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It got tried a lot in the 60ies, actually:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cooperative

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Worker_cooperative

Some of them have done pretty well. I think if they were that much better though, they would have outcompeted traditional companies.

> it's still not that easy to start your own company

So maybe the people that do so want to get rewarded for all the risk they are taking, and don't want to give equal shares and votes to the people who come later?

I know it's not what you meant, but it's very easy to start your own company, legally at least, at least in places like the US and UK.




> Some of them have done pretty well.

So you retract your earlier statement? :p

> they would have outcompeted traditional companies.

50 years is a very short time for a few companies to out-compete the tradition of the world. Companies from a few hundred years ago had horrific human rights abuses; only now do we see the general attitude being supportive enough of ethical issues to actually dissuade companies from going down that path, and even today this is only a minor effect.

> rewarded for all the risk they are taking

Then perhaps we also need ways of founding a company that doesn't need all the risk to be taken on by a few people.


> So you retract your earlier statement? :p

No. By and large, I think I'm right, but that does not mean there aren't a few exceptions.

> Then perhaps we also need ways of founding a company that doesn't need all the risk to be taken on by a few people.

We do! It's called the limited liability company or corporation, and it's one of the critical components of a modern economy. As an investor in a company, you can only lose what you put into it, rather than have someone come after all your assets. This is also how stocks work, at heart: a lot of people can each own a piece of a company, and thus pool a lot more capital than the founders could on their own.

Even that is still fairly risky and involves a lot of effort for which people want to be compensated if it goes well.

One of the nice things about companies is that anyone is free to go out and create one and more or less create it in the way they best see fit.


> By and large, I think I'm right, but that does not mean there aren't a few exceptions.

But your belief then is based on conjecture, as I said before. So is mine, but a positive belief (it can happen) is less strong than a negative belief (it can't happen).

We could look at the proportion of attempted co-ops that have failed, vs proportion of normal companies. That would be some interesting data.

> We do! It's called the limited liability company or corporation

This has nothing to do with your original notion of "risk" from 2 posts ago that you used to discredit co-operatives. There, we are talking about the reward split based on the risk split. Typical LLCs still have unbalanced ownership distribution.


Looking at proportions is meaningless: more people have tried and failed with regular companies because that's the default.

Let's look at how many of the world's leading companies are worker's cooperatives: very, very few. And this despite the fact that companies generally don't stay 'at the top' all that long. There is plenty of room for new companies in many fields.

> This has nothing to do with your original notion of "risk"

So what's your proposal? I don't really understand what you are discussing if you think it is not related.


> Looking at proportions is meaningless: more people have tried and failed

That's why I said "proportion", not "more". I agree the data would not be a firm indicator because there are lots of other factors involved, but it would still be interesting.

> So what's your proposal?

It's not a proposal, just an observation to counter arguments of "impossible" - if more people are more equally involved in funding a company, so the distribution of risk is shared, there is more incentive to create a democratic structure.


11 co-ops you didn't know we're co-ops: http://www.freelancersunion.org/blog/2013/12/05/11-co-ops-yo...




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