Building a Business While Saving Planet Earth

July 11th, 2019

This article is by Dean S and originally appeared on the Alteryx Engine Works Blog here:

What happens when you go from success to significance and build a global business with a software platform that users love? Well, amazing things happen that are pretty incredible. You get to hire more people, innovate for the future, prepare associates for their next career move, help train future entrepreneurs and importantly, delight customers and deliver results that everyone can be proud of.


Yet with all that goodness there is a some badness as you grow a global business. On any clear day, in most any city on the planet, you can look up into the sky and see jet contrails everywhere. As you do, you might think about the hard work of folks in those airplanes going from one end of the country to the other, being cooped up in a fuselage, trying to prepare for a big meeting when they land. You might have empathy for those 'road warriors' that are spending countless hours away from family and friends to ensure success in their jobs and make their families proud. On a clear day in Irvine, California this past December I saw from my office window 10 or 15 contrails crisscrossing the sky. Yes I thought about the 'road warriors' travelling the last month of the year as I am one of them.

What I witnessed just happened to occur on the same day I was planning my keynote for our 1st annual Alteryx Global Kickoff (GKO). We were going to be sending somewhere around 900 employees and a bunch of customers and partners from all around the world to Denver, Colorado in January to rally around our Strategic Imperatives for 2019.  I started to think about the number of contrails our associates would create as they traveled to and from GKO. It's obvious right?

It hit me like a ton of bricks. I went into our travel system to see how many flights and flight segments were going to be flown by these loyal, hard working associates - boy what a stunner. Just to fly a thousand employees, partners and customers into and out of Denver from 15 global offices on every continent, we would collectively create more than 3,700 contrails.  More than 3.8 million miles would be flown and worse, 760 tons, yes tons - of toxic emissions would be generated.  All this for a single GKO in Denver?  I thought that building a business around the innovation of data science and analytics would change the world in a positive way not leave a contrail of destruction if left unaddressed.  So we decided to address it.

Most research suggests that the positive effect of planting a single tree can wipe out the negative effect of travel by generating 26 lbs of CO2.

Most research suggests that the positive effect of planting a single tree can wipe out the negative effect of travel by generating 26 lbs of CO2.  I decided to leverage this by ensuring to our team at GKO that we could change the world without destroying it - but it would require their participation.  In order to eliminate the carbon footprint we created just for this one event we would need to get our hands a little dirty by planting 58,462 trees, or 65 for each of the attendees at the event.  Yes we will do this during 2019 and we will wait until the polar vortex is over so that we have soft soil to do complete the effort!

I am super proud and honored to lead a company that has elevated the Alteryx for Good effort in so many incredible ways. And when we are collectively amplified in a cause, we can not only prove we can change the world, we can prove that we can save it at the same time.  Powerful combination for sure.  Thanks for reading.

PS- while at GKO in January, these dedicated associates, partners and customers also packed 103,000 meals to help Rise Against Hunger! Truly inspiring.