The further to the left or the right you move, the more your lens on life distorts.

Saturday, May 22, 2021

Get Woke, Go Broke

For those who are not engaged in e-commerce, Shopify might sound like just another smart phone app. In reality, Shopify is one of the worlds largest e-commerce platforms, supportings millions of small and medium size businesses.

Brad Palumbo reports on a recent letter sent to its employees by Shopify CEO, Tobi Lütke. It brings a dose of reality and common sense to at business environment that has recently succumbed to the ideological dictates of woke executives, often to the detriment of the business itself. Palumbo writes:

In an age when woke politics are increasingly infecting corporate America, [Tobi Lütke] wanted to “remind everyone that we are a business,” and, “more importantly, a hugely ambitious one.”  

“We are trying to create a world class product that gives superpowers to the merchants that we are obsessed over,” Lütke wrote. “Everything Shopify does is to accomplish this, and everyone at Shopify should be able to describe how their job, through a series of direct or indirect steps, furthers this mission.”

“Shopify, like any other for-profit company, is not a family,” he continued. “The very idea is preposterous. You are born into a family. You never choose it, and they can’t un-family you. The dangers of ‘family thinking’ are that it becomes incredibly hard to let poor performers go. Shopify is a team, not a family.”

“We cannot solve every societal problem here,” Lütke warns. “Shopify’s worldview is well documented—we believe in liberal values and equality of opportunity. Sometimes we see opportunities to help nudge these causes forward. We do this because this directly helps our business and our merchants and not because of some moralistic overreach.”

The CEO reiterated his commitment to a meritocracy-based employment system, driven by efficiency, not politics.

“We will always have compassion for team members in truly difficult situations… [but] we need to remind everyone that like any other competitive (sports) team, it matters how you show up every day and contribute to the team’s success,” he wrote. “Beyond straight performance output, everyone that engages in endless Slack trolling, victimhood thinking, us-vs-them divisiveness, and zero sum thinking must be seen for the threat they are: they break teams.”

“We want to build one of the best companies in the world,” Lütke concluded. “We want everyone to have a shot at bettering their lot through entrepreneurship… when we succeed in our mission, millions of merchants do better. Millions of people find employment. We have the opportunity to make that tens and even hundreds of millions in the future.”

Shopify and every other private sector company make positive contributions to society. Each company provides jobs, not only within their walls, but by becoming a node on an economic network of suppliers and service providers. The taxes that the private sector pays fuel government services, providing benefit to those who are in need. Those same taxes pay the salaries of millions of government workers, some who do provide direct benefit to society—e.g., first responders, public health professionals, the military. Those same taxes also fuel a vast bureaucracy that has grown far too large, providing far too little direct or even indirect benefit, and ironically, often gets in the way of private sector businesses through unnecessary and burdensome regulations.

Business is capitalist. It should declare that proudly. Experience has indicated that on average, Glen Reynolds' comment about woke businesses holds true, "Get Woke, Go Broke."