Late yesterday afternoon Jo Ann and I were at the annual company picnic of a recent high tech start up. It was a jolly event held in a local park with well over a hundred people in attendance – the employees brought their families and significant others, their kids were running around and bouncing in and out of an inflatable structure that made my back hurt just looking at it. The company had laid out a lavishly catered buffet and tubs of soft drinks and adult beverages. Everyone was talking about how much the company had grown since last year’s picnic, and even since the last Christmas party.
As we sat in our camping chairs with the fold-out side tables (we always take ours for reliable and comfortable seating in a choice shady spot), we mused about the scene playing out around us. This company now employs about one hundred people who are primarily young college graduates , all of them smart, with most having STEM degrees. The firm is in the financial engineering sector making new and innovative software for institutional investment advisors.
So where did all this enthusiasm and productivity come from that now pays good salaries for young workers with families, and lets them establish and advance in rewarding careers? As we looked through the crowd, we identified several employees who possibly could have started their own companies, but they didn’t. In fact, none of these young and talented people started the company which now focuses their professional lives and sustains their families. None of them would have had the idea to bring together the specific and critical elements that have made this company the success it is today.
Contrary to what we are told by socialists like President Obama, Senator Warren, and Senator Sanders (and the class warrior Hillary), these employees did not create their jobs. It was the founders of the company who envisioned how a certain new technology could be productized and introduced into an extremely competitive and sophisticated marketplace. It was these founders who effectively communicated their vision to a small group of investors (aka ‘angels’), and convinced them to accept the risks entailed in a new start-up in whose growth they would all share. But before any monies changed hands, it was also the founders who had to establish a relationship of trust with the investors, trust that included a belief that the founders were honorable, had the necessary talents, and would dedicate themselves to the project at a commensurate level of risk to themselves, their families, and their own financial futures.
As these founders became the management of the company, they worked uncounted hours, starting with a small team that also put their professional fates into a fledgling organization which at the time neither had nor could afford sufficient office space. People worked out of their homes until enough demonstrable product was developed to attract more investment and workers to warrant an adequate corporate presence. All during this time the founders were on airplanes flying to conferences and customer presentations across the country. And all this time all the other corporate functions had to be cobbled together in the right sequence and worked with an ever critical eye to controlling costs.
And as the products began to mature and be sold, more people were added to develop additional features and functions along with new products to expand the company’s footprint in the financial marketplaces. The level of risk and intensity of work did not diminish as the company grew, was nationally acknowledged, and accepted in the marketplace. During this time the company was always hiring more staff to build, sell, and maintain an expanding catalog of software that was now being used by thousands of investment professionals. In such a growth phase that continues today, a young company plows back all revenues to pay for ongoing expenses that will hopefully be covered in the future by increased sales. And the work to deliver online services to keep a growing customer cohort satisfied is an organizational and technical challenge that is known only to entrepreneurs who in the last decades have built the ecommerce infrastructure that everyone today takes for granted.
As we enjoyed our excellent BBQd chicken and tender tri-tip, and listened to the happy throng around us – many still dissecting the happenings of their work days – it was again clear to me (for this was not my first time) how this wonderful country has worked since the days of its founding. Throughout our history, all our entrepreneurs have ever wanted from their country was the running room to make real their dreams. They have always been willing to live with the inevitable yet unknown risks to their health, years spent, and their families. They have always and are still willing to take on the markets and their competitors. But in the last century, what they have come to fear most is collectivism and the heavy hands of Leviathan. Knowing this, the overwhelming numbers today would rather work for someone who will take such risks, or better yet, wiggle into the belly of the beast and work for Leviathan itself.
So when we recall those now infamous words, “You didn’t create that …!”, the audacity of the lie and its addled acceptance both saddens and enrages those who have actually created wealth and wealth producing jobs.