Speaker: Srinija Srinivasan

Transforming Our Market Culture Through Artistic Values

An accidental tech exec, Srinija Srinivasan joined Yahoo! in 1995 as one of the first five employees, where she served as Vice President, Editor-in-Chief for 15 years before stepping down in 2010. With a background in artificial intelligence, her work at Yahoo! centered on the human experience, starting with the categorization system of the Yahoo! Directory and rapidly expanding into leading editorial and policy issues globally. During that time, she also chaired the board of SFJAZZ, a recognized international nonprofit leader in jazz creation, presentation, and education.

These experiences together forged her determination to co-found Loove, a developing music venture designed to demonstrate how commerce and technology can be guided by artistic values rather than letting our culture be led by market values. Co-founded with Josh Roseman, a professional multi-instrumentalist, composer, producer, and bandleader, Loove serves as an equitable and sustainable model for creative music in the digital age.

"In 1995, when I joined an initial development team of just five people, tasked with building Yahoo!," Srinija writes, "we witnessed the exhilarating momentum of an epoch in which proponents of Culture commanded new technology, using it to assert cultural values like democracy, transparency, and accessibility. This assertion of values was enabled by new Technologies, and it upended the established powers of Commerce, re-imagining business models and revamping entire industries." 

But soon, she notes, commerce fought back to seize "the power of Technology in order to increase productivity, improve efficiency, and scale to ever larger markets. ... [B]efore we knew it, we found ourselves praying to the God of Scale without examining the costs. We lost sight of our ultimate goal: to enrich human lives. We’ve substituted efficiency for beauty, productivity for passion, scale for satisfaction."

Srinija seeks through Loove to again support culture to re-balance our lives.  By uniting like-minded audiences, artists, and presenters, Loove aims to transform the values of productivity, efficiency, and scale on which our culture heavily relies into an embodiment of beauty, passion, satisfaction, and community. “At Loove, Music is our favorite part of culture,” Srinija explains. “And one of its greatest strengths is its capacity to bring us into the moment – to remind us to live in the here and now. Other art forms help us escape reality, but music, perhaps alone, makes us notice it for what it really is, in all its deep beauty, pulsing mystery and elegant absurdity.”

Srinija recently concluded participation in the US Partnership on Mobility from Poverty, a collaboration between the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the Urban Institute. “The Partnership's collective ambition is that all people achieve a reasonable standard of living with the dignity that comes from having power over their lives and being engaged in and valued by their community.” Tasked with answering one big question, “What would it take to dramatically increase mobility from poverty?”, the Partnership in 2018 released policy and philanthropic recommendations, and the Gates Foundation announced that it would invest $158 million in fighting poverty.

Speaking on the Partnership’s work, Srinija says, “We could always, always, always seek to find, uplift, and amplify the voices of people who have experienced [poverty] or who are experiencing it, to give dimension to their life, to their challenges, and be able to put ourselves in their shoes.” Srinija has also written on the issue: “It seems that at the root of why solving poverty is so hard lie our deeply entrenched narratives and beliefs about power. We can perhaps mitigate poverty by redistributing wealth and income, but to truly eradicate poverty would require a radical shift in our conception of power. We must first understand that according to our common narrative about power, one can only have power at someone else’s expense. Power in this model necessitates the diminishing of someone else’s humanity.”

Srinija serves as a Vice Chair of Stanford University's Board of Trustees and lives bicoastally between Palo Alto, CA and Brooklyn, NY.

Join us in conversation with this creative and passionate individual!

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