1) "I was able to attract better talent than I could have even with stock options."
2) "I could meet with heads of state because I had a mission."
He says that what's been weird about being a non-profit is having a competitive impact on large for-profit firms that make notebook computers.
There's been plenty written about OLPC's issues in the market, but panel moderator Larry Weber of W2 Group noted that Hewlett-Packard just yesterday announced a $200 laptop (actually, sub-$500). So OLPC seems to be driving prices down.
Says Negroponte: "We feel very proud that we've dragged them into doing that." By the same token, "we find ourselves 'competing' -- a funny concept for a non-profit. The World Food Program doesn't compete with McDonald's."
Later, though, Negroponte says OLPC isn't really a competitor to companies like HP. "People don't really want to compete with us â€" they don't want to do the rural parts of Mongolia and Afghanistan, so I get pretty annoyed in the press with some of these situations" â€" a reference to the way OLPC has been dinged in the press for some of its problems.
Then he underscores why OLPC doesn't really compete with big for-profit firms directly. The next markets for OLPC: Haiti, Rwanda and Mongolia.
This makes it look like the kind of social business Muhammad Yunus is talking about (see Summing Up Muhammad Yunus "Creating a World Without Poverty").
We'll see if it can continue to prove the concept.