Here's to the Misfits
After an hour of conversation, Saber and Munro invite me to join them as they add their wives and a few trusted counselors by speakerphone and spend the better part of the next hour in prayer. Even in spiritually experimental northern California, it must be an odd sight for their employees to see their bosses in a glass-walled conference room talking to God and asking for guidance. But this is all part of Fig's pursuit of truth. "We need to pursue the adventure of growing intimate with God," Munro says. "Growing in this is worth trial and error."
What do nonbelieving employees think of bosses who spend part of the workday seeking intimacy with God? "Team members can get paid like professional athletes at Google or Facebook," Saber says. "We disclose to them that we try to make decisions based on God's leading. They join Fig because of our mission and culture."
Still, "We're not a Christian company," Saber says. "I'm not sure such a thing exists. We're trying to build a world-class company where God is the senior partner, more so than a place for Christians to work. We see business as a powerful instrument for aligning the human experience with its original design.
"Poverty, sickness, environmental degradation—we think God cares about these things and wants to be involved. So we believe he will be present when we ask."
Misfit is building devices that track your every step; Fig is crowdsourcing the tasks of staying fit and pursuing personal and spiritual disciplines. Kevin Adler is trying to get people to host potlucks. The founder of inthis.co (whose website describes him as "captain + chief stargazer") did graduate work in the United Kingdom on how natural disasters and collective traumas affect community life. He left academia and entered the tech world to address one of technology's great paradoxes: the way technologies of connection lead to an increasing sense of isolation.
"The average number of friends that a user has on Facebook has gone from about 150 to about 300 in only about two years," Adler tells my colleague Katelyn Beaty in an interview. "We're losing all sense of what a friendship actually means. We are more connected than ever before, yet all these people feel completely disconnected from the very communities where they met, the context of the relationships."
So Adler is aiming to roll out technology that reconnects people to actual communities of shared experience. "Ninety percent of our social life right now is not being captured on any social network. It's based on actual experiences with people. We're developing a platform that takes your experiences from other sources like Google Calendar, and lets you see who else was part of this experience. Over time, as we go to different events and activities, get-togethers, we'll see our relationship emerge as a byproduct of what we've done together."