With Trebor Scholz of The New School, the IDRC produced the following graphics to help illustrate concepts:
We connect cooperatives with the digital economy
We need alternative economic models because the economy powering the Internet is not working
In 2015, the 62 richest people in the world controlled $1.76 trillion: the cumulative worth of 3.5 billion people.Women and people of color are disproportionally affected by this trend.
Network effects lead to top-down control of platforms, weakening competition and the potential for consumer alternatives.
While political democracy has spread in many countries, workplace democracy has not.
Invasion of Privacy
In the EU alone, the market for personal data will reach $1 trillion by 2020, encouraging commercial surveillance and privacy breaches.
The Smokescreen of Counterculture
Terms like “sharing” and “community” are used to sell commercial services and lend out assets. Labor companies pass themselves off as tech companies.
Stalled Worker Rights
Independent contractors lose rights guaranteed under the Fair Labor Standards Act. They are not covered by unemployment insurance.
Shift Away from Direct Employment
1 in 3 Americans is a freelancer. 40% of the US workforce is expected to be freelancers by 2020.
Over the past 40 years, wages for most American workers have not risen, when adjusted for inflation.
Online labor brokerages enable wage theft, discrimination, and exploitation.
We can build on a powerful business model that works—it’s hidden around us in plain sight
• 1 in 3 Americans is a co-op member.
• In the U.S., co-ops created close to 1 million jobs with $25 billion in wages and benefits.
• The total co-op revenue in the U.S. is $500 billion.
• Cooperative enterprises worldwide employ 250 million people and generate $2.2 trillion in revenue.
Imagine a digital economy that would follow the 7 co-operative principles
1. Voluntary and Open Membership
2. Democratic Member Control
3. Member Economic Participation
4. Autonomy and Independence
5. Education, Training, and Information
6. Cooperation among Cooperatives
7. Concern for Community
Platform co-ops respond to the market failures of the online economy
benefits of the platform co-op model:
Lower transaction and retention costs
Surplus revenues of co-ops are transferred to the members
80% of co-ops survive their ﬁrst ﬁve years compared with 41% of other business ownership models
Money ﬂows within local communities
Protection from exploitation through ownership, transparency, control
Higher commitment of users disincentivizes short-termism
Prospect of data democracy
4 examples of platform co-ops
WHO: Stocksy United stocksy.com
WHERE: Victoria, BC, Canada WHEN: launched 2013
WHAT: high-quality, curated stock photography and video footage, raising the bar—and the industry’s expectations—of stock photography and cinematography, 960 photographers in 63 countries
2015: $7.9m in sales, $200,000 in dividends to workers; Skills training for photographers to increase value of product; Uses 5% of revenue to operate the platform; Have serviced 124 of Fortune 500 companies
2016: $10.7m in sales, $300,000 in dividends
WHO: Green Taxi Co-op greentaxicooperative.com
WHERE: Denver, Colorado Metro Area
WHEN: launched in 2015
WHAT: Mobile app ride-hailing 800 members, immigrants from 37 countries; $2,000 from each driver for startup costs; Communication Workers of America Local 7777 helped clear regulatory hurdles (and leased a basement ofﬁce to Green Taxi Cooperative); Captured over ⅓ of the Denver market
WHO: Resonate resonate.is
WHAT: Stream-to-own model driven by blockchain technology; Multistakeholder cooperative giving stakeholders democratic control: Artists (45%), Listeners (35%), Employees (20%); Pays up to 2.5 times more than other streaming services
WHO: MIDATA MiData.coop
WHERE: Zurich, Switzerland
WHAT: Health data cooperative; Members upload their medical records, mobile-health data, and personal genome and can then decide to securely share with: physicians, family, researchers; Apps-economy allows patientsto make use of their data; Profits are generated from voluntary sale of data to researchers; Aims for an international federation of cooperatives with the goal of creating a cooperative data commons
... and there is so much more in the platform co-op ecosystem
The People's Daily Morning Star
Quotidiano Comunista Il Manifesto
WOZ Die Wochenzeitung
La Jornada en linea
Green Taxi Cooperative
Cotabo Il Primo Taxi di Bologna
Co-op Taxi Line
Short Term Rental
Incubators and Supporting Institutions
Seed dot coop
Data Commons Cooperative
Our Data Coop
Join Us 2 Eat
Open Food network
High Plains Food Coop
Economic Space Agency
Up & Go
Web Hosting dot coop
4 ways to start a platform co-op (PC)
• CO-OPs launch PCs
• FAILING STARTUPS convert into PCs
• PCs can be created as a result of ANTI-TRUST REGULATIONS
• Co-ops can launch PCs with the help of UNION
In order to build a fairer digital economy, we are working to overcome a series of challenges
• Value Proposition
• Network Effects
• Member Involvement
Platform cooperativism is a growing international movement that builds a fairer future of work. Rooted in democratic ownership, co-op members, freelancers, technologists, and unionists create a concrete near-future alternative to the extractive sharing economy.
Building on the early promise of the Web to decentralize the power of apps, protocols, and websites, platform co-ops allow modest-income households to beneﬁt from the shift of labor markets to the Internet. Steering clear of the belief in one-click ﬁxes of social problems, the model is poised to vitalize people-centered innovation by joining the rich heritage and values of co-ops with emerging Internet technologies.
LEARN MORE. GET INVOLVED. Visit: http://platform.coop
Request information: email@example.com
SOURCES: “Missing Markets and the Cooperative Firm” by Brent Hueth (2014) http://www.tse-fr.eu/sites/default/ﬁles/medias/doc/conf/workshop_po/communications/brent_huet.pdf
“Cooperative Identity, Values & Principles” by the International Co-operative Alliance http://ica.coop/en/whats-co-op/co-operative-identity-values-principles
“Facts and Figures” by the International Co-operative Alliance http://ica.coop/en/facts-and-ﬁgures
“Annual Report” by The National Cooperative Business Association (2014) http://www.ncba.coop/images/annualreports/NCBACLUSA_2014_Annreport.pdf
“An Economy for the 1%” by Oxfam (2016) https://www.oxfamamerica.org/static/media/files/bp210-economy-one-percent-tax-havens-180116-en_0.pdf
“What Do We Really Know About Worker Cooperatives?” by Virginie Pérotin (2016) https://www.uk.coop/resources/what-do-we-really-know-about-worker-co-operatives
Ours to Hack and to Own: The Rise of Platform Cooperativism, A New Vision for the Future of Work and a Fairer Internet edited by Trebor Scholz and Nathan Schneider (2016) http://www.orbooks.com/catalog/ours-to-hack-and-to-own/
“Research on the Economic Impact of Cooperatives” by the University of Wisconsin Center for Cooperatives (2009) http://reic.uwcc.wisc.edu/summary/
“Freelancing in America” by Upwork and the Freelancers Union (2016) https://www.upwork.com/i/freelancing-in-america/2016/
Thank you to the Internet of Ownership for their support and continued work in the platform co-op space.