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The longest-lasting businesses in history are small to mid-sized - at most a few hundred employees - and they are (unsurprisingly) all in timeless, age-old industries. ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_oldest_companies ) The huge British East Indias of the world become entangled with government and rise and fall at the whims of politics.

This makes me believe there's some kind of definable relationship between money extracted, business size, business lifecycle, and benefit to society. A startup with ambitions of being very big, profitable and influential is declaring that it wants to lead civilization in a certain way. But if it achieves size and profit by simply decreasing benefits and increasing extraction, it's actually a corrupting force; post-hoc charity can't change that.

And in technology, every wave of new possibilities pulls a few corruptors along for the ride, in part because we don't always know at the outset whether they're ultimately a good or bad force. As well, the really long-term influences often appear to lie dormant for a long time... ideas from academia take forever to be used in industry, and broad demographic changes in usage can take a decade.




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