30 November 2010

"A perfect market requires perfect information"

[Forbes:] What do you think WikiLeaks mean for business? How do businesses need to adjust to a world where WikiLeaks exists?

[Julian Assange:] WikiLeaks means it’s easier to run a good business and harder to run a bad business, and all CEOs should be encouraged by this. I think about the case in China where milk powder companies started cutting the protein in milk powder with plastics. That happened at a number of separate manufacturers.

Let’s say you want to run a good company. It’s nice to have an ethical workplace. Your employees are much less likely to screw you over if they’re not screwing other people over.

Then one company starts cutting their milk powder with melamine, and becomes more profitable. You can follow suit, or slowly go bankrupt and the one that’s cutting its milk powder will take you over. That’s the worst of all possible outcomes.

The other possibility is that the first one to cut its milk powder is exposed. Then you don’t have to cut your milk powder. There’s a threat of regulation that produces self-regulation.

It just means that it’s easier for honest CEOs to run an honest business, if the dishonest businesses are more effected negatively by leaks than honest businesses. That’s the whole idea. In the struggle between open and honest companies and dishonest and closed companies, we’re creating a tremendous reputational tax on the unethical companies.
The leak I'm waiting for is, what's in it all for Julian Assange? I mean, if you think he's doing this out of the goodness of his heart, I have a bridge to sell you. Who's paying him?


upyernoz said...

i think he's doing it for ideological reasons. it's not out of the goodness of his heart, but he is a ideological anarchist of the "information wants to be free" variety. if he were in it for the money, he would have been bought off long ago.

Glomarization said...

Maybe he's doing it to debunk GWB's new memoir.

I don't disagree that he's ideologically motivated to bring all this stuff to light. But what he's doing takes a lot of work, and there's a lot of risk. While I'm not a conspiracy theorist -- that is, I don't think he's getting money laundered through a series of international banks and fictitious names or anything -- I still think he's gotta be funded somehow. I'm really curious to know who's cutting his paychecks.