Tech Hybrids Blend Lofty Ideals With Bottom-Line Business

By Kate Rockwood,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 13, 2008 11:38 AM CDT
Apratim Purakayastha demonstrates Lotus Symphony for corporate clients. The free suite of software uses the Open Document Format for creating and sharing documents, spreadsheets and presentations.    (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan)
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(Newser) – Tech companies that blend social missions with business ambitions are all the rage in Silicon Valley. Called “social enterprises,” they often generate sizable revenue (unlike most nonprofits), that’s then retained and reinvested (unlike most for-profits). Now, an ecosystem of related organizations is emerging, such as specialized legal services and independent Internet providers, reports the New York Times.

“We went through all these decades where we had nonprofits that thought business was evil and sustainability was irrelevant,” says one social entrepreneur advisor. “Now there has been an influx of business thought. People are saying, ‘I have enough money and I care.’” The best-known examples are Mozilla Corporation, which develops the web browser Firefox, and TechSoup, which delivers commercial software to non-profit groups in 14 countries.