Kickstarter Co-Founder Yancey Strickler Talks Philosophy, Profits and 'Bentoism'

Rachel Uranga

Rachel Uranga is dot.LA's Managing Editor, News. She is a former Mexico-based market correspondent at Reuters and has worked for several Southern California news outlets, including the Los Angeles Business Journal and the Los Angeles Daily News. She has covered everything from IPOs to immigration. Uranga is a graduate of the Columbia School of Journalism and California State University Northridge. A Los Angeles native, she lives with her husband, son and their felines.

Kickstarter Co-Founder Yancey Strickler Talks Philosophy, Profits and 'Bentoism'
flickr.com

Kickstarter co-founder Yancey Strickler has never been your regular tech executive.

He stepped down as chief executive of the online crowdfunding company in 2017, leaving New York to settle in the hills of Echo Park with his wife and young son. Last year, the former music journalist emerged with a book about what he learned, "This Could Be Our Future: A Manifesto for a More Generous World." It's far from being a tell-all about the rise and success of a company that garnered billions for artists and attracted venture funds from people like Twitter founder Jack Dorsey.

Instead, the book published last fall argued America needs to abandon its mantra of financial maximization and radically rethink how we value community, family and the environment. The antidote for Stickler, who took Kickstarter to a public benefit corporation in 2015, is what he calls "bentoism."


And for the past months, he's been out pitching it on the speaking circuit and investing in companies trying to solve climate change. Strickler sits down with dot.LA in a wide-ranging interview to discuss philosophy, profits, and what he calls "bentoism."

Why did you start thinking about this manifesto as you call it?

In Kickstarter, you put money into projects and there's no financial upside.You're putting your $20 bucks in and even if the movie becomes a huge hit like you're not trying to get a piece. That allows projects to be funded for a whole lot of other reasons. The manifesto is really thinking about that same notion on a bigger scale. It is really an argument that we have accomplished a lot in the pursuit of financial value, but the next stage of accomplishments are going to come in growing other forms of value and really seeing our footprint and our impact in a very different way.

You suggest that we should move away from valuing profits and "financial maximization" and instead offer up a process you call bentoism. Can you explain it?

We tend to define and think about our self interest according to now me what I want to need right now. But this is just one part of a larger puzzle. There's also in this bento future me, this older, wiser version of yourself that you want to live up to every day. That person becomes real or not according to the choices that you make. There's also the people in your life that you rely on and who rely on you, your family, your friends, whoever. And then there's future us, your kids and everybody else's kids too. And so these four boxes are our bento and every choice that we make has a footprint in all these spaces. But the challenge of the world today is that we're really blind to everything except now me.

You feel that financial maximization has given too much value to wealth and profits. It's worked thus far.

I try to give people a language to talk about what's going on. The "mullet economy" is where for 90% of workers, it has been business in the front with wage freezes, layoffs, offshoring automation for the past 50 years. And then for the top one to 10% it has been huge windfalls Since the 1970s, average worker pay has grown 10%, executives have grown 1,000%. Employees get screwed, employers invest in less research and development. That has all been economically rational.

Bentoism sounds good, if you come from a place where you have money.

You gotta put your own oxygen mask on first. If your 'now me' is hurting, if you feel insecure, if you are hungry, if you're having those challenges, it is harder. But, I also think if your life is rich and abundant, it's very easy to be materialistic and indulgent. I think those are people who might be unhappier in some ways too. I don't think it's as simple as, if you're wealthy then you have the privilege to do these things. It might be that if you're wealthy, you have the time to think about certain things that are harder to think about. But I view this just as a reflection of how we all operate. Having an awareness of what the long term vision for yourself empowers you to live up to that. It gives you meaning in life. To be an active part of your community brings you all kinds of wealth.

Who is your audience for this book?

Honestly, it's those 25 and under. When I talk to people who are younger, who look at the world as it is now and don't want to sign up for the system...it is not as meaningful as it once was. So those are the people that I think are most open to, 'hey, let's consider the impact of your life in a different way.'

The norms of society change all the time, but they change gradually. And I care less about this language of bentoism mattering in the long run, I just want to reach this point of being able to understand value other than financial value, and then we learn how to grow that and think about in the same way we do money today. We're amazing, we're crushing it at growing wealth and there's like more money than ever. Yet, we don't know how to spend it or use it to stop climate change. We're afraid to use it to make other kinds of shifts that need to be justified. Or it won't happen.

https://twitter.com/racheluranga
rachel@dot.la
🚁 One Step Closer to Air Taxis in LA
Image Source: Joby Aviation

🔦 Spotlight

Joby Aviation, a pioneering electric air taxi company, has achieved a significant milestone by successfully flying a hydrogen-electric aircraft demonstrator for 523 miles with only water as a byproduct. This groundbreaking flight showcases the potential for emissions-free regional travel using vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) aircraft, eliminating the need for traditional runways. The company's innovative approach combines its existing battery-electric air taxi technology with hydrogen fuel cells, paving the way for longer-range, environmentally friendly air travel.

For LA residents, this development holds exciting implications for future transportation options. Joby's technology could potentially enable direct flights from LA to destinations like San Francisco or San Diego without the need to visit conventional airports, offering a cleaner and more convenient alternative to current travel methods. The company's progress in both battery-electric and hydrogen-electric aircraft positions it at the forefront of next-generation aviation, promising to revolutionize urban and regional mobility.

Notably, Joby Aviation has already made strides in Southern California by securing an agreement with John Wayne Airport earlier this year to install the region's first electric air taxi charger. This strategic move sets the stage for LA to be among the initial markets where Joby will launch its electric air taxi service. With plans to commence commercial operations as early as 2025 using its battery-electric air taxi, LA residents may soon have access to a fast, quiet, and environmentally friendly mode of transportation that could significantly reduce travel times and traffic congestion in the region. In the not too distant future, LA might find itself in an identity crisis without traffic and excess smog 🤞🤞.


🤝 Venture Deals

LA Companies

LA Venture Funds


Download the dot.LA App

Fuel Innovation: 7 Unforgettable Team Building Experiences in LA
Image Source: Discover LA

In today's competitive business landscape, team building activities have emerged as a crucial tool for fostering a positive work environment, enhancing productivity, and crucially, improving employee retention. Studies have shown that such activities help employees feel valued, with one report indicating that 93% of those who felt appreciated were more motivated at work. Importantly, team building events may improve retention rates, as employees who feel connected to their colleagues and company culture are more likely to stay long-term. With these benefits in mind, let's explore some of the most engaging and effective team building activities available in Los Angeles.

Pickleball

Image Source: Modern Luxury Angelino

Pickleball is a fantastic team bonding activity because of the easy-to-grasp rules and gentle pace make it perfect for everyone, regardless of age or fitness level. The game thrives on communication and teamwork, as players must collaborate and strategize to outplay their opponents, boosting team cohesion. Plus, the lively, fast-paced action sparks friendly competition and laughter, creating a fun and spirited atmosphere that brings everyone closer together. Los Angeles boasts numerous pickleball courts that are easy to rent if you have your own equipment. If you need additional assistance organizing your pickleball outing, there are plenty of full-service companies ready to handle every detail for you.

Resources: Pickle Pop, Corporate Pickle


Escape Room

Image Source: The Escape Game

Escape rooms are a great way to build camaraderie. They require participants to work together, combining their problem-solving skills and creativity to overcome challenges and puzzles. The immersive and time-sensitive nature of escape rooms fosters collaboration and communication. Additionally, the shared experience of tackling complex tasks and reaching a common goal helps build trust and foster positive emotions among colleagues.

Resources: The Escape Game, 60Out


Day Trip to Catalina Island

Image Source: Love Catalina

Catalina Island is a perfect day trip for a team because it provides a break from the usual work environment, allowing team members to relax and connect in a new setting. Shared experiences during the trip, such as exploring new places and participating in fun activities, help build stronger relationships and foster a sense of camaraderie. There are numerous team-building activities such as an arboreal obstacle course, an island tour, scavenger hunts and more.

Resources: Catalina Island Group Activities


Top Golf

Image Source: Topgolf

Topgolf is an excellent team building event because it provides an inclusive, relaxed atmosphere that accommodates players of all skill levels, fostering personal connections and improving team morale. The unique blend of competition and entertainment creates an ideal setting for building trust, enhancing communication, and revealing hidden skills among team members. Additionally, Topgolf offers structured team building packages with guided activities, discussion prompts, and lessons on culture, change, collaboration, and strategy, making it a versatile and effective platform for strengthening relationships and boosting overall team performance.

Resources: Topgolf El Segundo


SoFi Stadium Tour

Image Source: Discover LA

A SoFi Stadium tour offers a unique, behind-the-scenes experience of one of the world's most advanced sports venues, allowing team members to explore exclusive areas like premium suites, team locker rooms, and the player tunnel together. The tour provides a shared, memorable experience that can foster camaraderie and spark conversations among team members, regardless of their interest in sports. Additionally, the stadium's state-of-the-art features and impressive architecture can inspire creativity and innovation, while the group setting encourages interaction and collaboration, making it an engaging and enjoyable activity for teams of various sizes and backgrounds

Resources: SoFi Stadium Group Tours


Corporate Volunteering

Image Source: L.A. Works

Volunteer work serves as an excellent team building activity by uniting employees around a shared, meaningful cause, fostering a sense of purpose and collective accomplishment. It provides opportunities for team members to collaborate in new ways, often revealing hidden strengths and leadership qualities that may not be apparent in the regular work environment. Additionally, engaging in community service can boost morale, enhance the company's reputation, and instill a sense of pride among employees, leading to improved workplace relationships and increased job satisfaction.

Resources: Habitat for Humanity, L.A. Works, VolunteerMatch


Corporate Improv Sessions

Image Source: Improv for the People

A corporate improv class encourages spontaneity, creativity, and quick thinking, skills that are valuable in the workplace. It promotes active listening and collaboration, as participants must work together to create scenes and respond to unexpected situations, fostering better communication and trust among team members. Additionally, the playful and often humorous nature of improv helps break down barriers, reduces stress, and creates a shared positive experience that can improve team morale and cohesion long after the event.

Resources: Improv-LA, Groundlings, Improv for the People

🎬 Paramount and Skydance Are Back On
Image Source: Paramount

Happy Friday Los Angeles! Hope you all had a fantastic Fourth!!

🔦 Spotlight

Paramount and Skydance Media have rekindled talks to merge after negotiations abruptly halted in June. The proposed deal, contingent on approval from Paramount’s board, aims to combine Paramount’s extensive media holdings—including CBS, MTV, and Nickelodeon—with Skydance’s film expertise showcased in hits like "Top Gun: Maverick." This merger signals a potential transformation in the media landscape, positioning the new entity to compete more effectively amid challenges from streaming services and the decline of traditional cable TV.

Led by Shari Redstone, Paramount’s controlling shareholder via National Amusements, the deal represents a pivot towards revitalizing Paramount’s strategic direction amidst financial struggles and shareholder concerns. The involvement of major investors like RedBird Capital Partners and David Ellison underscores the financial backing aimed at stabilizing Paramount’s operations and addressing its $14 billion debt burden. Importantly, the agreement includes provisions to protect National Amusements from potential legal challenges, addressing previous hurdles that stalled earlier negotiations.

The deal also includes a 45-day period for Paramount to explore alternative offers, highlighting continued interest from other potential buyers like Barry Diller’s IAC and media executive Edgar Bronfman Jr. This flurry of activity underscores the significant stakeholders’ interest in Paramount’s future and its potential as a key player in a rapidly evolving media industry.


🤝 Venture Deals

LA Companies

  • Sidecar Health, a startup that offers personalized health insurance plans to businesses that allow members to see any doctor and pay directly at the time of service, raised a $165M Series D led by Koch Disruptive Technologies. - learn more

LA Venture Funds


Download the dot.LA App

RELATEDEDITOR'S PICKS
Trending