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A world without investors

If you are a startup, or a large company, or just an individual looking to ship your art, you would have at one point or another either considered raising money or have already raised money.

There are two broad ways to raise money.

One, raise money from investors. A lot of people have money in their bank accounts that they don't immediately need and they want that pile of money to keep growing while they do nothing and carry on with their lives. There are institutions in place to serve the needs of such people. These institutions can vary from banks to VCs to mutual funds and they collect money from the millions of investors and they either lend that to businesses looking to raise money or they buy a portion of a company (stocks/stake).

Two, raise money from customers. Whatever you build adds value to someone or the other and these people are willing to pay money for the value that you add to them. And they pay you for your product or your service.

The common model that many companies employ is to raise money from both (think every company listed on the stock exchange and every startup funded by a VC that also has revenues). But several businesses only follow the second route and raise money only from customers.

Everyone wants to delight their customers. But, the ones that raise money from investors will also want to delight the investors along with the customers. And since the only thing that investors care about is increasing the pile of money in their bank accounts, these companies are constantly looking to increase their stock price or their valuation, because that is how they can delight the investors.

The stock price or the valuation increases when the profits of the company continues to grow. And the profit grows when the company makes more revenue or reduces its costs. And the investors are quite ruthless. They call for the head of the CEO and the founders when the company fails to grow its stock price/valuation, a.k.a profits. And as a consequence, the people that run these companies find every corner to cut which will ensure they keep growing profits.

If this means moving jobs to countries where wages are cheaper, they will do it. If this means operating in countries where they don't have to cover the healthcare of employees or follow workplace safety guidelines, they will do it. If this means bribing government officials to get an edge over the competition, they will do it. If this means finding loopholes and setting up offices in tax havens, they will do it.

Because that is what we as investors demand of them.

I tried to imagine a world without investors, a world where businesses only raise money from customers, and this world didn't seem at all bad. In fact, that is the world we lived in until a couple of hundred years ago.

Investors are people that want their money to grow without them having to work for it. How would the world be without them? 

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