February 21st, 2013 Social Media Week's Purpose Driving the New Economy

OLC attended Social Media Week's Purpose Driving the New Economy on Thursday, February 21, 2013 at Bloomberg. The panelists for this event were James Slezak, Partner and New Economy Practice Founder of Purpose; Marissa Feinberg, co-founder of Green Spaces; Aparna Mukherjee, Editorial Adviser of Rawporter; and moderated by Erica Berger, Director of Publisher & Partnership Development at Storyful. The panel tackled issues about accelerating digital movement towards sharing, renewable energy and further democratization of the economy.

"Technology can't work in a sile," Erica Berger said. "People need to work together to create. Twitter is a great way to develop and cultivate content." She explained Storyful as understanding the value of user-generated content and so the platform was developed for professional journalists utilizing proprietary technology and standard tools. Storyful, for example, constantly updates human-selected sources to facilitate discussion and content creation.

James Slezak place emphasis on using digital technology. "It's ultimately about world change," he said. "We want to bring together a set of disciplinary expertise: online and community organizers, brand advocates and storytellers, and consultants, for starters." Slezak highlighted the economic failure and explained, "We're trying to adapt political and social mobilizing to economical problems."

Marissa Feinberg worked at GE and at Forbes, helped launch Felissimo in the United States before she started her salon-style sustainability organization called Green Spaces. "Connecting real space dots are easy to do on Twitter, but hard to know who is open to connecting. We created a formula called FLOCKD. It's an answer to, 'What can we do to bring online networking to offline networking?' It's getting back to face-to-face interaction," Feinberg said.

Aparna Mukherjee wanted to create a connection between big news corporations with content creation and messaging. "At New York Times, I focused on education," Mukherjee said. "I created an online network and realized it needed new funding and a re-evaluation of underlying aspects—democracy, civic engagement—to fully mobilze the youth." She was introduced to Rawporter, a newsgathering platform, which finds underreported stories and curates "spectacular content."

"Tech has enabled us to mobilize easier in terms of politics," Berger said. She asked if there were any societal implications of the digital movement. Mukherjee answered first. "There are small and medium-sized businesses that all affect society. The idea is that you're becoming more transparent is important. It's no longer just buying a product, you're becoming part of the brand's strategy."

"It's easy to gather information through social," Feinberg said. "People are becoming more used to the idea of sharing."

"We're at a point when the tech world is moving faster and faster, cheaper and more efficient," Slezak said. "Words like crowdfunding or viral videos didn't exist five years ago. It's about solving a problem, but we're all in a race against time. We have to innovate quickly and figure our how to accelerate."

Berger asked about the economic implications of technology. "How are our spending habits changing?" she asked.

"Some of the things we own, we didn't care to own," Slezak said. "We're still providing capital to public equities markets and they're not doing what we want. There are also things like impact investments—"

"Social impact bonds aren't unusual anymore," Mukherjee said. "What happens when you found alternative channels to invest, how do you make sure someone is looking after your money, how do you access the business model, the outcome is something platforms need to do due diligence on."

"The KIVA model is fairly successful," Feinberg said. "93 percent of loans are repaid. It helps entrepreneurs raise money and people are getting trusted with funds with people they can place trust in."

Feinberg's remark about trust was a great segue into the topic of trust, where Berger asked if the new sense of trust in the contemporary world has impacted the entrepreneurial side of things.

"I think it's an incredible thing that's come up in the past couple of years," Slezak said. "Trust is the thing that's helping a lot of startups. Social networks have enabled people to trust more."

"Cyber identity verification is another way to make sure there's some connection between people loaning capital. It's becoming a privacy issue now," Mukherjee said.

"You have to give some trust to get trust back," Feinberg said. "Social media can play a role in that. People who may not have been considered trustworthy are forced to be trustworthy. If not, there's the threat of public shaming."