New Modality Catalyst:
Nick Pinkston, Entrepreneur
Tell us about yourself.
I come from Western Pennsylvania's Rust Belt north of Pittsburgh, and that gave me both my love of technology and my deep sense that we must build a better society.
I spend most of my time working on two things: firstly, as an entrepreneur I've founded and ran as CEO several companies (Volition, Plethora, CloudFab, and HackPittsburgh) focused on making tools to accelerate innovation in the hardware and manufacturing industries. Secondly, as an advocate for a thriving liberal democratic way of life for all of humanity.
On the latter, I've worked on everything from my Empowerment Economy concept, to the Future of Work, industrial and research policy, to social change strategy. Beyond my research interests, I've also run large fundraisers for several Congressional and other races and am in general quite active in politics from local to Federal.
“We're trapped by the vacuum in our own collective consciousness for a new vision for humanity.”
What's your favorite thing about The New Modality?
I'm so excited about The New Modality because I think we're at a transition point for humanity.
Our society is struggling between uniting to create a thriving future for us all, and retreating into further polarization and dysfunction as we watch so many continue to suffer. We're trapped by the vacuum in our own collective consciousness for a new vision for humanity. This new vision has to reconcile both our deepest hopes for continuing to express our fullest humanity, and the challenges we face from our new highly technological, highly connected age that brings with it such great imbalances in power, wealth, and agency.
Enter: The New Modality. This publication, by exploring new social and cultural forms on the bleeding edge, has the ability to locate these new ways of living that are succeeding in our modern world, and to bring them into the light for further debate and practice. This puts The New Modality at the forefront of developing this new vision, and I couldn't be more excited to see what this community will do.
What are some of your own favorite past projects? Why do you feel great about them?
One of my favorite projects was organizing the Hardware Startup community. Fresh out of the Maker Movement in Pittsburgh, PA, I thought the next step for the movement was making it easier to start companies, but when I moved to SF nobody cared, so I started the SF Hardware Startup Meetup to bring people to together. Anywhere from 100-200 people came every month to show off their inventions and meet others in the movement, eventually growing to over 8,000 members. I also built online resources like r/HWStartups, and I used that community to help people start more than 50 hardware startup meetup groups in cities across the world.
It was my company Plethora, though, that taught me the most about business and leadership, where I was the Founder and CEO for six years. Building a challenging deep-tech company that also has to run a factory was a huge undertaking, and was a total bootcamp for my ability to execute on a hard goal with a big team of about 80+ people.
What are your favorite links that will help our audience learn about you, your life, your work, and your values?
Here's another slide deck I made on The Empowerment Economy.
And here's my deck on Grand Strategy for Social Change (i.e. how the left / causes can win).
New Modality Catalysts
The New Modality is about experiments in culture — and the people who do those experiments. NewMo Catalysts are people who do things we admire and want to celebrate. They also help us stay accountable to our values. To learn more about NewMo Catalysts (or nominate someone to be a Catalyst), check out the Catalyst FAQ.
This profile was edited by Katie MacBride. Katie is a writer and co-founder of Anxy magazine. More about Katie at her NewMo profile
The information in our Catalyst profiles usually comes directly from the subjects, and we usually don't fact-check them. You can learn more about The New Modality's fact-checking and epistemological ideas by reading the page about our process for truth and transparency.