Below are my comments to our employees on recent events.  I thought it was important to share it with our customers and the community.

We are in unprecedented times. Not only are we fighting a major pandemic accompanied by historically high levels of unemployment, we are actively engaged in an ongoing, long-term struggle against bigotry and hate. Extreme nationalism, religious intolerance, and racism are unfortunately alive and well—in the United States and around the world.

Extreme nationalism, religious intolerance, and racism are unfortunately alive and well—in the United States and around the world.

As we’ve all now seen, George Floyd, an unarmed black man, was killed in police custody in Minneapolis, Minnesota on May 25th. Since then, we’ve seen a wave of protests unraveling around the US. The Bay Area and many other cities have been under curfew for the last week. 

Protest in San Francisco’s Mission neighborhood.

George Floyd’s death is a disgrace and never should have happened. To draw a stark contrast to this tragedy, we launched two astronauts into space on a SpaceX rocket on Sunday—a big leap towards our interplanetary future.

I am drawing this contrast intentionally because it shows what humans are capable of if we find a common purpose. Our mission here at productboard is to make products that matter, but this mission assumes that humans have their basic needs satisfied so they can enjoy these products in the first place. If one doesn’t have a safe home, full belly, good health, quality education, stable employment, and personal freedom, one doesn’t care much about excellent products. Or flying to Mars. Today’s events are a reminder that the assumption of equal opportunity and fulfillment of basic needs is not true for many of our fellow human beings.

Today’s events are a reminder that the assumption of equal opportunity and fulfillment of basic needs is not true for many of our fellow human beings.

We have a lot of work to do to eliminate hatred and create true equality. As a company, we aim to treat people with respect and dignity and give equal opportunity to all regardless of race, sex, origin, age, or religious beliefs. We support causes that promote education in the digital era and allocate time for volunteering. However, we can—and must—do more, and I want to encourage all of you to step up and fight against inequality through means appropriate for you.

I want to encourage all of you to step up and fight against inequality through means appropriate for you.

That’s why productboard is implementing a donation matching program of up to $100k annually to support your efforts in fighting inequality. I plan to also explore the possibility of pledging a portion of our equity with our board. Finally, I want to put my money where my mouth is, and will personally match any donations made to the Black Lives Matter movement up to $10k.

If any of you have suggestions for actions to fight inequality, please share them in the  #stop-inequality Slack channel that I just created. This is a war we must fight. And it isn’t an isolated fight for the United States of America. Bigotry and hatred are unfortunately everywhere—they just manifest in a different fashion. Sometimes as racism, sometimes as nationalism, and sometimes as intolerance towards different genders or religions. Yes, products matter, but people matter more. 

I hope you join the fight.

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