When Uber and Lyft departed public, it wasn’t the drivers who got rich — it was the executives, investors and some early employees. In an epoch when it has become clear that tech senior executives and investors are frequently the only ones who’ll reap reinforces for a company’s success, cooperative startups are getting more attention.
Depending on how it’s set up, a cooperative framework offers workers and users true possession and oversight matters in a company; any benefits that are generated are returned to the members or reinvested in the company.
Co-ops aren’t new: The nation’s longest-running example is The Philadelphia Contributionship, a mutually owned insurance company founded by Benjamin Franklin in 1752. In 1895, the International Co-operative Alliance formed to serve as a way to unite cooperatives across the world. Some colleges have student-run residence co-ops where scavenging, nutrient prep and other responsibilities are shared. Today, there are many well-known large-scale co-ops, including outdoor recreation accumulation REI, Arizmendi Bakery in San Francisco and Blue Diamond Growers, one of the world’s largest tree-nut processors.
What’s novel, nonetheless, is applying the co-op model to engineering startups. Start.coop, an accelerator for cooperative startups, is just one radical trying to facilitate that practice.
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