December 17, 2006 · Lessig
My retirement plaque, presented by Jimmy Wales. (click to enlarge)
Last week, culminating Friday night, in parties around the world, Creative Commons celebrated its fourth birthday. Hundreds of people helped mark this event. My 3 year old son, Willem, and I cut the first cake at the party in Portugal.
Five hours later, in the Creative Commons party in the virtual world of Second Life, I made (for me an announcement. As I removed the CC torch from my bag of objects, I told those in world, and in San Francisco, that Joi Ito, a venture capitalist from Japan and a key driver in the “sharing economy,” would be replacing me as Chairman of Creative Commons. I will remain on the board, and as CEO. But from the moment I handed him the torch, he is CC’s new Chairman.
This is a very happy moment for CC. I’m not going anywhere — CC will continue to get everything I can give. But we are movement, not a cult. And it is important that movements have leaders. I have had enormous respect for Joi since first meeting him in Japan in early 2000. It was a real coup when I was able to convince him to join our Board. Joi’s whole ethic has been to build the sharing economy. That ethic of building is precisely where CC is going right now.
This has been the best job I will have had. I can’t describe how extraordinary it has been to watch this organization grow, nor how rewarding it has been to see the passion and energy it has inspired. We have tried to show the world something about how creativity works — not through obsessive control, but by creators inviting others to create and share as well. More and more, this is a message the world seems to get.
But for now, let me leverage a bit the opportunity that the ambiguity of new leadership creates. After the thermometer is updated to reflect a very generous anonymous gift we just received, we will have just $100,000 left in our campaign. That’s a lot to raise in two weeks, but I think we can do it. Indeed, you can look at this change in leadership in two ways, each of which gives some of you a reason for one last push:
Finally, thanks to all of you, and the Board of CC in particular, for allowing me this extraordinary opportunity. And join me in helping, and supporting, Joi Ito in his new role.