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Ask HN: Examples of tech worker cooperatives?
144 points by jboynyc 1033 days ago | hide | past | web | 97 comments | favorite
Cooperatives are an intriguing business model for reasons addressed in a recent New York Times article [1] as well as a recent documentary film called Shift Change [2]. The discussion sparked by Thomas Piketty's Capital in the Twenty-First Century [3] provides further reasons for seeking out an alternative business model. Wikipedia has a good entry on the worker coop model [4].

I've come across Quilted [5] and Colab [6], two worker-owned and run cooperatives working in the tech space in the U.S. Both have a fairly impressive lineup of worker-owners and compelling portfolios, indicating that the model can really work.

Does anyone know of other examples of such coops, both in the U.S. and around the world?

1: http://www.nytimes.com/2014/03/30/magazine/who-needs-a-boss.html

2: http://shiftchange.org/about/

3: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=7618971

4: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Worker_cooperative

5: http://quilted.coop/

6: http://www.colab.coop/about





hah! I was just coming here to comment and mention Igalia, but you beat me to it. :)

Igalia is a great company, really wonderful people and they do fantastic work. I really love the model they've created for the company.


I tried to form a worker cooperative for IT workers a few years ago. I thought the idea of providing health insurance, 401k, business insurance and even a bench would be something my fellow engineers would be interested in since it was better than going it alone. As long as they knew that what they paid into the coop was going straight to the support of each other. Economies of scale and all.

But to do it you have to put up some cash to create that umbrella. The IT workers (my co-workers in many case) I spoke with were not willing to do that, preferring to take the higher risk of being a lone freelancer to participating in any kind of cooperative system.

I think people in the tech sector have a belief that they will always land on their feet and as hard as times can be, they want to maximize their earnings over everything else. And they mistrust organizations in general from both a pragmatic perspective and from being somewhat misfits themselves.

How the heck have these IT coops gotten started, then?


My IT coop started last year by taking out a loan from the Cooperative Fund of New England: http://www.cooperativefund.org/


> How the heck have these IT coops gotten started, then?

I can't tell you on the basis of empirical knowledge of concrete cases, but in theory (e.g., Elinor Ostrom's work on the commons) you need some lower-level guarantor of trust (such as a shared culture) for higher-level institutions that can solve these kinds of collective action dilemmas to develop.


right. all being techies is not enough of a shared culture to accomplish anything outside of typical employment.


Or maybe it's the wrong kind of shared culture, the kind that locks people into collective action dilemmas rather than helping to solve them...


Are you the same Nick in MN? I know a small IT coop in St Paul.

Funding a bench doesn't seem appealing to me. Too many people at contracting companies view it as vacation time.

Otherwise I think a coop sounds cool.


I am Nick and I am in MN. Who are you? I don't know anyone personally who thinks of a bench as vacation. I think anyone who hits a bench knows they're one step away from the streets.

Could have a rule that your dues increase somewhat when you hit the bench, encouraging you to get off as soon as possible.

There's always the Mondragon as an example, which I've heard good things about.

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


Not a direct response to OP's question, but I wanted to give some general background info on worker cooperatives and coops in general.

A cooperative is type of a business entity that does not have outside shareholders. Rather, its members are its owners.

So, in the case of a worker cooperative, the people who work for the business are its member-owners. (In the case of a consumer cooperative, its patrons are its member-owners.)

What are some benefits of cooperative businesses?

For one thing, because the business is not beholden to outside shareholders, who typically only have an interest in the financial health of the company, it can make decisions that a for-profit company might not be at liberty to make.

For instance, a for-profit bank, under shareholder pressure, might introduce sneaky hidden fees to increase its bottom line -- but at the expense of irritating its patrons. That just wouldn't happen with a credit union (a form of cooperative), because the investors and patrons are one in the same, and their interests are aligned.

Another big benefit, and this is especially true with tech companies, is that the member-owners are invested in the company's success in a way that mere employees are not -- and they have the decision-making power to actually influence how the company operates, because coops are democratically controlled. A lot of tech companies grant stock options and offer profit-sharing programs, but stock options can be a crap shoot (there are a lot of ways for them to end up being worthless, even when the company is profiting handsomely), and profit-sharing doesn't necessarily mean power-sharing.

There are two major downsides to operating a business as a coop, though. One is that you have to raise all of your capital from your members, rather than relying on outside investment. That can be really tough, especially when you're just starting out.

The other downside is regulatory. I'm not sure how it works in other countries, but in the U.S., there are a lot of restrictions and hoops you have to jump through. For instance, consumer cooperatives must restrict membership based on some type of common bond -- a geographic area or an alumni association, for instance. But some types of businesses just don't flourish unless you open them up to everyone. This is less of a problem, though, for worker cooperatives.

I'm a big fan of the cooperative movement, and the broader distributist movement (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Distributism), and I wish more people knew about the benefits coops offer.


> One is that you have to raise all of your capital from your members, rather than relying on outside investment.

Actually, it is possible to raise outside capital. One way is a traditional bank loan, though that usually requires collateral. There's also "patient capital" available from some institutions.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Patient_capital

http://coopcapital.coop/coopcapital

We also have a National Cooperative Bank in the US, created by an act of Congress and later privatized (as a co-op, naturally), that specializes in banking services and loans for cooperative enterprises. They may not be completely up-to-speed on worker cooperatives, however.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/National_Cooperative_Bank

A really interesting option is a direct public offering, where you can sell non-voting shares to individuals while avoiding most of the legal implications of an IPO, as long as you comply with various restrictions and raise a limited amount of money. There's a case study about a pickle company that transitioned to a worker co-op by buying out the previous owners that way:

http://www.buylocalfood.org/real-pickles-financing-case-stud...


Thanks for the informative post. I'm new to the idea, and I have a question. You say that the decision making process is democratic. Couldn't that be dangerous?

The majority is not always right, or even informed enough to make a correct decision. An executive hierarchy puts this process in the hands of key decision makers, who are supposed to make the correct decisions to protect the company's interests based on their experience.

What happens when the decision made by the democratic majority is potentially harmful to the company? Is there a hierarchy in place to mitigate bad decisions?

Thanks for the informative post. I'm new to the idea, and I have a question. You say that the decision making process is democratic. Couldn't that be dangerous?

The majority is not always right, or even informed enough to make a correct decision. An executive hierarchy puts this process in the hands of key decision makers, who are supposed to make the correct decisions to protect the company's interests based on their experience.

What happens when the decision made by the democratic majority is potentially harmful to the company? Is there a hierarchy in place to mitigate bad decisions?

EDIT: jawns has clarified that the democratic process can be used to appoint an executive heirarchy. I was under the impression that every business decision was put to a vote by the entire cooperative. I understand now that key decision makers can be elected in order to mitigate decisions that may be harmful to the business.


Well, remember that just because a company is democratically controlled does not mean that its member-owners cannot elect an executive hierarchy of its own. But when the votes are cast for that election, it will be the member-owners' interests that are being reflected, and not outside investors' interests.

To give an example that's more to do with worker cooperatives, suppose the member-owners are discussing whether to work 35- or 45-hour work weeks. The 35-hour work week might be good for work-life balance, but bad for the business itself, while the 45-hour work week might be the reverse. Nevertheless, the majority of members might vote in favor of the 35-hour work week, and whether or not that is bad for the business, it will be good for the majority of the workers.

Granted, the democratic process isn't perfect -- you need only look at U.S. politics if you need proof of that -- but when you compare it to its alternatives, it's not at the bottom of the pack.


How much is the shareholders voting on decisions in a democratic way different than the employees voting on decisions?


Every co-op is different. Co-ops in general value the "wisdom of the crowds" and may be more proactive in seeking opinions of every member, but there are still hierarchies in place that have final decision rights.

This is how a lot of co-op living arrangements work. Everyone has a say, but the final decision is made by someone whose job it is to manage the health of the house.

By the way even companies can adopt some of these ideals without being a full-blown co-op. I have worked in several organizations where decision-by-committee is highly popular, and in each case, there are processes to prevent deadlock or processes for override if something starts to go badly. Usually these processes are triggered by very senior level individuals who have decision rights, or by regulatory experts (e.g., someone in Legal).


I find it amusing that you think a hierarchy can solve the bad decision problem. You may be right, though not in the sense of mitigating a bad decision by having hierarchies, but that hierarchies have the uncanny ability of redefining a bad decision as a good one. At least that's been my experience.


Seems like it might be an appropriate place for representative democracy. Every year or so, everyone votes on a new CEO, etc.

There's probably a lot of decisions that could still be left up to workers, but I agree that having some clear direction is important, and there's lots of questions that just need a "no". The BDFL model of open source is a good example of how this can work without excessive hierarchy.


> I was under the impression that every business decision was put to a vote by the entire cooperative.

Depends on the co-op.

I lived in a student co-op in college. Every Sunday night we had a group meeting. Every major decision was made by a consensus making process. Other decisions were delegated to committees or individuals in a particular position: food manager, garden manager etc.

I also worked at a student composting/waste disposal co-op that operated the same. Everyone has a voice in either the actual decision or in electing someone to make a decision.

This type of decision making basically requires lots of communication between members and usually at least one long meeting a week. It also demands that people have mutual respect for each other and the group decision making process.

In both instances it definitely helped me learn to relate with, communicate with and respect others and their opinions.



I have no particular experience with this, but it seems like another drawback is that you're missing the outside view? If all shareholders are "true believers" with a vested interest in the company doing well, then that makes it hard to set a fair price for shares when someone enters or leaves.


> There are two major downsides to operating a business as a coop, though. One is that you have to raise all of your capital from your members, rather than relying on outside investment.

That's only true of equity, which isn't the only form of capital financing. But, yes, its an important limitation.


Surely there must be some difference between a co-op and a private company without shareholders (i.e. funding can't be the only difference)


All private companies have shareholders. The shares they own are just not publicly traded shares. "Shareholders" is, in this context, the same as "owners," and all private companies have owners.

So, what's the difference between a coop and a private, for-profit company in which everyone who works for the company owns the same portion of the company and gets an equal say in decision making? Not much practical difference, really, although with a coop, those things are enshrined, whereas with a private company, they're optional.


> So, what's the difference between a coop and a private, for-profit company in which everyone who works for the company owns the same portion of the company and gets an equal say in decision making?

Initially that would be effectively the same, but in a coop the equal ownership by all employees (and only employees) is also supposed to stay that way through employment changes: if a person quits the company, they don't take an equity share with them, or they'd become an outside investor. Instead the company is equally owned at all times by the current employees.

It might be possible to write up a complex contract that does that with regular shares, forcing people to hand them in if they quit the company (and prohibiting sales), but since regular shares are considered property there are a lot of pitfalls around making that work (if it's even possible), along with opportunity for shareholders to challenge the structure. A coop structure avoids that issue by not having regular equity shares in the first place.


Check out "A Technology Freelancer's Guide to Starting a Worker Cooperative" http://techworker.coop/

A few technology worker coops are listed there with brief stories/interviews.


Thanks for that! They also link to this recent piece from FastCo on "the argument for worker-owned tech collectives": http://www.fastcolabs.com/3021964


At ArtsPool we are in the process of building a cooperative of NYC arts nonprofits centered around a collectively-owned administrative agency. Part of this will involve building out a co-employment legal structure to create a fluid labor network that will effectively allow agency member-owners to "insource" employee time from their peers on an ad hoc basis. Eventually we want to white label our solutions and make them open source so that any nonprofit sector in any city can use them, but for now we are focusing on a the arts sector in NYC. It's all very preliminary and we are really wrestling with a fear of new ideas that is endemic in nonprofit culture, but we are taking a lot of inspiration from what is going on in the tech sector (where problems are things to be solved and not monsters under the bed). There's more on our co-employment approach on our nascent blog and in the Collective Insourcing concept paper that the project is based on (linked to in the post below). http://artspool.co/stronger-together/

I'm Max and I'm new to HN. My contact info is in the team section of our website if you want to chat further or get a copy of our fleshed-out business plan. I also need to hire a developer soon so... :-)


I've been exploring this space since 2010 and always wondered what it would look like if a tech co-op got as big as Facebook, Amazon, Google, or Apple.

I created an evolutionary economic model called Producism, which includes building an ecosystem of cooperatives and b-corps, alternative currencies, and other concepts. I wrote a book about it that's free to read online, http://producism.org/manifesto (updated version coming late May).

Our startup, Producia (screenshots of upcoming new version https://angel.co/producia), is implementing this new kind of economy on college campuses and local communities as a real-world social entrepreneurship game, that challenges players to kickstart and grow meaningful ideas into impactful businesses. We are a hybrid cooperataive (worker & member-owned) and instead of following a pure democratic model, we use the "Better Means Model" (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IdcAxGGRafc).

As far as raising funds for our cooperative, we are taking a creative approach. First, my founder and I are turning ourselves into startups, literally, and doing a similar deal like the music businesses "360 Deal", where investors get a piece of everything we do. We are also going to create a sister company (benefit corporation) that will offer a white label version of our platform to enterprises. We are pursuing an equity deal for that. So in all, it'll be a mixture of a royalty and equity.

If anyone has any questions or wants to learn more, feel free to email me at drewl at illvp dot com.

Cheers!


> I've been exploring this space since 2010 and always wondered what it would look like if a tech co-op got as big as Facebook, Amazon, Google, or Apple.

For a science fiction exploration of this, see Bruce Sterling's 1988 novel _Islands in the Net_, which features a global democratically owned and controlled tech corporation. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Islands_in_the_Net


thanks! will definitely check it out!


I am part of Agile Collective (http://agilecollective.com/), a UK base web development company governed as a workers co-op. We are 7 permanent members, up from 6 when founded in 2011. We are a company limited by shares, and we do have a structure in which we have two type of shares: member shares, one for each member, and equity shares which can be used to raise capital. Only the member shares have any voting power in governance, so contrary to what jawns said, you can have outside shareholders. We are still for profit, and do share profits with members, but the main point is that the members have the decision making power, not equity share holders. (We don't actually have any external equity share holders, but it is an interesting area for consideration if trying to raise money to expand.)


Hello all. I have founded two worker cooperatives, both in the tech sector. I am also a moderator of the subreddit http://reddit.com/r/cooperatives. Check out the sidebar for a whole bunch of links!

If you have any questions about starting a worker coop, especially in CA or MA, I can help.


I can't believe nobody has mentioned Mondragon yet: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mondragon_Corporation

> At the end of 2012, it employed 80,321 people in 289 companies and organizations in four areas of activity: finance, industry, retail and knowledge.


It's not really a tech workers coop.


Ahh, I guess that's fair.



They are behind PLCrashReporter which is the core of most most of the crashreporting systems for iOS (and OS X).


IO Coop (https://iocoop.org/) is a member-owned tech infrastructure (colo, vps, some other services) cooperative.


I'm a bit late to the party but I wanted to mention that in addition to being a tool created to support the kind of collaborative decision-making that happens in cooperative models (which they are using it for at CoLab, as solarlion kindly mentioned already) Loomio [0] is itself structured as a cooperative with 12 worker-members and growing.

Loomio is part of the larger Enspiral ecosystem (as te_chris already mentioned), which is a network of startups doing business differently, with a social good focus and also upending internal organisation. We're innovating new ways to do core business processes in collaborative, distributed ways. Loomio is an example of that for decision-making, and we're also doing the same in budgeting, strategy setting, governance, and more.

We're quite passionate about the cooperative model and collaborative process design and are happy to talk more in-depth with anyone who is interested.

[0] http://www.loomio.org [1] http://www.enspiral.com


I'm on a Tech-Coop mailing list:

http://npogroups.org/lists/info/tech-coop

They're a friendly, cooperative bunch. Join and introduce yourself, or read the archives. It seems like most of them have thought really hard about what they're doing, and it's pretty solid.


This list seems to have spawned the site techworkers.coop mentioned by audionerd. Good to see there's a space where people have been having this important conversation.


When the new equity crowdfunding rules go into effect, I was thinking a more interesting model could involve equity. Every person in a "startup cooperative" could own a piece of everyone else's startup. It might help minimize the risk with doing a startup if you own a small piece of a number of other companies.


+1!!! We're following that model with our virtual incubator program for our tech co-op, Producia.


That's really quite a cool idea. Definitely do it! I'd be interested in helping to build it. The cooperative rules are, I think, quite different in the US and UK, but I'm reasonably familiar with it in the UK.


We're just starting out, but http://3mousetech.com.


I’m a member at a worker-owned mobile dev coop in Ottawa. (htttp://www.brierwoodapps.com)

I spent some time in grad school studying economics, and I've felt a bit like a mole on a couple of occasions, but I do think it’s a really interesting structure.

There’s definitely been some self-selection of members based on equality- and social-mindedness. Some of that expresses itself internally: There’s a lot of information sharing and support for professional development.

I think one of the great practical advantages is that it’s a structure without employee numbers. Every new employee is hired with the hope that they’ll stay on and become a full member-owner. The fact that every member is on the same footing as the founders can be pretty advantageous in a tight labour market when trying to bring on board talented developers who might otherwise prefer to work independently.


In France: ALMA http://www.alma.fr/



In Sweden: http://www.muchdifferent.com

It is actually a non-profit organisation without any shareholders but it is controlled by its employees.

(I work there)



Thanks! Glad you like it. We are currently busy doing the same for the Unreal Engine 4.


Here's one from the UK:

http://www.software.coop/


Traditionally, a lot of large engineering companies have strong ESOPs (employee stock ownership plans). Not "co-ops", as you put it, which I think tends to imply a really flat hierarchy, although I'm not exactly sure.

If it's not obvious, it benefits everyone by increasing the incentive to perform, sharing profits (obviously), and reducing the incentives to be mercenary, which as we know just increases costs for all businesses involved (and is quite logical for employees who don't have strong stakes in their business).

I think it's a good question you ask, and I think more companies who care about the long term should consider it. Problem is, most founders are especially interested in just selling, and an ESOP makes a company moderately more complex to buy. So I don't think the model fits most VC-heavy startup concepts, but I do think it deserves a much larger place in cash-flow-positive long-term businesses.


How do you kick out underperformers in a co-op?


I co-founded an IT and Computer Repair coop about a year ago. We're called Boston TechCollective: http://boston.techcollective.com

Also take a look at our sister coop in SF: http://techcollective.com


Igalia from Spain http://www.igalia.com/


Most of the tech examples I know of in the US are small, boutique, often ephemeral consulting companies started among a few friends. Often the formal structure is a standard partnership or corporation with shares evenly divided. If the partners get along, are smart about things and the market is good, they often do quite well while they last. Many of the companies are kind of transitory - doing web page design and the like in the late 1990s, and then when the market dries up, the partners close the business and go their separate ways. Or sometimes one partner is hired by the company he is consulting for, another moves across the country following his girlfriend, and the remaining partners agree to wind down the business.


I'm a worker-owner of Sassafras Tech Collective (sassafras.coop). We focus on research, design, and development of web and mobile applications for social justice. We are based in Ann Arbor, MI. We have been around for a year and are growing.


I'm involved in Enspiral which is something like what you describe. Not directly a coop but not a traditional business by any means. http://www.enspiral.com/


I work at Aptivate - http://www.aptivate.org/ and while technically we're still a not-for-profit company with two directors nominally in charge, for a number of years we've been effectively running as a worker's co-operative with decisions made by consensus. You can read a fuller description of our internal processes at http://aptivate.org/en/about/how-we-do-things/ under "Management and Governance".


I don't want to draw out a tenuous claim: but in some ways most tech companies (and particularly early-stage startups) are more like cooperatives than has historically been the case in corporations. As Sam Altman's recent article on employee equity points to, being liberal with ownership is considered a virtue in technology companies. Long-gone are the days where you can build a technology company and keep all the ownership closely held (I'm sure there are other examples, but Bloomberg LP would be a prototypical example).


Ownership is one part of the model, and I think you have a point that it's more diffused in many startups. However, I'm not sure democratic control of the business is part of the startup model. Correct me if I'm wrong, but I think they tend to create a traditional management structure with CEOs, etc.


Co-Op is a very loose term and comes in many flavors.

It would be a bit naive to think that they are inherently better managed or more "democratic" (egalitarian?) than a regularly run business. Like any democracy, not only do they come in different flavors (ie, representative democracy vs "pure" democracy etc), but they come with their own quirks of implementation. In many democracies the individual voters have little actual power and organized and concetrated special interest groups game the system. And there are plenty of co-ops run by CEOs.

And most co-ops do not offer order-of-magnitude improvements in working conditions or pay. You are looking at a 10% type improvement, not a 10x one. The downside of a co-op is that it might have a 10% improvemnet in (potential) conditions, but a poor implenetation but will be -10% as productive due to inefficiencies and execution problems.Which basically runs the risk of zero net improvement for the typical person there.

All of which means that you really need to analyze any proposed or actual implementation. Broad-brush generalizations are often misleading in this context. Just something to keep in mind.


This is a pretty ridiculous thing to say.

90% for us 2, 10% for the rest of you!

Not at all what a co-op is about.


I spoke to this in a comment on another HN topic recently, one of the threads about the Github kerfuffle: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=7623915


There is Web Hosting Coop that some friends and former coworkers of mine run: http://www.webhosting.coop/


Gaiahost is a worker-owned, environmentally-minded coop that provides managed hosting services: http://gaiahost.coop


I seem to recall Panter (http://panter.ch) being a co-op (perhaps mostly a co-op). They're a great bunch of guys.


I am a co-founder of the tech cooperative: http://colab.coop

We run a worker-owned tech cooperative supporting startup social enterprises through agile development of minimum viable products that we hope will change the world for the better (hopefully that doesn’t sound cliched as our hearts are sincere in that desire).

I am glad to see some enthusiasm on HN for the cooperative cause which we believe strongly in as model vehicle for moving beyond the 'exploitation economy' which most of us operate in and which pits us against each other as adversaries rather than joining us together as partners in seeking solutions to problems we all share.

We have found the biggest plus of being a cooperative to be the sense of equality amongst our crew stemming from a democratic-based decision making process and a path to membership (as a co-owner) available to all (assuming performance and cultural standards are met).

Frankly we are slightly in awe of the talent that has joined our family by virtue of this ethos of equality and a 'do good' mission.

Moving forward we are of the opinion that the many of the best and brightest in our industry who seek social and environmental change will choose to work in cooperatives rather than traditional corporations even if it means sacrificing some personal financial benefit to do so (although hopefully this will not be needed as more resources go to supporting cooperatives).

The ‘meaning quotient’ of life generally trumps all for those we work with and those who support cooperatives.

In terms of keynotes, running a cooperative successfully requires: - emotional intelligence - operational processes that support intra-team communication and collaborative work - a willingness to put your trust in your co-workers - a strong sense of cultural identity - a mission that can be shared with members and partners

Given this is HN, I will say that there is some tension b/t the 'lead by your gut' - fast and furious - approach of most entrepreneurs and the emphasis in cooperatives on getting consensus from the team on big decisions. As a former ‘traditional’ entrepreneur with some VC / startup experience, I feel like we have found a nice balance b/t empowering our management team to lead with their ‘gut’ business instincts while also engaging in proactive communication with the team around key business decisions. That said I have also at times stepped on some toes and gently bruised some egos with my former ways. So it is a learning process for sure...

As part of our communications work, we have begun experimenting with using http://loomio.org as part of our discussion and decision-making process.

Lots more that could be shared but, I hope some of this is helpful. If anyone has further interest in cooperatives, our work processes or our work feel free to PM me.

EDIT: Just noticed that we were referenced in the opening post. (Thanks jboynyc) Sorry for flying a bit too fast and furious, speaking of... Also updated the loomio URL above.


Thanks for the enlightening post ! I had just a question.

You talk about the "brightest in the industry [...] will choose to work in cooperatives".

Wouldn't most people prefer the high-risk / high-reward choice that the startups model offers ? Or am I too cynical ?


Well, the brightest has an asterisk where the asterisk corresponds to those who are orienting their lives towards service and the common good - those seeking solutions to our shared problems - rather than simply personal benefit.

If the goal of life is simply 'self-service' - making tons of money and living fat (ie. ‘he with the most toys wins’ mentality) - then cooperatives are not the path an individual will choose.

If the goal is to help others while working together with peers who share a common purpose, then a cooperative makes a lot of sense as a model.

In my case I realized that much of our society is oriented fundamentally towards greed with consumer capitalism actually manipulating us to be more greedy.

I was simply looking for a company structure that helped us to learn to be more generous through our work together. While I can’t say honestly that our work is yet shaking the foundations of capitalism, I can say that we are learning to be more selfless, more generous, by working within a cooperative structure that encourages us to help meet each others’ needs along with those of the clients we serve.


Super interesting, thanks for chiming in.

What is looio.org? The address doesn't resolve for me. [EDIT: it was just a typo]



Riseup[1] and Mayfirst[2] both function as collectives, though I'm not 100% sure they are worker-owned coops. Many more smaller ones in the activist/liberation tech space

[1] https://help.riseup.net/about-us#meet-the-collective [2] https://mayfirst.org/


http://assemblymade.com could be considered a global software coop


I don't see any indication of that on that website that they're constituted as anything other than a straightforward for-profit company.


To me, the powerful idea of a co-op is that it brings together many people with skills that compliment each other, all contributing to something where sum is greater then the parts. The result, if they are successful, is they do generate profit and each contributor takes home their full share. This is what Assembly is trying to enable...but Assembly is really a platform for creating co-ops around software products.



http://www.nilenso.com/ in Bangalore, India


from argentina: http://www.tecso.coop/


I'm from Argentina, and work here: http://fiqus.com/ We (along with other cooperatives) founded the federation that is mentioned below (http://facttic.org.ar/)


Argentina is a great case. The coop movement there was the subject of a documentary called The Take (2004): http://www.thetake.org/index.cfm?page_name=synopsis


Another one from Argentina http://gcoop.coop/


Map of IT coops in Argentina: http://www.facttic.org.ar/miembros


Go Free Range - http://gofreerange.com


DreamHost is an employee-owned corporation. http://www.dreamhost.com/about-us/the-dreamhost-team/


As luck would have it, immediately after seeing this I got spammed by a web design co-operative: http://www.niftythinking.co.uk/


I have thought about this a lot lately, but couldn't find anything in Munich, Germany where I'm based.

If anyone's interested, it would be nice to have a chat.


I just took a look in the Genossenschaftsregister (GnR) for Munich and came across a few coops in the IT sector (e.g., http://www.7-it.de/genossenschaft/mitglied-werden.html).

Not sure if they fit your profile, but it might be worth taking a look: https://www.handelsregister.de/rp_web/mask.do


Thanks, didn't know there was such a public database. Seems hard to search though, there are no tags or categories or something.


Searching for "IT" turned up some results.


I remember very nicely done website of http://analog.coop, but they seem to be no more. :(


Checked their archive site. Looks like they are now part of fictivekin.com. Not sure if they are still a coop.

http://web.archive.org/web/20130731083708/http://analog.coop...


I participated in starting one, which never really took off but churned through some contracts and I think they're still at it.


any in canada?


The map at techworker.coop shows one in Montreal and one in Ottawa.

http://www.koumbit.org/ http://brierwoodapps.com/


Brierwood is one of our partners and inspirations in setting up a coop. They specialize in mobile app development. They are both a pleasure to work with and do outstanding work.




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