“I do not have the answer to that one.”
April 19, 2016 7:08 AM   Subscribe

Helena’s mission is to “create positive impact across the globe,” is funded by “significant personal capital” from 20-year-old Henry Elkus, and “thus far, we’ve been awed by the bonds of friendship and collaboration Helena Members have begun to make in advance of their first meeting.
I Have No Idea What This Startup Does and Nobody Will Tell Me
posted by griphus (151 comments total) 28 users marked this as a favorite
 
Rich kid given money by billionaire father to do.... something?

The eye-watering amount of buzzwords and corporate-speak alone scares me off. I think it's basically what my cousin who spends all day creating/posting "motivational" instagrams (LIVEYOURDREAMS! YOU MATTER!) would do if suddenly given access to enormous amounts of capital.
posted by modernnomad at 7:11 AM on April 19, 2016 [4 favorites]


~ is amused by a PDF being referred to as a "deck." Fondly remembers HyperCard...
posted by Thorzdad at 7:16 AM on April 19, 2016 [21 favorites]


It's a think tank for slacktivists. </thread>
posted by baconaut at 7:17 AM on April 19, 2016 [5 favorites]




~ is amused by a PDF being referred to as a "deck." Fondly remembers HyperCard...

That's what they're called. It's a pitch deck. It's the thing you show to potential investors to explain your business plan. That's, like, really old.
posted by beerperson at 7:19 AM on April 19, 2016 [29 favorites]


Creepy!

So basically, this is what a superhero team looks like in the real world - randos who think that because they have the superpower of wealth, they are entitled to "solve" the "problems" they identify on a freelance basis. Naturally, random pop stars are totally the people I want as a brain trust working on whatever they define as global issues.

Also, seriously "half the world is under 25"? I mean, a substantial percentage of the world is under ten - not that the interests of ten-year-olds are negligible, or that they should not be consulted on stuff, but the mere fact of youth itself doesn't translate into capacity or expertise.
posted by Frowner at 7:19 AM on April 19, 2016 [46 favorites]


Curated ideas, catalyzed by expert presenters.

*eyes glaze over*
posted by AndrewInDC at 7:22 AM on April 19, 2016 [8 favorites]


Two words: Space Squid
posted by kittens for breakfast at 7:23 AM on April 19, 2016 [26 favorites]


So basically, this is what a superhero team looks like in the real world - randos who think that because they have the superpower of wealth, they are entitled to "solve" the "problems" they identify on a freelance basis.

I was gonna say that this appears to be a training program for Bond villains.
posted by CheesesOfBrazil at 7:23 AM on April 19, 2016 [36 favorites]


It sounds like a thinktank.

The first sentence on their site reads:

"The group collaborates to create breakthrough ideas, then leverages its collective reach, strategic partnerships, and network to make them happen."

So it doesn't really seem to me to be a startup in the business sense.
posted by I-baLL at 7:24 AM on April 19, 2016 [4 favorites]


THIS IS HELENA
posted by Smart Dalek at 7:25 AM on April 19, 2016 [6 favorites]


I think it's like Nathan Myhrvold's Intellectual Ventures only for friendship. Can you trademark or patent friendship? Friendship™
posted by fiercekitten at 7:26 AM on April 19, 2016 [8 favorites]




So basically, this is what a superhero team looks like in the real world - randos who think that because they have the superpower of wealth, they are entitled to "solve" the "problems" they identify on a freelance basis.

I was gonna say that this appears to be a training program for Bond villains.
"How can we weaponize TED talks?"
posted by baconaut at 7:26 AM on April 19, 2016 [43 favorites]


We know what Helena does
posted by hobgadling at 7:26 AM on April 19, 2016 [13 favorites]


A company’s purpose doesn’t have to be good, but there ought to be one, some understandable function, some definite activity of some kind, somewhere.

That seems pretty reductionist!
posted by thelonius at 7:27 AM on April 19, 2016


Has Sam Biddle been catfished by a shoddily-assembled ARG?
posted by Going To Maine at 7:29 AM on April 19, 2016 [7 favorites]


They're going to "affect massive change"...in English spelling, maybe?
posted by uosuaq at 7:29 AM on April 19, 2016 [6 favorites]


That seems pretty reductionist!

And yet true.
posted by GuyZero at 7:29 AM on April 19, 2016 [1 favorite]


I can't believe my best friend Selena Gomez is involved in this sordid affair
posted by beerperson at 7:31 AM on April 19, 2016 [9 favorites]


Two words: Space Squid

What's your kickstarter page?
posted by slater at 7:31 AM on April 19, 2016 [3 favorites]


This is so great. It just kept on going, you'd think it'd need to end but no, it doesn't.

the author “sat down with Helena Founder Henry to get six top tips on how to build and sustain powerful relationships.” No great truths were revealed, unless “Be Wrong,” “Gain by listening,” or “Stop the meeting when it’s over” are revelatory to you. How could an article about something make you understand that something less? [ . . . ] Helena appears to be less a philanthropic startup than a buzzword vortex.
posted by mark k at 7:33 AM on April 19, 2016 [3 favorites]


They are certainly pushing the envelope through the window of opportunity here! I am impressed with their thought leadership in changing the paradigm! I anticipate great impact on the important issues of the day from this group of empowered leaders and that the diversity of the group will lead to tremendous cross-pollination and holistic leveraging of their ideations!
posted by nubs at 7:33 AM on April 19, 2016 [23 favorites]


I am not by nature a violent person but that Elkus kid has a face designed to encourage sudden aggressive behavior.
posted by 1adam12 at 7:33 AM on April 19, 2016 [16 favorites]


It seems that this is just the logical extension of the startup/disruption economy. Businesses don't have to be profitable to get tons of VC and have a successful IPO. You just need enough buzz. Helena seems to take the next step, to remove the entire idea of "product" or "service" out of the equation. Just make a pretty presentation, get VC funding, and maybe don't even wait to go public, just take the money and get out?
posted by xingcat at 7:33 AM on April 19, 2016 [2 favorites]


I'm not sure they will necessarily need a lot of money, though? Odds are it amounts to nothing more than a tax shelter to fund "physical Helena meetings" (ski trips) for people who might find it advantageous to be in close proximity with one another and/or Bill Elkus.
posted by AndrewInDC at 7:37 AM on April 19, 2016 [7 favorites]


Excuse me, but.. 'Proactive?'...'Paradigm?' Aren't these just buzzwords that dumb people use to sound important?
posted by MoonOrb at 7:38 AM on April 19, 2016 [16 favorites]


Possibly related: I am unable to type the word 'synergy' without my fingers insisting on spelling it 'syngergy'
posted by beerperson at 7:38 AM on April 19, 2016 [2 favorites]


Pet rocks don't do anything either, but people buy them. More accurately, then, pet rocks don't do anything EXCEPT insure that the people selling them don't have to get real jobs.
posted by Sing Or Swim at 7:39 AM on April 19, 2016


real jobs

i see you've fallen for capitalism
posted by beerperson at 7:40 AM on April 19, 2016 [8 favorites]


Business is changing; Changing at the speed of information. Whoever adapts first wins - in order to compete we Innovate; in order to Innovate we redefine; and how do we redefine? With a New Definition!

Jabberwocky

Jabberwocky

Jabberwocky
posted by griphus at 7:40 AM on April 19, 2016 [21 favorites]


How are Will Smith's kids not on the board?
posted by thelonius at 7:42 AM on April 19, 2016 [39 favorites]


Excuse me, but.. 'Proactive?'...'Paradigm?' Aren't these just buzzwords that dumb people use to sound important?

Sounds like someone is not being proactive about disrupting their paradigm.

If I had a dollar for every time someone used the word paradigm who hadn't the slightest idea who Thomas Kuhn was, I'd have a lot of dollars.
posted by leotrotsky at 7:42 AM on April 19, 2016 [3 favorites]


It’s now thoroughly cornball to joke that in Silicon America, all startups can be reduced to an “X for Y” formulation (e.g. Dropbox for Smells, Uber for Smallpox, Twitter for Cannibals).

I want to know how I can invest in Twitter for Cannibals. Goodness knows they'll need it when the Zombie Apocalypse finally gets rolling.
posted by magstheaxe at 7:44 AM on April 19, 2016 [4 favorites]


Excuse me, but.. 'Proactive?'...'Paradigm?' Aren't these just buzzwords that dumb people use to sound important?

Ha! No, they are important concepts in helping potential investors understand that their money will be going towards immanentizing innovation as this group drills down to mindshare on organically dealing with the low-hanging fruit of their inter-connected passions.*

*translation: it helps to fleece the sheep of easy cash so this group can go skiing in the Alps while laughing up their sleeves at the rest of us. They called it Helena because calling it "The Aristocrats" would have been too obvious a joke. Given that I work in the non-profit sector, I'm rather pissed that this group is a non-profit, because when it falls apart, it becomes another example of how the non-profit sector is "full of scams"..
posted by nubs at 7:44 AM on April 19, 2016 [4 favorites]


thinkfluencers... data-barons... hyper-polyglot

Can't seem to find salary ranges for any of these on Glassdoor, oddly enough.
posted by backseatpilot at 7:46 AM on April 19, 2016 [6 favorites]


MoonOrb, you are so fired.
posted by bakerina at 7:46 AM on April 19, 2016 [1 favorite]


Rich kids of instagram turn 21.

This is what they think 'having a job' looks like.
posted by T.D. Strange at 7:48 AM on April 19, 2016 [11 favorites]


First impression after reading the blurb at the top of the site: "This smells like some Deepak Chopra bullshit."

*scrolls down*

HOLY SHIT, I WAS RIGHT
posted by middleclasstool at 7:48 AM on April 19, 2016 [24 favorites]


I also like this: "Half of Helena's members are under the age of twenty-five, and half are older than twenty-five."

Because they have both ages!
posted by middleclasstool at 7:49 AM on April 19, 2016 [19 favorites]


It must be an offshoot of Zombo.com, because you can do ANYTHING at Zombo.com!
posted by briank at 7:50 AM on April 19, 2016 [8 favorites]


Does Helena have a member who is precisely 25? Like, I mean, their 25th birthday is today? Because otherwise, they are leaving out the demographic that is 25. Exactly.
posted by nubs at 7:50 AM on April 19, 2016 [39 favorites]


Compare and contrast:

"The group collaborates to create breakthrough ideas, then leverages its collective reach, strategic partnerships, and network to make them happen."

"A chemistry is performed so that a chemical reaction occurs and generates a signal from the chemical interaction with the sample, which is translated into a result, which is then reviewed by certified laboratory personnel." She added that, thanks to "miniaturization and automation, we are able to handle these tiny samples." (from the Theranos post)
posted by stannate at 7:51 AM on April 19, 2016 [7 favorites]


The millennial generation is influencing, innovating, and creating more rapidly than ever before. They are tasked with solving monumental global dilemmas, yet they are not given a representative voice in the world’s most powerful organizations.

Yeah, why aren't millenials the president?
posted by Think_Long at 7:51 AM on April 19, 2016 [5 favorites]


why won't millenials be my girlfriend :(
posted by beerperson at 7:54 AM on April 19, 2016 [9 favorites]


While I'm sure that these people are very comfortable with their living circumstances, at least one of them isn't just a slacktivist, and while she might be in the right generation to be a "millennial", the conditions of her upbringing kinda make that very... unlikely. PARK Yeon-mi also just happens to be 22.

So, I mean. Yeah, this Helena thing is confusing, but not everyone in it is a huckster layabout.
posted by qcubed at 7:55 AM on April 19, 2016 [1 favorite]


I dunno qcubed, a huckster is what one does not what one is. By becoming involved in blatant bullhonky one acquires the huckster air.
posted by 1adam12 at 7:57 AM on April 19, 2016 [5 favorites]


Oh my god, my work counterpart is exactly this guy, but without the money I guess. He's supposedly a Creative Director, but he doesn't do Creative or, seemingly, any Directing. He does, however, do a really good job of creating a cloud of buzzwords around himself. Like Pigpen, but with buzzwords.

At some point, rather than blowing my lid at this shit heel windbag, I started transcribing his nonsense into a Google doc titled, "Shit That Guy Says." Aaaaah, I'm so excited I finally have an outlet to share. Verbatim:

* First mover advantage.

* Turn-key activations in key cities.

* What do you call it when you’re promoting the promotions?

* Hey man, why don’t you punch up this deck.

* Off-line, breakout conversation.

* Vanity metrics.

* Network effect.

* Walk-in impressions.

* What’s the LTV here? Oh, ha. Long-term value.

* “Quantity... Value... Stuff-Things”

* That influencer has transcended platform specific content, he’s now got that Gen Z mindset.

* It’s going to feel native and give purpose.

* You’re the next generation and you’re empowered with this new ability.

* He quarter-backed the audience and channel strategy.

* I’m holding the torch of the future in my hand.

* Let me dish you over the latest deck.

* There’s a blown out QSR type promotion here.

* Yeah capture that, that’s interesting.

* ...And also leverage their reach.

* Interruptive.

* I love the idea of tapping into culture stuff.

* Let’s find some interesting utilization of their audience to tie this back closer into the ask from the client.

* I think we should get a Strategist activated against this.

* Postmates and Sushi Heaven did a billboard that’s super social media.

* We need to hit the scale through context with the co-marketers.



Ok, thanks for letting me get that out. Phew.
posted by functionequalsform at 7:59 AM on April 19, 2016 [202 favorites]


So, I mean. Yeah, this Helena thing is confusing, but not everyone in it is a huckster layabout.

It seems like several of the people purported to be "in it" don't actually know what "it" is, nor are aware of having signed up to be "in" whatever it is.
posted by clockzero at 8:01 AM on April 19, 2016 [3 favorites]


Hey man, why don’t you punch up this deck.
"You got zip to do with me and my kind, buddy. You're rich enough to hire expensive razor girls to haul my ass up here, is all. I'm never gonna punch any deck again, not for you or anybody else." He crossed to the window and looked down. "That's where I live now."
posted by griphus at 8:03 AM on April 19, 2016 [39 favorites]


It seems like it's a slush fund with delusions.
posted by kenko at 8:04 AM on April 19, 2016 [5 favorites]


1adam12: "I am not by nature a violent person but that Elkus kid has a face designed to encourage sudden aggressive behavior."

I think it's the face + pocket square combo.
posted by Chrysostom at 8:07 AM on April 19, 2016 [2 favorites]


That influencer has transcended platform specific content, he’s now got that Gen Z mindset.

* eye twitch *

...

* eye twitch *
posted by T.D. Strange at 8:09 AM on April 19, 2016 [3 favorites]


Ok, I'm still giggling at many bits (emphasis added):


Today, the launch of a first of its kind organization, Helena, was announced. Formed to spearhead a new generation of thought and action, Helena brings together global influencers to create positive world change. Half of the group is under 25 years old and half is over 25, marking a significant departure from prior efforts of its kind.

Did anyone proofread this before it went out? You're contradicting yourself within the first two sentences, dudebros.
posted by nubs at 8:12 AM on April 19, 2016 [28 favorites]


Metafilter: a TED-Talk key party guest list
posted by ursus_comiter at 8:13 AM on April 19, 2016 [4 favorites]


Quantity... Value... Stuff-Things

I must know, what is a stuff-thing???
posted by Think_Long at 8:15 AM on April 19, 2016 [3 favorites]


Ok, thanks for letting me get that out. Phew.
posted by functionequalsform


Ctrl-F “pivot”. Not found. I am disappoint.
posted by Going To Maine at 8:17 AM on April 19, 2016 [5 favorites]


Meanwhile, just one FPP down from here is a story about an actual millennial ass-kicker.
posted by ursus_comiter at 8:17 AM on April 19, 2016 [3 favorites]


It's Everything.
It's Nothing.
It's Something.
It's Anything.

It's all these Things and More.
posted by tommasz at 8:17 AM on April 19, 2016 [3 favorites]


Oh hey, look. It's another wannabe Hubertus Bigend. Third one this week! Two more and I get a bingo!
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 8:18 AM on April 19, 2016 [2 favorites]


I am not by nature a violent person but that Elkus kid has a face designed to encourage sudden aggressive behavior

So you're saying that Elkus provides a vision that moves you to create sudden, immediate impact.

Helena is working!
posted by nubs at 8:20 AM on April 19, 2016 [32 favorites]


It's Everything.
It's Nothing.
It's Something.
It's Anything.

It's all these Things and More.


The only limit is yourself!
posted by leotrotsky at 8:20 AM on April 19, 2016 [4 favorites]


Reminds me of last month's piece on HubSpot:
HubSpot’s first hires included a head of sales and a head of marketing. Halligan and Dharmesh filled these positions even though they had no product to sell and didn’t even know what product they were going to make. HubSpot started out as a sales operation in search of a product.

[...]

HubSpot filed for an IPO on Aug. 25, 2014, and launched under the symbol HUBS on the New York Stock Exchange that October, with a market valuation of $880 million.
posted by Iridic at 8:23 AM on April 19, 2016 [3 favorites]


It seems like several of the people purported to be "in it" don't actually know what "it" is, nor are aware of having signed up to be "in" whatever it is.

Sounds like the Brain Trust needs to be extended to include the members of Faith No More.
posted by AndrewInDC at 8:23 AM on April 19, 2016 [8 favorites]


Curated ideas, catalyzed by expert presenters.

Gotta admit that's a particularly delicious buzzphrase.

Could be a floor wax; could be a dessert topping.
posted by straight at 8:24 AM on April 19, 2016 [7 favorites]


When I was a little kid, in the pre-computer days, I used to draw imaginary Playbills for shows I made up in my head. Y'know, the magazine program you get when you go to Broadway shows? I would literally fold paper in half and draw the Playbill logo and stuff. Looking back I always imagine that if I'd been born about 12 years later, instead of drawing them I would have been mocking them up on a computer in a desktop publishing program.

This Helena deck? It looks to me like something a kid like me would have made had my young ambitions lay more in the tech world than the arts world. Like, I can see myself as a kid daydreaming that I was the super innovator behind a groundbreaking new company, and mocking up a slide deck. It has the look, it has the buzzwords, but no substance, as you might expect from a kid who doesn't really know how what he's imagining would actually work.
posted by dnash at 8:25 AM on April 19, 2016 [13 favorites]


Wait, you didn't mention those curated ideas were also organic.
posted by straight at 8:26 AM on April 19, 2016 [1 favorite]


But are they pastured and cruelty-free?
posted by griphus at 8:28 AM on April 19, 2016 [3 favorites]


Yeah I'm gunna go with half-assed thinktank/tax shelter. Eh, there are worse things the idle rich could be doing. (Though really if you're going to blow money on nonsense it should at least be entertaining to the public, like moving London bridge to Arizona or building the world's largest decorative fountain or blowing yourself up in your amateur rocket or something.)
posted by Wretch729 at 8:31 AM on April 19, 2016 [3 favorites]


What if Henry really just wants to be a marketing manager for Pemco but his dad made him carry on the longstanding tradition of Elkus thinkfluencers?

"I don't want to be an activation guru, but I also don't want to disappoint my dad."
posted by Tevin at 8:32 AM on April 19, 2016 [6 favorites]


Perhaps she'll fund the next Theranos?
posted by sammyo at 8:33 AM on April 19, 2016


Frog Fractions 2 Confirmed!
posted by robocop is bleeding at 8:37 AM on April 19, 2016 [8 favorites]


It appears to be a dynamic platform for using copyrighted images without attribution or compensation.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 8:40 AM on April 19, 2016 [18 favorites]


 bengHazi
    bEnghazi
    eLkus
    bEnghazi
   beNghazi
benghAzi
IT'S A CONSPIRACY.
posted by SansPoint at 8:42 AM on April 19, 2016 [10 favorites]


From the "don't know if it's true or not but it should be" dept, I heard that Tatiana Maslany likes freaking people out on occasion by channeling Helena.
posted by Ber at 8:42 AM on April 19, 2016 [3 favorites]


functionequalsform: "Like Pigpen, but with buzzwords. "

You won this thread!
posted by chavenet at 8:46 AM on April 19, 2016 [10 favorites]


middleclasstool: "I also like this: "Half of Helena's members are under the age of twenty-five, and half are older than twenty-five.""

LIFE DAY! RENEW! RENEW!
posted by boo_radley at 8:47 AM on April 19, 2016 [17 favorites]


Maybe some of their startup money could be used to buy some concrete nouns and active-voice verbs?
posted by aught at 8:49 AM on April 19, 2016 [7 favorites]


Two words: Space Squid

Squid Skid. It's Uber for calamari.
posted by mandolin conspiracy at 8:50 AM on April 19, 2016 [4 favorites]


Ah, I see that the Voynich manuscript has finally been translated!
posted by Chitownfats at 8:56 AM on April 19, 2016 [18 favorites]


It appears to be a dynamic platform for using copyrighted images without attribution or compensation.

Yeah, when I saw that famous National Geographic image of the girl from Afghanistan, I immediately wondered if they'd actually paid to use that as they surely needed to. Which raises the question of whether they paid to use ANY of the images, and whether any of the depicted people have any idea their faces are included in this thing.
posted by dnash at 8:57 AM on April 19, 2016 [11 favorites]


The inclusion of "warrior-intellectual" Stanley McChrystal is interesting. That he taught at Yale provides the link to Yale student Henry Elkus.

Maybe he is forming his own real-life Team America.
posted by eye of newt at 8:57 AM on April 19, 2016 [1 favorite]


Half of Helena's members are under the age of twenty-five, and half are older than twenty-five

So if you're in the U25 half, and you have a birthday that pushes you over the line, do they bring in another thinkchild to balance you out, or do you get the boot?
posted by spinturtle at 8:57 AM on April 19, 2016 [10 favorites]


Here's the origin story I imagine.

Elkus, at a Grammys afterparty, Hey Selena, you want to advise on my startup thing?
Selena, to wealthy connected dude: that sounds great!

Elkus, at a Webbys mixer, Hey Casey, you want to advise on my startup thing?
Casey, to wealthy connected dude: that sounds great!

Elkus names and founds company, hires PR firm, tells none of the people above.
posted by zippy at 8:58 AM on April 19, 2016 [10 favorites]


Ah ha, discovered the rational for one of the experts:

...most articulate and influential western advocate for the world’s indigenous cultures...Jennifer McCrea is a Senior Research Fellow at the Hauser Institute for Civil Society at Harvard University...
Those are indeed some impressive ...


From her bio at the institute:

she founded and leads the Course on Exponential Fundraising,

posted by sammyo at 8:59 AM on April 19, 2016 [6 favorites]


Helena: Sentient TED Talks for erotic invisible empires.
posted by Bob Regular at 9:00 AM on April 19, 2016 [8 favorites]


I love this thread more than anything right now.
posted by Young Kullervo at 9:02 AM on April 19, 2016


1adam12: "I am not by nature a violent person but that Elkus kid has a face designed to encourage sudden aggressive behavior."

The Germans have a word for this: Backpfeifengesicht
posted by brand-gnu at 9:08 AM on April 19, 2016 [5 favorites]


spinturtle: "So if you're in the U25 half, and you have a birthday that pushes you over the line, do they bring in another thinkchild to balance you out, or do you get the boot?"

I CAN ONLY MAKE SO MANY LOGAN'S RUN REFERENCES
posted by boo_radley at 9:09 AM on April 19, 2016 [14 favorites]


Ah ha, discovered the rational for one of the experts:

“This is Ariel, one of Jennifer’s business partners. I just checked with her and there is no connection. It must be a different Jennifer McCrea.”
posted by griphus at 9:12 AM on April 19, 2016




Is this the new Illuminati? Or maybe the new Bildergerg Group, since they've outed themselves?
Or is it just an elaborate scheme by young Henry Elkus to meet Chloë Grace Moretz and Selena Gomez?
posted by rocket88 at 9:16 AM on April 19, 2016 [2 favorites]


You know, it's easy to poke fun at this, but be careful: you might be a member of Helena yourself and not know it.
posted by uosuaq at 9:19 AM on April 19, 2016 [26 favorites]


From their expanded TechCrunch explanation:

He laid out five ways in which Helena hopes to make a difference: the first is simply in serving as a connector among successful people in different industries; the second is by using the social media reach of certain members to call attention to the work that other members are already doing; the third is by using that social media reach (I’m looking at you Gomez, Moretz, and Chopra) to call attention to other organizations that are doing good work; the fourth is working directly with non-governmental organizations and corporate partners and finally, the group will look to work directly on issues that it identifies.

"Work" is said five times in that paragraph, but nowhere do they actually say what the "work" is. What does "working directly with non-governmental organizations and corporate partners " actually mean in this context?
posted by Think_Long at 9:19 AM on April 19, 2016 [7 favorites]


So this is the year when they finally immanentize the capitalist eschaton.
posted by Pyrogenesis at 9:21 AM on April 19, 2016 [3 favorites]


"The group collaborates to create breakthrough ideas, then leverages its collective reach, strategic partnerships, and network to make them happen."

"Helena" is appropriately named, as its verbiage is all Greek to me.

Wikipedia suggests that Helena (or Helene) was how the Ancient Greeks referred to the St. Elmo's Fire phenomenon.

St. Elmo's Fire was also a 1985 coming-of-age film about privileged recent Georgetown graduates stumbling around trying to figure out what they want to be when they grow up.

So it all fits.
posted by Celsius1414 at 9:21 AM on April 19, 2016 [8 favorites]


Sure, it's ridiculous. And yet, better than this ad copy in my New Yorker.

Q: When will an idea bring the future foward faster?

When we connected the phone to the Internet, it became a smart phone. Today, that same restless vigor guides us as we innovate the more intuitive Internet of Things, new horizons in mobile experience, optimized connectivity and cognitive technology that learns and adapts to all.

We are Qualcomm, and we are bringing the future forward faster.


Does any part of this copy make sense? I don't think so. Also, nice job, Qualcomm, pretending you were responsible for smartphones. We totally see what you did there with we and then us. I feel badly for the poor scribe who had a committee standing over them while this bullshit was being generated.
posted by Bella Donna at 9:24 AM on April 19, 2016 [2 favorites]


Or maybe the new Bilderberg Group, since they've outed themselves?

Honestly, going by the TechCrunch article this is exactly what it wants to be. Bilderberg helps policy makers and titans of industry talk to each other. Helena wants to be the same thing, but is mealy-mouthed about it. Distressingly so, because an organization intended to afford communication and interaction should be good at it.
posted by Going To Maine at 9:25 AM on April 19, 2016 [4 favorites]


Going To Maine: "Jonathan Shieber at TechCrunch is on the case: “Unboxing Helena, a new non-profit aimed at giving the under-25 set a seat at the ‘Ted Talks’ table”"

I'm glad I'm not the only one whose first though was of "Boxing Helena".
posted by chavenet at 9:27 AM on April 19, 2016 [3 favorites]


* What’s the LTV here? Oh, ha. Long-term value.

The really bad part is that in finance-speak, "LTV" is "loan-to-value," not "longterm value."
posted by holborne at 9:29 AM on April 19, 2016 [4 favorites]


Cargo Cult. And who could blame them, modern capitalism has nothing to do with providing goods or services.

Also we were just talking about how the super rich in the US* still feel the need to "work" so you get these pointless groups and usually charitable organizations that only exist to hide assets and give awards to each other.

(The context was a mountaintop retreat for "influencers" where the non US people rightly regarded it as a fun ski holiday while the US billionaires had to pretend it was about ...helping the developing world by going to a lot of speeches and having thier assistants make graphs)
posted by The Whelk at 9:43 AM on April 19, 2016 [16 favorites]


The true nature of Helena is revealed in this article, supposedly by the Wunderkind himself. But first, the introductory paragraph:
In 2015, Yale sophomore Henry Elkus set out with his team to build Helena, an organization of global influencers, half under 25 years old, and each from a different field.

Ten months later, Helena counts some of the world's most-prolific innovators and achievers as members, including

Drawing on their diverse experiences, influence, and ideas, the group works to create positive global change.
You see that space after "including"? That could be you, could be him, could be any of our leveraged thinkfluencers thinkfluencing like all get out. It's a space. It's possibility. It's global potential. It's a platform!

From the scion, in his own words: "Virtual reality and linguistics collide to form technology for language immersion,"

I think that the comma really says something here. Ending a sentence with a period is so last century, so last paradigm, so final. Let sentences breathe with possibility and synergy! Commas for all, periods for none!
posted by jokeefe at 9:43 AM on April 19, 2016 [3 favorites]


Whatever they do, I'll bet it's really expensive.
posted by freakazoid at 9:44 AM on April 19, 2016 [1 favorite]


Celsius1414: "St. Elmo's Fire was also a 1985 coming-of-age film about privileged recent Georgetown graduates stumbling around trying to figure out what they want to be when they grow up."

You fucked Kevin.
You fucked many!
Nameless, faceless many.
I feel much better now. Thanks.
posted by Chrysostom at 9:46 AM on April 19, 2016


I look forward to next year when their prospectus will read "Half of Helena's members are under 26, ..."

While it would have been easier to be born into privilege, like Elkus, I'm OK with my lot in life. I have the satisfaction of having worked for something and actually earned it, and have lived through failing without a safety net*. You never learn how to get up again if you never get knocked down, and you don't learn how to try harder when there is no real risk involved.

*excepting of course for the safety net of "I'm a white guy with college educated parents and I have an advanced college degree" because I recognize that none of those factors were trivial aspects of my chances for success
posted by caution live frogs at 9:48 AM on April 19, 2016 [4 favorites]


"Like an apprentice staring at the work of a master, Moist read Reacher Gilt's words on the still-damp newspaper. It was garbage, but it had been cooked by an expert. You had to admire the way perfectly innocent words were mugged, ravished, stripped of all true meaning and decency and then sent to walk the gutter for Reacher Gilt, although 'synergistically' had probably been a whore from the start.

Moist missed the rest of the sentence. Innocent words swirled in it like debris caught in a flood, occasionally bobbing to the surface and waving desperately before being pulled under again."


Man, I really miss Terry Pratchett.
posted by seasparrow at 9:50 AM on April 19, 2016 [25 favorites]


This is the modern equivalent of a wealthy character in War and Peace wanting desperately to be an attache for a general right up to being mercilessly mowed down by a barrage of angry Frenchmen.
posted by Tevin at 9:51 AM on April 19, 2016 [2 favorites]


More fun from the Deck: "Each board member has a wealth of accomplishments consistent with the diverse nature of the initiative. Typically, advisors council [sic] the group in their respective fields. Influencers and members are given the full information of all board members." So no, nobody proofed this. And the illustrations look exactly like what a second year undergraduate would use for a class presentation.
posted by jokeefe at 9:52 AM on April 19, 2016


“Unboxing Helena, a new non-profit aimed at giving the under-25 set a seat at the ‘Ted Talks’ table”

That is a silly goal. People should not get attention simply because they're wealthy, well-connected, and young. Young people frequently don't know anything unique, and the exceptions don't need someone else to advocate on their behalf or on the basis of their age.

"Work" is said five times in that paragraph, but nowhere do they actually say what the "work" is. What does "working directly with non-governmental organizations and corporate partners " actually mean in this context?

HINT: the motive force behind this nonsense has no idea what work means in any context.
posted by clockzero at 10:04 AM on April 19, 2016 [5 favorites]


I guess it's nice that the uber wealthy finally have enough money to think they need to do something to "make the world a better place."

But their something always seems to be throwing money at each other while descrying the homeless littering their streets.

It's like being lectured to by Bono. Dude you have hundreds of millions of dollars and you want ME to donate money to your pet project of the day?
posted by Max Power at 10:05 AM on April 19, 2016 [3 favorites]


I'm Helena.

And so is my wife.
posted by Kabanos at 10:06 AM on April 19, 2016 [1 favorite]


It's Friday, Friday
posted by ethansr at 10:06 AM on April 19, 2016 [2 favorites]


Is this basically the sort of thing an obscenely wealthy person gives their child as a sort of toy? "Here kid, you seem bored, take a few billion, go find some cute Nick/Disney girls and pretend like you're running a company."

I know the children of the extremely rich never have anything even remotely resembling a normal job experience. We've long since passed the days when Bob Moneybags would have his kid "work" in the mailroom for a few months to "give him experience" before promoting him to fill a meaningless VP slot.

I suppose since now it's all about being a job creator and an entrepreneur the old style doesn't cut it anymore so they have to pretend that their kids are innovators creating amazing new things these days.

I think The Whelk is right, the ultra wealthy have created what amounts to a cargo cult around being ultra wealthy. The idea of work and business is there, but they're so disconnected from what actually happens in the real world that they don't know how work and business really happen so we get this sort of pretend thing.

This is enough to make you long for the Gilded Age, when the idle rich were content to be idle rich and didn't go around pretending like they actually had any purpose or function in the world.
posted by sotonohito at 10:09 AM on April 19, 2016 [8 favorites]


I like that the INC. article has no picture of the wunderkind, but instead an illustation of what appears to be the residents of all the penthouses in town launching electric spit-balls at each other.
posted by valkane at 10:10 AM on April 19, 2016


This is the pure essence of the self-adulating Victory Narrative, in which simple (but not easy!), systematic (but not realistic!) application of clear principles (if you are a ludicrous twat!) lead to the elision of conflict (with people who can, y'know, think!) and the emergence of a new paradigm of _____ (you can fill in the blank, but you probably can't be bothered!).

In other words, we've probably reached peak venture capital.
posted by Emperor SnooKloze at 10:12 AM on April 19, 2016 [1 favorite]


ethansr: "
It's Friday, Friday
"

I'm a locksmith and I'm a locksmith.
posted by boo_radley at 10:13 AM on April 19, 2016 [2 favorites]


This Helena deck? It looks to me like something a kid like me would have made had my young ambitions lay more in the tech world than the arts world. Like, I can see myself as a kid daydreaming that I was the super innovator behind a groundbreaking new company, and mocking up a slide deck.

So this place is where Vincent Adultman has been working all along!
posted by Harvey Kilobit at 10:26 AM on April 19, 2016 [1 favorite]


It really does only seem like it's a matter of time before some newly rich tech elite decides that selling disruptive widgets disruptively isn't enough sea change for them and they unleash killer robots/viral eugenics/giant death-hugging nanoclouds or something.
posted by loquacious at 10:54 AM on April 19, 2016


I'm Helena.

And so is my wife.


I am Helena!
posted by leotrotsky at 10:56 AM on April 19, 2016


Helena: The Farce that Lunched 1,000 Shits
posted by Potomac Avenue at 10:56 AM on April 19, 2016 [2 favorites]


I am reminded of Entertainment 720 from Parks and Rec.
posted by killdevil at 11:02 AM on April 19, 2016 [7 favorites]


The really bad part is that in finance-speak, "LTV" is "loan-to-value," not "longterm value."

I'm pretty sure that in this context, it's "lifetime value," not "longterm value." That's a pretty standard use of "LTV"(or "CLTV" for "customer lifetime value") in the tech industry. In context, there's not that much risk of confusion with "loan to value" and it has a specific and useful meaning.
posted by primethyme at 11:04 AM on April 19, 2016 [2 favorites]


I was ready to point and laugh like the rest of you, until I saw Chloë Grace Moretz. If she's in this, it must be meaningful.
posted by signal at 11:23 AM on April 19, 2016 [2 favorites]


1adam12: "I am not by nature a violent person but that Elkus kid has a face designed to encourage sudden aggressive behavior."

There's just something about these preppy scions of unimaginable wealth (see also: Eric Trump) that just seems to me so... villainous. I'm guessing they're not doing it on purpose (probably) but whenever I see one of these guys' posed photos, I can't help but wonder what the chances are that they've hunted the most dangerous game. 20%? 50%? 90%?

Also, on the slide from their pitch deck titled "Helena Partnerships", they list the White House, the U.N., The Huffington Post (a bit of a climb-down there, no?), Google, Nexus (not the phone or the US/Canada fast-pass travel program but apparently an Australian youth summit), and... Helena. Come on, guys. Get it together.
posted by mhum at 11:54 AM on April 19, 2016 [1 favorite]


I think Gibsonian cyber hackery every time I see the word deck
posted by Jacen at 11:55 AM on April 19, 2016 [4 favorites]


funny, I think of Kelly
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 12:01 PM on April 19, 2016 [2 favorites]


There's just something about these preppy scions of unimaginable wealth (see also: Eric Trump) that just seems to me so... villainous.

I believe that's called "resting Bateman face."
posted by griphus at 12:09 PM on April 19, 2016 [22 favorites]


"I am not by nature a violent person but that Elkus kid has a face designed to encourage sudden aggressive behavior."

Odd. I look at him and see a) holy gorgeous, b) holy arrogance, c) holy vacations in Gstaad, yes ok
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 12:14 PM on April 19, 2016 [1 favorite]


@functionequalsform I have some extra vacation hours. I would totally be glad to travel to your work and punch your coworker in the face.
posted by littlesq at 12:32 PM on April 19, 2016 [2 favorites]


Could be a floor wax; could be a dessert topping.

Back in my day, we just had one product, and we were happy to have it. But I'm over 25.
posted by a halcyon day at 12:39 PM on April 19, 2016


Looks like a great way for Elkus Sr to write off losses by channelling them to Elkus Jr's little charitable thing.

It's their little joke: Helena Handbasket.
posted by scruss at 12:48 PM on April 19, 2016 [8 favorites]


Oh god, it's a real life(?) Prestige Worldwide

'Last week, I put Liquid Paper on a bee... and it died'
posted by rock swoon has no past at 1:02 PM on April 19, 2016


This is all just the Kanye West Donda chart written out in longhand, right?
posted by jimmythefish at 1:02 PM on April 19, 2016 [1 favorite]


My son has a stuffed panda named Helena. He was only 3 and we wondered where he had heard that name, but now I wonder if it was a message from the future.
posted by Biblio at 1:32 PM on April 19, 2016


Helena reminds me of a company that was floated in the South Sea Bubble of 1720 with this prospectus:
"For carrying-on an undertaking of great advantage but no-one to know what it is!!"
When the South Sea Bubble of 1720 begins to cast its shadow over our 21st century economy, you know it's getting late in the capitalist day.
posted by jamjam at 1:45 PM on April 19, 2016 [2 favorites]


Max Power: "It's like being lectured to by Bono. Dude you have hundreds of millions of dollars and you want ME to donate money to your pet project of the day?"

My favorite Bono quotation: "In the United States, you look at the guy that lives in the mansion on the hill, and you think, you know, one day, if I work really hard, I could live in that mansion. In Ireland, people look up at the guy in the mansion on the hill and go, one day, I'm going to get that bastard."

Bono just doesn't realize that he's the mansion guy now, and one day we really are going to get him.
posted by crazy with stars at 2:12 PM on April 19, 2016 [8 favorites]


We need a Helena fanfic contest and a Helena promotional material Photoshop contest.
posted by qxntpqbbbqxl at 5:04 PM on April 19, 2016 [1 favorite]


This sounds only a bit more legitimate than the Sociabl app scam from Australia a few months ago. Watch the video of the app creator/CEO/head bullshitter be ambushed in what he thought was a friendly interview.
posted by zardoz at 5:49 PM on April 19, 2016


Does Helena have a member who is precisely 25? Like, I mean, their 25th birthday is today? Because otherwise, they are leaving out the demographic that is 25. Exactly.

I was sad to give this comment its 26th favorite, but not sad enough not to do it.
posted by bendy at 6:02 PM on April 19, 2016 [1 favorite]


Vanity metrics

Put a "The" in front and The Vanity Metrics suddenly become a band I'd want to hear.
posted by philip-random at 7:16 PM on April 19, 2016 [4 favorites]


I think they opened for The Dandy Warhols.
posted by Chrysostom at 7:43 PM on April 19, 2016 [1 favorite]


Let’s find some interesting utilization of their audience to tie this back closer into the ask from the client.

Wait, wait, I've got a good one here, too: surfacing the customer pain-points and mitigating the blockers in order to green-path the MVP

*goes back to pretending to listen in the launch readiness sync, which is happening right after a stand up and before a debrief*
posted by Ender's Friend at 8:41 PM on April 19, 2016 [1 favorite]


Win-ergy!
posted by TheShadowKnows at 9:11 PM on April 19, 2016


I just realized: this is Froghammer.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 9:21 PM on April 19, 2016 [1 favorite]


FFFM, I may love you.

From the brilliant Slings and Arrows, meet the marketing geniuses at Froghammer.
posted by jokeefe at 11:44 PM on April 19, 2016 [2 favorites]


Lads, I'm really skeptical. I mean, has anyone even fact checked if 1/2 the world's population is actually under 25?
posted by herda05 at 11:57 PM on April 19, 2016


It reminds me of nothing so much as this particular scene from My Teen Romantic Comedy SNAFU.
posted by MartinWisse at 12:43 AM on April 20, 2016


wait, wait, wait; are we *sure* this isn't Chris Morris's latest project?
posted by fatfrank at 5:38 AM on April 20, 2016


As far as I can tell the purpose of companies like this is to foster the development of network-connections for their principles. Whether they ever make a profit or do any direct good for anyone is irrelevant: it will serve to facilitate the development of relationships that lead to other business.
posted by lodurr at 12:26 PM on April 20, 2016


herda05: "Lads, I'm really skeptical. I mean, has anyone even fact checked if 1/2 the world's population is actually under 25?"

Oh, for fuck's sake, how didn't I check this before? According to the UN, it turns out that even this most basic fact -- the whole raison d'etre for this dumb thing, whatever it's supposed to be -- is false. In 2015, only 42% is under 25. And, furthermore, this percentage has been dropping steadily from a peak of 56% in 1975; the last time that half of the world's population was below 25 was 1995. In fact, the UN, Department of Economic and Social Affairs, Population Division has a whole section on this phenomenon: "The rapid ageing of the world population is one of the major global demographic trends, driven by the reduction of fertility and mortality."
posted by mhum at 7:20 PM on April 20, 2016 [4 favorites]


If the whole raison d'etre of your company is that under 25 is under-represented, shouldn't you also try having a representative representation of the under 25 demographic? Which is mostly under 18, and also mostly not white rich English speakers.

... Then I realize I'm trying to ask basic, logical questions about a giant surrealist farce and that maybe I should stop.
posted by Cozybee at 10:44 PM on April 20, 2016 [2 favorites]


I would love to see it as a giant surrealist farce. That would be comforting.

Unfortunately, I'm pretty sure the principals are deathly serious about it. And that, furthermore, Serious People who have Serious Money To Spend will spend it on retainers for the Helena Group. That's not comforting at all.

I'm just waiting to see how long it takes them to announce that they're pursuing B-Corp status.
posted by lodurr at 6:53 AM on April 21, 2016


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