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But once you have 14 million users, what prevents the 5 guys from going: "Hey, you know what? If we just bumped up rates to 6%, we'd make a lot more money and we won't lose too many people. We're providing a great service and a lot of the customers are happy to pay that amount."

Make it a co-op. Build restrictions into the corporate bylaws such that classes of members can check and balance acts like this. Implement profit-sharing, so not only would that 1% increase in fees help fund development, but it would also be returned in part to platform members. Of course it may be necessary to increase fees once you've got an actual idea of what your expenses will look like, and profit-sharing may necessitate a larger increase, but then everyone has incentive for the platform to succeed.

Some smart people really think alike. +1 on that!

I would agree such a change if this would be justified transparently, like we need extra servers or we need to hire an extra guy for development of your most voted features, and so on. If such a decency level would be available, I would be their customer.

Remenber, once you fragment this market ( maybe 10s of such online freelancing services ), the market rules apply and prices will be kept down.

"If such a decency level would be available, I would be their customer" I guess others would too.

This is where integrity and vision come into play. If you want to bump it into 6%, you should explain why. It should not be all about profits. If it is, then such platform won't be different from Upwork.

Integrity and vision are great, but I wouldn't want 14 million people to depend on it.

For example, if someone else feels the potential is underutilized, they could offer to buy it and then bump up rates.

How do you structurally make sure that the motive is different?

Some kind of collective idea might work. The model should be the stock market. Trading costs are getting lower, transparency is going up etc.

"offer to buy it" meaning investors would come in? That could sabotage the vision down the road.

If bumping up rates would benefit the community, why not?

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