About Platform Cooperatives and the Investor Problem
A new form of internet startup is emerging — the “platform cooperative” — an attempt to merge the most equitable form of capitalism yet devised with the distributed, international, software-driven ambitions of Silicon Valley.
The term was coined by Trebor Scholz and Nathan Schneider to describe an emerging organizational form that merges the “platform” (such as Airbnb, Uber, Facebook, Twitter, etc.) with the “cooperative” — a business structure in which profits are shared across workers and members and is built on a foundation of democratic controls.
As numerous experiments attest, these new platform coops face a number of challenges that their purely profit-driven cousins are spared. Chief among them is the investor problem.