WeTransfer releases opinion paper presenting actionable ideas on how LA tech companies can better serve their communities
With contributions from community leaders to provide a resource guide for the tech industry to avoid the pitfalls of San Francisco.
March 29, 2019 - Today WeTransfer released “On Companies and Communities” a paper aimed to start a dialogue for how tech companies can better engage and support the communities they call home. The paper is a collaborative effort written by the President of WeTransfer, Damian Bradfield, Lynn Brown and Andreas Tzortzis with contributions from Los Angeles community leaders including Ann Philbin (Hammer Museum), Yosi Sergant (Taskforce), Gina Belafonte (Sankofa), and Troy Carter (Atom Factory).
The paper focuses on the changing tech landscape in Los Angeles - WeTransfer’s first US base - and uses San Francisco as a glaring example of how companies can deteriorate communities. The paper explores how tech companies are often founded on the belief that technology can be transformative for people and their communities, but their core product promise often makes them blind to the subsequent consequences of their actions.
Damian Bradfield, President of WeTransfer explains:
"Lots of businesses like to tell you what they believe in. But there is a difference between company values painted (however stylishly) on a wall, and the real challenges of setting—and sticking to—a set of principles that guide your decision making."
Some of the action items from the paper include:
- Work with the communities to execute a project that will have a direct impact on their lives. Instead of coming to the community with a solution, engage the community to help ideate and problem solve together.
- Help existing community members train for the kinds of jobs your company offers to allow locals to bridge the income gap that is central to the destruction of existing communities.
- Understand that a company’s most active ambassadors are the people who work for it. Encourage your employees to get involved in the local community or work with local schools, and provide them with dedicated time to do so.
- Maintain the architectural style of the neighborhood in the design of new office space, including the work of neighborhood artists in company projects, or creative initiatives launched by your brand.
To this last point, Annie Philbin, Director of the Hammer Museum comments:
The density of creativity here is extraordinary,” says Philbin, “and to think that moving huge companies here without touting that and embracing that and figuring out ways to weave that into their lives, would be a lost opportunity.
WeTransfer makes tools to move ideas. Founded in 2009 in Amsterdam as a simple, well-designed file sharing service for the creative community, WeTransfer has grown to include tools that scale across the creative spectrum, including editorial platform WePresent (with 2M monthly readers), mobile app 'Collect by WeTransfer' (with 4M monthly users), quick slide-making tool Paste® (with 40,000 active teams), immersive sketching tool Paper® (with more than 25M downloads), and the original web platform with 50M monthly users and over a billion files sent each month.
From the beginning, WeTransfer has prioritized bringing “offline” values - trust, transparency, and ethics - online. This means having a responsible data policy and tools that don’t distract people from their creative flow. WeTransfer has pioneered a new means of online advertising, resulting in the platform’s full-page wallpapers, designed by our award-winning in-house creative studio. Advertisers include industry-leading brands like Apple, Saint Laurent, Google, Balenciaga, Samsung, Netflix, Adidas, and Squarespace.
Since its founding, WeTransfer has proudly supported the creative communities and given up to 30% of advertising space to support the arts, donating over 5 billion impressions in 2017. Through our ongoing advertising grant program and content platform, WePresent, we have partnered with hundreds of groundbreaking artists and organizations, including Björk, King Krule, FKA twigs, Ryan McGinley, Ami Vitale, the Nelson Mandela Foundation, the UN Development Program, the World Wildlife Foundation and the Prince Estate. In 2016, WeTransfer launched the world’s first free Masters of the Arts in design thinking with the University of the Underground and Worldwide FM, the global radio station run by legendary BBC DJ Gilles Peterson.
Following a $25 million investment from Highland Europe in 2015, WeTransfer opened a US office in Venice Beach, Los Angeles, to add to the Amsterdam headquarters. In 2018, WeTransfer acquired popular creative apps Paper® and Paste® and expanded its US presence to Seattle and New York City.