Harvard: Business

Harvard: Business

: Tod Cohen, VP of eBay, which is sponsoring this gettogether (thank you, eBay) talks about eBay and politics. He reads from a “values card” employees get. “We believe people are basically good… We believe everyone has something to contribute….”

Esther Dyson says of her time as head of ICANN, “we learn a lot more from mistakes and I learned a great deal there.” She says in business, the internet means “you can get rid of the customers you don’t like.” That’s the snarky way to say “targeting.” Government, of course, can’t do that. It can’t segment markets. In politics, you can target but you always want to expand that target market and what the Dean and Kerry campaigns did wrong, she says, is that they did not expand their target markets. In the election, she saw the internet used too much to broadcast. “The internet should be used as a listening tool,” She’s brief and damned well to the point.

(In the break, I pulled Dave Winer over and congratulated him for breaking this form of conference: people lecturing from podium to audience. He beamed.)

I’m putting the rest of this post below the “more” link because this isn’t not making for a very interesting post.

A Harvard Business School prof, Debora Spar, gives a rather obvious primer in the recent history of internet businesses. She has nothing new to say.

Esther, bless ‘er, says it does make a difference in society when people feel empowered in one sphere.

Now Craig Newmark talks. He says his intro left the fact that he grew up with a pocket protector and taped glasses and that’s relevant to the way his company runs.

“I’m going to ignore such matters as business plan and business model, largely because we have neither.” He says that instinct and experience are more reliable than planning.

“What we’re learning running Craig’s list is that people are overwhelmingly trustworthy.” That is the democratic view of the world.

He talks about nerd values: Once you make some money, you want to change the world. “And it gets me out of the house.”

“What’s working for us is that we seem to be run by what I heard in a Woody Allen movie is called a moral compass. We’re trying to do what’s right for people… The community drives us…. We’re pious about it. We’re just trying to be real about it.” So when they asked about charging, the people told them to charge for services people are paying too much for elsewhere.

“The Golden Rule really is how people want to operate how people want to be.” People want to respect each other and be respected. “Nothing fancy there. Just about being fair and leveling the playing field… What I think people expect from us is righteous behavior.”

What he’s saying should be but too often is not obvious: Good values yield good value.