SERIES: The Next Generation of Digital Platforms

Big Tech vs Platform Coops

What if digital platforms like Uber, Freelancer and Upwork were owned by the platform’s users?

In episode two, we continue the conversation about Cooperatives but this time in a little more depth and in the context of digital platform businesses and professional services.

We explore how equity and ownership works in worker-owned coops, I learned about the very interesting topic of multi-stakeholder structures and how customers and service providers benefit from having closer relationships through cooperative models.

We discuss the impacts platform businesses have on humanity and the inequality of value distribution and extortion. We consider project-based work as the future of work and the possibility of platform businesses being owned and operated by those who use it.

We end the conversation with this question; what would it look like if capitalist operating models met in the middle with more socially conscious value distribution? What would that business model look like? What would that mean for users, end-users and stakeholders?

A better future is around the corner, I can feel it.

Joining us on episode two

Louis Cousins
 COO, StartinBlox
Consultant & Researcher

Ana Aguirre
Co-founder/ Worker Owner,

Nicolás Dimarco
Founder, Cooperativa de
Trabajo Fiqus Ltda


Ok, welcome back to the Digital Village Show, and the follow on from the special edition of riding in the Coop car. 

Last conversation we had we were amidst a car ride from the Caribbean to San Jose and we discussed broadly what cooperatives are, how they work and how they differ from conventional organisational models. 

We’ve since found our way back to our respective homes around the globe and today are going to dig into more detail about Platform cooperatives, worker coops, data coops, multi stakeholder coops and discuss more broadly about the economic impact platform businesses can have and what it means to be a worker or user of these online platforms.

So, hi guys, what a pleasure to be here with you again. How are you? 

It was a truly amazing opportunity to meet you guys in Costa Rica a couple of weeks ago and I’m looking forward to sharing some of the insights I gleaned from yourselves and the rest of the group about the cooperative business model and the emergence of platform coops in the way they can bring about a much needed change to the way technology companies operate. 

On the plane on the way home, I was writing down notes to try and consolidate my thinking from the intense week, and I couldn’t stop thinking about what the world would be like if digital platforms like Uber, Freelancer, UPwork, even LinkedIn were owned by the platform’s users…..

What would that look like? How would that change the way they operate and would their priorities change. Because what is the purpose of those businesses?

Why do they exist? Who are they designed to serve? Who benefits from their existence? 

If it is the users of the platform, then should that not result in better outcomes?

This is what has caught my imagination with the Coop model. 

So, Ana.

Lets get into the nitty gritty. 

For those who heard the previous podcast which introduced the good people here today, you’ll recognise Ana as a true expert in Worker Coops. 

So please Ana can you please kick off the conversation by describing what a worker coop is, basically how they work and I have some follow up questions.