A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To Profit …


Like Extreme, we all know love is more than words, right?

Try saying “I love you”, but not showing how you feel. And the love will fade to hurt and disappointment. Soon you won’t even bother saying the words. The emails, texts and facebook messages will simply stop. Even on the most important days. Because words are at the core of the love.

Businesses used to think that way about money and profits.

Profits were about more than money. Profits allow you to grow and invest in new infrastructure, hire more staff and buy income-generating plant. If you don’t have profits, you can’t survive, let alone sustain your service delivery or contribute to communities. But money was undoubtedly at the core of how we thought about profits.

Now a new breed of business is thinking differently about profits.

  • Airbnb is the largest accommodation company in the world. It doesn’t own a single hotel title.
  • Facebook is the largest media company in the world. It doesn’t employ a single journalist.
  • Uber is the largest taxi company in the world. It doesn’t own a single taxi cab.

If it’s not land, labour or capital – the traditional drivers of business wealth – what is it that makes these companies so successful?

Don’t get me wrong, they do have capital, and they are creating jobs, but not like they used to. It’s not showing up on their salary expenses or asset purchases. How do they keep such a lean balance sheet and healthy income statement whilst funding and fueling global growth?

The answer might surprise you. Especially if you’re an accountant or a “numbers guy”.


Behind all these companies is a text-based world. Ideas, thoughts and concepts formulated and translated into software code – the words that computers speak.

But it’s more than words. It’s the people’s words not just the computers’ words.

Facebook realised that even if you’ve never watched the nightly news of politics, murders and sports results, you just might be interested in more personal news, like whether that guy at church is single or not. They didn’t need journalists to bring you that news. They needed to create a way where you can access his words or your friend’s words yourself. They needed to let you share what’s important to you.

Words are simply one of the ways we are designed to share with others. #share

Uber realised that you needed to take shared journeys. Sometimes, you can’t get where you’re going on your own. We all have times when we need help on our journey. And the journey is always about more than the vehicle you arrive in. So they created a way where you can use words to access someone who is willing to serve you and stay on the journey with you until you arrive where you want to be.

Words are simply one of the ways we are designed to serve others. #serve

Airbnb realised that no matter how great the journey is, there are times you just need to stop and rest somewhere. We all have times when we need someone else to be accommodating to us. We all have a need to drink from a refreshing fountain of hospitality. So Airbnb created a way where you can use words to access someone who is willing to let you just rest and be and stay in that place until you are ready to face the world again.

Words are simply one of the ways we are designed to let others stay. #stay

When you allow people to share, serve and stay, those connections create something incredibly valuable. Customers leave the reporter, the ride or the room, with a bonus – a relationship.

Love is more than words. But words, if you let them, will lead you to the core of one of the most valuable assets in the universe; Love. Maybe you’ve got more assets than you realised.

These three companies took land, labour and capital off the agenda, and put relationships in the centre of their service delivery… and a funny thing happened. The profits exploded and expanded globally!


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