Platform co-ops: How can workers defeat the ‘Death Stars’?

Uit een artikel door Rebbeca Harvey, 

“As ‘Death Star platforms’ such as Airbnb and Uber continue their pursuit of global domination, an alternative is rising in its wake,” wrote Cat Johnson in an introduction to 11 Platform Cooperatives creating a real sharing economy. She was referring to platform co-operatives, which work on the simple co-operative principle of putting power “back in the hands of the people”.

In November, over 1,000 people gathered at a conference in New York to explore how this could be achieved and, since then, discussion around the idea has blossomed. The term itself was coined by author and academic Trebor Scholz, to “give a name to what a lot of people have been longing for – and even working on already”.

Read more: Platform Cooperativism: Taking back the internet

“Platform co-operatives, which share the value they create with the users they depend on, are on the rise,” added Ms Johnson. “As Shareable co-founder Neal Gorenflo writes: ‘platform co-ops combine a co-operative business structure with an online platform to deliver a real-world service’”.

The 11 inspiring platform co-operatives Ms Johnson lists cover ride-sharing/car-sharing organisations (Juno, New York; Modo, Vancouver; Tapazz, Belgium), taxis (Union Taxi, Denver; VTC Cab, Paris) and technology (Enspiral, New Zealand; Timefounder, Barcelona; Backfeed, Israel), as well as Peerby, a Dutch neighbour-to-neighbour goods sharing platform; the stock photo site Stocksy; and Fairmondo, an ethical alternative to eBay.

But not all those would be considered “true” co-operatives under the structures of their countries. “I and, I imagine, the vast majority of people in the global co-operative movement feel quite strongly that to be described as a co-op (platform or otherwise) you should, well, actually be a co-op,” says co-op activist and writer Josef Davies-Coates.