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Davos and Philanthrocapitalism

The biggest gathering of philanthrocapitalists each year takes place in the Swiss mountain village of Davos, at the World Economic Forum. As we write in the book, in our chapter on the “New Plutocrats”, Davos is the centre of many a conspiracy theory, though we think these are largely unjustified.

At this year’s Davos, the mood is decidedly sombre, and rightly so. The slumping world economy has destroyed a large chunk of the financial worth of companies and the rich alike. Moreover, many people blame this on Davos Man and Davos Woman, who have after all been running the world as it has gone pear shape.

We hope that the economic crisis will cause business leaders and other wealthy folk, as well as the politicians rubbing shoulders with them in Davos, to take even more seriously the message of Philanthrocapitalism. If they are to lead the world out of this crisis, it is likely to require them to demonstrate their commitment to the well-being of society, not just to their narrow financial interests.

This is a message that is getting a good reception at Davos. Yesterday Matthew co-hosted a well-attended lunch to discuss “philanthrocapitalism in action”, along with Nancy Lublin of “DoSomething.com”, a non-profit that encourages social action by teens. and venture-capitalist Matt Cohler. DoSomething recently held a “non-profit IPO”, which Matthew wrote about in The Economist.

The event was lively, inspiring and well-attended. Participants included several leading philanthrocapitalists – Marc Benioff, John Studzinski, Kim Samuel Johnson, among them; social entrepeneurs such as JB Schramm, the founder of College Summit; leaders of large NGOs, including the heads of Care and Youth Aids; Jim Wallis, of the Sojourners movement; and Arianna Huffington of the Huffington Post, who blogged about the event not once but twice. “Maybe it’s a sign of the times, but there was an overflow crowd at the luncheon, causing the organizers to open two additional rooms to hold the extra attendees,” she wrote in her second post. Let’s hope she is right.

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