Giorgi Aleksidze, CEO at Newage, on the product development in the time of war and tech industry as a weapon
I am Giorgi Aleksidze, CEO and co-founder of Newage, the product-led IT company based in Ukraine. I am Georgian and I have already experienced military aggression of Russia in Georgia twice. In February 2022, I had to face the war for the third time in my life. But this time I had to take care of not only myself and my family, but also take care of people working in the company I co-founded.
In this article, I’d like to share my thoughts on what businesses should do in this tough time and how tech companies can support Ukraine.
The difference between the wars in Georgia and Ukraine and the importance of IT support
A significant part of modern wars takes place in the information frontline. In 2008, the Georgian war activities were happening in a brief period. People were fighting both on the military frontline and on the information frontline. And if the military successes were variable, the information warfare was lost very quickly.
Ukraine has managed to attract the attention of the entire world. This was facilitated by the resistance of the Ukrainian troops and the active coverage of the situation in media. With smaller countries like Georgia and Moldova, or even Chechnya, the world is usually “deeply concerned”, sometimes they impose minimal sanctions on the aggressor, and then everything calms down.
Ukraine was able to stand up for itself and endure the war long enough for the entire world to know about it. And this is a significant advantage, which can and should be leveraged in every possible way.
Ukraine has an opportunity to tell the truth to many people and to open their eyes to the war crimes being committed. The help of tech companies and engineers is more important than ever.
For example, recently the “Compilation of human rights violation facts” national portal was launched as a joint initiative of the Ukrainian government and volunteers. The aim of the portal is to collect the evidence of human rights violation and represent Ukraine in the European Court of Human Rights and the UN International Court of Justice. Newage engineers developed the functionality of evidence collection for the portal where anyone can add photo and video materials, which later will help to punish war criminals.
A wartime approach to business
Even before the war, we have developed a Business Continuity Plan for Newage. At the beginning of February, we held a joint online meeting with all Ukrainian teams and talked about our actions in case of war. Our teams knew that we would support them, including financially.
When we survived the first shock and emotions after February 24, the Newage management team and the investors started thinking about our next steps. We must work in a strong crisis mode to allow our turnover to support the economy of Ukraine. There are companies which were hit hard by the war – especially FMCG companies or service providers. However, most tech companies were able to restore their business operations, especially those that did not focus on clients from Ukraine.
The strength of a country largely depends on its economy. And the economy is made by businesses – large, medium, and small. And now we as a business can support the country with our turnover, by keeping jobs, and by paying taxes even in the wartime. Any support we give to the Ukrainian people, the army, or the state is not an expense, but a contribution to our common future.
We, at Newage, continue our business operations, we have not stopped marketing and other processes that may seem redundant in the wartime. We continue hiring employees in Ukraine and the EU.
We keep developing our own and clients’ tech products, keep paying taxes and remuneration and are planning to do so in the long term. At the same time, we try to give all possible support to our country. For example, we transferred almost 500,000 US dollars to the crypto fund of Ukraine to support the Ukrainian Armed Forces and the humanitarian needs of the population. This is our contribution, which we could not have afforded if we had stopped operations.
We have also set up the “Newage Support Fund” for our employees with an initial contribution of 100,000 US dollars by the company to support employees in crisis situations. The donations come from the company management and from the voluntary contributions by employees.
It is important to note that the company support motivates our team members engage in volunteer work, including in the information warfare. For example, our team in cooperation with the State Security Service of Ukraine participated in the development of a program that allows sending automatic newsletters in Telegram channels to prevent disinformation and propaganda. Some of our employees are involved in developing a platform to order medicine for people who need constant medication and cannot buy it themselves.
I’m excited that we at the company level can offer paid time for our teams to volunteer and participate in such important projects.
The next goal of Newage is to actively develop business in the EU – we have recently opened offices in Poland and Cyprus. This will not only allow us expanding the geography of our business, but this will allow us to support the team and hire new people in Ukraine.
The article was originally published on DOU on April 1, 2022. View full article