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Why Focusing on ‘Purpose’ Can Help Companies Profit More

January 30, 2017, 9:08 PM UTC

In an interview at the Fortune Global Forum in Rome in December, entrepreneur Steve Case talked about the moral obligation for a company to do good in the world and how new jobs can be created in the “third wave” of digital revolution, where technology is infused in every part of our daily lives. Case co-founded AOL more than 30 years ago and is currently the chairman and CEO of the investment company Revolution.

“Sometimes people think that when companies are focused on purpose, they are going to sacrifice in profit, but often, by focusing on purpose you can improve and increase profit because you’re going to the market with a solution that has more impact,” Case said.

According to Case, it’s time to move away from investing in apps that will enrich only the lives of the top 1% to investing in technologies that can improve the lives of everybody and that will create new jobs. “I think one of the messages in the recent presidential election is that there are a lot of people who do feel left out and left behind by globalization and digitization,” he said.

Case believes that especially regions in Asia, the Middle East, and Africa are going to be big players in the third wave, since they will be closer to understanding the challenges and will come up with innovative solutions.

“Some of the greatest innovations around mobile payments have come from Africa, and some of the greatest innovations around energy, particularly in solar energy, have come from Africa,” he explained.

“So how do we reach out and create new opportunities for them?” he added. “By investing in the startups in those places, invest in startups in Detroit, not just in San Francisco, and in the process generate a new generation of impact focused companies, that are not just focused on profit but also focused on process.”

Revolution’s recent initiatives include investing in luxury watchmaker Shinola, whose watches are built in Detroit, and raising $525 million fund to invest in companies outside of Silicon Valley.