Platform Cooperativism Resource Library


Here’s a story you hear on repeat from apparently successful founders: Their start-up had a great idea, and users thought it was great too, so it became worth something. Investors offered fast money in exchange for chunks of ownership. The founders liked a lot of the investors and valued their advice. Some became real-life friends. But before long, the founders discovered that their companies were no longer built around that original idea anymore, or even around the users it could serve. The whole point had become to extract short-term returns for shareholders—and to disguise that fact from users. The great idea, together with the community it attracted, became a mere commodity.

This is the story that has brought us many wonderful machines; the one that enables huge investments in risky startups, of which a few end up making something worthwhile. Young people with clever ideas—but not a lot of business experience—get drawn in. Their mentors and accelerators groom them to be what investors want to see. For some, it works for a while. But most good ideas are not that rare unicorn that disrupts the world and delivers fabulous wealth. Many are merely useful and sustainable—they would make better communities than commodities.

Added October 11, 2019