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RIP to Business Legends Leila Janah and Clayton Christensen

On January 23, 2020, the business world lost two of its biggest stars: Leila Janah and Clayton Christensen. Both of them were personal inspirations to me both in their ability to execute on big ideas and to make a real difference in the world by living up to the cliche of “doing well by doing good.”

Leila Janah passed away on January 23rd, 2020 at the age of 37. She was an unstoppable force in fighting global poverty through her organizations of Samasource, LXMI, and Samaschool. From our Amalgam Insights’ perspective, the work that Samasource did in training AI data for many of the world’s biggest enterprises made Samasource an important company to watch.

But even more importantly was how Samasource conducted this AI data training. Samasource has employed people across India, Kenya, Uganda, Haiti, Pakistan, Ghana, and South Africa through what is now called impact sourcing where workers are trained to a job and paid a living wage with the goal of rising above poverty. The company has hired and trained thousands of people since its founding in 2008 and has a global staff of 2,900.

In running Samasource, Janah both lifted up thousands of people and created an organization that was seen as a legitimate growth business. In November 2019, Samasource raised a $14.8 million A round to increase growth at a time when trusted AI data is more important than ever. Janah was a pioneer in simultaneously evolving the concept of managing AI data while creating a massively successful growth company and creating change in emerging markets.

RIP Leila Janah. Thank you for making a difference.

Clayton Christensen passed away on January 23rd, 2020 at the age of 67. He obviously needs no introduction in the business world as he has been a guiding light in the business world for decades. His 1997 book The Innovator’s Dilemma is the most important business book of recent times and Christensen is in the pantheon of great business authors along with the likes of Benjamin Graham, Dale Carnegie, W. Edwards Deming, Peter Drucker, and Michael Porter.

Christensen coined the term of “Disruptive Innovation,” which described how products and services that could be seen as inferior, tangential, and more accessible than their dominant status quo market equivalents could eventually usurp leading market positions over time. Although Christensen could have sat on his laurels and simply used his Innovator’s Dilemma work for the next 20+ years, Christensen was always seeking to improve and perfect his work on “disruptive innovation” and to push back against the breathless hype of the phrase he was associated with.

Christensen’s ability to translate his theories and work into tangible action that helped transform the likes of Apple, Intel, Netflix, and practically every company that has successfully evolved or fended off new competitors. Christensen’s work made every company more aware of its need to serve customer needs, disrupt as needed to match customer preferences, and identify “jobs to be done.”

RIP Clayton Christensen. Thank you for being a brilliant thinker and an even better person.