Sunday, June 17, 2007

Bono: Turn (RED) Into Red Hat

Yesterday, I bought the latest Vanity Fair - the "Africa edition", guest-edited by Bono, with Queen Rania on the cover.

As I flipped through the magazine, noting the same old (RED) marketing campaign partners, it made me mad: There is *so much more money* out there that could be going to this campaign, and to Africa.

The reason it isn't is because the structure of the (RED) licensing campaign is antiquated and non-scalable.

To be crazy-successful, (RED) needs to be able to scale upwards from the handful of manufacturers and embrace every potential contributor in the world. Which means (RED) needs to become the world's first GPL (General Public License) charity.

Here's an example of money being left on the table, and how GPL would transform (RED).

Back when the (RED) campaign to raise money for AIDS in Africa launched, I decided I wanted to help. So I called up the (RED) campaign and made them a pitch.

The gist of the offer was - Authentium's security technologies are available to more than 40 million homes, via some of the world's largest ISPs. Let's create a great-looking red consumer security suite, call it SECU(RED), include some links to other (RED) partners, and offer it to 40 million people. A nominal *2% take-up* could generate $8mm for the campaign.

They basically said "Thank you but we've got more on our plates than we can handle right now."

So I called a friend who knows Bono and asked if he would pass the message along. He basically said "Look, he's probably getting two thousand eight million dollar ideas thrown at him every day."

Therein lies the problem.

If you think I'm alone in feeling frustrated at not being able to help, here's what it says on the idea submission section of the Product (Red) web site:

"We regret that we are not able to accept any new ideas for (RED) products or partnerships. We have been so overwhelmed by the response to our launch that we can't keep up."

Bono and team, one small change could enable much more fund-raising to occur. Making the change to GPL would enable *every* potential money-raising opportunity to be explored with minimum impact to the (RED) organization, and maximum impact on Africa.

It would enable any manufacturer that qualifies to create a product under the (RED) brand name, providing they adhered to the license terms, and submit earnings back to the campaign at a rate fixed by the license: Earnings that would then be available to fulfill more promises in Africa.

It would be transforming.

Worried about quality? Then create a simple qualification process, and back it up with an equally-simple product certification process - in other words, turn (RED) into "Red Hat". That way, manufacturers can know the rules up front, be certified, and participate in the program.

Product (RED) has the potential to be mind-blowing, and a transforming business idea. But it is stuck in second gear right now. Like many great ideas before it, it isn't scaling.

(RED) could achieve massive scale - and become the Linux of charity organizations - by adopting GPL.

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