VCs love to talk about the unicorns in their portfolio – and understandably so. But why don’t we talk about how many of our companies are ethical?
Sometimes, winning at ANY cost is not ‘winning’ — it is ‘cheating.’
Long ago, when I came to Kerala after joining the Indian Police Service, I came across various characters in the ISRO spy scandal. By now, we all know how innocent people were framed by the police officers investigating the case. And do you know why?
One of the officers leading the investigation had the same trait – ‘Win at all costs.’ He had no problem framing people or making up evidence just to get a conviction.
Ironically, today, when I have moved away so far from the world of policing, I see the same trait in the world of venture investing and private equity – ‘win at all costs.’
People investing in companies want to prove how smart they are. In that process, they build their reputations and make loads of money.
But what if we win because our companies are growing like crazy by potentially harming their customers/users? What if those actions are unethical, but don’t violate the law?
We know the right answer. But it is hard to be a discordant note at a celebratory party.
Investment firms attract some of the smartest people, with staggering professional qualifications. They have the education and wealth that most don’t have. And that privilege brings responsibility.
Whether you are an investor or an entrepreneur, you don’t have to win at any cost. Win the right way and when necessary, it is ok to not win.
Winning is not everything.