Would the world be better off if people didn’t travel by plane to summit K2 wearing their gear?
I don't know. Do you? I suspect it is difficult to have a yes/no answer to this question, because of a) sheer number of variables involved and b) because of the rabbit hole of trying to find out what "better off" means here. Or what even "better off" means to a "world", and what exactly does "world" means here. And yet, phrases like this get aired many many times a second from every kind of media, and in megazillions of conversations, most of such cases without people actually stopping to think - what is meant here? How do I know? Do I get to make actionable conclusions based on this?
There is a net good or net bad of any company’s actions.
That's a good hypothesis. However, I'm at a loss if it can be proven, due to the same factors above. Too many variables. Sketchy definitions of good or bad. Good or bad for whom, or what exactly? Even if we suppose we can account for all the variables, what's the formula?
Let's take the Theranos example - it was bad, for sure, but... Was it difficult to see that they are not actually doing anything? It was, in hindsight. There was no output. Just hype (and dodgy numbers and reports). They never produced anything at all. Is their eventual airing out and demise a positive effect for future analysis and market sentiment? I'd say yes.
You don’t get to cause destruction and then say “I was just trying to help,” IMO.
I agree. But we should be responsible in labeling something as "causing destruction". Newton's 3rd law of motion, slightly frivolously interpreted, tells us that for every action there's an equal and opposing reaction. So when you walk in some direction, you're in fact completely irresponsibly slowing down Earth's rotation a tiny bit, with potentially disastrous consequences. What about all the squashed bugs, killed mosquitoes and other multitudinous violations of Ahimsa? My point is - anything one does has more than one consequence, and each and every one can be interpreted one way or another, taken in or out of context, placed in a wrong one, retold by not entirely exact, or not entirely honest way and then (re)interpreted again with echo chambers ad infinitum. And that's just actions of a single person! Amazon had about 750 thousands employees in 2019, and it goes without saying that complexity of consequences is not linearly derived.
On the Bloomberg comparison, I freely admit that I am nowhere as immersed into the USA realities as USA citizens (well, some of them) are. However if I remember correctly, Mr. Bloomberg has been on record quite a lot saying some pretty unpleasant things, or at least ones not sitting well with me. Not his business saying it in a press release, but direct first person opinions. Now, I might just be ignorant, but I do not remember Mr. Bezos behaving similarly (in fact, I think he is rather press-averse), and in those rare cases I have read (or seen, at one time, at the very first Re:Invent) his words, those seemed rather rational, and ethically/morally correct where applicable and as seen against my own values.
I also tend to discount the idea that "billionaires" are trying to convince "us" of something. For several reasons. For starters, based on Ockham's and reverse Hanlon razors. Then, because I kind of insist on the point in my original reply - that we should make an effort and separate individuals and their business/corporate personae. Then I prefer to focus on my own ability to not be convinced of stupid stuff by someone, rather than on the fact that someone might be trying to do that. And last but not least, I take very seriously the very thing referred to above - that doing absolutely anything always bears consequences. And the bigger the undertaking, the more complex, large and often not very easily foreseen the consequences become. And therefore, I prefer to separate things like judgement, blame, gratitude, recognition, etc; and I very much prefer to leave it to an individual to make his/her own moral/ethical assessment of something, than delegate it to a faceless mob or media (all too often not that much different today, sadly) - which in itself as a process seems to me to be quite evil.
If we don't manage to separate the gratitude from the blame, the easiest and super compelling reductio ad absurdum argument tells us that we would be much better off huddling in the caves with the stone tools, rather than anything else.
If we do separate those, then we can be grateful for the upsides, and then make our best efforts to isolate the downsides and see how those could be addressed. Paranoia and conspiracy theories and the whole FUD (Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt) routine are usually not constructive at all, unless you want an irrational mass of unquestioning people as your actors, in which case it is very, very convenient.