It's Not The Time To Give In To Totalitarianism

  • by , Featured Contributor, October 5, 2023
I am writing this from a train in Ukraine, traveling from Kyiv to Lviv as I make my way back to the Polish border to return to the U.S. I came here to show support to the people of Ukraine and to help build jobs and businesses within the country’s extraordinary technology industry in their time of great need, including helping my company open an office in Lviv, our first outside the US.

This is my second trip to Ukraine in the past few months. I am fortunate to be joined on this trip by fellow ad-tech entrepreneur Marty Kratky-Katz, the founder of Blockthrough, whom I had the great fortune to meet at an Interactive Advertising Bureau Ukraine event in June.

We have spent the past week meeting with tech entrepreneurs, government officials, investors and students, and participating in tech start up events after we each gave talks at IT Arena, the county’s largest tech event.

The product and tech presentations on e-government, AI, quantum computing, and climate tech were mind-blowing, among the best anywhere.



Yes, there’s a war going on here in Ukraine. It's impossible not to be emotional when you witness the extraordinary courage and resilience of the Ukraine people to not only wage this horrible war repelling imperialistic Russian invaders, but also work separately to keep their economy going and continue building one of the world’s most powerful technology development ecosystems.

Sirens in Lviv went off for a Russian MiG overflight on the event’s first night. Everyone checked the apps on their phones, determined that the level of the threat was low, and then continued with their networking dinners.

The war in Ukraine the clearest example of freedom versus totalitarianism that the world has experienced since World War II. We have an independent, democratic state invaded by a dictatorial, totalitarian state to the north that has sought to dominate and exterminate the Ukraine people for many hundreds of years.

In fact, just hours ago, Russian invaders fired missiles into a cafe and market street in a small village in the Kharkiv region during today’s lunchtime, killing 49 people, all civilians including a six-year-old boy.

This is what the Ukraine people are fighting against. What do they want? Ukrainians want life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Sound familiar?

What do Ukrainians think of the U.S. and Canada? They are very open when you ask. Our countries are role models to them. They are incredibly grateful for the generous and essential aid that our populations have provided, particularly the military aid.

However, they are also worried about the durability of our support and perplexed by the consequences of recent actions in Congress cutting off that critical military aid.

They also don’t understand why so many large western consumer brands like Unilever continue to operate in Russia, paying tens of millions in taxes to Russia that fund the missiles and drones that kill their civilians.

And they don’t understand the incredibly hypocritical tech leaders here who become trolls and mouthpieces for false, damaging and hurtful Russian propaganda.

We are all learning that this is not going to be a fast war. They rarely are. Many, many more Ukrainian soldiers and civilians will die before it is over. But Ukrainians are fighting this war for freedom for all of us and they can’t do it without us providing weapons and humanitarian aid.

Already, more than one-half of Russia’s entire military capacity has been destroyed. How many trillions of dollars has the U.S. spent over the past decade or two to counter that threat? The cost here? $40 billion.

And, yes, the people of Ukraine need something beyond money and weapons. They need to know that the people of the U.S. and Canada and our support are bigger and more enduring than our politicians’ squabbles and petty, “Valley bro” tweets from tech tycoons with loud megaphones and too much time on their hands.

What do you think?


4 comments about "It's Not The Time To Give In To Totalitarianism".
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  1. Maarten Albarda from Flock Associates (USA), October 5, 2023 at 3:47 p.m.

    Dave: I so admire your "put my money (and my efforts) where my mouth is" approach. I have many friends in Ukraine, and have visited many times in a past life. I can only echo your words and hope that sanity and smart thinking will win over uninformed demagogy (that is being disguised as "patriotism"). Travel safe and keep us posted!

  2. Alexander Stonor Saunders from WFMT Radio, October 5, 2023 at 4:17 p.m.

    'Those who do not learn history are doomed to repeat it.' Sacrificing Ukraine to evil will only result in many more lives being lost when Putin marches into the eastern reaches of NATO.  This is above politics and is an issue of simple morality, of good v evil.  Stay engaged and help Ukraine in every way. Great work Dave.

  3. Kenneth Fadner from MediaPost, October 9, 2023 at 8:07 a.m.

    Thanks for this Dave!

  4. Ben B from Retired, October 9, 2023 at 7:40 p.m.

    Safe travels home Dave.

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