There’s a difference between a sense of ownership and actual ownership.

A great listen that I had to share.

Apr 27, 2022

Yo yo yo!

It’s Bailey here sending you warm greetings. I’ll keep this note short. I wanted to share a podcast episode with y’all that I found inspiring. Listening to it yesterday morning, my neurons lit up. I hope the same will happen for you.

The conversation, led by Austin Robey and David Spinks, covers the future of ownership.

Austin is one of the leading practitioners of co-owned platforms. Several years ago, he founded a digital cooperative called Ampled, an artist and worker-owned Patreon alternative for musicians. Ampled is literally a cooperative: one member, one vote in the governance structure. Austin describes himself as having “one foot in the platform cooperativism movement and another in the DAO space.” Through his conversation with David, as well as a recent article, Austin thoughtfully teases out the differences between these models.

David knows as much about for-profit community building as anyone on this planet. As he reflects in the conversation:

There’s a difference between a sense of ownership and actual ownership. That dissonance defines my career.

The communities that fuel platforms and businesses often only receive a sense of ownership, not real ownership (equity and governance power), in return for creating very real value for these entities. In the coming years, we may have the technology and momentum to push for a shift in the nature of ownership. Austin and David explore these future paths in their conversation and what it would take for us to get there.

If you’re not a web3 nerd, but you are curious about collective ownership, this episode is for you.

A few of my notes from the conversation:

  • These models aren’t taught in business or law schools, according to Austin. A lack of educational tools and infrastructure is part of why alternative models aren’t more widespread.

  • There are examples of scaled cooperative models: Mondragon, Stocksy, REI, Savvy Cooperative, and of course Park Slope Food Coop, which has over 17,000 members. (If you haven’t ever read the New Yorker story about PSFC, it’s a hoot.)

  • Cooperatives are one member, one vote. That precludes one stakeholder from having an outsized impact on the rest of the group or hoarding all of the value.

  • The fundamental challenge cooperative businesses have faced is funding. DAOs’ token-based ownership model offers a potential solution to that challenge.


Tune in: