Saturday, October 9, 2010

Here Comes the Summit - 200 PBLN CEOs Gather in Waltham

In anticipation of the October 8th CEO Summit at Bentley University, PBLN Executive Director Andrew Tarsy caught up Jon Carson a nationally recognized serial entrepreneur with a passion for social entrepreneurship. Jon has started and profitably sold three companies and in his latest incarnation he is CEO of BiddingForGood. 

PBLN: So why are you going to this summit tomorrow?

Jon Carson: [To] get educated on key issues important to me, Network with other like minded CEOs, Support something that needs to succeed (PBLN).

PBLN: You are on a panel at the Summit about whether the innovation companies of the region can drive real growth. Can they?

Carson: They have to. Otherwise more labor market tension. History says they can. All core ingredients are here; universities, capital, entrepreneurial culture, support resources (consulting, etc).

PBLN: Describe the moment your business (BiddingForGood) is in now.

Carson: Crossing $100 million raised for schools and charitable causes in about 4 hours (currently at $99,980,949) and continuing to scale our charitable commerce platform.

Who are your competitors and why are you better?

Carson: Our competition is eBay who is a generalist serving “power sellers”. We are a specialist serving needs of the non-profit fundraising market so we naturally offer features and benefits more aligned with needs of fundraisers.

PBLN: You see quite a range of social need in the causes that your for-profit business model drives revenue toward.  Do you see a direct link between the for profit world and addressing some of the causes?

Carson: The for-profit world has a history of innovation and access to capital to foster that innovation. Non-profits struggle to secure funds not related to programming which limits innovation capacity. Particular to our space, charitable giving in 2009 fell for the first time since records began tracking it while demand for services soared. The sector simply has to find new revenue sources and we believe charitable commerce offers the advantage of going where the money is - discretionary household spending is $2.5 trillion vs. $200 billion in individual giving.

PBLN: Switching gears to public policy, and shooting for something big in response, what are the top 3 issues you think the United States needs to address head on to ensure we have a sustainable economy based on socially and environmentally responsible growth?

Carson: The big 3 issues;
  • Climate change. Carbon is a heat trapping gas and we simply cant be putting exponentially more of it in the atmosphere with ne end of sight
  • Income inequality; until we get money in the hands of the middle class (who spend it) vs. concentrating it in top 2% (who don’t spend at same levels) we will not have sufficient demand to get economic growth
  • Money out of politics. The system is totally corrupted now and oligarchs are beginning to have an unhealthy amount of say in US policy making
PBLN: What is your belief and your personal experience being a businessman and expressing opinions publicly about policy issues?

Carson: My personal experience is that the populace is being polarized and it is increasingly difficult to raise policy issues to employees. But, CEOs need to be leaders and stop doing stupid things like imposing pay cuts and layoffs and then taking big compensation awards. When they do this they lose credibility in speaking out on policy issues.

PBLN: Thank you Jon.

Note: Thursday night BiddingForGood crossed the $100M threshold as Carson predicted it would.  

The agenda and details about the PBLN CEO Summit at Bentley University are all available at

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