Facebook Co-Founder Chris Hughes Is Back in the Startup Business With Jumo.com

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Chris Hughes, the Facebook co-founder, and the engine behind the MyBarackObama community organization site, is back in the start-up business.

His new enterprise is called Jumo, (jumo.com) which soft launches today. Jumo—a Yoruba word meaning "together in concert"—is a non-profit that aims to help people find ways to help the world. "We'll be matching people based on their skills and interests with organizations around the world that need their input," Hughes tells Fast Company. "It's a discovery process that first matches then helps people build relationships then lets people share their resources."

Hughes was inspired after a post-campaign year of thinking, a bit of work as an entrepreneur-in-residence at the venture firm General Catalyst Partners, and by his experience at his alma mater, Facebook. But it was seeing the current state of the world that helped him decide his next move. "I traveled almost too much," he says. He visited some of the poorest and most politically divided areas of Latin America, India, and Africa. He was moved not only by the need he saw but by the good works of people, who were often working on small projects and niche issues. "There's a nurse somewhere in Indiana who would love to know about the nurse in Africa I met working on obstetric fistula," a devastating condition caused by unrelieved, obstructed labor, a common occurrence in poor regions, Hughes says. He envisions a scenario where people with real skills can share their resources in truly meaningful ways. "This is not just a click on a banner ad and give $10 to a needy child," he says. "I believe people really want to engage."

The site goes fully live this fall. The team is lean and focused and includes Hughes, Kristen Titus, a non-profit expert, and the Obama campaign's former designer Scott Thomas—which explains its elegant interface (full disclosure: Thomas is designing a site for Fast Company too).

Visitors to Jumo will currently be walked through an intriguing list of questions designed to better match them with interesting opportunities later on. True to form, the site expects to soon offer profiles and ways for Jumo members to interact with each other. And Jumo is hiring. "We need Web developers," Hughes says, laughing.

Hughes has some high powered advisors at his side: Jeffrey David Sachs, the Director of the Earth Institute at Columbia University; Jacqueline Novogratz, CEO of the non-profit Acumen Fund that specializes in "base of the pyramid" investments; and Linda Rottenberg, CEO and co-founder of Endeavor, a non-profit that identifies and supports "high-impact" entrepreneurs in emerging markets.

Jumo is in the process of raising about $2.5 million in hefty chunks from a few individual donors, Hughes says, and eventually he'll be asking visitors to donate as well. (The business model as well as the Web site sounds like a work in progress.) Although he struggled with the notion of developing the business as a non-profit—"More than one person told me that there were too many limits to scaling a business with that structure," he says—he ultimately decided that was the right move. "We're not in this to make money, we're in this to make sure that no individual can ever say 'I want to help but I don't know how.'"

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16 Comments

  • Eric Estes

    I believe we can all understand and appreciate the desire of Mr. Hughes to make life easier for Nonprofits everywhere, but I wonder if this approach is not counter intuitive. We are a Facebook world, nearly every business, industry, individual, college, and yes…nonprofit who wants to succeed in today’s marketplace is on Facebook. So then, why attempt to divert traffic away from a proven media forum? Remember the saying “If it isn’t broken, don’t fix it.” We are already on Facebook, you have our attention, how is this mutually beneficial for the NPO’s or their donors?

    Eric B. Estes
    Sr. Market Research Analyst
    Clearwater Tech. Group
    http://fundraisingthebar.blogs...

  • Eric Estes

    I believe we can all understand and appreciate the desire of Mr. Hughes to make life easier for Nonprofits everywhere, but I wonder if this approach is not counter intuitive. We are a Facebook world, nearly every business, industry, individual, college, and yes…nonprofit who wants to succeed in today’s marketplace is on Facebook. So then, why attempt to divert traffic away from a proven media forum? Remember the saying “If it isn’t broken, don’t fix it.” We are already on Facebook, you have our attention, how is this mutually beneficial for the NPO’s or their donors?

    Eric B. Estes
    Sr. Market Research Analyst
    Clearwater Tech. Group
    http://fundraisingthebar.blogs...

  • Eric Estes

    I believe we can all understand and appreciate the desire of Mr. Hughes to make life easier for Nonprofits everywhere, but I wonder if this approach is not counter intuitive. We are a Facebook world, nearly every business, industry, individual, college, and yes…nonprofit who wants to succeed in today’s marketplace is on Facebook. So then, why attempt to divert traffic away from a proven media forum? Remember the saying “If it isn’t broken, don’t fix it.” We are already on Facebook, you have our attention, how is this mutually beneficial for the NPO’s or their donors?

    Eric B. Estes
    Sr. Market Research Analyst
    Clearwater Tech. Group
    http://fundraisingthebar.blogs...

  • Mark Carbone

    I just went to his website and he asks very skewed questions to determine how you can help. He's in the clouds. It's got a high elitist progressive socialist bend. I was disappointed.

  • Jay Levin

    Bravo Matt Farnell! Perfectly expressed. Couldn't be said better. It's always amazing how transparent envy is to everyone but those who fester in it.

  • Jay Levin

    You can always tell the voice of cynicism coming from the peanut gallery of life when commenting on those who have super suceeded enough to gather the inspirtation, resources and intelligence to offer practical, innovative, compelling and engaging solutions.

  • Doug Bell

    I understand the cynicism but at the same time, if Chris applies his talents towards enabling people with means to help people in need, the world will be a better place.

  • Matt Farnell

    Tom DeSantis and Chris Reich,

    It's great to see your motivational comments of encouragement. There are huge efficiency gains that can be made in charity with matching supply of resources/knowledge with demand. However successful the 'pink shirt' is he's at least getting out there and going something and I bet he'll end up a lot more happy then you guys will ever be which is evident in the tone of your comments. I'd suggest you switch of fox news, stop buying Glenn Beck books and get yourselves a life, that way you wont be tempting in ridiculing others for there choice of career.

  • Mark Napier

    Isn't Idealist.org (and several 100 other outfits) already doing this? Quite trying to monotize the grass roots. If you want to do good take your money and fund the Peace Corps. Or start a business that donates all profits to the charity of your choice. Etc., etc., etc....

  • Christopher Zimmermann

    This is a great idea. Using the internet in one of its most powerful forms - using logic to connect the right people from a huge catalog of providers and requesters - a la - ebay, amazon used books sales, craigslist.

  • Tom DeSantis

    Talented doesn't mean smart. Obviously this pink shirt with white collar wearing do-good-nik has his head in he weeds with his global vision.