Annual Letter from Tom and Theresa

Theresa Preston-Werner

January 23 2020

128 Collective is at the beginning. We have just today launched our website, a sign to our patient grantees and partners that we are, in fact, a real thing. To nudge us forward, I am writing a letter to document where we are today and where we're hoping to go someday soon.

As a couple, when Tom and I come together, we goad one another to “push harder, and do more!” This has become our family motto. On my own, I've spent my career working with and learning about inequality, political economy, and the monitoring and measurement of human activity. Tom has worked ever since I've known him (twenty years this February) on gaps in technology and how to develop innovative solutions.

Our date nights consist of rapid-fire conversation, pens scribbling across notebooks; dinner and desert the afterthought. We make proposals to one another, unafraid to sound grandiose, but knowing that the other has veto power. We try to differentiate between recognizing a problem we want to solve and the solutions that may or may not solve it. It's like the line attributed to Henry Ford about building a faster horse.

You must leap with imagination, Tom says to me.

We also know that we can be limited by the imaginations of the people asking the questions. Hence, 128 Collective seeks to collaborate with people who know more than we do, and this approach will extend to our grantmaking and investing and to our support of open-source development. We intend to stand back as the voices of other rise up. This is the basis of 128 Collective. We want to push projects forward, build in the world, and expand the boundaries of what's possible and accessible for everyone. We can't do it alone. We need more people asking questions, and more people providing answers. We're interested in funding solutions that protect and enhance our world and the people in it.

Let's see how much we can get done in 2020.