Private investment, inequality, and democracy

One of the things I have loved about thinking about new products is the alignment between creating value with the product and doing good for society. People buy what you’re selling because it’s making their lives better. The more you sell, the better you’re doing for society.

But in a very unequal society, there is substantial money to be made in serving the interests of the wealthiest segment of society. Here it’s possible for the virtuous link between investment in new products and social good to be broken.

Since new products shape our society so powerfully, and implicitly promote certain sets of values, can we really treat private investments into new products as a purely private matter? Or is the cycle of product innovation basically exogenous and we have to treat it as-is?