#68 – What is Great.com? Here’s our long term vision – Update

What is Great.com? To answer that question, the best way is to look at our long term vision. What will Great.com become?

In this episode, we are diving into our founder Erik Bergman’s vision of where Great.com is heading.

Summary

What is Great.com? To answer that question, the best way is to look at our long term vision. What will Great.com become?

In this episode, we are diving into our founder Erik Bergman’s vision of where Great.com is heading. The episode is split up on four sections:

Part 1:
The first part of the episode is about the charity vision of Great.com. How do we want to help? What kind of organizations are we supporting? And what have we done so far?

Part 2:
The second part is about the organizational vision. How do you build a team that is spread over the world, works without work hours, and have an unlimited option for vacations?

Part 3:
Thirdly we are diving into how Great.com wants to inspire and influence the world. Why we want to make charity cool and why we are running this podcast.

Part 4:
And lastly in part 4, the business model, we will look at how we make money today – and our plan for becoming the biggest company yet, in a very specific part of the internet.


This is an “Update episode”, it means that In today’s episode of Becoming Great.com podcast, Emil Ekvardt and Erik Bergman, explore the very real challenges and problems that come up when building Great.com. A company that gives away 100% of its profit to protect the environment.

This is an opportunity for you to get a behind the scenes look, of what it feels like to build a company – and also get an update on our progress.

What you learn here is not something you will read in a book. It’s the real story of how Great.com gets built.

Transcript

[00:00:46] I’m here today with Eric Bergman. Eric previously made over 50 million dollars before turning 30 when he founded the company Catina Media that went from zero to 300 employees in just five years. He’s also the founder of Great Dot.com, our company that will give away 100 percent of its profits to save the environment. And today, we’re going to interview Eric about great dot coms. Fifty year long vision for making the world a better place. Eric.

[00:01:22] Hey. Hey. And I’m here with Emil Eckhart, as the always, who was the first one joining me in Great Calm about two years ago now. And he’s the host of this podcast becoming great dot.com podcast, and also all our other charity podcasts where he interviews charitable decisions. Hey, what’s the parts of today’s episode?

[00:01:42] Today, we’re exploring the 50 year vision and we’re gonna do it in four parts. The first part is about great dot coms approach to charity. How do we plan to do good in the world? Which organizations do we plan to cooperate with and what have we done so far? And the second part, we’re going to look at great dot coms, vision for our organizational structure. We’re going to look at how we plan to build a company with people spread all over the world where our team members can have flexible work hours and unlimited options for vacations. In the third part, we are going to look at how great that com plan to influence and inspire how we plan to become the most influential charity organization in the world. And in the fourth and final and most interesting part, we’re going to look at the great sitcoms business model, how we plan to make money, how we do it today, and also how we plan to do it in the future by becoming the biggest company in a very specific part. Great sitcom. It’s a group of people who believe that we can maximize our impact by making a lot of money and then give it away as efficiently as we can. And charity is an important part of that strategy.

[00:03:11] So, Eric, what is great long term vision for how we’re going to work with charity?

[00:03:17] The long term vision is to really maximize the amount of good that we can do in the world. And we’re all a group of people that comes from the commercial sector. I come from probably the most commercial sector of all with online marketing. And the long term vision is to create a company that is among the biggest companies in the world. Right up there with Google, Amazon and Microsoft donating every dollar that we make him profit like billions of dollars every year. Now we’re into 50 years from now, Google and Amazon and these guys, they’re just 20 year old companies. Imagine what you can do with a 50 year timeframe if you really wanted to.

[00:03:57] I hear that it’s a long time frame. And at the same time, a lot of things we have said so far in this podcast sounds a bit extreme. Someone listening might think you have a bit of hubris.

[00:04:06] What would you say to that? Saying that we’re gonna be one of the biggest companies in the world. It’s definitely extreme saying we will. Donating billions of dollars is definitely extreme. And you could argue that I am having hubris in one way or another. But this is still what I believe. I believe in my core that we can do this. And this is the vision. This is what we’re going for. Even if it’s gonna be hard 50 years from now, I’m hoping that I will look back on this episode to say, hey, you’re a brave, smart man guy.

[00:04:37] It is obvious, beautiful thing to imagine, but let’s make it more concrete and real. Just for now. What have great managed to do so far when it comes to charity?

[00:04:46] Up until now, we’ve made donations a couple of times a year. The last few years. And we’ve made a total donations of about two hundred and fifty thousand dollars, give or take. All right. So where has that money gone to? Most of it has been given to different environmental organizations and organizations that work with increasing the amount of donations in the world, like Founder’s Pledge has been one of the top donors we’ve been giving to. And Cleaner Task Force and Coalition for Rainforest Nations are environmental organizations who we’re working with.

[00:05:20] How come we have chosen those organizations?

[00:05:24] So we’re studying a lot about what’s called effective altruism, which is basically how do you know which organizations make the biggest difference per dollar? So we’ve been looking into research like how much change does this organization accomplish if they get a thousand dollars? And all of these organizations have been ranked really, really high in this research. So knowing that if we give a thousand dollars to this organization, they’re very good at tracking. What can they accomplish with this money? And they accomplish a lot more than the average organization. And is this a strategy we plan to have in the future as well? Yes. I mean, for the vast the future that I can foresee for now, we will only be donating money to other organizations and we will base our decisions very much on research and math. And who has done the most efficient job so far? So great won’t be running its own charity projects? No, I don’t see us doing that ever. I mean, 50 year from now maybe, but definitely not in the short term.

[00:06:30] Okay, so.

[00:06:33] Let’s say some are listening. OK? You’re saying that you would give away 100 percent of the profits to charity. How can someone really know that that is going to happen?

[00:06:42] So is going to be hard to know to start with. I made more money than I’m ever gonna need in my previous business. I don’t need any money. And everyone in Great has signed up to be on a project where we give away a hundred percent of the profits. You have lowered your salary to be a part of this. Everyone else is kind of lower their salaries that they had before to be a part of a company that gives away a hundred percent of profit and believes in this mission. And if I suddenly changed that and started taking money out of this company for myself, then probably everyone would leave and everything would fall apart. So how much are you making? I make zero. I don’t even take any salary out of this. And I never will. And the company will be owned by as it’s by a foundation rather than by me. I’m not even gonna technically own the company in the future, so I can’t take any money out of it.

[00:07:36] Let’s move on then and talk about the organizational structure of growth. Because you have a couple of interesting ideas there. And I want to explore what might be the most extreme of the more.

[00:07:53] So what is the 50 year vision for the organization structure?

[00:07:58] I have plenty of different visions for a great new year. The first one, I would say, relate to flexibility and how I believe that the best way to build an organization is to base it full trust. So we’re never going to keep track of what people are actually doing at what time. They’re not gonna be any work hours at all. I don’t want any keeping track of vacations. I want to trust people to do their job regardless if they want to take a vacation, they can as long as things get done at some point. And the same goes right. Maternity and paternity leave. I want people to be able to do whatever and we’re not going to have any offices or anything like that. People are gonna be able to work from wherever they want in the world.

[00:08:43] Isn’t there a risk that someone might abuse the system? And do you really just end up losing a lot of productivity because you can’t see what people are actually doing?

[00:08:55] Yes, it’s definitely a risk. And my hope is that by finding people who are truly engaged in this care as much about this company as I do, and it’s gathering those kinds of people, that’s not gonna be a problem, because if you genuinely care about something truly passionate about it, you don’t need anyone to tell you to work on that. And that’s kind of the idea of if we can be really good at finding those people and offering a lifestyle that works for them. I don’t think that that will be a concern.

[00:09:26] So we want great to enable team members that already wants to do great vision, enable them to be able to do that. And then they don’t want to shoot or don’t want to slack.

[00:09:38] Yeah, exactly. And they’re always gonna be someone to cheat some someone, Aslaksen, where they were losing out on something that I believe that the vast majority of people who are drawn to a project like this are not going to do that. And by giving them all of these freedom and all of this flexibility, I believe that we will get a lot more out of those people. Now, we will be loose losing from some people who might want us like it’s a very interesting idea. So what else are you thinking? Yeah. So that’s one part of the organizational culture. Second part of an culture is turning the emotions and the feeling of safety and these kind of things into the the focus, like treating people like humans, not as performance machines. And what I mean by that is that we want to create an environment where it’s perfectly fine to start talking about a divorce or an illness, even if there is a meeting like what’s going on, what’s real in life, and people feeling safe to talk about those things. People feel unsafe to take vacation for those kinds of things, like not having the kind of shallow office mentality that at least I’ve experienced in the past where you’re not supposed to talk about the pains and the struggles and the insecurities in life, but making that a big part of what we do so we can support each other not only in how do you perform this task, but also in how do you live your life and what can we do to make your life easier in general?

[00:11:08] Are you worried that this strategy is really gonna slow us down, lose productivity? Someone might just not feel like going to work because they’re going through something difficult and then the whole team slows down because this person didn’t show up here.

[00:11:23] Some definitely worried about that. And I can see that already happening in our team in various ways. But this is also why I believe it’s so important to keep this 50 or focus, because I believe that everyone slows down every now and that everyone is going through something rough. And if people are allowed to do that, I believe that they will come back a lot quicker and with a lot more force because they feel supported, they feel safe, they feel seen. And when someone else might have left the company because they didn’t feel supported or maybe they were shamed or that they had missed out on things or a shame that they felt bad, then I believe that we together as a group can be a much stronger, supportive team and over these 50 year get a lot higher performance on average from everyone, even though we might lose in the short run. And maybe someone brings the team down or takes focus away from the performance because of a divorce and because of, I don’t know, the sickness of a child or anything. But I think long term, on average, people will feel a lot better, feel a lot safer and perform a lot better as well.

[00:12:27] So here I can really see a decision making that can only happen with that kind of time span. Yes. What else is different?

[00:12:35] With great does an organization said the most the most extreme idea. I believe that I had at least that’s the wing, the one that most people like, argue with. This sounds really weird and I’m aware that this is really weird. And for me, it’s a very once again, a 50 year long idea. That is to create an organization where everyone sets their own salary and we’re so much trust and so much accountability around people that they will set the salary that they need, not abuse it. We’d like a hundred thousand dollars extra. But actually there in this organization, because they care about organization, they’re in this organization because it carries the cause of giving away 100 percent of the profits to charity and being able to set the salary that they need to have a good life. And that we together can create the idea of what is a good life and be able to never like paying someone based on performance, but instead paying people based on their needs.

[00:13:32] I believe there is a part of the human condition to push it a little bit whenever possible. Aren’t you afraid of the overall salaries are gonna go up like five percent, one year, 10 percent the next year, 20 percent the third, just because people get more and more used to more luxurious lifestyle?

[00:13:51] I’m worried about it. I would say, but not super concerned. So I believe that transparency is gonna be a very important part of this. Everyone knows what kind of salary everyone earns. And I’m sure there are gonna be some guidelines that will develop like, OK, if you have more kids or if you are living in a more expensive city in the world or whatever it is, that there will be an understanding of how the salaries will fluctuate from person to person. But I don’t think that this organization will attract the people who wants the very high salaries, because the idea that we’re helping the world. That’s what we’re doing. So I think that people who are likely to abuse the system would not join us and it would not really be. I think it’s really hard to say, okay, I want a hundred thousand dollars a year. If everyone else makes 50 and everyone sees that and everyone knows about it. And it’s probably gonna happen at some point and then we’ll need to figure out a way of dealing with it. But I believe in the idea and I believe in the good of people and the big purpose and the big pictures. I mean, just look at yourself here. Would would you have used a salary system?

[00:15:00] The main reason that I wouldn’t is cause I have insight in exactly how much good the charity organizations that we give the money to can do with very little money. So I know what, but if I take a lower salary, that money would 100 percent be donated to an organization. And I know how much that can do for the climate or for animals or humans or whatever we are going to choose to support. And if I lower my salary, that’s going inspire other people and organization to lower their salaries. So it’s not in my personal best interest to increase the overall salary structure in the company. Yeah, that’s what I’m hoping to accomplish, I mean, you could make a lot more money working elsewhere than you could working for. Great. Right now. Yeah, I kind of see it as. It’s the charity organizations that are paying for my salary indirectly, and I don’t want to place that burden on them.

[00:16:00] Yeah, I can totally see that as well.

[00:16:04] So let’s move on to the next part and talk about influence, because great calm plan to be the most influential charity organization in the whole.

[00:16:20] Why are we focusing so much on insurance and social media?

[00:16:24] I believe that. Well, let’s let’s look at from this angle. It’s a great wants to do the most possible good we can do in the world. And we want to do that in lots of different ways. One of those ways is to do a lot of good indirectly by putting a lot of content out there that inspires people and teaches people how to live a richer life. And by richer, I mean most by making more money and being financially secure, but also having better health and better relationships and in genuinely, generally just be be happier. And I believe that if we teach a lot of people to be happier, that we’ll have a lot of ripple effects, that whoever is around them will feel better. And this will be a part of making the world a better place. And I think that social media is start this teaching machine you can put so much content in if you’re doing it really well. Millions and millions, if not billions of people can see it.

[00:17:27] I know you spend a lot of time everyday on social media. Isn’t that time you could spend maximizing the amount of money that great makes and therefore being able to donate more?

[00:17:39] To be perfectly honest, I don’t know if what would make the most sense for the business. I think that it might be it might be more useful to do it within the business. Right now, my gut feeling tells me that social media is the more powerful way of doing it, that it can scale even more. And I’ll touch a bit on later on how it will benefit the business and what kind of problems it solves as well. But I definitely believe that by teaching I can do a lot of good and it can help the business by just focus on the business. I would lose out on those positive ripple effects.

[00:18:15] Something that is really tricky to speak about is charity and tried to create engagement about charity. How do you plan to do that?

[00:18:23] In a different part of why I believe social media is so crucial is that I really want to make charity cool. I want to be uninsured, to be something that people are proud of. And by having a big audience and educating about charity, I believe that it can both be cooler and people can make more educated decisions and want to give away more money.

[00:18:48] So the moment there is so many Sharod organizations out there and some of them are the best ones, like with everything, if you take 100 companies, one company is going gonna be the best one. And it’s the same with charities. If you take a hundred charities, one shirt is gonna be the best one to make the most impact. But people don’t know which ones these are. So if we can make charity cool, get people inspired to give. And also educate where to give. I believe that we can make a lot bigger impact in the world.

[00:19:15] Right. So not only can read donate now, we can also inspire others to donate and donate better. Yes, exactly. Do you see any other areas for where influence is important?

[00:19:26] So if you go back to this question of what could I do to help? Great. Not if I focused all my time on building great rather than inspiring or influencing people. I believe that the biggest challenge that any organization have, regardless the industry regard, is where they are to find the best possible team, the best possible people. Because if you have the best possible people, they can solve any other problem.

[00:19:51] So I believe that that’s the main challenge that any company in the world have. And if I’m creating content or if we are creating content that hundreds of thousands of people, if not millions of people, see that become a huge recruitment channel. If you want to work with us and we can ask millions of people if they want to ask. Work with us. We can get so many applicants and it can help us to actually solve the biggest problem we have, which is finding the best possible people. And just seeing how this has happened so far, at least half of our team comes from finding me on social media and following me on social media. So instead of me spending time on finding the best people going out on LinkedIn and chasing them and looking for them, this is a magnet that attracts people who shares these values, who wants to make the world a better place, one where no one wants to learn these things. And instead of me going out for them, they come to find us.

[00:20:47] All right. We’re looking for a podcast coordinator right now. And we had hundreds of people applying for the job just by talking about it in this podcast.

[00:20:55] Yeah, and this podcast, not just on Instagram. I think we got 500 applications or something like that. And to get 500 applications for a job. If you’re going out and trying to find them, that’s really, really hard. So it’s kind of already proven that this theory works. And then it’s just. Scaling it and getting more people that we need.

[00:21:17] Right. Yeah, a lot of benefits in there.

[00:21:22] So social media can really have a big mixed bag of different ways to give benefits to our organization and other people. So let’s move on to the fourth and final and most interesting part of this podcast where we look at Great’s business model over the next 50 years and look into that big opportunity.

[00:21:42] You were talking about that great Kafeel.

[00:21:50] So what is the 50 year business model vision for growth?

[00:21:55] Basically, we want to be the most trusted company in the world.

[00:22:02] And how is that a business model? OK, I see this big opportunity. And.

[00:22:09] Well, we can look at this, what was the last thing that you wanted to buy online?

[00:22:15] Like a big purchase. Anything. A pair of headphones. OK. How did you know which headphones to buy? I Google headphones review, and then I looked at candidate top five reviews on Google. So did you trust that site’s.

[00:22:34] I guess most of them are quite biased, so I kind of took the top five once and made it to the average review.

[00:22:43] This is what I’m seeing here. There is not one single site that people can trust. There is you can trust Amazon like peer reviews in a little way, like someone has tried these headphones can say if they’re happy or not. But no one is really taking all the headphones on the market, or at least the main ones and comparing them with similar tests. And they’re not doing that for all kinds of different products in a very trustworthy way. There isn’t one person there, so there isn’t really anyone that people trust. And this is what I see as becoming over the next 50 years. I want to be the most trusted company in the world. The company that everyone comes to ask for advice and who trust the answers when it comes to any kind of purchase.

[00:23:32] And why would greater calm be more trusted than any other recommendation out there to start with?

[00:23:39] Once again, we can take a 50 year approach with us. We are building this very long term. We’re gonna be run by a foundation. It’s not about making some money for for shareholders and quarterly reports. We’re gonna take decisions that is short term, probably quite bad because we’re not going to make money from them. But long term, they’re gonna be good and we’re gonna give away all the profits so we don’t really have the same incentives are making money as a stock listed company. There’s going to be a very, very transparent already now. We post a lot of our meetings online. We show our salaries online. Anyone can see what kind of salaries we’re making. And we’re going to keep doing this by being as transparent as possible, even though it means short term complexity, short term, maybe competitors try to copy us. But I believe that long term, over those decades and decades, people know that. Oh, I could trust this review. I could trust this review. I could trust. It’s true that we can become a synonym of the word trust instead of people saying, okay, I’ll Google and see if I can find headphones. They say I’ll go and check what greatness is then just blindly trust. Great, because we will do unbiased testing.

[00:24:55] Right.

[00:24:56] And what is the business model today? So this is the business model. Today we’re comparing different products. And we’re testing them to see who is the best. Right now, we’re only doing this for online casinos. Okay.

[00:25:12] But casinos create problems, right? You’ve got gambling addictions, some really severe side effects. Don’t you see us being in the casino industry being contradictory to the word trust?

[00:25:27] Yes, I can definitely see that. So let’s start with why we’re starting in the casino industry. So I come from the casino industry. That’s where I made my money. That’s what I know. That’s pretty much the only thing I’m really, really good at. So it makes sense for us to start there. But it’s also because I really want to make the casino industry a better place as well as the world a better place. So let’s look at wine. Wine also causes a lot of problems in the world. It causes addiction. It causes issues. And imagine that you are the best winemaker in the world. The best producer of wine selling wine. If you stopped selling wine, maybe there will be a teeny tiny bit less problems in the world because some people would drink less wine. But most people would probably just buy their wine somewhere else. And let’s say instead, you wanted to make people more educated about wine to drink less. So you kept running your business. You gave away all the profits that you made. But with every bottle of wine you also sent with information about what can you do if you’re having an addiction? What can you do if your parents or siblings are having problems? Where is the closest support group having all of this information in the hands of the people where the bottles would probably help the world to drink less wine as well and create less problems from it? And this is the way that I’m looking at the casino industry.

[00:26:55] We’re gonna make money from it. But the overall goal, equally important, is to make problem gamblers. Well, the gambling problem less by educating people like, okay, this is how you see the signs. This is what you can do against it. This is where you can find support. This is what you’re doing. Where? Well, if your parents or whatever it is, is gambling too much. We want to put this information where the people goes to gamble. Yes. Does if you’re selling wine, you put the information about how to stop where the people goes to buy the wine. So it is contradictory in the sense that we will make money from gambling. But the overall goal will be to make the most possible good and at the same time making the problem of gambling smaller. I see.

[00:27:42] And you’re talking about first mastering gambling and expanding to other areas. Isn’t it quite big leap to go from casinos to all of a sudden selling headphones?

[00:27:54] Yes, it’s a huge thing. And this is also why I see this as a 50 year thing. We might stay in the gambling industry for five or 10 years. And we’re starting there because, well, we know it. There is a lot of money to be made and there is already a lot of complexity in there. And I believe that we can be the best one in the world handling that. We’re currently no one is trying to make the gambling problem bigger, at least at a smaller, at least among the ones who make the most money from it or are in the top search results when you Google for it. So we feel a big need of filling that space and also give the responsible information in a way that it isn’t. So we’re starting there and hopefully 10 years from now we will be the biggest company in the world doing that. Build something that is very sustainable. We’ve built a great team that is possible to take on any other challenge. And then we can use the next 40 years to scale this idea and everything around it into basically every other industry in the world.

[00:28:58] Interesting, because the core of it is a quite similar business model. Yeah.

[00:29:04] All right, Dan, that is it for this episode. What can someone do if they feel excited about. Great. That’s an organization, the long term vision.

[00:29:11] And they want to help us get there perhaps a little bit faster. So right now, the easiest way of helping us is by listening to this podcast and subscribing to this podcast. And the reason why subscribing is so important is that all the top lists on iTunes and everywhere else are based on the percentage of people listening and then clicks subscribe. And we’re a small podcast. At this time. And if you just click subscribe, you’re actually making a big impact for us. So we want to grow this podcast because it helps all the other versions of Great. It helps us to become that company that is the most influential charity in the world. It helps us to donate money to help us in so many different ways. So please press subscribe. And I see you next week, Eric. See you next week.