Amen! Mitch nails it. The system forces companies to act in a non social way. Let's fix the system. I don't see why capitalism can't be reformed so that all corporations are socially responsible as well as make a profit.

From Mitch Kapor's Weblog: The Real Terms of the Google Deal:

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But an even deeper problem is that the relationship between Google and its prospective shareholders is a form of mutual exploitation slightly worse than usual and much more evident because of the greed and envy factor.

Google says: Give us your money and we'll sell you a lottery ticket. We know what we're doing, so it would be counter-productive for you to have any control over what we do. Sit in the back seat and enjoy the ride and don't think too much about the odds.

The Public says: We're willing to go along for the ride if it means we get to benefit from your money-making magic. We're still in love with the fantasy of striking it rich; we miss the early days of the Dotcom boom. Can we get in? (Personally I think buying into the Google IPO is a sucker bet, but investing in public stocks isn't how I made my money).

In a better world, would all public corporations be more accountable to their shareholders? Hell, yes. But today's shareholders are, in the main, no better than the vast majority of companies they invest in. They only really care about their financial upside, not the means by which it is achieved. Exploitation of labor here and abroad a la Wal-mart, environmental degradation, and massive corporate welfare through government subsidies and sweetheart deals a la Halliburton are perfectly acceptable sources of profit and make for perfectly good investments most say.

At least the Google guys want to do the right thing in terms of responsible corporate citizenship and for this they should get a lot of credit. What needs to change are the basic terms of the deal between public companies and the public. Business success needs to be measured not just by profit, but by social impact as well. In a world where that was the norm, absolute returns on stocks might be slightly lower, but absolutely everyone, would be better off.

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