Why I’m giving my company Election Day off

Comment

Image Credits: franckreporter

Hicham Oudghiri

Contributor

Hicham Oudghiri is the CEO and co-founder of Enigma, an operational data management and intelligence provider that won TechCrunch Disrupt NY Battlefield 2013.

This year’s U.S. presidential election is confusing for everyone. The popularity contest that has become the election is diluting our time, attention and ability to think critically. Which is ironic, given that we are more connected to information than we have ever been before, and the computation necessary to model problems has never been cheaper.

The only certainty in the election is that the results will have a dramatic impact on all citizens, businesses and organizations around the world. With war raging across continents, inaction in the face of climate change and the disparity of wealth threatening the stability of the economy and open flow of invention, an easy solution would be to point fingers and place blame.

What we really need to do is rise to the greater level of civic duty that our culture needs to govern our increasingly complex world. We need to be more involved and have an actual say in how we are governed. For that reason, I am giving my company November 8th off to remove any impediments from their ability to vote.

I grew up in New York, but I was born in Morocco. My grandfather, along with his brother and Allal al-Fassi, started the first political party in Morocco. I grew up admiring him as one of the founding fathers of modern politics in his country. I was raised with a real sense of civics, which I saw in action whenever we would visit Fez.

Interestingly, Morocco was the first country to publicly recognize the United States as an official state with the ratification of the Moroccan-American Treaty of Friendship in 1786. Signed by Thomas Jefferson and John Adams, it recognized Moroccan ports as open to U.S. ships and is the longest-standing unbroken treaty relationship in U.S. history.

I am inspired by this history of diplomacy and always feel it important to be civic-minded. The commitment to make the world we live in one where countries and peoples are bound by productive relationships and trade is one of the driving forces as to why I’m an entrepreneur today. These early experiences also meaningfully impacted the kind of company I founded, the type of work we do and the team we recruit to be a part of, and contribute to, our bigger vision.

Again, I am encouraging these core values at Enigma by declaring November 8th a mandatory holiday. True, some people can’t legally vote and perhaps some will abstain, but one thing is certain — they can’t come in to work.

Why? I am trying to remove any ounce of guilt that could be felt by a single team member for missing a meeting, a client call or any other professional activity because they wanted to vote. Most, I expect, will spend at least part of the day focused on their role in the future of American society and the world — and that’s time well spent.

 

I feel so much gratitude to have founded a company where not only can we afford to make such decisions, but where we all feel that this is simply the right thing to do. With voter disenfranchisement issues still plaguing the citizenry, and many burdened by plight and diminishing wages, often working multiple jobs to make ends meet, we need to lead everywhere we can. We need to make a point about how important it is to care about everyone’s voice in this process.

My biggest motivation is to respect the importance of being involved in the civic duties that are needed to protect the unique environment of the U.S. for entrepreneurs like myself. As a Muslim naturalized citizen of the U.S., married to a half-French, half-American Jewish woman with a two-year-old who holds three passports, I can assure you I sit at an intersection of culture, identity, race and religion that made the U.S. the only place where I could earn the trust and opportunities that I have. The opportunity to get a great education, the freedom from judgment by others and the support I needed to dream big — these are sanctities that I’ve uniquely felt in the U.S. throughout my life. The U.S. is the only business environment where I would be able to run the company I do, the way I have.

And I’m not the only one; 49 percent of entrepreneurs funded by the venture capital community are first- or second-generation immigrants. Inherently, these people are risk-takers; they don’t only represent the tail end of the American Dream, they’re the beginning of it. They’re uniquely resourceful, they get their bearings and are strong enough to build, rebuild and build again. Finally, they are grateful for the freedom and justice in the United States we have all fought so diligently to preserve and cultivate. Let’s not let this election threaten the openness of our society by remaining complacent in the face of several policies rooted in fear that could threaten our growth.

At Enigma, we focus on solving operational problems with data in the real world. That puts policy and regulation in the forefront of our minds. The very least we can do is rise up to the minimum requirement of voting for our president every four years.

There is power in data, but it only helps us interpret the world when the point is to better it. I encourage you and your teams to join me and ensure that everyone who is entrusted with the right to vote wakes up on November 8th ready to stand up for a society that enables ingenuity and global transformation.

More TechCrunch

Meta’s Oversight Board has now extended its scope to include the company’s newest platform, Instagram Threads, and has begun hearing cases from Threads.

Meta’s Oversight Board takes its first Threads case

The company says it’s refocusing and prioritizing fewer initiatives that will have the biggest impact on customers and add value to the business.

SeekOut, a recruiting startup last valued at $1.2 billion, lays off 30% of its workforce

The U.K.’s self-proclaimed “world-leading” regulations for self-driving cars are now official, after the Automated Vehicles (AV) Act received royal assent — the final rubber stamp any legislation must go through…

UK’s autonomous vehicle legislation becomes law, paving the way for first driverless cars by 2026

ChatGPT, OpenAI’s text-generating AI chatbot, has taken the world by storm. What started as a tool to hyper-charge productivity through writing essays and code with short text prompts has evolved…

ChatGPT: Everything you need to know about the AI-powered chatbot

SoLo Funds CEO Travis Holoway: “Regulators seem driven by press releases when they should be motivated by true consumer protection and empowering equitable solutions.”

Fintech lender SoLo Funds is being sued again by the government over its lending practices

Hard tech startups generate a lot of buzz, but there’s a growing cohort of companies building digital tools squarely focused on making hard tech development faster, more efficient and —…

Rollup wants to be the hardware engineer’s workhorse

TechCrunch Disrupt 2024 is not just about groundbreaking innovations, insightful panels, and visionary speakers — it’s also about listening to YOU, the audience, and what you feel is top of…

Disrupt Audience Choice vote closes Friday

Google says the new SDK would help Google expand on its core mission of connecting the right audience to the right content at the right time.

Google is launching a new Android feature to drive users back into their installed apps

Jolla has taken the official wraps off the first version of its personal server-based AI assistant in the making. The reborn startup is building a privacy-focused AI device — aka…

Jolla debuts privacy-focused AI hardware

OpenAI is removing one of the voices used by ChatGPT after users found that it sounded similar to Scarlett Johansson, the company announced on Monday. The voice, called Sky, is…

OpenAI to remove ChatGPT’s Scarlett Johansson-like voice

The ChatGPT mobile app’s net revenue first jumped 22% on the day of the GPT-4o launch and continued to grow in the following days.

ChatGPT’s mobile app revenue saw its biggest spike yet following GPT-4o launch

Dating app maker Bumble has acquired Geneva, an online platform built around forming real-world groups and clubs. The company said that the deal is designed to help it expand its…

Bumble buys community building app Geneva to expand further into friendships

CyberArk — one of the army of larger security companies founded out of Israel — is acquiring Venafi, a specialist in machine identity, for $1.54 billion. 

CyberArk snaps up Venafi for $1.54B to ramp up in machine-to-machine security

Founder-market fit is one of the most crucial factors in a startup’s success, and operators (someone involved in the day-to-day operations of a startup) turned founders have an almost unfair advantage…

OpenseedVC, which backs operators in Africa and Europe starting their companies, reaches first close of $10M fund

A Singapore High Court has effectively approved Pine Labs’ request to shift its operations to India.

Pine Labs gets Singapore court approval to shift base to India

The AI Safety Institute, a U.K. body that aims to assess and address risks in AI platforms, has said it will open a second location in San Francisco. 

UK opens office in San Francisco to tackle AI risk

Companies are always looking for an edge, and searching for ways to encourage their employees to innovate. One way to do that is by running an internal hackathon around a…

Why companies are turning to internal hackathons

Featured Article

I’m rooting for Melinda French Gates to fix tech’s broken ‘brilliant jerk’ culture

Women in tech still face a shocking level of mistreatment at work. Melinda French Gates is one of the few working to change that.

1 day ago
I’m rooting for Melinda French Gates to fix tech’s  broken ‘brilliant jerk’ culture

Blue Origin has successfully completed its NS-25 mission, resuming crewed flights for the first time in nearly two years. The mission brought six tourist crew members to the edge of…

Blue Origin successfully launches its first crewed mission since 2022

Creative Artists Agency (CAA), one of the top entertainment and sports talent agencies, is hoping to be at the forefront of AI protection services for celebrities in Hollywood. With many…

Hollywood agency CAA aims to help stars manage their own AI likenesses

Expedia says Rathi Murthy and Sreenivas Rachamadugu, respectively its CTO and senior vice president of core services product & engineering, are no longer employed at the travel booking company. In…

Expedia says two execs dismissed after ‘violation of company policy’

Welcome back to TechCrunch’s Week in Review. This week had two major events from OpenAI and Google. OpenAI’s spring update event saw the reveal of its new model, GPT-4o, which…

OpenAI and Google lay out their competing AI visions

When Jeffrey Wang posted to X asking if anyone wanted to go in on an order of fancy-but-affordable office nap pods, he didn’t expect the post to go viral.

With AI startups booming, nap pods and Silicon Valley hustle culture are back

OpenAI’s Superalignment team, responsible for developing ways to govern and steer “superintelligent” AI systems, was promised 20% of the company’s compute resources, according to a person from that team. But…

OpenAI created a team to control ‘superintelligent’ AI — then let it wither, source says

A new crop of early-stage startups — along with some recent VC investments — illustrates a niche emerging in the autonomous vehicle technology sector. Unlike the companies bringing robotaxis to…

VCs and the military are fueling self-driving startups that don’t need roads

When the founders of Sagetap, Sahil Khanna and Kevin Hughes, started working at early-stage enterprise software startups, they were surprised to find that the companies they worked at were trying…

Deal Dive: Sagetap looks to bring enterprise software sales into the 21st century

Keeping up with an industry as fast-moving as AI is a tall order. So until an AI can do it for you, here’s a handy roundup of recent stories in the world…

This Week in AI: OpenAI moves away from safety

After Apple loosened its App Store guidelines to permit game emulators, the retro game emulator Delta — an app 10 years in the making — hit the top of the…

Adobe comes after indie game emulator Delta for copying its logo

Meta is once again taking on its competitors by developing a feature that borrows concepts from others — in this case, BeReal and Snapchat. The company is developing a feature…

Meta’s latest experiment borrows from BeReal’s and Snapchat’s core ideas

Welcome to Startups Weekly! We’ve been drowning in AI news this week, with Google’s I/O setting the pace. And Elon Musk rages against the machine.

Startups Weekly: It’s the dawning of the age of AI — plus,  Musk is raging against the machine