Protesters are marching and subpoenas are being issued to insurance giant AIG, Madoff faces jail time, and the FBI is struggling to keep up with an escalating financial crimes case log. This is our current reality, and I decided that we all could use something refreshing – financial innovators who are not only doing well for themselves, but are also doing good for the world.
Over the last few weeks, I tracked down a group of unique financial thinkers from an emerging movement know by some as “conscious capitalism.” Across the world, there are former bankers and traders that are being drawn away from Wall Street by the outrageous idea that people can do good for the world and make money.
The idea here isn’t just that these two conflicting goals can work together if a balance is struck. This idea is even bigger – perhaps these two goals are one and the same.
Perhaps the best way to make money is to do good.
Take the case of Randy Eisenman and Sunny Vanderbeck, two innovators who achieved uncommon success pursuing profits. Now they are pursuing a more ambitious goal.
Great Ideas Discussed Over Lunch
In 1998, at 23, Randy Eisenman was so intrigued by the potential of the original Palm Pilot that he started a company to sell content and applications for mobile devices, including PDAs and smartphones. His vision and passion propelled his company, Handango, into the world’s leading supplier of mobile applications. This made Randy one of the top young entrepreneurs in the country. Handango was instrumental in propelling the revolution that now has us ticking our thumbs away at Blackberries and iPhones.
Sunny Vanderbeck, a former Army Ranger, started his business career at Microsoft. When he saw a new opportunity, he left Microsoft to follow a new business venture to help companies manage their mission-critical web application. Sunny started Data Return and took it public just three years after its founding.
At the ripe old age of 26, Sunny was leading a NASDAQ-listed company with a multi-billion-dollar market capitalization. He sold the company several years later to another public company, and then stayed on to lead a business unit of the acquiring company. About a year later, due to some problems with another business unit, the parent company went bankrupt. Sunny saw an opportunity to repurchase Data Return, which he did along with a private equity firm. Sunny and his team grew Data Return for another four years, and then sold the business to another public company in 2007.
The two men found each other at similar moments in their lives. They had both engineered magnificent business feats and felt they had little left to prove. They started wondering, “What comes next?” and at regular Friday lunches that had been going on for nearly four years, Randy and Sunny discussed the possibilities.
Satori Capital Is Born
Eventually Randy and Sunny reached a conclusion that I see ever more successful business people realizing: there is a huge opportunity to make money by doing good. From this “aha” moment was born Satori Capital (Satori is the Japanese word used by Zen Buddhist for a moment of sudden insight and clarity).
Satori Capital is a private equity firm that buys businesses that the firm describes as sustainable. These sustainable businesses are guided by three powerful principles, and over the next several days, I will share how these values help shape moral characters and successful companies.