Jeremy Yun, guitarist in the rock band WJM and an activist, has announced the launch of Inclusive Stakeholding—a $1 million social impact fund to support social innovation, including projects being made possible by blockchain technologies. With the fund, Jeremy Yun, along with his co-founder Conrad Yun, hopes to revive kin village values in the context of the global village.
At a rally in San Francisco last spring, Jeremy Yun addressed a crowd of more than 10,000 people at the Civic Center Plaza. In his speech, Yun highlighted the lack of vested interest in the success of others—the willingness to take responsibility—as a common denominator behind the myriad of seemingly intractable problems the world faces today, including corporate abuses, political corruption, and social division.
“Once upon a time, we all lived in kin tribes,” said Yun. “There was mom, dad, many siblings, and even cousins, aunts, and uncles. We took care of each other according to our degrees of relatedness—something biologists call inclusive fitness. We were fed, informed, and governed by those who had our best interests at heart.”
“In today’s mobile and interconnected world, stable bonds of kin tribes have been replaced with transactional interactions among strangers who don’t have kin skin in the game,” noted Yun.
“This shift—from high-alignment social systems to low-alignment ones—has fundamentally changed the social calculus. Based on inclusive fitness, strangers have an incentive to self-deal and to put their own interests ahead of ours.”
For Yun, the concept is not only theoretical—it’s personal. His grandfather, who emigrated from South Korea, is a 36th generation native of the family’s kin village that’s been together for centuries.
“In essence, family values didn’t scale well as we globalized,” commented Yun. “We’ve failed to develop commensurate incentive systems to replace inclusive fitness as the essential social contract. When malalignment is combined with competition, a race to the bottom ensues. Fake news, fake foods, and fake politicians are catalyzed by the same underlying phenomenon of low alignment.”
Last year, Yun hosted Blockchain For Kids, an intergenerational event featuring leaders in blockchain and young social entrepreneurs. The event explored how blockchain technologies such as smart contracts, decentralized autonomous organizations, and tokenization can be used to create novel socio-economic structures for the greater good.
“Through blockchain and other types of social innovations, we have an unprecedented obligation and opportunity to reimagine our institutions based on inclusive stakeholding, goal congruence, and vested interest in the success of others,” stated Yun.
It’s an ambitious idea intended to reinvent our institutions. However, Yun hopes that launching the fund will help stimulate such new thinking.
“The central theme of world history has been our inability to transition the social contract of kin villages to the global village,” noted Yun. “Our social, political, and economic institutions—from ancient empires and monarchies to modern republics and irresponsible corporations—have been undermined by the lack of commensurate incentive structures to replace inclusive fitness.”
“For example, when stockholding organizations were invented, they had the potential to align interests the way kin instincts do,” commented Yun. “However, when capital did not include labor, it led to social upheavals, ideological conflicts, and wars. Against this backdrop, aligning the interests of labor and capital through stock options helped make Silicon Valley the entrepreneurial juggernaut that it is today. On the other hand, Silicon Valley companies too often don’t serve public interests as well as they serve their own.”
That so many major institutions are suddenly being questioned by the people is music to Yun’s ears.
“Without the central insight—the need to transition from inclusive fitness to inclusive stakeholding—history keeps repeating itself,” stated Yun. “Pete Townshend anthemized this Sisyphean hell of revolutions: ‘Meet the new boss. Same as the old boss.’”
In a message of hope, Yun and his bandmates paid tribute to Pete Townshend by playing a cover of The Who’s “My Generation” during their appearance on Steve Harvey’s Little Big Shots, a performance seen by millions on prime time NBC.
“Imagine the possibilities,” remarked Yun. “Can we tie the success of teachers to that of their pupils? Can we tie the success of businesses to that of their customers as well as the interests of the public? Can we tie the success of elected officials to that of their constituents? Can we find ways to include the environment, future generations, and others without a voice, as stakeholders?”
Yun has been speaking to audiences around the country to build momentum for the initiative. He gave a keynote last year in Los Angeles at the Purpose Awards, where he serves on the advisory board.
“Instead of a world where history is written by the victors, imagine a world where history is made by helping others win,” said Yun. “We hope the principles of inclusive stakeholding will help steward humanity on our transformative journey from the kin village to the global village. In the long view, it’s a return to where we started. Help us write the story of how we will find our way back home.”
Jeremy Yun, Co-Founder
Conrad Yun, Co-Founder
Managing Director, Yun Family Enterprises
President, Palo Alto Institute
Dr. Joon Yun, Advisor
President, Palo Alto Investors