NPR is impressive....and cool

It's always fun and enlightening to meet with companies that really have there sh*t together and are on the ball, particularly when they're not necessarily the companies you expect.  Such is the case with NPR, who I met with yesterday here in DC.  As a non-profit with a strong core mission of   

"creating a more informed public — one challenged and invigorated by a deeper understanding and appreciation of events, ideas and cultures"

they put many for-profit media companies to shame with their innovation and fresh approach to media.  I was totally impressed by NPR's innovative approach to media distribution - they are the uncontested leader in the podcast medium with 11M downloads per month and are way ahead of the game in mobile content distribution relative to others.  Why are they able to get so much right as a non-profit, when others who allegedly have more incentive to innovate and produce profits, are slower to the plate?  Maybe it has to do with a commitment to their core mission.  I bet that a strong mission to which all employees subscribe is a more powerful form of motivation than any financial incentive, particularly when financial incentives are clustered at the top.  Sergey and Larry have been quoted saying that their Google Foundation will pursue for-profit initiatives, which they believe are more efficient at innovating and producing desired results.   I think that, for the most part, such is the belief in Silicon Valley, where missions are really masks for the real incentives, green.  I'm not saying entrepreneurs aren't passionate about building great products too (I fall into this camp at the moment because I'm certainly not working to save the world), but the prime motivation is different than when you're building a great product to make a real difference in the world. They should check out NPR as an example of a non-profit model that outperforms its peers and achieves its goals - and I expect rewards its employees fairly well.

By Josh Guttman

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