn more about the Siemens Business to Society Report at www.siemens.co.za.

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SWIPE

After losing his job as CEO of Tinder, Sean Rad is back atop the controversial dating-app company. This time, will it be a better match?

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RIGHT

BY

Austin Carr PHOTOGR APHS BY

ioulex

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“t h e s e

a r e t h e

g i r l s

h o t t e s t

I’ v e e v e r

s e e n !”

Sean Rad—29 and recently single—is bowed over his iPhone, eyes inches from the screen, totally enamoured with the latest version of his groundbreaking dating app, Tinder. It’s a Monday evening in mid-October at Craig’s, a dimly lit West Hollywood hot spot where paparazzi track every arriving Uber, and Rad can’t believe how attractive the women in his Tinder feed are. He swipes through endless photos while sipping his usual dirty martini, grinning like a kid. “What the fuck?!” he says. “This is nuts!” The deliciously addictive Tinder is as much cultural phenomenon as dating app—a strikingly simple tool that lets you flick through photos of nearby users. Swipe right to register a “like”, or left to skip ahead to the next one. If the other person swipes right on your picture too, the app alerts both of you to a match, and from there, either party can initiate a conversation—and possibly more. It’s a transformational interaction model that now leads to 1.3 million dates per week. Rad is especially pumped tonight, because he’s testing out a new algorithm that’s designed to make more matches, and so far it’s performing in overdrive. Rad himself worked to refine these changes, which may explain why, as I open Tinder on my own phone and start swiping, he critiques my every flip. “Yup, yup, yup,” he says approvingly as I like a series of profiles, but then I swipe left on one, and Rad’s elbows jump off the table. “What!? She was hot!” he yells. “Oh, my God, how did you say no to her?” 80   FASTCOMPANY.CO.Z A  MARCH/APRIL 2016

He grabs my phone and starts shuffling through photos on my behalf—picture after picture, complete with running commentary. “Have you ever seen this many hot girls?” he says. “It’s like five hot girls in a row!” He finally stops on one. “Wow, she’s gorgeous. She’s a DJ! This might be your wife.” Tinder has ballooned to 9.6 million daily active users, accounting for 1.4 billion swipes per day. These aren’t just teens looking for a hookup: A recent Tinder survey found 80% of users are seeking more than a one-night

After Sean Rad was removed as CEO of Tinder in early 2015, “I was incredibly upset,” he says. “But I was a big boy about it.” PHOTOGR APH BY

David Black


Previous spread: Hair: Katsumi Matsuo at Artmix Creative; Makeup: Yuko Mizuno at Rona Represents. This spread: Grooming: David Stanwell for Wella Professionals at Solo Artists


stand—a highly engaged, advertiserfriendly audience. Tinder is part of Match Group, which was created as a division of Barry Diller’s IAC and includes other dating sites such as OkCupid and Match.com. In November, IAC spun off Match Group as part of an initial public offering that raised around $400 million (R6 billion) at a roughly $3 billion (R45 billion) valuation. Tinder is key to Match Group’s appeal; as noted in the S-1 SEC prospectus (filing used by companies planning on going public to register their securities with the US Securities and Exchange Commission), Rad’s app has “risen to scale and popularity faster than any other product in the dating category” and particularly appeals to young users. If Tinder were a freestanding operation, according to one recent estimate, its valuation could be more than $1 billion (R15 billion). Despite his company’s fast success, Rad has endured an unusually bumpy few years, including reams of sceptical press, a sexual harassment lawsuit and even his temporary ouster as Tinder’s CEO. Public scrutiny has been intense, and a perception lingers that the business is some kind of glorified frat house that’s solely devoted to the promotion of casual sex. To Rad, this kind of criticism is “total bullshit”. Rad insists his vision for Tinder is much grander than merely facilitating romantic connections. He plans to build it into a robust advertising vehicle and subscription service, and believes it has applications beyond dating. He envisions a “social discovery” platform that will connect people in ways other services cannot. “We have the potential to grab a massive audience as big as Instagram’s or Snapchat’s, but the value we’re giving is so much greater than any of these social apps,” he says. “The matches made on Tinder can change lives. The Snapchat photo from two hours ago— who gives a fuck?” It’s jolting to hear the CEO of a major company speak so bluntly, but Rad is always this unfiltered. In some ways, it’s what makes him a perfect ambassador

for Tinder: his youth, his energy, his intuitive grasp of the app’s core audience. It’s also, in the eyes of some critics, what makes him a liability. What colleagues describe as Rad’s “raw” leadership style has got him into trouble at a company where professional and personal lines are often blurred. But it has also helped him build Tinder into a phenomenon, and rather than try to recalibrate his personality as his company matures, Rad has decided to embrace his rambunctious approach. As we’re swiping over our drinks, Rad shows me his Tinder profile, which includes a bio that reads “founder and CEO of Tinder—yes, the app you’re using.” By being so open about his highprofile identity, he knows he’s taking a risk, since his private conversations could end up getting leaked. But Rad is repelled by the idea of hiding who he is. “I can’t stand fake people,” he says. “I’m allergic to people who don’t speak their minds and aren’t true to themselves. As Tinder has grown, I’ve learnt that I can be myself.” But can he? Or will he need to rein in his controversial personality to rocket Tinder to the next stratosphere of growth? E a r l y o n e a f t e r n o o n at Tinder’s Los Angeles headquarters, Rad and three other executives are gathered around a table in a small, stuffy room with bare white walls and a fake plant. On a piece of paper precariously taped to the door, somebody has scrawled CEO OFFICE in blue marker. The depressing setting is temporary. The company has just moved into this space in one of IAC’s LA buildings on the Sunset Strip across from notorious former celeb hangout, the Viper Room, and right now decor is not a priority. The vibe is pure startup: Tinder T-shirts and hats abound, and there are two types of kombucha tea on tap in the kitchen. Rad is wearing light-washed denim, a striped blue button-down and a pair of tan high-tops— a departure from his regular dark James Perse T-shirts. His assistant brings him a Coke as he settles in to watch his team spar. On the agenda for today’s product meeting are five potential new features, which Rad wants to narrow down to one. They go down the list, with execs arguing the pros and cons. Rad cuts in every 45 seconds, offering blunt feedback. “This isn’t 10x better,” he says of one messaging feature; “this is a game changer!” he exclaims of another. “These meetings can get heated,” co-founder and product VP Jonathan Badeen tells me afterward. “While I’m head of product, Sean’s very much the head of product. He’s the big-idea guy.” An hour later, the group has nixed only one of the five options. But that’s progress: Rad tells me later the meeting was “more creative” than usual, and that the focus is normally on the “million and one things we have to urgently get done” in the short term. Though Tinder’s swipeto-like concept seems almost ludicrously simple, “You’d be shocked if you knew how much time we still spend on the swiping physics,” he says. At the moment, Rad’s focus isn’t just on improving Tinder’s core functionality; it’s on how to broaden the app’s appeal and generate revenues that match its outsize cultural influence. Launching new features is a big part of that strategy. Three weeks prior to today’s meeting, Tinder introduced Super Like, which enables you to pushnotify people that you’ve liked them—a virtual, flirty nudge. Early tests have been promising. Users are three times more likely to match with someone they Super Liked, and on average those conversations last 70% longer. Super Like is included as part of Tinder Plus, the company’s premium subscription service, which is a key element of its monetisation strategy. The basic app is free, but for a monthly fee, Tinder Plus gives members unlimited swipes and five Super Likes per day (non-subscribers get only one Super Like and a finite number of swipes every 24 hours), the option of undoing an accidental swipe, and other features. Rates begin at $9.99 (about R150) per month, and Tinder

“HOW MUCH WOULD YOU PAY ME TO MEET YOUR WIFE?” RAD SAYS. “TEN THOUSAND DOLLARS? TWENTY THOUSAND DOLLARS? SOME PEOPLE WOULD PROBABLY GIVE ME THEIR ENTIRE NET WORTH.”

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game of thrones Six CEOs who—like Tinder’s Sean Rad—returned to their jobs after previously moving out of the top slot Michael Bloomberg

R I S E In 1981, Bloomberg founded Innovative Market Systems, which quickly became known for its terminal system. Renamed Bloomberg LP in 1986, it made its founder a billionaire and expanded into TV, radio and business journalism. Bloomberg stepped down as CEO in 2001 to run for mayor of New York.

CEO, Bloomberg LP 1981—2001 2014—PRESENT

Leah Busque

CEO, TaskRabbit 2008—2011 2012—PRESENT

R I S E Busque and her husband dreamt up TaskRabbit after running out of dog food one day in 2008. Three years later, the gig-economy platform was responsible for $4 million (R60 million) in transactions per month. Eventually, Busque decided to move into a chief product officer role, replacing herself with Hotwire co-founder Eric Grosse.

R E T U R N As a wave of specialised on-demand services blossomed that might eclipse TaskRabbit, the company decided to refine its efforts and reinstalled Busque as CEO in 2012. She has narrowed TaskRabbit’s focus and tweaked its job-matching system, and is also looking to help task-doers earn a fairer wage.

Jack Dorsey

R I S E Dorsey served as the first CEO when he, Biz Stone, Ev Williams and Noah Glass started Twitter. His managerial inexperience led to soaring costs while reportedly alienating some of the team. He was pushed out in 2008, only to return in a part-time role in 2010 when his successor, Williams, was replaced as CEO by Dick Costolo.

CEO, Twitter 2007—2008 2015—PRESENT

Steve Huffman

R I S E Huffman co-founded Reddit with Alexis Ohanian in 2005 and sold it to Condé Nast in 2006. Three years later, they both left the company, and Huffman went on to found the travel site Hipmunk.

CEO, Reddit 2005—2009 2015—PRESENT

Mark Pincus

CEO, Zynga 2007—2013 2015—PRESENT

R E T U R N Mattrick couldn’t develop another hit game or figure out Zynga’s mobile strategy either, and in April 2015, the company reinstalled Pincus. He has also been focusing on mobile, as well as reviving the company’s interest in casino games, with mixed results.

Howard Schultz

R I S E Hired as Starbucks’s director of operations and marketing in 1982, Schultz ascended to CEO in 1987 and guided the sleepy brand to total latte dominance. In 2000, he stepped down to become chief global strategist while also staying on as chairperson, a sort of retirement that he later called a mistake.

1987—2000 2008—PRESENT

R E T U R N In 2015, after Costolo’s ouster, Dorsey came back as CEO to tackle Twitter’s chronic issues around user growth and product development. After having the interim tag removed from his CEO — ship, he’s made changes in an attempt to lure new users, launching Moments and ditching “favourites” for “likes”.

R E T U R N After months of controversy surrounding interim CEO Ellen Pao’s leadership and efforts to rein in some offensive content, Huffman came back to help stabilise (and monetise) the platform. Now he’s trying to make the interface more appealing to newbies—while not alienating Reddit’s passionate core users.

R I S E Pincus co-founded social-gaming company Zynga in 2007, and two years later it bloomed with mega-hit FarmVille. But by 2013, Zynga’s fields had grown fallow. Pincus stepped down as CEO and became chairperson and chief product officer, making way for longtime gaming executive Don Mattrick.

CEO, Starbucks

R E T U R N While Bloomberg was serving his three terms as mayor, his company wrestled with the same complicated prospects as other media companies in the Internet era. He returned as CEO at the end of 2014 and quickly took steps to streamline the business, cutting newsroom jobs and strengthening the company’s terminal business.

R E T U R N Starbucks had lost its buzz by 2008 after expanding too fast and letting quality slip. Schultz returned as CEO, cut costs, and upgraded the coffee and food while expanding into juice. His return gave Starbucks another kick, boosting its market cap from $5 billion (R75 billion) in 2008 to $57 billion (R860 billion) in 2014. —Claire Dodson

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web of relationships is brazen enough to charge $19.99 (R300) for anyone 30 or older, like surge pricing for finding your soulmate. “How much would you pay me to meet your wife?” Rad says, justifying the value proposition. “Ten thousand dollars? Twenty thousand dollars? Some people would probably give me their entire net worth.” Tinder also makes money from advertising, of course, with companies such as Bud Light paying more than $1 million (R15 million) per campaign for placement in users’ feeds. In addition to Super Like, Rad spearheaded a major overhaul of the app that rolled out in November and includes the new algorithm. Users can now create handles and web-based profiles, and also add education and career info to profiles. Tinder uses that data to pair couples based on compatibility rather than just spitting out photos at random. It’s all part of a push toward making Tinder a full-featured social network. Rad and Badeen say more tools are on the way that will help facilitate conversation and in-person experiences. Currently no other app is as successful at helping strangers meet in the real world, and it’s easy to think of ways that Tinder’s interface could be helpful. LinkedIn has built a business valued at $32 billion (more than R480 billion) out of connections and communication yet, as Rad points out, “LinkedIn sucks for meeting new people. It’s actually impossible to meet people on LinkedIn.” Imagine a Tinder for business, where you could network with a simple swipe. Rad ticks off a list of other applications Tinder could go after, including local recommendations and event-discovery tools. It’s a seductive pitch; it’s also unclear how serious Rad is about diversification, given how much room for growth still exists in the dating market. He boasts that he could dream up 5 000 ideas that he could “guarantee at least 100 000 users” would adopt, but “that’s pointless. The hard thing is figuring out what works for 90% of our audience.” For Sam Yagan—who served as Match Group CEO after selling OkCupid to Diller for $90 million (R1.3 billion) in 2011 and is on Tinder’s board—it’s about staying focused. “Should we do Tinder for business, Tinder for enterprise?” he says. “I don’t wake up every morning thinking that this dating thing is too small.”

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Tinder has fundamentally altered how people meet, but it’s not the only dating game changer. A history of online hookups 1995

Match.com

K E Y I N N OVAT I O N

Taking dating digital

One of the very first online dating platforms, Match popularised the concept of custom online profiles, which it used to, yes, match potential couples. Match is still the biggest player in the dating industry, raking in nearly $50 million (more than R750 million) in profit in the first half of 2015.

2000

eHarmony.com

K E Y I N N OVAT I O N

Tapping data to find love

When eHarmony launched, online dating was popular but technologically unsophisticated. The company’s personality-based algorithm brought a measure of science to the pairing process. Three million users signed on by the end of 2003.

2004

OkCupid.com

K E Y I N N OVAT I O N

Upping the fun

This people-connector’s quirky personality questions enlivened profiles and enticed younger users. Previously, such services had a bit of a stigma, but OkCupid—which, unlike predecessors, was free—suddenly made web dating cool.

2009

Grindr

K E Y I N N OVAT I O N

Enabling instant connections through geolocation

The most popular dating app for gay men let users connect quickly with people nearby. Now used by more than 5 million people in some 190 countries, it’s particularly valuable in places where homosexuality is illegal or looked down upon.

2014

Bumble

K E Y I N N OVAT I O N

Cutting down the creep factor

Created by former Tinder executive Whitney Wolfe, Bumble tackles one of the biggest issues surrounding Internet dating: harassment. Only female users can initiate contact, giving women control of the process.

2015

High There

K E Y I N N OVAT I O N

Firing up the niche-dating scene

Based in Denver, where pot is legal, High There pairs singles with a mutual interest in a very specific activity. It’s one of a growing number of apps that target slices of the population, including Wingman for air-travel hookups, and Salad Match for fans of leafy lunches. —CD


T h o s e c l o s e t o R a d describe a magnetic quality that seems as if it has an on/off switch. It can be discomfiting if you don’t know him. Rad, who has dark eyes and an intense look resembling a young David Blaine, is prone to disappearing into his phone if you don’t keep his attention, even during a one-on-one conversation. But he can also turn on a rakish charm. At one point, Rad describes a recent interaction he had at New York’s Soho House. After overhearing four young women discussing Tinder, he slid over to chat. At first, he didn’t even ID himself as the company’s CEO. “Everyone is nervous to talk to a girl or a guy,” Rad tells me. “I never had a problem with it.” Rad’s off-kilter charisma traces back to Bel Air, California, where he grew up in a large, wealthy family. His parents, Iranian immigrants, own an electronics manufacturing company that works with behemoths like Samsung. Rad recalls raucous Friday-night dinners with aunts and uncles and cousins and their “big egos and voices. You had to speak up—nobody was afraid to call bullshit on something you said. There wasn’t always room for my voice.” He studied business at the University of Southern California but dropped out after two and a half years, in 2006. Rather than join his family’s company, Rad headed out on his own. “I wanted to be master of my own fate,” he says. He created two successive startups, one of which, a social media marketing company called Adly that helps celebrities and influencers monetise their brands, became a minor success (Rad has since sold his stake in the business). In early 2012, he landed as a general manager at Hatch Labs, a New York–based incubator funded in part by IAC. Hatch co-founder Adam Huie remembers Rad’s sly confidence during his interview. When Huie asked Rad how he would build out one of the incubator’s products, “Sean was just like,

‘I’ll figure it out.’ Wait, what? But what technology would you use? ‘Don’t worry! I’ll get it done.’  ” Huie recalls Rad as being “half pompous, but 100% super-convincing.” He got the job. In his first week, Rad learnt he’d be competing in an incubator-wide hackathon. In a reply-all message responding to an email welcoming him to the incubator, Rad wrote: “Can’t wait to meet you all at the hackathon—after I destroy you guys! I’m gonna win this thing!” He was right: Rad and his partner in the competition, Hatch engineer Joe Munoz, triumphed with an idea for a service that would let users click through photos of potential matches—a rough version of what would eventually become Tinder. Rad was by no stretch Tinder’s sole creator; a team of designers, engineers, marketers and business leaders deserve credit for building out the app in the ensuing year, especially Jonathan Badeen, who added the swiping mechanism. Justin Mateen, Rad’s best friend, started working with the company later that year (he also began dating Tinder employee Whitney Wolfe). Rad’s “undying belief ” in Tinder pushed the team forward, says Ryan Ogle, an engineer who later became CTO. “Sean was always like, ‘This is going to be the greatest thing ever! We are going to change the world!’ ” Ogle recalls with a laugh. “Tinder was nothing really at the time, and I was like, ‘Okay, Sean, we’ll see. You’re really excitable.’ ” When it began rolling out at college campuses in 2012 and throughout 2013, engagement took off, hitting 100 000 users by February. Rad believes Tinder caught on because it “removed the rejection and fear” from dating—you’re only told when you get a match. He likes to say it’s akin to locking eyes with someone at a bar. By 2014, Tinder had reached 350 million swipes per day. Inside the company, though, things were not going as smoothly. Tinder ran into challenges as the staff and product scaled. Spam and bots began to overwhelm the app, and its technical infrastructure struggled to keep up. Meanwhile, IAC, recognising Tinder’s growing influence, was angling for more control. The phrase bandied about internally was that these were “good problems to have.” That is, if the servers crash, that’s a good problem, because it means engagement is booming; if IAC is fighting for more ownership, that’s also good, because it means Tinder is valuable. But at a certain point, you have to acknowledge that problems are problems and they need to be dealt with. For any startup, says Ogle, “if you don’t fix [these kinds of issues], you’re going to kill this popular thing you created.” Perhaps Tinder’s biggest “good problem” was cultural. The startup has always had a workhard, play-hard atmosphere. “It was this super-open, beautifully chaotic place where everybody is close,” one former employee tells me. “People would hang out after work, drink together, work out together. It had a heartbeat.” Arguably, that environment was beneficial, given that the company’s sole product was built around the idea of connecting people. But it also proved to be an HR nightmare. The relationship between Rad’s best friend Mateen and Wolfe (by that point a marketing VP) ended badly, and their breakup spilt over into the office. Wolfe and Tinder soon parted ways, and in June she filed a lawsuit against the company—accusing executives of denying her role in Tinder’s founding, and fostering an environment hostile to women. The suit was settled out of court that September for around R15 million, and not long after, Wolfe started a competing dating app called Bumble. Today Rad acknowledges that he mishandled what turned into a very public dispute. He says he should have done a better job keeping Mateen and Wolfe’s relationship issues out of the

I DECIDE TO JUST COME OUT AND ASK RAD THE OBVIOUS QUESTION: IS HE GOING TO LOSE HIS JOB AS CEO OF TINDER? AGAIN? “NO, NO, ABSOLUTELY NOT,” HE SAYS. “I PROMISE.”

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workplace, and that being friends with both of them made the situation much more difficult. “In a startup, everyone is close,” he says. “It’s hard to hold them accountable, because how are you going to tell [friends], ‘Hey, you fucked up’?” (Mateen, who resigned last September but remains a close adviser, did not respond to requests for comment; Wolfe says, “There is no bullshit in what I’m about to say: I genuinely do wish Sean well and really hope for his continued success.”) The experience devastated Rad, and it contributed to a growing perception that Tinder’s culture was problematic. For a high-profile company trying to establish itself as a serious business-world contender, this was an issue. Around the time Wolfe filed the lawsuit, Tinder’s board started talking about bringing in a more seasoned executive to oversee things. Match Group CEO and Tinder executive chairperson Greg Blatt, the former head of Match.com, recalls that Rad was already struggling to set a consistent agenda for his employees, and Blatt says he didn’t want to leave Tinder’s future up to “complete trial and error” as Rad learnt how to lead. “Some CEOs are indecisive and it takes them a while to get to a decision,” says one executive who works closely with Rad at Tinder. “Sean’s style is the exact opposite: He’ll make a very quick decision and then he’ll change his mind later. Being the visionary—that’s a key component of being CEO. But it’s only one piece.” Blatt, Yagan and Rad talked about the situation over the course of several months. “There were times Sean was good [with bringing in someone to replace him as CEO], and there were times where he wasn’t,” Blatt says. Rad contemplated quitting, but decided against it because he would have felt guilty abandoning his team. Finally, Rad delivered an ultimatum to the Tinder board. “You guys have two choices,” he recalls telling them. “You can take a risk on me and teach me to be the leader that I need to become. Or you can say you’re not willing to take the risk and commit to that work—and find somebody else.”

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T h e y f o u n d s o m e b o d y e l s e . In March 2015, Tinder appointed Christopher Payne CEO, with Rad staying on as president. A veteran of Microsoft and eBay, the new leader was brought in to, as Payne puts it, “ratchet up the level of accountability. The company had gone through a tumultuous period.” One would expect Rad to greet Payne with scepticism, but former and current employees (including Payne) say that he could not have been more supportive. “I was incredibly upset,” Rad says. “But I was a big boy about it. It was tough for me personally, but I had to agree with the board. It was a decision we made together.” At the first allhands meeting, a source who was there describes Rad as being characteristically enthusiastic: “This is happening! Chris is starting, and you’re gonna love him!” Rad kept his head down, working on product and marketing, while Payne tried to set a more structured company strategy. “It’s much easier to work in a world where it’s more laissez-faire,” Payne says. “Like, ‘We’ll do this! We’ll do that!’  ” Taming Tinder’s freewheeling atmosphere and undisciplined approach proved challenging. Payne, then 46, struggled to fit in, partly because he wasn’t the target demographic. “I was definitely not a user of Tinder [before I joined the company],” Payne says. “I’ve been married 18 years!” And while many sources tell me they admire Payne, there were conflicts that went deeper. One recalls how, when Payne decided to let a handful of employees go, he made Rad do the firing, which strained their relationship. Payne never fully earned the support of the executive team, a situation that was exacerbated, according to a source close to the company, by rumours that he wanted to move Tinder to San Francisco (Payne says he had no intention of relocating). “A new level of discipline was imposed, and that no doubt ruffled some feathers,” says Blatt. By August, five months into Payne’s tenure, the board had ousted him. “It’s not until the actual orchestra is playing that you know whether things are gelling,” Yagan says. Ultimately, the board decided that Tinder’s unique culture needed Rad at the helm. Just months after losing his job, he suddenly found out he was getting it back. “For better or for worse, my identity is tied to this company,” he says. “I have way more to lose [than anyone if Tinder fails], so why would I risk somebody else fucking it up?” On August 12, 2015, Rad once again walked into the Tinder office as the company’s CEO. As he came through the door, employees met him with a standing ovation. T w o m o n t h s i n t o Rad’s comeback, what’s remarkable is how little Tinder’s culture seems to have changed. The co-founder still runs his company with a sort of amped-up kineticism, encouraging what CTO Ryan Ogle describes as the “wild spirit” of the early days and letting things run “just enough [on the edge] without devolving into chaos.” That approach has helped Tinder stay nimble. But multiple company executives tell me that no official policy has been put in place to help prevent another situation like the hostileworkplace lawsuit. (Blatt says parent company IAC already had appropriate HR policies even before the suit.) And for a company that’s working to move beyond its bro-ish image, Tinder employs surprisingly few women. “Tinder, from its very inception, was meant to be a female-friendly application,” says Badeen. “We see female users as perhaps our most important.” To get a woman’s perspective, Rad tells me he often calls his female assistant into meetings. And in the four meetings I attend, all of which are filled entirely with men, I notice an almost comical habit they have of citing anecdotes from girlfriends or ex-girlfriends for a female point of view. At the time of my visit, the company employed just one female executive (they have since hired two more). Otherwise, Tinder’s male executive team is on its own. Rad compares the dynamic to the romantic comedy What Women Want, where Mel Gibson has the ability to read women’s minds. As bad as all of this looks, Tinder’s defenders argue it’s perfectly normal in startup land, and nearly every current and former female employee I talk to praises Rad’s leadership. Most say they love Tinder’s culture despite its dude-centricity. “Obviously, we deal in the business of gender, so people care what the women of Tinder think,” says the company’s female on-staff sociologist,


Jess Carbino, whom Rad recruited to do userbehaviour research after they matched on Tinder. “It’s a very pro-women culture— we’re not wallflowers cowering in the corner at all. I don’t feel bad ever saying, ‘Hey, I don’t think this is right for women.’ ” In general, executives seem to believe that Tinder’s uninhibited style is an essential part of its success. “I feel like there’s nothing I can’t say at this company,” says Phil Schwarz, who replaced Mateen as CMO. “The minute that open dialogue goes away, you’re dead.” Rad argues that bluntness is key to how he provides feedback. “For a period of time [following the lawsuit], I felt suffocated, like I couldn’t talk,” he says. “But I am who I am, and I’m proud of that. If people don’t see it, they can go fuck themselves.”

“IT’S NOT THAT I’M EVER GOING TO STOP BEING MYSELF. IT’S THAT I’VE GOT TO GET BETTER AT FRAMING WHAT I’M TRYING TO SAY.”

T h e a f t e r n o o n a f t e r Match Group’s IPO, Rad is sitting at a quiet bistro near IAC’s New York headquarters, trying to explain the sudden crazy turn things have taken. “The past 48 hours were honestly the worst two days of my entire life,” he says. Earlier that morning, Rad was at the Nasdaq to help ring the opening bell. Surrounded by dozens of Match Group colleagues, Rad, wearing a black suit and a big smile, clapped loudly and exchanged a high-five with Badeen as confetti shot into the air. It should’ve been a joyous moment, the culmination of nearly four years of work. Instead it was “bittersweet”, Rad tells me. “What a day today, but what a fucked up week.” Rad’s lack of tact had once again landed him in trouble. The day before the IPO, in a nowinfamous interview with the London Evening Standard, Rad was quoted discussing various un-CEO-like topics, boasting that a supermodel had once begged him for sex and—in one widely mocked moment—misusing the term “sodomy”. “We’re going to be fired,” his publicist jokes in the article. To which Rad replies, “What? Why?” The piece wasn’t just embarrassing; it risked angering the SEC, which restricts corporate executives from making certain kinds of public statements leading up to an IPO. The article cited engagement figures that dramatically differ from what’s in Match Group’s SEC prospectus. Hours after the article came out, Match Group responded with the highly unusual move of filing a statement with the SEC that disavowed itself of Rad’s comments—and of Rad himself. He “is not a director or executive officer of the [Match Group] and was not authorised to make statements,” the company wrote. It was a brutal public spanking. At the restaurant, Rad is unshaven and a bit haggard, having taken a red-eye to make the opening-bell ceremony. He has come directly from a frank meeting with Blatt, who he says has been extremely supportive (the two men stood next to each other for a photo after the ceremony, which could be interpreted as a vote of confidence). Over sugar-loaded coffee and a salad, he tells me he wants to explain what happened. I decide to just come out and ask Rad the obvious question: Is he going to lose his job as CEO of Tinder? Again? “No, no, absolutely not,” he says. “I promise.” Rad, who barely touches his food, is more careful than usual, constantly jumping on and off the record. He clearly feels

burnt by the recent bad press. “Just please don’t fuck me,” he says at one point. At another he tells me, “I don’t know what I’m allowed to say. I’m learning now.” Rad insists that in the interview, some of his more explosive quotes were taken out of context (an Evening Standard editor says the publication stands by its story). “It’s fucked up, because I’m dealing with all of these stereotypes,” he says. “Because I’m a successful guy in tech I must be a douche bag. Because I run a dating app I must be a womaniser. At the same time, I fucked up. I should know better as a CEO.” That flash of insight suggests he could now adopt an image more in keeping with the top executive of a hot company with big plans and enthusiastic investors. Is Sean Rad finally ready to grow up? Well . . . maybe. Though he describes the incident as a “wake-up call”, he also says that “it’s not that I’m ever going to stop being myself. It’s that I’ve got to get better at framing what I’m trying to say. My responsibility as a CEO—and to myself—is to continue being myself. I’ve got to do better. Because these fucking last few days were a distraction. What has really sunk in is that I need to leave very little room for misinterpretation of what I’m trying to say.” He says doing that newspaper interview was “irresponsible” and that “I will never put myself in that position again.” When it comes to running his business, Rad seems less certain that things need a rethink. “You saw my style—that is how I always communicated with the team,” he says. “The only thing that’s changed is I am more clear about what I want and who we are as a company.” Rad takes a last sip of coffee and insists on getting the bill (“Greg is paying for it,” he jokes). We walk together to the restaurant’s front door, where he gives me a hug. “Promise me, please, if there’s something [I said that] you think is going to destroy my life, just call me,” he says. “Give me an opportunity to clarify.” The CEO says goodbye, then walks slowly across the street toward the IAC building, his head buried in his phone, his fingers madly tapping. acarr@fastcompany.com

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Next

Train of thought

Scott Cundill

The punch line M O D E R N B U S I N E S S A N D A N C I E N T KU N G F U S H A R E A C O M M O N C O N N E CT I O N : U S E P O W E R O N LY W H E N N E E D E D

C

ERTAIN TECHNIQUES TAUGHT over 1 500

years ago in an ancient Chinese temple could assist today’s businessmen and women to reach their full potential. And I’ve distilled the essence of what I’ve been taught into a simple piece of advice: Punch like a girl.

Meet Liu Shuimeng, a 32nd-generation Shaolin monk from China—my teacher. Watching him is like science fiction: a bionic man doing bionic things, without any biological enhancements. How is he able to generate so much power, so easily? His answer: “The movement creates the power.” It took me many years to understand what he meant. And when I did, the implications were astonishing. I realised that each slow step I took toward my destination was, on some level, giving me the energy to progress to the next step. And each step built up more and more power. Even slow movements could be used, through concentration, to achieve exceptional results. Over time, these movements get faster and faster. Watching an 80-year-old Grand Master reminds me of Muhammad Ali’s butterfly analogy: hands swirling so fast, you can hardly see them. And the power they generate can be terrifying when witnessing it for the first time. Hour after hour I’d practise this technique, looking like what I considered to be a complete idiot. Then I came across a YouTube video aiming to dispel the myth of ‘punching like a girl’. I realised I was doing exactly that. And I was absolutely on the right track. Modern society has a perception that girls are too soft. It’s a common joke: “You punch like a girl!” Actually, generating explosive power in your body, called fa-jing in Chinese, requires that very softness. One must be completely relaxed. In fact, if you don’t punch like a girl, then you’re literally wasting your energy. The counter-perception is that men tend to tense up too early, placing energy where it’s not required. Jump ahead a few years and I’m teaching a kung fu class. I take two new students, one male and one female.

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Martial arts principles apply to business: It’s not about hard-core fighting… it’s actually about being soft and adaptive, moving like water. It’s feminine.

I ask the man to “Punch how a man would punch,” and I ask the woman to “Punch like a girl.” Then I ask the class a trick question: “Which one of these is fundamentally more correct?” To my students, this is a profound demonstration, because the obvious answer is the male. However, one can never learn true power unless one abandons this kind of thinking. Soft, relaxed, connected… these are the ingredients for great power. Generating fa-jing requires this absolute level of relaxation, right up to the point of impact. Only then do you deploy an explosive, twisting hip technique (call this bit ‘boy power’, if you wish) and the combination creates an experience that is out of this world. This is the essence of fa-jing. Martial arts principles apply to business, but probably not in the way you think. It’s not about hard-core fighting and extreme masculine competitiveness; it’s actually about being soft and adaptive, moving like water. It’s feminine. Where business and kung-fu meet is the ability to use this explosive end-point power only when it’s needed. The rest of the time, be relaxed, soft and controlled. Take steps toward your goal, no matter how small or insignificant you think they are. You cannot be aware of what’s around you and see opportunities that others cannot see when you’re tense and rigid. Learning this technique expands your vision. You’ll see things you could not before. Your intuition will tell you that what looks like a wrong path may just be worth exploring. You’ll communicate with people differently and they’ll respond differently. Like a pack of wolves whose leader always leads from the back, you too will begin to do certain things unconventionally. And these subtle differences and deviations from the standard, run-of-the mill management style will accumulate over time, giving you the power to be a truly great leader. So my advice in business, and kung-fu, is to be soft. Go with the flow. Be like water. Punch like a girl. Founder of integrated communication solutions provider, Majestic3.com, Scott Cundill is passionate about empowering any kind of business with the tech to inspire and cultivate sincerity and relevance through original Communication Journeys. This enthusiasm for relevant, realtime and valuable communication through integrative tech platforms has resulted in three books: How NOT to Start and Run Your Own Business, 7 Ways to Double Your Sales and The Secret is in the JOURNEY. Cundill is also a kung fu gold medallist who has represented South Africa in Shaolin kung fu.


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Next

The Great Innovation Frontier

Shaping the fourth Industrial Revolution R A P I D LY A DVA N C I N G T E C H N O LO G I E S A R E T H R E AT E N I N G TO C H A N G E T H E WAY W E L I V E , W O R K A N D P L AY. T H E E XT E N T TO W H I C H T H E T R A N S F O R M AT I O N I S P O S I T I V E W I L L D E P E N D O N H O W W E A P P R OAC H I T

T

HE FOURTH INDUSTRIAL Revolution—it

sounds quite exciting, doesn’t it? And it is, whether you’re a businessperson or not. The phrase itself has a certain ring to it, conjuring up images of rapid change and mechanical excess; never-seen-before progress and the rising of the indomitable human spirit to conquer all obstacles.

Of course, there are the attendant concerns that, as artificial intelligence becomes more and more advanced, there will be less and less need for humans at all. It’s great fodder for a sci-fi plot (or a Greek tragedy, take your pick): humanity, ironically dehumanised by its own cleverness. After all, the three revolutions that have preceded this one have not always delivered the benefits to society that they initially promised. The inequality and skills gaps continue to widen around the world. So, can we realistically hope this one will be different? At Davos, discussion was enormously spirited on the topic; no dehumanisation there, that’s for sure. Erik Brynjolfsson, director of the MIT Initiative on the Digital Economy, said: “The idea that robots will take our jobs is the biggest misconception I’ve heard here at Davos.” The rather medieval anxiety to which he refers is forgetting the incalculable power of innovation to deliver social good. In fact, many people argue that innovation is the route to job creation, rather than the expropriation of jobs. In 2015 news agency, Xinhua, reported that China was specifically targeting innovation and entrepreneurship in order to create jobs; for example (and interestingly in that country), innovation is a priority for 42% of Chinese companies, compared to an average of 21% in multinational corporations elsewhere in the world. Meanwhile, the World Bank has repeatedly emphasised there is a link between technology and innovation, and sustainable growth and poverty reduction. It’s not just the broader link between innovation and sustainable growth that’s important. There’s also the link between innovation and productivity.

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The technology already exists to create solutions that advance greater equality and more food security, and create jobs. It’s what we do with it that counts.

Walter Baets

Let’s not lose our sense of wonder at technology. Billions of human beings are linked via their devices. We can travel; we can reach each other in an instant. And although, as the cynic says, we mostly use the capacity of having all this knowledge at our fingertips to share videos of cats, it’s still nothing short of a miracle. Technological innovation increases the speed of communication, it raises efficiency, leads to more reuse and less waste of precious resources like energy and, as such, it often lowers costs. This is not killing business— it is facilitating it. We may be standing on the cusp of unprecedented change and, to be honest, no one really knows where this will all end, but we are not helpless. As we saw in the previous industrial revolutions, and in other times of great change here on Earth, what is required is adaptability and ingenuity—and yes, the capacity to innovate. More specifically, to reduce the likelihood that technological advances will continue to widen the gap between rich and poor, it will also be necessary to take a values-driven approach and to use technology for social good. Certainly, the technology already exists to create solutions that advance greater equality and more food security, and create jobs. It’s what we do with it that counts. As Klaus Schwab, founder and executive chairperson of the World Economic Forum, puts it: Technology is not an exogenous force over which humans have no control; we have the power to shape this movement in a way that advances common objectives. “We should ensure that values and ethics are at the heart of our individual and collective behaviours,” he argues, “including in capital and financial markets. We must move beyond tolerance and respect to genuine care and compassion, with empowerment and inclusiveness becoming guiding principles of our actions.” True innovators respond to a need—that is why their ideas work. And where there is a social need, the idea is that much more innovative. Where innovation succeeds, in turn, there will always be a market for it. And where there is demand, there will be growth. Where there is growth, there will be jobs. Now that is something worth taking up arms for. Walter Baets is the director of the UCT Graduate School of Business and holds the Allan Gray Chair in Values-Based Leadership at the school. Formerly a professor of Complexity, Knowledge and Innovation and associate dean for Innovation and Social Responsibility at Euromed Management—School of Management and Business, he is passionate about building a business school for ‘business that matters’.


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Lessons of Leadership + Lifestyle Business + Dragons’ Den SA + Airbnb + Tinder

A I R B N B WA N TS TO UNITE THE WORLD Why 70 million guests in 191 countries isn’t enough for CEO Brian Chesky

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PAGE 58

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Tech and creativity

Apple’s core values

How Nike stays No. 1

Facebook and Samsung connect

A role model for change

LESSONS OF LEADERSHIP When the world’s top innovators and cultural luminaries— from Apple retail chief Angela Ahrendts to Nike CEO Mark Parker and tennis superstar Serena Williams—gathered for the first-ever Fast Company Innovation Festival, the lessons were broad, rich and unforgettable Photographs by Samantha Casolari, Melissa Golden and Michael Greenberg

NEVER STOP IMPROVING “When I hear people say, ‘Well, that’s just not the way we do things,’ my hair stands up. You have to be careful not to let success breed a one-dimensional way of thinking.” Mark Parker CEO of Nike (centre), pictured with Serena Williams and Fast Company editor Robert Safian

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I T IS MORE THAN A M AG A ZINE, I T'S A MOV EMEN T The Digital version of Fast Company South Africa is now available on Apple iPad and Android tablets


Fast Bytes Fast Company SA takes a look at the innovative new ideas, services, research and news currently making waves in South Africa and abroad

ROSEBANK GOES AL-FRESCO The Zone Boulevard, a newly revamped building forming part of The Zone @ Rosebank—with its indoor/outdoor design, vertical garden, views across a bustling square, and romantic night-time lighting—is the perfect place for al-fresco dining. “We wanted to revive the impression of an avenue where people could enjoy pavement dining in beautiful surroundings,” explains Anton Bieber, portfolio manager for the Rosebank Node

at Old Mutual Property. Also in this premium eating and entertainment area is Rosebank’s first new-look News Café, with its vibrant contemporary atmosphere. “We offer our

CLOSING THE DIGITAL GAP A N E W M O B I L E , S O L A R - P O W E R E D , M U LT I P U R P O S E I C T U N I T —which aims to B R I D G E T H E D I G I TA L D I V I D E for learners from vulnerable and rural communities—was launched in Cape Town in February by Deloitte Belgium, I N PA R T N E R S H I P W I T H N O N - P R O F I T O R G A N I S AT I O N S C L O S E T H E G A P and Langa-based Brothers for All. A R C H B I S H O P E M E R I T U S D E S M O N D T U T U (a patron of Close the Gap) U N V E I L E D T H E F I R S TO F - I T S - K I N D D I G I T R U C K , which will bring ICT I N N O VAT I O N A N D E D U C AT I O N T O C O M M U N I T I E S who would previously have been dependent on the electrical grid. “ L E A R N E R S T O D AY N O T O N LY H AV E C O M P U T E R S T O H E L P T H E M W I T H S C H O O LW O R K but

they also use the Internet for research, while T E A C H E R S U S E T E C H N O L O GY T O E N H A N C E L E S S O N S . Yet, very little ICT infrastructure exists in vulnerable communities,” said Olivier vanden Eynde, director at Deloitte Belgium, and founder of Close the Gap. “ T H R O U G H T H E D I G I T R U C K , D E L O I T T E B E L G I U M H O P E S T O P O S I T I V E LY I M PA C T T H E E D U C AT I O N O F L E A R N E R S I N R U R A L C O M M U N I T I E S W I T H T E C H N O L O GY. ”

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customers a complete social entertainment experience, in the perfect venue to enjoy anything from business lunches to afternoon cocktails,” says Varina Singh, marketing support specialist for News Café.

VISA CONCESSIONS COULD BENEFIT BUSINESS It’s been 18 months since Home Affairs’s new visa regulations threw the South African tourism industry into disarray, prompting Cabinet to appoint an inter-ministerial committee to review the overall process. However, recent concessions by Home Affairs— and the possibility of further changes to visas for businesspeople, announced in President Jacob Zuma’s 2016 State of the Nation Address—could once again lure foreign businesses to South Africa. “This is a crucial move to encourage international companies to travel to SA for business, especially when our economy needs to attract more foreign investment,” says Jacques Scherman, VP of business development in Africa at Arton Capital— global expert in advising high net-worth individuals on second residence and citizenship alternatives.


Fast Bytes

SA’S ENTREPRENEURS NEED OUR LOVE Are we, as a society, showing enough appreciation for our local entrepreneurs and expressing just how important they are to kick-starting South Africa’s sluggish economy? This is the

question raised by Gugu Mjadu, spokesperson for the 2016 Entrepreneur of the Year competition sponsored by Sanlam and Business Partners Limited. In light of this past Valentine’s Day, Mjadu said South Africans

should consider channelling some of their love toward family, friends and associates who have

taken the inspiring leap into entrepreneurship. “[Entrepreneurs] are often the unsung heroes of a country’s economic development and job creation.” She pointed to the recently release Global Entrepreneurship Monitor 2015/2016 Global Report:

THE AIRBNB OF EVENT SPACES Probably the most common complaint from people wishing to organise an event is the amount of time wasted on trying to find the right venue. Not only are venue directories fragmented, focusing only on specialised events such as weddings or conferences, but one has to go to every single listing in a directory to find what’s on offer. Cape Town–based startup, EventRoom, aims to solve this issue by streamlining and simplifying the fragmented event-booking process with features such as comprehensive search and filter options, upfront pricing, photographs and, soon, reviews of venues. “The other benefit of EventRoom is that we offer venue owners and private homeowners the opportunity to make money from renting their properties for events—

a system similar to Airbnb,” says co-founder and CEO Moira Johnston. The startup already has over 400 properties listed

From the 60 economies surveyed, on average 68% of working-aged adults perceived entrepreneurs to hold a high status in their respective societies, while 61% believed they receive positive attention in the media.

HR SOLUTION THAT’S OFF THE CHARTS

Given that small and medium enterprises are major contributors to job creation and economic growth, these percentages should be much higher, said Mjadu.

PAY S PA C E , A L E A D E R I N C L O U D - B A S E D H R A N D PAY R O L L S O L U T I O N S I N O V E R 3 7 A F R I C A N C O U N T R I E S , H A S L A U N C H E D PAY S PA C E O R G C H A R T: A R E V O L U T I O N A RY T O O L T O H E L P CLIENTS VISUALISE THEIR WORKFORCE STRUCTURE/S.

With its intuitive and userfriendly interface, PaySpace OrgChart allows users to view and navigate their entire workforce structure through a browser environment, without the need for unnecessary downloads or

from around South Africa. “Whether it’s a bare room with a sink, or a luxurious yacht, we know someone who wants your space.”

third-party software installations. It provides a comprehensive and effective charting system that helps to plot the composition of an organisation’s workforce by including headcounts, vacancies, diversity and age metrics.

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Fast Events Upcoming events Fast Company will be attending

Developing Android Apps Using C# with Xamarin Date: 5 March Time: 09h00–13h30 Location: Microsoft Campus Cape Town, Engen House, Mowbray Tel: 011 480 4898 L E A R N T O D E V E L O P C R O S S - P L AT F O R M M O B I L E A P P S using Xamarin with C#. In this talk, you will recreate the Praat Android group chat. This is a great way to D E V E L O P A N D R O I D A P P S I F Y O U A L R E A DY H AV E A S T R O N G C # B A C KG R O U N D R AT H E R T H A N J AVA . To follow along with the demo, you will need to download the trial version of X A M A R I N S T U D I O A N D S E T U P T H E D E V E L O P M E N T E N V I R O N M E N T B E F O R E T H E M E E T U P.

Venture Network Big Bus Tour Date: 14 to 16 March Time: 08h00–19h00 Location: Cape Town and Stellenbosch www.venturenetwork.co.za Venture Network presents a B U S T O U R O F T H E C A P E T O W N A N D S T E L L E N B O S C H S TA R T U P E C O SY S T E M S . Interested in meeting the big players there? WA N T T O C O L L A B O R AT E W I T H D I F F E R E N T C O M M U N I T I E S ? The tour will visit four or F I V E V E N U E S A D AY, I N C L U D I N G S I L I C O N C A P E , T H E B A R N @ K H AY E L I T S H A , M E M E B U R N A N D L A U N C H L A B S T E L L E N B O S C H , A M O N G O T H E R S .

Fintech Pitch Night Date: 16 March Time: 16h30–19h30 Location: Barclays Rise, Woodstock Exchange, Cape Town www.venturenetwork.co.za B A R C L AY S R I S E W I L L B E H O S T I N G A F I N T E C H -T H E M E D V E N T U R E N E T W O R K event to showcase some of the best T E C H N O L O GY S O L U T I O N S I N F I N A N C I A L S E R V I C E S . S TA R T U P S , innovators and investors are invited to an E V E N I N G O F P I T C H E S A N D N E T W O R K I N G . Are you the next M-Pesa or PayPal? I N V E S T M E N T- R E A DY S TA R T U P S I N T E R E S T E D I N AT T E N D I N G S H O U L D A P P LY A S A P.

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Fast Events

Light Up Your Costumes Date: 23 March Time: 18h00–21h00 Location: KAT-O, Caledon Street, Cape Town www.kat-o.net or www.facebook.com/groups/ModernAlchemistsZA A group of makers calling themselves the M O D E R N A L C H E M I S T S   M E E T R E G U L A R LY I N C A P E T O W N . It’s a show-and-tell of A L L M A K E R P R O J E C T S — F R O M A R T, G R A P H I C S , B O A R D G A M E S , C O D E T O E L E C T R O N I C S —and brings together all skill sets e.g. artists, gamers, artists, engineers and coders into one physical space to make and create. C O L I N D AY ( “ T H E L E D K I N G ” ) W I L L P R E S E N T A TA L K O N I N T E R A C T I V E L I G H T S A N D E L E C T R O N I C S , A N D S H O W S O M E O F T H E AW E S O M E P R O J E C T S H E H A S B U I LT F O R H A L L O W E E N A N D O T H E R F U N E V E N T S . The meetup will end

off with an LED build to make some fun blinking earrings you can take home.

17th Cape Town International Jazz Festival Date: 1 & 2 April Time: 17h00–23h00 Location: Cape Town International Convention Centre www.capetownjazzfest.com D U B B E D “A F R I C A’ S G R A N D E S T G AT H E R I N G ” , T H E C A P E T O W N I N T E R N AT I O N A L J A Z Z F E S T I VA L I S C O N S I D E R E D T H E L A R G E S T, M O S T R E N O W N E D M U S I C F E S T I VA L I N S U B - S A H A R A N A F R I C A , attracting more than

38 000 jazz lovers worldwide. The annually held event, now in its 17th year, features acclaimed N AT I O N A L A N D I N T E R N AT I O N A L J A Z Z P E R F O R M E R S W H O C O M E T O G E T H E R F O R T H E L O V E O F T H E G E N R E . This year, the CTICC will once again be transformed into a menagerie of F E S T I V I T Y W I T H F I V E S TA G E S F O R A VA R I E T Y O F P E R F O R M A N C E S I N C O R P O R AT I N G A N Y T H I N G F R O M S U LT RY B L U E S A N D B R A Z I L I A N B O S S A N O VA S T Y L E , T O P O P -Y A C I D J A Z Z .

International Franchise Expo Date: 8 to 10 April Time: 10h00–18h00 (Friday), 09h00–18h00 (Saturday), 09h00–17h00 (Sunday) Location: Sandton Convention Centre, Johannesburg ife.co.za The International Franchise Expo is D E D I C AT E D N O T O N LY T O D E V E L O P I N G F R A N C H I S I N G B U T T O E N C O U R A G I N G S M A L L B U S I N E S S D E V E L O P M E N T A N D E N T R E P R E N E U R S H I P. With 12% of business activity going through the franchise route at present, T H E P O T E N T I A L F O R I N C R E A S E D F R A N C H I S E G R O W T H I S H I G H ; S H O W S L I K E T H E I F E A R E T H E I D E A L P L AT F O R M F O R P R O S P E C T I V E F R A N C H I S E E S T O F I N D O U T M O R E A B O U T T H I S B U S I N E S S format that allows you to get into business for

yourself but not by yourself.

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One more thing

Baratunde Thurston

In a tech pickle

W

HEN I STARTED writing this Fast Company US column in 2012, I worked for The Onion, where my job focused on growing the satirical publication’s digital presence. Three years later, I’ve returned full time to the comedic news business, working as a producer for The Daily Show With Trevor Noah and focusing on ... wait for it ... digital expansion. It may appear that I’m back where I started, but for the addition of two white hairs in my beard and a more careful tweeting style than the one that accidentally spammed all of The Onion’s followers and was the subject of my first piece. In writing my 32 columns in this space, though, I’ve learnt a lot about how our digital and analogue worlds intersect, and with this, my last piece (for now), I want to reflect on what all those words add up to. Okay, fine, you can call this my manifesto. Too often our technologists, business leaders and media celebrate technology as if it were a thing unto itself. We get caught up in the newness and project wisdom onto what is essentially a tool. Next time you find yourself saying, “We need to add more technology”, substitute the word pickles for technology. Tech has no inherent truth or goodness. It is what we do with it that matters. Same with healthy food: It only helps us if we eat it. See? Pickles? It works. We must hold tech companies to a higher standard. Perhaps it’s because I’ve reached the age at which one turns into one’s mother, but I’m not so much mad at tech company behaviour as I am disappointed. ‘Innovation’ should not solely be the province of the white upper middle class and its values. We need products that also serve black and brown folks and the rest of society. And if technologists are going to

disrupt intimacy and children’s education and trust and redemption, then they need to care about how their product decisions affect the rest of us. If tech tools are going to hold a central place in our lives, we need more thoughtful design that reckons with that dominant role. When companies use our trust as a conduit to spur their own growth or make it intentionally difficult to unsubscribe or unplug even temporarily, we pay for those abuses. Our lack of understanding, and control over, how our data is being used costs us real money and time. The next time a tech company forces you to sign a ‘terms of service’ agreement, ask yourself why that company doesn’t have to sign a similar agreement with you. We must humanise technology (and the businesses driving it) by bringing humanities back into the picture. Most problems that matter need more than computational and algorithmic power to solve them. Efficiently locating the nearest food truck is an engineering challenge. Compassionately transitioning a workforce disrupted by rapid global change is an even bigger one. These types of problems need art, humour, emotion and deliberation. They require us to roll in the unsavoury, unattractive, tension-laden parts of our lives and wrestle with our imperfection. I’m neither Luddite nor naysayer, but something like a sceptical optimist. What we need is a broader view of how tech can be a force for societal good rather than a drag on it. Technology is a helper, not a thing unto itself. Think about it this way: “Tech and ...” We need tech and social justice. Tech and humanity. Tech and perspective. And always pickles.

Baratunde Thurston is the author of The New York Times best-seller How to Be Black and CEO and co-founder of creative agency, Cultivated Wit. He is also a supervising producer for The Daily Show with Trevor Noah on Comedy Central, where he oversees digital expansion.

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Find MINI South Africa on:

Auric Auto

215 Main Road, Claremont Tel. 021 670 1100 www.mini-auricauto.co.za Valid SA driver’s licence needed to test drive.


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Profile for Fast Company SA

Fast Company SA - March/April 2016  

Fast Company SA - March/April 2016  

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