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商业 - 科技

Meetup网站CEO:商界也有99%与1%之争

Alex Kantrowitz 2011年10月25日

CEO斯科特•海福尔曼小心翼翼地把他的个人观点与其公司的立场区别开来。但这并不意味着Meetup网站用户的激增没有让公司受益。

    本月,占领华尔街抗议运动在全球范围内迅速蔓延——部分得益于社交网站Meetup的帮助。10月初,这个位于纽约市的组织平台将其技术整合到一家名为“一起占领”的网站(Occupytogether.org)之中。此后,从纽约到伊斯兰堡,世界各地的抗议群体纷纷涌现。迄今为止,在2千多座城市中,总计有超过1.6万人加入了“一起占领”Meetup群。Meetup正在努力维持这股势头,这家网站最近主办了一次长达9小时的黑客马拉松活动,试图进一步推动抗议运动对其平台的使用。

    Meetup网CEO斯科特•海福尔曼对这些抗议活动并未采取袖手旁观的态度。他多次前往抗议活动现场,频繁在Twitter上发布与抗议活动相关的帖子。海福尔曼一直小心翼翼地把他的个人观点与其公司的立场区别开来。最近,他接受了《财富》杂志(Fortune)的专访,纵论抗议活动及其对Meetup网的意义。

    你本人是一家公司的CEO,但你却支持这些抗议活动。鉴于抗议活动目前已经被贴上反公司的标签,难道你不觉得你的立场有些尴尬吗?

    一点也不会。首先我要声明的是,我为抗议活动提供的任何支持,都跟我在Meetup网的职务没有关系。作为一位CEO,我对占领华尔街运动的看法是,抗议者希望看到真正的资本主义战胜权贵资本主义,强大的经济源自一个为小企业和中产阶级提供公平竞争机会的平台。对垒双方是1%的企业与99%的企业。99%的企业境遇之所以越来越糟糕,正是由于1%的企业抱着一种赢家通吃的心态。大家就1%和99%这一话题所发表的任何看法,也适用于商业世界。如果没有一个充满活力的小企业生态系统,就不可能有一个强大的经济体。占领华尔街运动所抨击的,是1%的企业对经济和政府的腐蚀。其矛头所向并非企业或资本主义。

    Meetup一直在积极地支持“一起占领”网站。Meetup是如何下定决心参与这类事情的?

    我们公司有几个人一直在接触任何有可能从我们的自组织平台上获益的人和事。只要不涉及仇恨或违法行为,他们就会主动去接洽,希望为人们提供帮助,不论这些人是谁。比如,赫尔曼•凯恩即将发布一套全新的Meetup战略。我们的内心深处真的相信,人们在一个开放的环境中进行交流或许是一件有利于民主的好事。

    那么,你的意思是不是说,Meetup进行的接触活动是非政治性的?

    绝对与政治无关,这一点毫无疑问。招聘员工时,我们考量的要点之一就是观察应聘者能否看到人们聚集在一起的美妙之处。我们想知道求职者能否克服因看不到与其观点相左者聚集在一起的好处而产生的不容忍心态。这其实是公司的根本所在,即人们聚在一起本身就是件好事。

    抗议活动的发展壮大会对Meetup产生怎样的影响?

    这类运动对我们的网络没有太大的影响。甚至在霍华德•迪恩竞选总统的时候,Meetup上的绝大多数群体都是在讨论如何使自己的生活变得更美好,而与政治或运动这类轰轰烈烈的事情以及意见领袖等等没有任何关系。我们真的为能够给予人们力量,帮助人们进行自我组织,改善自身世界而自豪;但尘埃落定,烟消云散之后,我们得到的会是一个富有韧性的社会,拥有强劲的小企业,人们共同协作,互相帮助,共度难关。人们彼此之间互有交易、租赁、购买、贷款和投保活动。这正是公寓对租服务平台Airbnb网站、 大众融资平台Kickstarter、技能分享网站Skillshare、手工制品电子商务网站Esty,以及Meetup这类网站的意义所在。这些都是新经济未来形态的萌芽。正如我最喜欢的一则抗议标语所言,“新的开始就要来了”。

    在你看来,这场运动将走向何方?

    我预计这场运动会继续发展壮大,美国会出现重大的分化。但美国并不会走向类似于60年代的复兴。有人认为这场运动是嬉皮士和商务人士之间的又一次对抗,这完全是上世纪的想法,已经不合时宜了。大多数美国人会逐渐意识到,这场运动的参与者真的只是想再次看到以人为本的经济,一个由人民提供动力的政府而已。甚至连茶党人士和占领华尔街运动的参与者之间都有可能存在共识。我认为,美国人之间的共同点远远多于党派之争给人们留下的印象。

    译者:任文科

    Occupy Wall Street protests have rapidly spread across the globe this month -- with some help from Meetup. In early October, the NYC based organizing platform integrated its technology into Occupytogether.org and saw groups form everywhere from New York to Islamabad. In all, over 16,000 people in more than 2,000 cities have joined Occupy Together Meetup groups to date. Meetup is working to keep the momentum going, recently hosting a nine-hour hackathon in an attempt to bolster the movement's use of its platform.

    Meetup CEO Scott Heiferman is not watching from the sidelines. He has visited the protests and frequently takes to Twitter to post movement related quotes. While he's careful to make the distinction between his personal views and those held by Meetup the company, he recently spoke to Fortune about the protests and what they mean for his company.

    You're a CEO in support of these protests, isn't that an awkward spot to be in when they've been labeled anti-corporate?

    Not at all. And I should also make clear that any support that I have is not with my Meetup hat on. As a CEO, the way I think of Occupy Wall Street is that it's about seeing a true capitalism winning over a crony capitalism and that a strong economy comes from a level playing field for small business and the middle class. It's like the 1% of business versus the ninety 99% of business. Ninety nine percent of businesses are in worse shape because the 1% of business is in a winner take all mentality. Everything that everyone says about the 1% and 99% applies to the world of business too. You can't have a strong economy without a vibrant ecosystem of small businesses. Occupy Wall Street is about the corruption of the economy and the corruption of government by the 1% of business. The movement is not anti-business or anti-capitalism.

    Meetup has been active in its support for Occupy Together; how does Meetup decide to get involved in something like this?

    We have a couple of people here that are always reaching out to anyone and anything that would benefit from our platform for self organizing. As long as there's no hate involved or anything illegal they just go and schmooze and want to be helpful to whomever. For example, Herman Cain is about to announce a new Meetup strategy. We really, at our core, believe that if people are having a conversation in an open environment that is probably a good thing for democracy.

    So you would say that the reach out done by Meetup is apolitical?

    Absolutely, no doubt about it. When we are hiring people, one of the things we are testing for is whether they can see the beauty in that. We want to know whether they can get over any intolerance about not seeing what's good about people who don't agree with them meeting up with each other. That's just the fundamental mission of the company, which is to say that if people are meeting up it's a good thing.

    As the protests grow, how does that affect Meetup?

    None of this movement stuff has ever made much of a dent in our larger network. Even in the Howard Dean days, the vast majority of Meetups were about people trying to make good stuff happen in their lives having nothing to do with politics or movements or that chattering class kind of stuff. We are really proud to help give people the power to self organize and make the world better for themselves, but when the dust settles and the smoke clears what's left are resilient communities that have strong small businesses and people working together and helping each other out -- they'll be selling to each other, renting to each other, buying from each other, loaning money to each other and insuring each other. That's what Airbnb is about and Kickstarter, Skillshare, Meetup and Esty as well. These are the early signals of what the new economy is going to be. As my favorite sign from the protests says "the beginning is near."

    Where do you see the movement going?

    I do predict it's going to keep growing and I predict that there's going to be a lot of divisiveness in the country. But it's not going to go towards some sort of 60's revival. And this notion that it's the hippies vs. the business people again is just an antiquated 20th century idea. Most of the country will start to realize that this is really just about trying to get a good people powered economy and a people powered government again. There may even be common ground amongst the Tea Partiers and the Occupy Wall Street people. I think we all have a lot more in common than the partisan warfare would have you believe.

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